This is the prompt I ran across the other day. You just know I had to answer it. Without further ado, I give you “Celebrating Freedom”.
He’s dead. We are finally rid of the tyrant known as Caligula and are free. His little boots no longer crush us in fear. No more do we have to fear for our lives or our wives. The Praetorian Guard took care of the tyrant and his family over the evening. They may have been a bit zealous when it came to his infant daughter, but no chance can be taken that his family will try to avenge his sadistic lifestyle. What he did to our wives and children was deplorable; but threatening to name a horse as his council – that is a dignity that no man should have to face.
Looking at the revelers around me, I can clearly see how afraid they were. This much wine didn’t even cross my lips when I married. Though I cared greatly for my wife, on that day I was fearful. What if the emperor wanted her or the dowry she carried? What if he felt we were trying to assassinate him? Though we weren’t at the time, those are the thoughts that ran rampantly through my head.
I remember the day Caligula was crowned, we were excited for the hope that he brought our country. The spring sun was hot that day. It seemed as though Sol himself were blessing the day at Jupiter’s command. Such divine signs were not to be ignored – and that was something the Romans had never done.
At first, his reign was healthy and energetic. That slowly turned to madness after the fever took him.
The day he was crowned was truly a splendorous sight that the Ancient City hadn’t seen in years. He freed wrongfully imprisoned citizens and abolished the imperial tax. He filled the stadiums with chariot races and gladiator games. The populace was happy. Until the fever.
That’s when we realized that maybe we should have listened to the rumors of his youth on the Island of Capri. Long had we heard the gossip of incest with his sister and joyfully watching executions. We had even heard of his love of torture. Still we thought some of his father’s good sense would stick with Caligula. Never would we have believed such heretic words.
No descendant of Caesar or Augustus should be so cruel. Then again, spending so much time in Tiberius’ company couldn’t have been good for him. That man was as sour and lecherous as they come.
When Caligula contracted brain fever as Jupiter commanded the seasons to turn we mourned. Our great hope was at Mors’ doors. We prayed to the Gods that we wouldn’t lose our greatest hope.
Looking back, I clearly see how bitterly the Gods answered our prayers. Caligula was not the same when he came back to us. No longer was he jovial and understanding. He had become bitter, cruel, and twisted.
When Caligula was well again he instituted a food tax. He resurrected treason trials and through his rank around as he thinned out the senate. Those horrendous trials replenished our treasury after his extravagant spending; so did his extortion when a senator fell asleep at an auction. Thirteen gladiators never cost a man so much.
Upon his sister, Drusilla’s death, he had her deified; he even had the nerve to commission coins in her image, beautiful though she was, Drusilla should never have been on a coin. That is an act that will not hold out the year; coins will be melted and deification revoked. The senate will use Damnatio Memorae to wipe Caligula’s cruelty from our history.
Worst of all he declared himself a living God. The powers of the divine are something no mortal should pretend to have. The temples and statues he erected in the Eternal City are being destroyed as this banquet takes place.
I have not seen such celebrations since Caligula was crowned; unlike that day though, the weather is far colder. This merriment is sure to last a generation as no man wants to take his liberty for granted any more.
One can only hope, that come morning the senate will have even better news for us to celebrate – after all, it isn’t every day that they will be able to choose a new emperor and a new hope. Until then we will celebrate the demise of the tyrant.