If there is one Roman emperor that that makes me laugh, it was Caligula. His real name was Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus. He succeeded Tiberius in AD 37. He ruled for only four years and was assassinated in AD 41 at the young age of 28.
He got his moniker “Caligula” (meaning “little soldier’s boot,” the diminutive form of “caliga”), which he hated, from the Roman soldiers who served under his father Germanicus, a popular general and Tiberius’ nephew and adoptive son. His mother was Agrippina the Elder, granddaughter of Tiberius.
Upon the death of Germanicus, Agrippina returned to Rome with her six children where she became entangled in a bitter feud with Tiberius. It resulted in the destruction of her family. Caligula was the sole male survivor. Tiberius adopted him. Following the death of Tiberius, Caligula succeeded him in AD 37.
Caligula enjoyed a brief period of popularity and admiration. He was described as a noble and moderate emperor during the first six months of his rule. But it didn’t take too long before he earned the wrath of the people. For the brief time that he ruled Rome, Caligula exhibited cruelty, lunacy, sadism, extravagance, and sexual perversion. Many believed he was crazy.
Among those that Caligula was known to have insanely done were: He terrorized Rome with his unbridled madness; talked to the moon; ordered arbitrary executions; and planned to make his horse Incitatus a consul. For one thing, his fellow lawmakers would likely have whisked him out of power for such conduct. But assuming the much-maligned emperor was the loon his chroniclers describe, some scholars have suggested that an illness made him come unhinged—possibly temporal lobe epilepsy, hyperthyroidism or Wilson’s disease, an inherited disorder that can cause mental instability. [Source: http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/7-things-you-may-not-know-about-caligula]
Trump and Caligula
Two millennia later, history seems to have repeated itself – in America. The 2016 presidential election in the United States has brought to fore an eerie similarity between the presidential winner, Donald J. Trump, and Caligula. For his first year in office, President Trump demonstrated a character and idiosyncrasy that mimics Caligula. One wonders if Trump has some form of mental disorder?
In an opinion piece in May 2017 in The Washington Post titled, “Trump has a dangerous disability,” George F. Will wrote: “It is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about President Trump’s inability to do either. This seems to be not a mere disinclination but a disability. It is not merely the result of intellectual sloth but of an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence.”
“He has instructed us that Andrew Jackson was angry about the Civil War that began 16?years after Jackson’s death. Having, let us fancifully imagine, considered and found unconvincing William Seward’s 1858 judgment that the approaching Civil War was ‘an irrepressible conflict,’ Trump says: ‘People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?’ “
It’s obvious that Trump has a cockeyed view of American history. Or worse, could it be that he’s insane?
“This guy is insane!”
Not too long ago, Trump attended a dinner with several Latin American leaders. They discussed the political and economic problems in Venezuela. Critical of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the leaders expressed apprehension over how Maduro was handling the crisis. And out of the blue, Trump expressed surprise that they did not want a war with Venezuela. For his part, Trump proposed a “military option” to ensure Maduro leaves office. According to a Politico news report, many of the gathered officials thought, “This guy is insane!” They were in shock.
Trump has been the subject in discussion among well-known psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health experts. A new book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” has concluded, “Trump’s mental state presents a clear and present danger to our nation and individual well-being.” The media chatterati seems to be of one mind: “Donald Trump is mentally incompetent and may have to be removed from office before he blows us all to hell.” [Source: TheAmericanConservative.com]
In the book, twenty-seven psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health experts argue that, in Mr. Trump’s case, their moral and civic “duty to warn” America supersedes professional neutrality. They then explore Trump’s symptoms and potentially relevant diagnoses to find a complex, if also dangerously mad, man. The solution, to their minds, lies in the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which creates a mechanism outside of impeachment to remove an “incapacitated” president. Trump’s mental state, some believe, qualifies him. Is there a case? [Ibid]
Many believe there is a case. And this scares a lot of Americans. They don’t know when Trump would have another episode of threatening to push the “nuclear button” like what happened between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Kim Jong-un had stated in one of his commentaries that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Trump responded on Twitter, “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
His tweet sent jitters around the world’s capitals. American lawmakers, diplomats, and national security experts were particularly alarmed. They called it “juvenile” and frightening for “a president handling a foreign policy challenge with world-wrecking consequences.” The language was reminiscent of Mr. Trump’s boast during the 2016 presidential campaign that his hands, and by extension his genitals, were in fact big enough.” [Source: New York Times]
Rulers by accident
Caligula and Trump were born a world apart: different cultures, different upbringing, and different eras. But in so many ways, their minds worked alike. They both became rulers by accident, not by pedigree or design.
In a new book Quid Pro Quo, author Valerie Block says of Caligula: “An arrogant, narcissistic, blond serial rapist attains the highest office in the land, abuses his power, and offends everyone personally: this is the subject of my newest novel, Quid Pro Quo, a behind-the-scenes look at the assassination of Caligula, the third Emperor of ancient Rome. It is impossible to ignore the many echoes of Caligula’s story that played out in the 2016 election of Donald J. Trump, a man whom the 2nd century historian Suetonius might have been describing when he wrote of Caligula, “there was nothing in his own character which he admired and approved more highly than…his shameless impudence.”
Block also said that Caligula and Trump share a lot of characteristics, to wit: (1) Narcissism [“All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected,” he boasted]; (2) Grandiosity [“I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.”]; (3) Cruelty [Trump once said, “I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”]; (4) Comfort with negative attention [“Bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all. Controversy, in short, sells.”]; (5) Sexual misconduct, promiscuity, and violence [“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women, I just start kissing them, it’s like a magnet. You know when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” — Trump talking to the host of Access Hollywood in 2005.]; (6) Motivated by revenge [“My motto is: Always get even. When somebody screws you, screw them back in spades.”]; and (7) Delusion [“I alone can fix it.”].
With all these similarities, Trump might as well be called Caligula Trumpus Americanus. Could it be that Trump is Caligula reincarnated?