EMPERORS BEHAVING WELL. Caligula, Nero, Tiberius….The mention of the Roman emperors calls up images of appalling misconduct. Most of the lurid stories go back to Suetonius. My Latin professor pointed out that Suetonius was thought to have had access to Roman imperial files, but he also said that many scholars thought that Suetonius was unreliable.
Mary Beard alludes to “a few brave, revisionist attempts to rehabilitate some of the most notorious imperial monsters”. She points out that it is the emperors who were assassinated who have the blackest reputations and that their successors had reason to blacken their reputations: “…Gaius [Caligula] may have been assassinated because he was a monster, but it is equally possible that he was made into a monster because he was assassinated.”