August 31, 12: Caligula is born.
The Roman emperor Caligula succeeded the his great-uncle Tiberius in the year 37 at the age of twenty-four. Like his predecessor, Caligula was popular with the public and generally regarded as a good ruler - early in his reign; not only was he the son of the very popular general Germanicus (whose soldiers gave him the nickname “Caligula” - “little boot”), but he was also not Tiberius, who, in the later years of his reign, became brooding and reclusive and was perceived by the public as paranoid and cruel.
It is still unclear exactly what triggered Caligula’s almost spontaneous transformation into the depraved, insane despot we are familiar with. Some surviving sources simply state that he was insane; more modern scholars offer up medical explanations for his condition (hyperthyroidism, meningitis, epilepsy, etc.) He famously attempted to appoint his favorite horse, Incitatus, to the Senate, although this may have been Caligula’s idea of a joke, or simply not true at all. Caligula was also accused of, among other things, seducing his guests’ wives, trying to erect statues of himself in temples for worship, punishing the most minor of offenses with death, killing random bystanders simply because he could, and committing incest with each of his sisters. Philo of Alexandria also hints at pedophilic inclinations, although there is little historical basis for this claim (and for any of these claims, to be fair). Another notable feature of Caligula’s short reign was his reckless spending and the general decadence of his courts and lifestyle. While Tiberius left a large surplus in the imperial treasury, Caligula emptied it, spending wastefully on all sorts of projects and public displays.
After less than four years of rule, conspirators within the Praetorian Guard murdered Caligula, his wife, and their daughter.