Roman Empire

Gaius Caligula, with Agrippina I, Emperor AD 37-41

RIC 13; Lyon 168; BN 22-3; BMC 14; Calicó 326; Biaggi 194, Mint State

Lugdunum, AD 37/8. C CAESAR AVG GERM P M TR POT, laureate head of Gaius (Caligula) right. Reverse: AGRIPPINA MAT C CAES AVG GERM, draped bust of Agrippina I right, hair tied in a long plait at the back.

Gaius, the successor of Tiberius known popularly as Caligula (“Little Boots”), is a byword for madness and tyrannical excess. Although he was infamous for his inappropriate relationships with his sister, demands to be worshipped as a living god, and his plan to elevate his horse to senatorial status, oddly enough, Gaius also appears to have been a dutiful son. In AD 29, his mother (a granddaughter of Augustus), Agrippina the Elder, was condemned to exile on the small island of Pandateria where she eventually starved to death four years later. One of Gaius’ first acts was to go to the island and carry her bones back to Rome for a burial more befitting a descendant and mother of emperors.