Conosciuto per fratricidi, guerre e per la costruzione delle sue imponenti terme, Caracalla è una figura controversa della storia Romana. Ma chi era davvero l’imperatore romano aldilà del suo ben noto sguardo minaccioso? Ne parla Kieren Johns su The Collector.
If you were a Roman emperor, and if you happened to take your name from a sartorial choice, the odds are that the judgment of history will not be kind to you. The emperor Gaius, better known as Caligula for the ‘little boots’ he wore in imitation of the soldiers, is a by-word for the depravity and cruelness of imperial megalomania. Just less than two centuries later, Rome was ruled by another emperor named for his fashion predilections. From AD 211 to 217, the Empire was ruled by Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, previously Lucius Septimius Bassianus. However, history better knows this emperor as Caracalla, a name derived from the ‘caracallus,’ a heavy, hooded-cloak associated with the soldiers from the Gallic and Germanic frontiers.
Like Gaius Caligula before him, Caracalla is notorious in the historical tradition. His distinctive, glaring portrait strikes out from galleries of imperial busts, thrown into sharp relief by the calmer, more serene visages of his predecessors. Elsewhere, stories of fratricide and cruelty stalk the pages of the literary sources, followed by whispers of incestuous scandal and sexual impotency. Nevertheless, there was more to this man than simply a scowl. Great edifices of cultural splendor and imagination illuminate his six-year reign and should serve to challenge preconceptions. It is time to meet the man behind the scowl.
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