chapter  11
24 Pages

Caligula the builder

While Augustus’ boast that he found Rome a city built of brick and left it one of marble is not, of course, literally accurate, there can be no denying that his reign was marked by a series of magnificent architectural schemes, many of them initiated under the direction of Marcus Agrippa.1 By contrast, while his successor Tiberius was conscientious about keeping existing buildings in good repair and in assisting cities in genuine financial need, he did not share Augustus’ zeal for transforming the physical face of Rome, and, in keeping with his decidedly austere and frugal view of life, felt an aversion towards costly and unnecessary public works. It is hardly surprising that Caligula did not take his lead from his immediate predecessor, but sought to revive the family tradition begun by Augustus and Agrippa. He seems to have taken a genuine personal interest in the visual arts, and would have seen in architecture a chance to grace the Roman world with a tangible symbol of his greatness.