Chapter Thirty -- Caligula = Mr. Crazy.
• I never had much regard for Claudius' mother, what with her treatment of him and all, but I did respect her at the end for just going for it and telling off Caligula. It was clear that she was done with life, but speaking to him like that was a gamble, I think. (If he'd been in a different mood, it's quite possible that her death wouldn't have been on her own terms.)
• I knew Macro's governorship of Egypt had to be a trick. Caligula learned some of his tricks from Tiberius, eh? And he got rid of Macro's wife, too. (I knew that was coming -- back in the last chapter, Claudius mentioned that Caligula was tiring of their affair.)
• Re: the story of Caligula taking a fancy to someone else's new bride, carrying her off to the Palace, marrying her and then divorcing and banishing her in two months' time -- Good Lord.
• More of Caligula's crazy:
"Drusilla died. I am certain in my own mind that Caligula killed her but I have no proof. whenever he kissed a woman now, I am told, he used to say:"As white and lovely a neck as this is, I have only to give the word, and slash! It will be cut clean through." if the neck was particularly white and lovely he could sometimes not resist the temptation of giving the word and seeing his boast proved true. In the case of Drusilla, I think that he struck the blow himself."
What do the different histories say about Drusilla? Was she a willing participant in Caligula's games (madness? lifestyle?), or was she caught in a horrible situation due to being his sister? The bit way-back-when about something green in his bedroom suggested to me that he'd drugged her that first time they were caught, and I've wondered about that ever since.
• Calpurnia continues to be wise and witty, to prefer cash to luxury items, and is the best thing in Claudius' life, from what I can gather.
• "I wish you had only a single neck. I'd hack it through!" That's a tantrum from a spoiled child. Why doesn't someone realize that Caligula himself only has a single neck? Why on earth would Claudius avenge Caligula's death?
• "The crowd jeered and booed them. This was what Caligula had been waiting for. He sent his officers to arrest the men who were making the most noise and put them into the arena to see if they would do any better. The mangy lions and panthers and sick bears and worn-out bulls made short work of them." He's horrid, but he's got a talent for irony.
• Geek moment: I realized that Caligula was probably the inspiration for the young Centuari emperor from Babylon 5. (The one that Londo and Vir assassinate with G'Kar's help.)
• I'm glad to see that the general populace is finally starting to grumble.
• Ooo. Caligula ran away from the amphitheater due to the crowd's ugliness and told Claudius to "take on the presidency from him". Claudius calms the crowd and then, in a few days, when Caligula slinks back into town, manages him splendidly as well.
• "...both forgeries in my opinion, but such early forgeries as to be practically genuine..." Heh. "It was the most impressive theatrical spectacle, I should think, that the world has ever seen, and I am sure it was the most pointless. But how everybody enjoyed it!" Double-heh.
• This was so ridiculously horrible that, yes, I admit it, it made me laugh:
"The effect of drink on Caligula was always to make him a little mischievous. At the head of the Scouts and the German bodyguard he charged about the island and along the line of shops, pushing people into the sea. The water was so calm that it was only the dead-drunk, the decrepit, the aged and little children who failed to save themselves. Not more than two or three hundred were drowned."
I realize that that makes me a bad person.
Chapter Thirty-One -- "His new ways of raising money were most ingenious and amused all but the victims and their friends or dependents."
• A perfect example of why Claudius has survived for so long:
When I say that I won my five thousand, I mean that I would have won it if I hadn't been tactful enough to call the bet off. "For one man to kill five isn't fair fighting," I said.
• Caligula is now channeling Tiberius. Great. As if one or the other isn't bad enough.
• Caligula has finally publicly announced his Divinity. I had hoped that that might be too much for the people of Rome, but they seem to have taken it in stride.
• Another close call for Claudius. Phew. He's so good at playing Caligula. But, then, he's known Caligula for Caligula's entire life. That's got to give him an edge, even with the crazy.
• I KNEW IT. All of those gifts Claudius gave Calpurnia finally came in handy. (The scenes where he promised her gifts and she said she preferred cash reminded me of the money enclosed in the letters Steve Martin would write home in The Jerk -- the money that turned everything around at the end. I can't believe I just compared I, Claudius to The Jerk.)
• ""Will you make me a Goddess is I kill Mamma?" the little fiend lisped. "I hate Mamma."" Super. Wait, who was it that Claudius said was shaping up to the the Baddest of the Bad Claudians?
• So long to Ganymede (executed), Lesbia and Agrippinilla (both banished).
• The scene at Lyons was amazing. Did Caligula ever act on his whim to burn the poetry?
Chapter Thirty-Two -- Caligula goes to war, comes home and goes even more crazy.
• A scary moment:
He looked at me, uncomfortably, through narrowed eyelids. "Do you think I'm mad?" he asked, after a time.
I laughed nervously. "Mad, Caesar? You ask whether I think you mad? Why, you set the standard of sanity for the whole habitable world."
• Excellent. His battle against Neptune was a shining example of his sanity. As was this: "For German captives he had three hundred real ones and all the tallest men he could find in France, wearing yellow wigs and German clothes and talking together in a jargon supposed to be German."
• Why are the soldiers always doing things like burning down the prostitutes' quarter? You'd think that'd be a place they'd want to protect with their lives.
• I'm sort of amazed Caligula hasn't been struck by lightning. I loved this: "But the ship was struck by lightning just before it was launched. Or this, at least, was the report--I believe, really, that the superstitious crew burned it on purpose." I also, of course, loved the story about the French shoemaker.
• "For Caligula made use to the medicine chest that he had inherited from my grandmother Livia." Who, by the way, still hasn't been made into a Goddess, right?
• Caligula's dance results in yet-another marriage for Claudius. I feel bad for Calpurnia.
Chapter Thirty-Three -- Except for the "Claudius dies, too" part of the plot, I LOVE CASSIUS CHAEREA.
• I can't believe that he referred to himself as "not very clever". I know he's big into the self-deprecation, but that's just silly.
• An assassination plot that doesn't work out (and may or may not have not been a plot to begin with) gets Caligula all worked up. He is rather cowardly, isn't he? (I loved it when he ran away from the non-existent army in the last chapter.)
• Another plot, this time more successful. I think.
Chapter Thirty-Four -- "They said I looked like a criminal being hauled away to execution."
• Caligula's assassination was very bloody. It was the "severing his jaw" that really got me.
• Claudius is finally made Emperor. He was, of course, the second nominee. The first was Caligula's horse.
• The end. That was rather... sudden. Maybe Robert Graves got writer's cramp. Well, obviously, I've got to read Claudius the God -- and soon.