Wednesday, 16 November 2016

History Fun Facts November 16


On This Day In History in 42 BC, the Roman Emperor Tiberius was born.

And yet he died in 37 BC. That isn't confusing at all.

The Emperor Tiberius was assassinated. By a pillow.

The pillow may have just been where his head was resting whilst he slept. Or it may have been above his head, being pressed down, really hard, by Caligula. No one is quite sure.

Tiberius died in Misenum, aged 78, after placing himself in exile for the last years of his life. Everyone had it in for him. That bloke. The bloke over there. The geezer sitting down. The fairy on top of the Christmas tree. The gnome in his neighbour's front garden. Everyone.

The guy was a little paranoid.

And not well liked.

When news spread to Rome about the death of Emperor Tiberius, the crowd rejoiced. Then went silent when they were told he had recovered. And then rejoiced again when they heard Caligula and Macro had smothered him with an inflatable hedgehog. Pillow. They smothered him with a pillow.

The Roman Senate didn't like him either.

After Tiberius succumbed to the ravages of an inflatable hedgehog, or time, the geezer was really old, they refused to vote him divine honours.

The mobs took to the streets chanting, "To the Tiber with Tiberius."

It was a tradition back in Rome, back in the good old days, to carry dead criminals to the Tiber and dump them in the river. The Senate didn't take any notice of the crowds. They cremated the Emperor with the body of a house elf and ejaculated, "Tiberius Expelliarmus." And laid his ashes to rest in the Mausoleum of Augustus.

Emperor Tiberius had left a will.

He dictated his powers should be jointly shared with Caligula, his grand nephew and adoptive grandson, and Tiberius Gemellus, his actual grandson.

Best laid plans, and all that...

As soon as Caligula was granted the powers of the Emperor, his first act was to make void the will of Tiberius. His second act was to kick a puppy. His third act was to have his cousin and co-Emperor, Tiberius Gemellus executed.

Caligula did give a reason for the execution: the eighteen-year-old had bad breath.

Gemellus had been taking medicine for a bad cough. It was quite persistent and he couldn't shift it. Pneumonia may have taken hold, and the young man may not have survived long anyway.

But Caligula believed, or at least that's what he told people, that his cousin had insulted him by taking an antidote against poison. And that his breath stank of it.

That means there was only one thing the new Emperor could do: Send a military tribune to the house of Gemellus and have him shove a Gladius into his belly.

If that won't cure pneumonia, nothing will.

Caligula then went about stealing the fortunes of Tiberius and spending it on drugs, ninjas, and monkey hookers.

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