Caligula: A Biography

Caligula: A Biography

Caligula: A Biography

Caligula: A Biography

Synopsis

This book chronicles the fascinating story of the enthusiastic, stalwart, and talented naturalists who were drawn to California's spectacular natural bounty over the decades from 1786, when the La Perouse Expedition arrived at Monterey, to the Death Valley expedition in 1890 91, the proclaimed "end" of the American frontier. Richard G. Beidleman's engaging and marvelously detailed narrative describes these botanists, zoologists, geologists, paleontologists, astronomers, and ethnologists as they camped under stars and faced blizzards, made discoveries and amassed collections, kept journals and lost valuables, sketched flowers and landscapes, recorded comets and native languages. He weaves together the stories of their lives, their demanding fieldwork, their contributions to science, and their exciting adventures against the backdrop of California and world history."California's Frontier Naturalists" covers all the major expeditions to California as well as individual and institutional explorations, introducing naturalists who accompanied boundary surveys, joined federal railroad parties, traveled with river topographical expeditions, accompanied troops involved with the Mexican War, and made up California's own geological survey. Among these early naturalists are famous names David Douglas, Thomas Nuttall, John Charles Fremont, William Brewer as well as those who are less well-known, including Paolo Botta, Richard Hinds, and Sara Lemmon."

Excerpt

Caligula, the man who was Roman emperor from A.D. 37 to 41, started out as a tyrannical ruler and degenerated into a monster. He drank pearls dissolved in vinegar and ate food covered with gold leaf. He forced men and women of high rank to have sex with him, turned part of his palace into a brothel, and even committed incest with his own sisters. The chief victims of his senseless cruelty were Roman senators. Torture and executions were the order of the day. He removed two consuls from office because they had forgotten his birthday. He considered himself superhuman and forced contemporaries to worship him as a god. He wanted to make his horse a consul and planned to move the capital of the Empire from Rome to Alexandria.

His biographer Suetonius, to whom we owe most of this information, and the other ancient sources have an explanation for this behavior: He was insane. The phi los o pher Seneca, a contemporary who knew him personally, mentions his “madness” and calls him a “beast.” Another contemporary, Philo of Alexandria, who had contact with him as the head of a legation, speaks of his . . .

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