TDISH: A Short, Notorious Life

On June 10, 38 AD, a young woman lost her life in an illness that struck Rome that Summer.  Her name was Julia Drusilla and her brother was the Emperor Gaius, better known as Caligula.  Her short and tragic life comes down to us from the Roman historian, Suetonius, who wrote years after Caligula’s death and at the behest of Roman politicians who had it in their interest to discredit the dead emperor.  There are many fantastic stories about Caligula, one of which entails an illicit love affair he had with his sister, Drusilla.  Upon her death, the empire went into official mourning.  Caligula made it a capital offense to laugh or even to bathe during the mourning period.  He then had her proclaimed a goddess.  How much of this is true is unknown, but it sure makes for a great story.

Featured Image. “Julia Drusilla.” By Unknown – User:Bibi Saint-Pol, own work, 2007-02-08, Public Domain.
Suetonius. The Twelve Caesars.  Translated by Robert Graves. Penguin Books, 1957.

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