I’ve always liked Robert Graves’s historical fiction, even though Graves himself thought the books were popular claptrap. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Anyway, I’ve been remembering the part of the story involving the mad emperor Caligula from I, Claudius, as narrated by his clever uncle, who was later to be the emperor Claudius. By Caligula’s reign the old Roman nobility had already been degraded, but Caligula (at least the fictionalized Caligula) shamed and humiliated them all. He made them worship him as a god. He would prostitute Roman matrons to common men. He forced the Senate to admit his horse, Incitatus, as a Senator. And he married off his old uncle, the crippled, stammering Claudius, to a beautiful maiden, Messalina, for his own amusement. Everyone knew he was crazy, but he had some popular support and no one was brave enough to call him out. Finally, the honorable Cassius killed him, showing that the emperor had no clothes. But along the way Caligula sullied what was left of the Roman elite.