History remembers Caligula as being absolutely fucking insane, even when compared with other ancient Roman emperors. That's like getting a gold medal at the crazy illness Olympics. Maybe it had to do with his mother's exile while he was still young. Maybe it had to do with all of the lead-flavored water he was drinking. Whatever the cause, he is said to have proclaimed himself a god, tried to appoint his horse as a senator and declared war on the ocean.
"Look at it out there, plotting against me. SEND IN THE LEGIONS!"
Or maybe the crazy came from carrying around his childhood nickname his whole life.
"Caligula" means "little boots." You see, when Caligula was a young boy, he accompanied his father and the soldiers under his command on their military campaigns. Somewhere along the line, he had been given his own miniature soldier costume, complete with tiny booties. The elite killing team that he was accompanying had nothing better to do than watch a child play make-believe, and when they did, they were greatly amused by boots that Gaius was marching around in. They nicknamed him "little boots," and the name stuck, even when that child grew up to control the most powerful empire in the world.
Via Louis le Grand
He manifested his insecurity through ridiculous hats.
Caligula grew to hate his nickname as he got older. And yeah, he was said to be an unhinged psychopath, but maybe he deserves a little bit of slack. Imagine the havoc you would wreak if a country full of people were calling you "footie pajamas" behind your back ... and then history only remembered you by that name.
Be sure to pick up our book where we get even more catty on other historical figures.
Get the scoop on other names in 6 Insane True Stories Behind The Stage Names of Celebrities and The 25 Most Ridiculous Band Names in Rock History.
And stop by Linkstorm to learn the secret behind David Wong's name. (Hint: It involves Wavid's Dong.)
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