Searching for the truth in Emperor Caligula's gardens in Rome

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When workers broke crushed connected an underground parking batch successful the bosom of Rome 15n years ago, they had nary thought what their backhoes were astir to unearth. The tract turned retired to beryllium what Italian archeologists judge was erstwhile "the pleasance gardens" of the Roman emperor Caligula - wherever immoderate 2,000 years agone each sorts of lavish parties, royal intrigue, and debauched behaviour apt took place.  Caligula became the 3rd emperor of Rome successful A.D. 37, and helium reigned for hardly 4 years. He's been portrayed successful past arsenic 1 of the astir deranged and despicable Roman emperors ever to rule. But arsenic we archetypal reported past fall, scholars person been re-examining Caligula's communicative for years to spot if past has it right. Could we observe immoderate caller fragments of information successful Caligula's Gardens? We were much than blessed to spell to Rome, to find out.

The temples and palaces of past Rome whitethorn person crumbled agelong ago, but the fable of 1 of its oddest emperors lives on.

What astir radical cognize astir Caligula comes from this iconic BBC bid "I, Claudius," which was based connected 2 humanities novels by Robert Graves. In the show, Caligula turns his palace into a brothel, makes his equine a high-ranking legislator and declares himself a surviving god.

It's a torrid communicative of incest, infanticide and imperial madness. 

But however overmuch of that portrayal is real?

Anderson Cooper: Did Caligula impregnate his sister and past devour her baby?

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: Caligula did not impregnate his sister and devour her baby.

Anderson Cooper: Did Caligula marque a equine a high-ranking legislator oregon consul?

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: No, no, of people helium didn't

Anderson Cooper: Did helium crook his palace into a brothel?

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: No. 

Anderson Cooper: So wherever did each these ideas travel from? 

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: Well, mostly from Robert Graves, you know, his "I, Claudius" novels are awesome. But helium wasn't an academic. He was a writer.

caligulascreengrabs11.jpg   Andrew Wallace-Hadrill

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill is an world -- a prof emeritus astatine the University of Cambridge, and he's intimately studied the fewer written accounts that past from Caligula's time.  

Anderson Cooper: I grew up watching "I, Claudius." I loved the book. I emotion the aged TV series. You're telling maine a batch of that conscionable wasn't true.

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: Now, what I'm not denying is they had enactment successful the palace. Of course, they had sex. Pretty spectacularly, of course, they had sex.

Anderson Cooper: [laughs] Pretty spectacularly? 

But Wallace-Hadrill does judge Caligula could beryllium precise impulsive and brutal, and helium doesn't regularisation retired the anticipation that helium whitethorn person had a terrible carnal oregon intelligence disorder.

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: I deliberation there's a superior information that Caligula was pathological, that helium really didn't attraction astir the wounded helium caused. 

Wallace-Hadrill says Robert Graves' novels were mostly based connected stories published astir A.D. 121, 80 years aft Caligula's decease by Suetonius, a well-known biographer and advisor to aboriginal emperors. But Suetonius often had to trust connected second-hand stories and gossip from members of the imperial court. 

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: These members of the court, you know, it's similar staffers successful the White House. It's similar each those leaky radical successful Buckingham Palace. What are these stories worth? How tin you pin them down?

Archeology tin assistance pin down the past, but successful a metropolis afloat of astonishing ruins not overmuch straight linked to Caligula had been discovered - that is until 2006.

When a pension money for Italian doctors called Enpam started digging an underground parking store for its caller bureau gathering successful the Esquilino vicinity of Rome.

In past times this was 1 of a fig of tranquil plot estates located astir 10 minutes by carriage from the bustling Roman forum. Recreations from Rome's superintendent of antiquities springiness immoderate consciousness of the sprawling grounds and buildings enjoyed by emperors and their guests for astir 4 centuries.

It took archeologists 9 years to cautiously retrieve much than a cardinal pieces of the past, portion an underground parking store and modern gathering was built astir them.

Everything recovered was taken to a ample warehouse, wherever it was intimately analyzed, logged into a database and -- erstwhile imaginable -- painstakingly restored. The bureau building's completed present and Rome's newest archeological site, the Nympheum Museum, opened successful the basement, preserving immoderate of the excavation, and suggesting what a lush and lavish spot this erstwhile was. It contains thousands of items from the 2nd period B.C. done the 5th period A.D., similar this drinking solid that someway survived mostly intact for 1900 years.

caligulascreengrabs06.jpg   Mirella Serlorenzi

Mirella Serlorenzi, manager of excavations for the Italian Ministry of Culture, took america to a tiny staircase usually closed to the nationalist and brought america to the level of the crushed during Caligula's time.

Anderson Cooper: And truthful backmost past successful the First Century, 2,000 years agone this was outside? 

Mirella Serlorenzi (Translation): It was intelligibly a plot due to the fact that we recovered successful the layers traces of the roots of the plants And successful this portion here, the staircase connected the assorted levels of the garden.

Anderson Cooper: Is it imaginable to locomotion connected it?

Mirella Serlorenzi: Absolutely, yes.

Anderson Cooper: Yeah? Excellent. 

We ended up talking for a agelong clip connected the plot steps. 

Anderson Cooper: Is it alright to beryllium down?

There was thing astir touching those aged slabs of marble that made past past consciousness precise real.

Anderson Cooper: I can't judge that we are sitting connected the steps that Caligula whitethorn person walked on. It's amazing.

She told america the h2o tube by our feet was installed by Caligula's successor, his uncle, Claudius, his sanction is stamped connected the pipe. 

caligulavideo.jpg A bust of Caligula

One of the astir singular things astir Caligula is that helium lived to go emperor astatine all. The emperor earlier him, his adoptive gramps Tiberius, was suspected of sidesplitting Caligula's father, mother, and 2 brothers. And erstwhile Caligula turned 19, helium was summoned to unrecorded with Tiberius astatine his palace connected the land of Capri.

It sits precocious connected a cliff, and it's said Tiberius would person radical who crossed him tossed onto the rocks below. Through immoderate operation of flattery and deceit, Caligula managed to past present for six years with the antheral who whitethorn person killed overmuch of his family. He became Tiberius's successor successful A.D. 37. He was conscionable 24 years aged and successful complaint of an empire.

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: He was successful a very, precise hard position. I similar the saying of Tiberius who says, "Being emperor is similar having to clasp a wolf by the ears." There's this sorta savage beast that tin crook connected you immoderate moment.

Anderson Cooper: What is truthful insecure astir it? Was it the strategy itself?

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: You've got this tremendous attraction of powerfulness and resource, wealth, concentrated connected the palace successful Rome. And everyone wants successful connected it. They are prepared to bash thing to prehend this power.

Back then, the Roman Empire dominated the Mediterranean world. And items recovered successful the gardens springiness immoderate consciousness of the riches that flowed towards Rome. Rare and intricately-carved marble from the acold reaches of the empire decorated the walls of the buildings. Glass recovered astatine the tract appears to person been utilized successful precise aboriginal windows. And ample amounts of oysters look to person been served astatine meals. Mirella Serlorenzi says her squad recovered the bones of chaotic animals that would person been brought present from acold distant lands. She showed america the limb of an ostrich, the ft of a lion and the bony of a bear. 

Mirella Serlorenzi (translation): It's evident that chaotic animals were present for the amusement of the emperor.  Games were carried retired present with gladiators, we tin imagine, and battles with ferocious beasts. 

When helium became emperor, Caligula started improving Rome's infrastructure, helium began enactment connected caller aqueducts. He besides chopped taxes. Serlorenzi says this coin recovered successful the gardens was minted astir A.D. 39 to punctual Romans that Caligula got escaped of a income tax. 

Anderson Cooper: 2,000 years ago, politicians were conscionable similar politicians today: If they chopped taxes, they wanted everybody to cognize astir it. 

Mirella Serlorenzi (translation): That's precisely right. The coins are a signifier of imperial propaganda.

But thing changed arsenic the years progressed. Suetonius says Caligula wanted to beryllium treated arsenic a deity and connected his palace successful the Roman forum to a large temple.

Anderson Cooper: That's the temple of castor and pollux?

Paolo Carafa: Exactly, exactly  and this file has been lasting determination for much than 2,000 years

Anderson Cooper: That's incredible

Paolo Carafa: They person been created successful the twelvemonth six.

caligulascreengrabs10.jpg   Paolo Carafa

Paolo Carafa, prof of archeology astatine Sapienza University of Rome, has been studying the Roman Forum country for much than 35 years.

Anderson Cooper: So according to Suetonius, Caligula extended his location up to that temple? 

Paolo Carafa: Exactly

Anderson Cooper: Have you recovered grounds of that?

Paolo Carafa: Behind the temple, caller excavation person identified fragments of a ample house, a luxury house. 

He can't accidental for definite it was Caligula's house, but helium says it comes from that clip period, and lone an emperor similar Caligula would person dared bash thing truthful shocking. 

Anderson Cooper: He wanted the temple to beryllium the entranceway to his--

Paolo Carafa: Exactly.

Anderson Cooper: --own house?

Paolo Carafa:  Which is rather unusual.

One of the things "I, Claudius" seems to person gotten right, Wallace-Hadrill told us, was Caligula's capableness for some carnal and intelligence cruelty.

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: There's nary uncertainty that Caligula's brutal. But Suetonius says he's not lone brutal, helium thinks it's amusing. He takes pleasance successful it.

Perhaps the astir telling relationship comes from a modern of Caligula's, the philosopher Seneca, who describes however Caligula invited a begetter to a festive meal connected the time helium had executed the man's son.

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: And astatine the dinner, helium insists that the begetter should person a jolly time. He plies him with vino and food. He adjacent plies him with perfume and a garland. 

Anderson Cooper: On the precise time his son... 

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: On the precise day. And Seneca says radical asked however connected world could helium endure to bash it? And the reply is helium had a 2nd son. And I deliberation that anecdote conscionable evokes the ambiance of panic of the tribunal of Caligula.

As "I, Claudius" showed, the extremity came successful A.D. 41 erstwhile Caligula was stabbed to decease by members of his ain imperial guard.

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: He's killed by his ain guardsmen, but past they haven't got a candidate.

Anderson Cooper: They don't person idiosyncratic waiting to instrumentality over--

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: They person nary 1 successful the wings, but mediocre aged Claudius.

Anderson Cooper: Does that reason the constituent that helium had to person been truly atrocious if they were truthful motivated to conscionable termination him?

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: Yeah. Yeah. It's an assassination calved of anger, humiliation, disgust. "We can't instrumentality this anymore."

Long aft the assassination itself, immoderate historians believe, Caligula's enemies assassinated his representation arsenic well. 

Anderson Cooper: There's a fig of modern scholars who person argued that Caligula's critics distorted his memory, that they person falsely made him retired to beryllium acold worse than helium was. 

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: Of course. It's similar entering a hallway of mirrors and you cognize immoderate of them are concave, and immoderate are convex. And determination are nary level mirrors. 

Anderson Cooper: But isn't that terrifying that what we deliberation we cognize astir past is truthful babelike connected rumors or... 

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: But I think it's an tremendous mistake to look astatine the past arsenic a bid of coagulated rocks that, you know, that was decidedly there. And that was definitely. It's a large morass, a flowing sea. I  deliberation that past history's precise bully for radical due to the fact that it's got truthful overmuch uncertainty successful it.

Anderson Cooper: But wherefore is it bully that there's a batch of misinformation?

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: It's bully due to the fact that the satellite we unrecorded successful is afloat of misinformation arsenic we person learned spectacularly successful caller years. You know? People invent truths. You person to beryllium skeptical.  

As we prepared to permission the Nympheum Museum, we couldn't assistance reasoning astir however clip tramples adjacent the mightiest of empires, turning lavish gardens into underground parking lots.

Anderson Cooper: What bash you deliberation Caligula would deliberation of-- of what's happened to his gardens?

Mirella Serlorenzi (translation): (laughs) I deliberation helium would beryllium successful full disagreement. And I don't deliberation helium would beryllium precise blessed that we are sitting connected his staircase.

Produced by Andy Court. Associate producer, Evie Salomon. Broadcast associate, Annabelle Hanflig. Edited by Matthew Lev.

Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper, anchor of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," has contributed to 60 Minutes since 2006. His exceptional reporting connected large quality events has earned Cooper a estimation arsenic 1 of television's pre-eminent newsmen.