Gambling With Roman Emperors

Dio Cassius, Roman Histories 59.22 [ AD 39]

“Once, when [Caligula] was playing dice and had learned that he didn’t have any money, he demanded the tax roles of the Gauls and then ordered the wealthiest of them to be killed. He returned to his said that “while you have been competing over a few mere handfuls, I have come into one hundred and fifty million.” And those men died without any plan it all.

A certain one of them, Julius Sacerdos, who was well-to-do but certainly not one of the super-rich to the each that he should have been attached for it, was killed because he had a similar name. Everything happened with as little concern as this.

I don’t need to mention any of the many others who died by name, but I will talk about those for whom history demands some memory. First, he had Lentulus Gaetulicus killed—he was well-reputed in every way and had been an overseer of Germany for ten years all because he was dear to his soldiers. He also killed Lepidus, his lover and beloved, Drusilla’s husband, a man who had joined Gaius himself in having sex with those other sisters, Argippina and Julia. He had even stood for office five years soon than the law allowed and he had kept announcing that he would leave him as the successor of the empire. He sent the soldiers money for that man, as if he had overcome some enemy, and also sent three daggers to Mars the Avenger in Rome.”

κυβεύων δέ ποτε, καὶ μαθὼν ὅτι οὐκ εἴη οἱ ἀργύριον, ᾔτησέ τε τὰς τῶν Γαλατῶν ἀπογραφάς, καὶ ἐξ αὐτῶν τοὺς πλουσιωτάτους θανατωθῆναι κελεύσας, ἐπανῆλθέ τε πρὸς τοὺς συγκυβευτὰς καὶ ἔφη ὅτι “ὑμεῖς περὶ ὀλίγων δραχμῶν ἀγωνίζεσθε, ἐγὼ δὲ ἐς μυρίας καὶ πεντακισχιλίας μυριάδας ἤθροισα.” καὶ οὗτοι μὲν ἐν οὐδενὶ λόγῳ ἀπώλοντο· ἀμέλει εἷς τις αὐτῶν Ἰούλιος Σακερδὼς ἄλλως μὲν εὖ χρημάτων ἥκων, οὐ μέντοι καὶ ὑπερπλουτῶν ὥστε καὶ ἐπιβουλευθῆναι δι᾿ αὐτά, ὅμως ἐξ ἐπωνυμίας ἀπεσφάγη· οὕτως ἀκρίτως πάντα ἐγίγνετο. τῶν δὲ ἄλλων τοὺς μὲν πολλοὺς οὐδὲν δέομαι ὀνομαστὶ καταλέγειν, ὧν δὲ δὴ ἡ ἱστορία τὴν μνήμην ἀπαιτεῖ, φράσω. τοῦτο μὲν γὰρ Γαιτούλικον Λέντουλον, τά τε ἄλλα εὐδόκιμον ὄντα καὶ τῆς Γερμανίας δέκα ἔτεσιν ἄρξαντα, ἀπέκτεινεν, ὅτι τοῖς στρατιώταις ᾠκείωτο· τοῦτο δὲ τὸν Λέπιδον ἐκεῖνον τὸν ἐραστὴν τὸν ἐρώμενον, τὸν τῆς Δρουσίλλης ἄνδρα, τὸν καὶ ταῖς ἄλλαις αὐτοῦ ἀδελφαῖς τῇ τε Ἀγριππίνῃ καὶ τῇ Ἰουλίᾳ μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐκείνου συνόντα, ᾧ πέντε ἔτεσι θᾶσσον τὰς ἀρχὰς παρὰ τοὺς νόμους αἰτῆσαι ἐπέτρεψεν, ὃν καὶ διάδοχον τῆς ἡγεμονίας καταλείψειν ἐπηγγέλλετο, κατεφόνευσε. καὶ τοῖς τε στρατιώταις ἀργύριον ἐπὶ τούτῳ, καθάπερ πολεμίων τινῶν κεκρατηκώς, ἔδωκε, καὶ ξιφίδια τρία τῷ Ἄρει τῷ Τιμωρῷ ἐς τὴν Ῥώμην ἔπεμψε.

NAMABG-Caligula 1.JPG
Portrait de l’empereur Gaius Julius Augustus Germanicus