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Rome: Palatine Hill's Cryptoporticus Now Open & Caligula's Assassination (rewrite)

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[In 2 parts]
This Palatine Hill Cryptoporticus has recently opened (Spring '06 or earlier) after being closed for many years.

 It seems to be generally accepted/believed this is the cryptoporticus that Caligula was assassinated in.
 IMO, everything fits perfectly and it is the only possibility in that timeframe.

 I love to stand in locations like this and play out major historical events in my mind that happened ~2000yrs ago.
*But* I am only happy doing this if I know the exact location that these events took place, this cryptoporticus is 130m long.

But there is no ancient plaque or 'X' on the floor marking this location. Or any books, papers, diagrams, etc by historians or archaeologists that I have found saying where the actual assassination took place.
 I have also posted this question on history and archaeology Newsgroups with no luck.

  I have an advantage though, I have no academic reputation to tarnish and I doubt the other truckdrivers will ostracize me if I am wrong :).

 I've spent hours seaching the net and reading a few history books. And these sources have given alot of clues mainly from the ancient writers about this location.
  With these clues and just common sense as there are only 2 possible locations in this cryptoporticus :) it really seems to be IMO a certainty where these events took place.  

 But bottomline and in reality this location is just my guess as there is no *solid proof* that it is the actual location, I believe it is and my reasons are below.

 I originally wrote this ~1yr ago, since then some links went dead and the cryptoporticus opened.
I've added new links and rewrote it so sometimes I do repeat myself (esp with the 'hid' and 'ran down' info :).

 You will most likely enter the Palatine Hill from the Roman Forum. Go to www.vroma.org:7878/3034
See the "You are here" next to the 'Arch of Titus'. You will turn right on the 'Nova Via' and around where the 'Via' is there is the Palatine Hill ticket office (ticket is also good for the Colosseum).

 To go to the Cryptoporticus you don't want to to the top 2 bldgs shown in this photo www.ntimages.com/Italy/Rome/forum2palatine.jpg but halfway up the stairs take the path on the left and it will bring you to the cryptoporticus entrance where I believe Caligula's assassination took place.

[THE HISTORY]
'Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus' (AD 12 - AD 41) better known as Caligula. Which was a childhood nickname given to him by his father's troops meaning 'little sandal(s)' although it's usually translated as 'little boots'.

 His great-uncle Emperor Tiberius very likely had his father poisoned and later killed his older brothers and his mother.  Caligula was just a child so he and his sisters were spared. But he knew growing-up if he ever gave Tiberius the slightest reason to suspect him of revenge, he would be killed.
But Caligula only showed an interest in feasts, wine, incest, kinky sex and sadism, all carried out to the extreme.

 And that is how he lived his life until the age of 24 when Tiberius died and he became Emperor.
 The army and the people are overjoyed, they really hated Tiberius and they loved Caligula's father and his family (think JFK in the 60's).

 He began his reign as a decent emperor, as far as emperors go and probably would have gone down in history as one.
Except ~6 months into it he became very ill, fell into a coma and was at the point of death.
When he finally recovered, that which came back from death's door was a total madman, who thought himself a living God and he even had temples built to himself.
  This alone might have eventually got him killed along with blowing thru the Roman treasury on his partying and foolish building projects.
But his assassination was basically IMO caused by his preoccuption with sex which caused grave insult to two of the key conspirators.

 Caligula had a habit of inviting Senators, aristocrats and their wives to Palace feasts. And in the middle of dining, he would choose one of their wives and take her to his bedroom.
 On his return he would comment (pro or con) on her physical traits and her lovemaking ability as part of the dinner conversation.
During which the humiliated husband and his wife had no choice but to just sit there.
 He had done this to M. Valerius Asiaticus who was a Senator and an ex-Consul.
Valerius and 3 other Senators were key players in the assassination.

 But the Senators and others who want Caligula dead have a major problem, the Praetorian Guard who are the Imperial bodyguards to the Emperor. Plus to some extent Caligula's seperate but very loyal ($$$) German bodyguards.

So an Emperor has armed military men (Praetorian Guard) around him at all times, whose job it is to protect the Emperor's life even at the cost of their own.
  So 'ya think' any Emperor in his right mind would want to keep these boys *very happy* with pay raises, bonuses, perks and respecting their profession. They are afterall proud, honorable and brave soldiers who will kill and die for you.

But Caligula goes way out of his way to tick them off!   There are 4 high ranking Praetorian conspirators, three Tribunes (Colonel) and the co-Prefect (General) of the Guard.

One of the Tribunes named Cassius Chaerea is the mastermind of the plot and it is he who will strike the first blow.
Chaerea is a proud, honorable man with a manly military appearance but he had a high or lisply voice. Caligula constantly made fun of him in front of others esp the Guards beneath his command.   Caligula would call him a girl, a sissy, a weakling and would often choose sexually or love related passwords to be used when he was in 'Command of the Watch'.   And on the occasions when Chaerea was required to kiss the Emperor's ring, Caligula would use his finger or fingers to mimic a sex act just to humiliate him.

All the conspirators (there are others involved also) need now is a good time and good place.
 
 The *PLACE* they choose is the Cryptoporticus, a 130m tunnel that connects the Tiberius/Caligula Palace to the 'House of Livia' (aka 'House of Germanicus', 'House of Augustus') which is in the 'House of Augustus' complex.
There are two seperate side-by-side houses in this complex one is called the 'House of Augustus' and the other the 'House of Livia', this is the very modest palace that Emperor Augustus and his 2nd wife Livia live in during his reign.
 
 But it seems that sometime after Augustus' death the 'House of Livia' becomes the 'House of Germanicus' (Caligula's father). Caligula is Augustus' great-grandson and Livia his step-great-grandmother who after the death of his parents raises Caligula and his sisters for a short time in this complex.  
 
  The *TIME* is during the multi-day 'Ludi Palatina' which are scenic plays held in honor of the late Emperor Augustus.
These plays are being held in a large wooden amphitheater on the Palatine Hill.

They choose the day when Ghaerea will be on duty in this cryptoporticus.
Caligula leaves the amphitheater for an afternoon break back at the Palace, he wants a meal and to relax a bit in the Baths (he is also suffering from a hang-over and gluttony from a feast the night before).

He *Enters* the cryptoporticus with a small entourage and leaves his German bodyguards at the entrance [It *seems* the Germans guarded him at and from the crowded amphitheater but passed on their duties to the Praetorian Guard once inside the Palace cryptoporticus?].

There are conspirators within his entourage and in the cryptoporticus waiting with the two Tribunes of the Praetorian Guard (Chaerea and Cornelus Sabinus).

Caligula stops to talk to some young Asian boys practicing their singing act in the cryptoporticus that they will perform later.
Caligula even offers to return to the amphitheater right then to hear them perform but one of the boys complains he has a chill right now and begs off.

Either at that moment or seconds later when he gives the password to Chaerea he is struck by Chaerea's sword or dagger. Chaerea only wants to wound Caligula just so he'll suffer and know he is about to die also for the sweetness of revenge.

The 1st wound lands on his jaw another account says the neck & shoulder area.
Caligula's screams echo thru the tunnel as he tries to flee from Chaerea only to be tripped-up and sent sprawling to the ground by Sabinus who also stabs him.

 Now the other conspirators fall upon him with their daggers, in their frenzy some are even biting into his flesh.
Caligula has 30 wounds, a few intentionally aimed at his privates by those I assume he had humiliated sexually.
Even though he is dead, the honor of administering final 'coup de grace' thrust is given to a man named Aquila, history records his name but not his reason.

During the attack Caligula's 'litter bearers' try to come to his aid using their litter poles as weapons. But to no avail.

 Now the assassins must escape, the German bodyguards are still at the cryptoporticus entrance and will soon enter the tunnel when they hear what has happened. They are loyal to Caligula because he pays them very well, so they must be avoided until things calm down or they can be dealt with.

The assassins run down the tunnel to the 'House of Livia/Germanicus' and hide there. This is part of the Palace complex and under the Praetorian Guard's control.

The Germans enter the tunnel and see their Emperor dead. They start killing the assassins that have stayed, the blood on their clothing gives them away. Although one Senator is killed mistakenly because he has blood on his toga either by an earlier animal sacrifice or was just unluckily standing near Caligula when stabbed.

 The Germans hold the others in the tunnel and later seal off the amphitheater's exits, so no one can escape while they search for other assassins and conspirators.  Finally they realize that with their sugar-daddy Emperor dead they are in a no-win position and stand-down.

 Praetorian Guards enter the Palace, Caligula's wife Caesonia is stabbed to death and their young daughter is picked-up and has her head bashed against a wall.

Caligula's uncle Claudius fearing for his life hides behind some curtains in the palace. And just like in those old movies, his feet stick out :) betraying his hiding place. He's then taken to the Praetorian Guard's barracks and held there for a few days.

 Claudius is no fool, he wisely tells these soldiers that they are way underpaid and need a big raise plus a nice bonus :).
 Well the soldiers readily agree, it is exactly what they wanted to hear:). The soldiers then go down to the Senate House and *TELL* the Senators "We have a new Emperor".   This is the first time the Praetorian Guard have ever done this but it will not be the last!

 Caligula was 28 on Jan 24, 41AD, he ruled for 3yrs and 10 months. His body was secretly taken to a villa's garden and hastily burned and buried.
Later this garden was haunted by his ghost until his sisters returned from exile and properly cremated him and placed his ashes in the 'Tomb of Augustus'.
 
 And the Palace where he was murdered beneath, it's claimed that not a night passed without some fearsome apparition appearing. It remained haunted until it was finally destroyed in Nero's Great Fire in 64AD.

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    [THE SITE]
    There are 3 outside entrance locations into the cryptoporticus and one doesn't exist in our timeline.

    Go to www.utexas.edu/courses/romanciv/artandarchitecture/domitian'spalace.jpg
    This mainly shows Domitian's Palace which was built over Nero's Palace but both of these palaces were built *after* Caligula's death.       

    Now somewhere in the center of this plan was the 'Area Palatina' which was like the Roman Forum Square, a large open space like today's piazzas.
    You can see that after the palaces are built the 'Area Palatina' is moved to the left and becomes a forecourt for the palace.

    In the older Area Palatina a large wooden amphitheater was built which seems to have been built at the upper or eastern end of the old Area Palatina by one account.

    These wooden amphitheaters were popular before the Colosseum was built and they were big. I recall reading about one collapsing and killing 10,000+.  They were used for bloodsports and other entertainment but at the time of Caligula's death the 'Ludi Palatina' (5 days of scenic plays in honor of the late Emperor Augustus) were being performed there.

     Ok, see the Cryptoporticus at the bottom of the plan. To the left of it (far off screen) is the main living section of the Palace (Domus Tiberiana) where Caligula is heading for a mid-day break (meal & bath) from the amphitheater plays.

     Notice the ====== section going *up* from the Crytptoporticus, then a space and then this |||||||||||. The ===== is an offshoot tunnel and the ||||||||| are stairs leading up to ground level.

     That would be a possible route for leaving the amphitheater and heading to the palace.
     Except it was built by Domitian over 50yrs later to connect his new palace to the older (rebuilt) palace.

    So 1 down, 2 to go :).
     See how the Cryptoporticus turns at the 'House of Augustus', it ends in ~25m between this House's Atrium and the Temples.

    That house is actually called the 'House of Livia' who was Augustus' wife and a few meters south was what is called the 'House of Augustus'.
    So there are 2 seperate houses (one called Livia and the other called Augustus) within this (once) walled complex.

    This complex was Augustus' home when he was Emperor. He wanted to keep it simple and not live in a Palace to show the people that he was like any other Roman citizen.

    This house later became the 'House of Germanicus' when it was his family's home (Germanicus was Caligula's father-a very popular General and Royality.
    He was also Augustus' 2nd heir to the Empire by adoption; Augustus adopted Tiberius and Tiberius adopted Germanicus at the same time on Augustus' orders.
    A few years later Germanicus was possibly poisoned on Emperor Tiberius' orders, everyone hated Tiberius and everyone loved Germanicus which probably was his downfall).

    This is where the assassins hid after the murder.
    Ancient writers say they "ran down the cryptoporticus and hid in the House of Germanicus".

      Three reasons why I doubt this entrance is the actual *assassination location*:  
     Caligula would be taking the *long way* around to go from the amphitheater to the Palace. Plus he would actually have to enter this secure complex to get to the cryptoporticus (guarded closed doors, ramps, turns, etc).

     Why were his litter bearers carrying their poles and not carrying him it his litter from the amphitheater to the cryptoporticus entrance and *thru* the cryptoporticus to the Palace (I'll get into this later)?

     The assassins kill him *right there* and then hide in the house that is *right there* actually attached to the cryptoporticus??? Just meters from the German bodyguards who they would have to pass exiting the cryptoporticus after the murder? And other witnesses who could betray their hiding place just meters away???

    But mainly according to ancient writers "they *ran down* the tunnel *to* the 'House of Germanicus and hid there"!

    So that entrance just doesn't make sense for the assassination site.

    Ok, That website above just showed a detailed portion of the Palatine Hill and the cryptoporticus. And I wanted to keep it here it case my other links go dead in the future.

    Go to:
    www.people.umass.edu/jfa/latour/2005/COLIN/Map-of-Palatine_Thumb.jpg [Back-up maps: www.vroma.org:7878/3034
    http://tinyurl.com/npnro ]

    This shows the entire Hill and Cryptoporticus. GREEN Section is the Domus Tiberiana (Palace of Tiberius) which is now Caligula's Palace in our timeline, he was Emperor Tiberius' successor.
    The YELLOW & ORANGE sections do not exist in our timeline.

    #13 is the Cryptoporticus --------.

    #14 is the 'House of Livia' (aka Augustus).

    The cryptoporticus' entrance is to the left of the 'House of Livia' #14.
    This was an outside entrance within the Augustus complex, actually it was in the House of Livia's frontyard.

    The cryptoporticus then runs alongside this house and then turns 90deg straight-up.

    The 1st branch ===== on the right is Domitian's 50yr later addition, so not in our timeline.

     The 2nd branch |||||||||| on the left are stairs leading into the Palace's huge atrium/courtyard, no bearing with the assassination or assassins.

     But the section at the top of the cryptoporticus that turns 90deg to the right ===== is the 3rd *outside* entrance.
    That entrance is at groundlevel facing *the main street* that leads into the Palatine Hill off the Via Sacra.

     That ==== section is beneath the Palace, in the Palace's basement. In the middle of that section are stairs ==||== leading up the Palace's ground floor which you can see on the right in the photo below (There *might* also be stairs at that 90deg turn, the rooms there are closed-off so I couldn't see but in one diagram it looks like a staircase but I don't know for sure.
    Either way they are just meters apart and no big deal).

     Remember when you actually see this section
    www.sionmc.com/Rome/palatinew/pages/criportnero.htm it was completely built over by the Palace with a guarded door at the entrance
    ====||===] .

      And the wooden amphitheater that Caligula left that day to return to the Palace was probably in the area to the right of #6 or at #6 on the map.
      IMO this 3rd entrance is the only logical cryptoporticus assassination site.  

     You can see it's the shortest and easiest route plus it is on the main street that leads from the possible site of this wooden amphitheater right by this entrance heading to the Via Sacra.

    Caligula's litter bearers: These are Imperial Slaves who would live in the palace's slave quarters, almost certainly in the basement.

    The litter and it's carrying poles are seperate. The litter has 4 upsidedown U's at each corner. The person enters the litter and the slaves come over and put the poles under the U's to lift it and when exiting the slaves put the litter down and remove the poles. This is so the VIP doesn't have to high-step over them entering and exiting.

     I mention this because the litter bearers were in the cryptoporticus with Caligula (he was walking at this point) and carrying their poles which they used to attack the assassins.

      I believe their job was done, they had carried the Emperor from the amphitheater to the palace's entrance, left the litter at the tunnel entrance and were taking themselves and their poles to the slave's area to await their next assignment.

    It's a very short distance (15m) from the entrance to the stairs leading up to the palace, makes no sense to bring the litter thru the guarded gate and into the cryptoporticus, much more hassle than it's worth.  

      Also another ancient author says that the boys who were practicing their singing (Caligula spoke to them just before he was attacked) in the cryptoporticus were in a section *beneath* the palace.

    This 3rd entrance hallway is the *only* section that is actually beneath the Palace. The rest of the cryptoporticus actually runs alongside the Palace with the top arched section above ground, this top section has small windows in it for sunlight www.vroma.org:7878/1730 .

    But the biggest clue is that ancient writers say the assassination was *in* the cryptoporticus. And the assassins *ran down* the cryptoporticus and *hid* in the 'House of Germanicus (Livia, Augustus)'.

     In this timeline there are only 2 outside entrances to this cryptoporticus, one is at the 'House of Germanicus' and the other is at the far end of the cryptoporticus beneath the Palace. "Ran down" and "Hid" eliminates the former IMO as the assassination site, it is where they escaped too not from.

     Now the assassins have 5 choices to escape from this 3d entrance location.
    (1) Thru the entrance where Caligula has just entered with the German bodyguards outside, not a wise choice :).  

    (2) Upstairs into the palace, but it's very close to the murder site and you would basically be cornering yourself in that corner of the Hill.  Plus the Palace is full of people who would witness where a small band of blood-spattered men ran too or hid.

    (3) & (4) Are staircases in the cryptoporticus that lead to the very large porticoed atrium/courtyard of the Palace (1 of the staircases might be a later addition).   A huge open-air space with nowhere to hid and again many witnesses. These are Palace *interior* entrances/exits to the cryptoporticus and cannot be accessed from the outside which is why I don't mention them as possible assassination sites. Plus Caligula is going back to the main Palace to eat and bathe, not to the atrium/courtyard for a walk.

    The (5)th is "run down the cryptoporticus" (130m) and hide in the 'House of Germanicus' which is what the ancient writers say happened.

    Although it is still part of the general Tiberius/Caligula Palace complex, it is a seperate distant section and guarded by men under their command.

    [OMENS]
    Caligula's approaching murder was foretold by many omens.

    The 'Statue of Jupiter' at Olympia, Greece which was one of the 'Seven Wonders of the World' had been ordered by Caligula to be taken apart and moved to Rome.
    The Statue suddenly laughed so loud that the scaffolding collapsed and the workers fled the Temple.
      Just then a man named *Cassius* showed up and said he had been told in a dream to sacrifice a Bull to Jupiter.  

     At Capua the Capitol was struck by lightning on the Ides of March.

    In Rome, the room of the doorkeeper at the Caligula's Palace was also struck by lightning.

    These were later interpreted as a 2nd Ruler would die like Julius Caesar did on the 'Ides of March'.
      And the Ruler of this Palace was in danger from his own Guards.

    A fortuneteller/soothsayer named Sulla was asked by Caligula for his horoscope.
     He was told that his inevitable death was close at hand.

    An earlier prediction had warned him to beware of a man named *Cassius*.   

    Caligula put 2+2 together (his death & Cassius) and ordered the death of the Roman Proconsul of Asia, a man named Cassius Longinus.
     But Caligula overlooked the fact that the family name of Chaerea was *Cassius*, the man who would strike the 1st blow and whom Caligula loved to humiliate.

    The day before the assassination Caligula dreamed that he was standing beside the Throne of Jupiter in Heaven. Jupiter kicked him with his right big toe out of Heaven hurling him to Earth.

     On the day of the assassination while Caligula was sacrificing he was sprinkled with the blood from the Flamingo.

    And on stage that day a famous actor danced a tragedy, it was the same tragedy acted out at the Games where King Philip (Alexander the Great's father) was assassinated.

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    Thank you, Walter! Great information, as usual, to keep on file for my next trip.

    Looking forward to anything else you would like to share from your recent trip . . .

    Linda

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    Thanks Howard and Linda.

    All the URL's are valid but Fodors Links have a glitch when a URL contains things like ~ : ' so they are broken and don't work, you must cut & paste them to get to the proper website.

    Next time I'll use one of those 'make a shorter link' websites link www.tinyurl.com .
    Regards, Walter

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