Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Top Of My Head, Part IV - Rock Star

He was the object of public adulation from early childhood. 

In his middle years he developed extravagant habits, including keeping exotic menageries. 

As time progressed, he descended into delusions of messianism. 

And, bizarrely, his life ended at the hands of one of his own household. 

If you thought I was describing the life of Caligula, you'd be wrong.

I was writing about Michael Jackson.

Although he was deeply unsavoury Caligula was also clearly mad, so although his excesses were extreme I do not think that he should be judged for them as harshly as Tiberius and Claudius should be judged for theirs. Indeed, of all the Julio-Claudians Caligula is the only one for whom I can summon a shred of sympathy. An unsuitably public upbringing in the public eye, exposed to the mass adulation of his father's legions in Germany almost from birth, caused an enormous degree of expectation for his subsequent solo career, and he couldn't handle it. 

History never repeats itself exactly, but if the act of crossing its great bridge in order to study the later life of a toddler who wore specially made miniature soldiers' sandals teaches us just one lesson, it is that young children need to be sheltered, not worshipped.

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