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THE CÆSAR MANIA

[Essay on Caligula, by Professor Qmuue. of Munich, ■written after the dismissal of Bismarck by the Emperor William ll.] Cains Caesar, known by his military nickname Caligula (‘Boots"), was very young when he came unexpectedly into power. . . . The hope of a generation had gone into the grave with German icus. ... The young Emperor was to his people' an unknown quantity. Reports ot him had been both favorable and unfavorable. . . . They feared his heedlesaness of counsel, the temptation to misuse of power so great, the working out of bis 1 immature personality, ■ They feared especially that the young Emperor might be controlled by the all- I powerful Pratt orian Guard. But it was ' tho other way round. The leading statesman seems quickly to havo fallen . into disfavor; the Emperor himself tool; ! the helm. An era or reform seemed to I have begun, the way to liberal thought I to have been laid open. Tile shoving- aside, of] the Minister and | Prsetorian General Macro, by whom Call- 1 gula had been elevated to the throne, | seemed to promise fundamental reform in the Government. Political life was to . have new freedom, social life to be bench- ; cently remodelled. But this auspicious beginning was I quickly clouded by tho Emperor's .growing ; lust for power, and especially tho hot : desire for a- shining place in world history, i to hand down to posterity a great name i Tho chief characteristic of his yule was ! a restless, nervous haste, rushing from i one interest to another, impulsive and ; impatient of restraint, and obstinately set I upon, doing everything itself. ._ . . j The repression of the. Minister with j whom Caligula replaced the statesman I he had removed was not due to person?.! 1 antipathy, but was the expression of the Emperor's individual character ; lie could . tolerate no possible rival, and he would ; bo his own Minister. . . . And then, j the Imperial mania, the Kaiser madness. . . . Tin's is the product of moral degeneration in rulers, the_ sense of seemingly limitless piower "wiping out the boundary lilies of decent moderation, the theoretical grounding of power in a. divine right, impious perversion. Homage paid by ail about nourishes the delusion of a status superior to all mankind. . . . Mot merely court circles, but at last the maos of the people become corrupted by this insidious delusion, lese. majestci figures in tho law hocks, and it is a wonder if an absolute monarch preserves soundness of sense. The picture of Kaiser-madness that Caligula "afiords is perfectly typical. His first manifestation of true insanity came after a severe illness, . . . but this illness was only the apparent cause; the real cause lay deeper. . . . He was erratic and extravagant, spending .great sums on festivals, banquets, and gifts, clot bine. luxurious furnishings for palace and villa, royal yachts, and senseless building projects,* bridges, agueducta, canals."" And along with this passion for building went an equal passion for tearing down. What he built had the stamp of tho bizarre; the more impossible it was, the uglier its ''effect." tho better it pleased him. ... Mow. a military mania : he will lead his army over the Rhino—fantastic manoeuvres, sham battles, soldiers dressed up as Germans paraded as captives. Again, a fantastic resolve, to rule, the seas. . In the manoeuvres and sham battles with triumphant processions there is a, touch of the comic quite in keeping with the pathology of the Catsarnumi.'t. ■ , - ■ Ho would shine in public, speaking, and had a certain talent. Ho delighted in the coryphees of literature, and had the classic authors excluded from the libraries. . . . As such rulers delight in making everyone feel and tear their power, nothing displeases them so much as to discover that it has limits. . . . Caligula rewarded with hate those who gained power or who rendered him distinguished service. . . . Ho humbled the great by exalting their inferiors iu the Civil Service and tho army. Jurisprudence and the jurists ho discredited. ... Over the mn'ses of the. people Caligula believer! himself to be enthroned in such maiestv as is God’s. It is the custom ot such princes to believe in their own right, to think thev have a special mission, to believe they "stand in a. special relation toward God—and to claim for themselves such reverence as appertains to the Deity. . It was not for expediency that Caligula claimed divinity, hut the- simple, unmasked insanity of empire. In his vouth he associated with augurs and priests, he loved to masquerade in the form of a god. . ■ - Minds sick with such fancies lose the faculty of distinguishing reality from make-believe ; assuming a. nrrsonality other than their actual own. thev come to Ivlievo in their idc-ntitv with it. They fool themselves, and expect others to adopt the illusion. ... , . The Kaiser-mania is not complete until blood-thirst joins with, (he illusion of d;vir.itv. ... Caligula terrified Home, and Rome, had not manhood enough to shake off the yoke of the, fork mind.' The Senate dared not, depose ran"! or inMituio •* regency, • . • Looking back at these things from a safe distance of more than 1,600 years, we cati say that, even though "material culture." and the. luxury of the upper elassea have reached a. pilch like that which they attained in Rome under its mad Emperor, anything hke tho Roman tragedy is under" present conditions so completely impossible that the whole matter seems an incredible Kibvicat'on, an. overdone satire o’ the Roman writers. —Exchange.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141205.2.74

Bibliographic details

THE CÆSAR MANIA, Issue 15668, 5 December 1914

Word Count
897

THE CÆSAR MANIA Issue 15668, 5 December 1914

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