Overreaching Rome: Welcome to Club Caligula

So much for Caligula as emperor; we must now tell of his career as a monster…

Installation View: CLUB CALIGULA
Stefania Batoeva, Club III, 2015, Oil on canvas, 230 x 180 cm

After he had assumed various surnames (for he was called “Pious,” “Child of the Camp,” “Father of the Armies,” and “Greatest and Best of Caesars”), by chance overhearing some kings, who had come to Rome to pay their respects to him, disputing at dinner about the nobility of their descent, he cried:

Installation View: CLUB CALIGULA

“Let there be one Lord, one King.”

Stefania Batoeva, Club II, 2015. Oil on canvas, 230 x 180 cm

And he came near assuming a crown at once and changing the semblance of a principate into the form of a monarchy. But on being reminded that he had risen above the elevation both of princes and kings, he began from that time on to lay claim to divine majesty;

Ilja Karilampi, Bcoz I haven´t reached the pinnacles I´m supposed to reach, 2015, Adhesive vinyl, Dimensions variable
Installation View: CLUB CALIGULA

for after giving orders that such statues of the gods as were especially famous for their sanctity or their artistic merit, including that of Jupiter of Olympia, should be brought from Greece, in order to remove their heads and put his own in their place

he built out a part of the Palace as far as the Forum, and making the temple of Castor and Pollux its vestibule, he often took his place between the divine brethren, and exhibited himself there to be worshipped by those who presented themselves; and some hailed him as Jupiter Latiaris.

Stefania Batoeva, Club IV, 2015. Oil on canvas, 230 x 180 cm

He also set up a special temple to his own godhead, with priests and with victims of the choicest kind. In this temple was a life-sized statue of the emperor in gold, which was dressed each day in clothing such as he wore himself.

Installation View: CLUB CALIGULA

 The richest citizens used all their influence to secure the priesthoods of his cult and bid high for the honour.

Detail: Leslie Kulesh, Snuggie – The Gray Escape, 2015. Quilted nylon fabric. Dimensions Variable.
Ilja Karilampi, Riffing SB, 2015, Adhesive vinyl, dimensions variable, Chair installation by Stefania Batoeva.
Installation View: CLUB CALIGULA

The victims were flamingoes, peacocks, black grouse, guinea-hens and pheasants, offered day by day each after its own kind. 

Installation View: CLUB CALIGULA

 At night he used constantly to invite the full and radiant moon to his embraces and his bed, while in the daytime he would talk confidentially with Jupiter Capitolinus, now whispering and then in turn his ear to the mouth of the god, now in louder and even angry language; for he was heard to make the threat:

Stefania Batoeva, Club I, 2015, Oil on canvas, 230 x 180 cm

“Lift me up, or I’ll lift you!”

But finally won by entreaties, as he reported, and even invited to live with the god, he built a bridge over the temple to the Deified Augustus, and thus joined his Palace to the Capitol. Presently, to be nearer yet, he laid the foundations of a new house in the court of the Capitol.


(Selections from Suetonius Life of Gaius Caesar (Caligula) Chapter 22 and installation views of Stefania Batoeva’s Club Caligula at Supplement, London (with Ilja Karilampi, Leslie Kulesh, Isaac Lythgoe) – for more information, click here.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *