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I have existed from the morning of the world and I shall exist until the last star falls from the night. Although I have taken the form of Gaius Caligula, I am all men as I am no man and therefore I am a God.
~ Caligula's opening lines.

Caligula (full name: Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus) is the titular protagonist villain of the 1979 film of the same name.

He was portrayed by Malcolm McDowell, who also played Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange, Tolian Soran in Star Trek: Generations, Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn in Wing Commander  video game series, Lord Maliss in Happily Ever After, Dr. Calico in Bolt, Captain Von Berkow in The Passage, Sinclair in Home Alone: The Holiday Heist, Arkady Duvall in Batman: The Animated Series, Colonel F. E. Cochrane in Blue Thunder, Kesslee in Tank Girl, Tower in Phineas and Ferb, The Shaman in the Aladdin TV series, and Marcus Kane in Doomsday.


As the movie began Caligula was the young heir to the throne. One morning a blackbird flew into his room; and Caligula considered it a bad omen. His fears seem to be confirmed when the Praetorian Prefect Macro arrived with news that Emperor Tiberius, who was his great uncle, demanded he come to the island of Capri right away. Caligula was afraid of going, fearing the Emperor would have him killed. His sister and lover Drusilla persuaded him to go.

Caligula arrived at Capri and found Tiberius depraved and suffering from advanced venereal disease. Growing weary of Rome and politics Tberius passed his days swimming with naked youths along with watching all manner of degrading sex shows - some of which included children. Caligula observes Tiberius with a mixture if fascination and horror. When Tiberius tried to poison Caligula the Emperor's friend Nerva committed suicide. Marco then turned on Tiberius and helped Caligula kill the Emperor.

Upon the burial of Tiberius the Senate proclaimed Caligula as the new Emperor. Caligula made Drusilla his equal, to the consternation of the Senators. She in turn convinces Caligula to get rid of Marco, fearing his influence with the new Emperor. Caligula put Macro on trial, and forces Gemellus to testify Marco murdered Tiberius alone. Macro's wife Ennia is exiled while Marco was put to a gruesome death in the arena. Caligula appoints Tiberius' adviser Longinus as personal assistant and named Senator Chaerea as the new prefect of Praetorian Guard.

As both Caligula and Drusilla worshipped Isis Drusilla tried to find Caligula a priestesses of the goddess Isis. Caligula still wanted to marry Drusilla but she refuses, telling him he cannot marry his sister. Soon Caligula is united in marriage to the priestess and notorious courtesan Caesonia.

At this point Caligula is still quite popular with the masses after years of oppression from the mad and bloodthirsty Tiberius. The Senate however disapproves of his eccentricities. Soon the darker aspects of Caligula's personality emerge, such as his raping a bride and her new husband on their wedding day. Additionally he had Gemellus put to death as well.

Caligula soon fell ill and suffered a severe fever. Drusilla nursed her brother back to health. As he recovered Caesonia bore Caligula his daughter Julia Drusilla. During the celebrations that followed, Drusilla became ill with the same disease Caligula just had. Another blackbird soon showed up as a bad omen. Caligula desperately prayed to Isis but Drusilla still died. As a result Caligula suffered a nervous breakdown. He rampaged through the palace while holding his dead sister's body. At this point he lost all faith in Isis and smashed the statue of her in the palace.

Depressed over his sister and lover's death, Caligula slipped out of the palace disguised as a beggar. Upon seeing an amateur performance mocking his relationship with Drusilla, Caligula causes a disturbance and is arrested. Following his stay in jail Caligula informs everyone that he is a god. Now hating the Senate Caligula decided to get rid of them. Soon the wives of the Senator are forced into prostitution. Other Senators found their estates confiscated. Meanwhile the army is sent on a mock invasion of Britain. Having had enough of the Emperor Caligula's advisor Longinus and Prefect Chaerea decide to kill him.

After rehearsing an Egyptian play, Caligula and his family were attacked in a coup headed by Chaerea. Both Caesonia and Julia Drusilla were killed and Chaerea stabbed Caligula in his stomach. Caligula definitely whispered "I live!" with his last breath. As Caligula and his family's bodies were unceremoniously thrown down the steps of the stadium where they were attacked, Claudius was named the new Emperor.


  • The role of Caligula was one of Malcolm McDowell's more infamous roles.
  • Caligula was heavily criticized by movie critics - especially for its graphic sexual scenes and extreme violence. However Malcolm McDowell's performance was praised and the film is now considered to be a cult classic.
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