Baths of Caracalla


Rome, Italy; 212–16

Caracalla (188–217) was the most thuggish of Roman emperors. He had his brother murdered in 211 rather than share the empire with him, but made the excuse that he had acted in self-defence. In Alexandria a satirical play mocked this excuse, and the play became popular. Caracalla sent his soldiers to ransack the city and – according to Cassius Dio, who may have been exaggerating – 20,000 Alexandrians were killed. Caracalla’s portrait shows him not as a serene philosopher, as earlier emperors had presented themselves, but as an impassioned soldier. He was murdered by one of his bodyguards while urinating at ...

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