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Caligula (born 31 August AD 12 - died 24 January AD 41) (full name Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus) was Roman emperor from AD 37 to AD 41. The name Caligula (Latin for "little soldier's boot") was given to him because of the child-size boots that his father Germanicus Julius Caesar (24 May 15 BC - 10 October AD 19), who was a Roman general, dressed him in at the age of two or three (along with a full miniature soldier's uniform) when he took Caligula along with him on his military campaigns. The previous emperor (Caligula's great-uncle Tiberius, who reigned from AD 14 to AD 37) originally designated Caligula to be co-emperor after his death, along with Caligula's cousin Gemellus, who was Tiberius' grandson. Caligula made Gemellus his adopted son, but then had him killed in late AD 37 or early AD 38 for supposedly having plotted against Caligula (including an alleged attempted poisoning) while Caligula was ill. The first six months of Caligula's reign went smoothly, and he won praise for initiating the construction of aqueducts, and adding new territory (Mauretania, in present-day Morocco) to the Empire. However, after his illness, Caligula began to order the deaths of others whom he perceived as rivals or threats (including -- aside from Gemellus -- his grandmother, father-in-law, and brother-in-law), and his behavior became increasingly tyrannical and erratic, bordering on insanity. He appointed his horse as a Roman consul, and began appearing in public dressed as various Roman gods, and referring to himself as a god, whom those in Rome (including senators) were required to worship. He also ordered the erection of a statue of himself in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem (an order that he eventually rescinded after Caligula was warned by the governor of Syria of the disturbances among the Jews that it would cause), and he was reported by contemporary historians as regarding the Jews with "especial suspicion". He exhausted the treasury through his extravagance, and then, to raise money, he began falsely accusing individuals and fining them, or (in some cases) having them killed and seizing their estates. He was a close friend of Herod Agrippa, the king of Judea from AD 41 to AD 44, who is mentioned in Acts 12 as having put the apostle James (the brother of John) to death, and also having imprisoned Peter with the intent of executing him, prior to Peter's miraculous rescue from prison (Acts 12:6-11). (However, those events took place after Caligula's death.) Although some Christians were killed during Caligula's reign, there was not a general state-sponsored persecution, since Christianity was still regarded by Rome at that time as a sect of Judaism, which was a legal religion. (The "great persecution" of the Christian church mentioned in Acts 8:2 following the martyrdom of Stephen in AD 35 was carried out by the Jews, in which Saul (Paul) participated.) Christianity was not singled out by Rome for persecution as a separate religion until the reign of Nero (AD 54 to AD 68).) In AD 41, Caligula was stabbed to death at the age of 28 by a centurion in the Praetorian Guard (the first Roman emperor to be assassinated), and his uncle Claudius became the new emperor. Claudius reigned from AD 41 to AD 54, when he died (the possible result of being poisoned by his wife) and was succeeded by Nero, who was his grandnephew.
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