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UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

even hoped that Tiberius, after his round of excess and bloodshed, would

return to the policy and manners of Augustus. But his nature was incapable

of reform. As age drew on, his life became more gloomy, his character more

despicable. His disposition and practices were relieved by only a single

gleam of light, and that was the prospect of his death. His dissipations in

Capreae had ruined his health. He tottered briefly about the basilica under

the weight of a disreputable old age, and then died in his seventy-eighth

year, A. D. 37.

The only benefits which flowed from the administration of Tiberius were

traceable to the earlier years of his reign. His first acts were marked

with wisdom and firmness. For a season, the order and progress of the state

were maintained with a steady hand. A milder system of government was

enforced in the provinces; nor did the Emperor at the first exhibit that

cruelty of disposition which afterward converted him into a persecutor and

a tyrant. It is narrated that in many of the state trials of the early

years of his reign, he interposed on behalf of the accused, and saved them

from sentence. Gradually, however, the exercise of arbitrary power, the

dissipations of the court, the foreboding and gloom of old age seen in the

distance, and the naturally unsympathetic nature of Tiberius, reduced him

to the level and practices of an Oriental despot.

Tiberius died without nominating a successor. The choice of the Senate fell

on Caius Caesar, the son of Germanicus. He was twenty-five years old at

the date of his accession, and had passed nearly his whole life in the

camp. He was a great favorite with the soldiers, who gave him the name of

Caligula or "Little Boots," because of the half-boots of the soldiers in

which the youth delighted to strut about his father's tent.

The introduction of the new Caesar's reign was marked with clemency. Those

who had been imprisoned for political offenses, real or imaginary, were

liberated. The brood of informers and sycophants was driven from the

basilica, and careful attention was paid to those old republican forms

which, in their exercise, still seemed to imply that the people and the

Senate were the sources of authority. For a brief season Caligula gave

himself to the duties of government with a zeal and enthusiasm which

promised the best results. But this legitimate activity was of short

duration. In the course of a few months the Emperor began to indulge in

dissipations and extravagance. He even displayed symptoms of insanity in

the reckless path of his descent. His slumbers were disquieted with strange

dreams and hallucinations, indicating an abnormal condition of mind. He

ceased to regard the interests of the state, and abandoned himself to the

circus. The old extravagant style of celebrating the games and shows was

revived. Gladiatorial combats became more fashionable than ever. Members of

the Senate were induced to enter the arena, and presently the Emperor

himself took his place on the sand and fought as a gladiator for the

amusement of Rome. With the increase of his nervous excitement, Caligula

became cruel and blood-thirsty. At times he ordered spectators in the

amphitheater to be seized and thrown to the