Italy Unveils Newly Discovered Statue of Emperor Caligula

Posted July 13th, 2011 at 12:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Italy has unveiled a statue believed to be a rare depiction of the notorious Roman emperor Caligula sitting on a throne like the Greek god Zeus.

Officials say the 2.5-meter statue, broken into several large pieces and a head, had been covered with earth for 2,000 years near Lake Nemi, just south of Rome, where Caligula was believed to have had one of his palaces. But now the marble work of art has been cleaned up and put on display.

The statue had been previously unknown but was discovered by accident in January, when police stopped smugglers trying to sneak the head out of the country by boat at a port near Rome. That led authorities to the Lake Nemi site and discovery of the remainder of the statue.

Authorities arrested two so-called “tomb raiders” — people who illegally dig up the countryside in hopes of discovering archaeological treasures they can sell on the black market.

Caligula's real name was Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, who reigned from the year 37 to 41 A.D. Historians have depicted him as insane, cruel and sex-crazed. He invited dinner guests to his palace in the name of his favorite horse, Incitatus, and considered naming the horse as a consul. His short reign ended when one of his own guards assassinated him.

Caligula used Lake Nemi to sail jewel-bedecked ceremonial ships. The newly-unveiled statue will be permanently displayed at Nemi's Ship Museum.