#16.4: Caligula's Bridge

Ok now, still facing the Basilica look roughly 45° to the left to the Palatine Hill. That corner is where Palace of Tiberius was which was inherited by that 'wild and crazy guy' Emperor Caligula. Now look roughly 45° to the right at the Capitoline Hill, on that southern end of the Capitoline the 'Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus' (best and greatest) was built there. That was THE temple and that version of Jupiter was THE God of all the others in Rome.

So of course with Caligula also being a God (he said so and anyone he asked also agreed with him, the threat of torture tends to produce a lot of 'Yes Men') he conversed with Jupiter in this temple almost daily. Not by praying but by sitting on the statue's lap, whispering in the statue's ear and putting his own ear to the statue's mouth to hear Jupiter's response. And occasionally getting into a loud shouting match with the statue :-) .

From the Palatine to the Temple he would have to pass through the Forum daily crowded with those pesky Mortals. But if he had a bridge built (Pons Caligulae) he could just walk across this valley between the two hills! Suetonius mentions this bridge going from the Palace over to the 'Temple of Augustus' and then over to the 'Temple of Jupiter'. What many historians think was that it was just a series of short wooden bridges that spanned this distance using the rooftops of buildings.

The Temple of Augustus hasn't been found but they are pretty certain that it is behind the Basilica Julia under the modern section of buildings and streets. So from probably from a lower section of the Palace to the Temple of Augustus' roof and next they believe over to the Basilica Julia's roof and my guess possibly over to the Temple of Saturn's roof and then over to the Capitoline Hill and who knows maybe right into the Temple of Jupiter itself?

Now between the two Hills they would have to span four streets possibly using the three tallest buildings (Augustus, Julia and Saturn) but with lower buildings/structures (say like an arch) between them they could support a higher bridge from those structure's roof rather than building wooden supports all the way to ground level? So this bridge probably did a little zig-zagging between the two Hills?

The main reason I mention this bridge and Caligula is because of an event that took place for a few days right where you are standing. It likely took place sometime in the latter half of Emperor Caligula's four-year reign (37-41 AD). Suetonius said:

"He scattered large sums of money among the people from the roof of the Basilica Julia for several days in succession".
Perhaps just on a whim on the first day he threw some gold coins off the roof and into the crowded Roman Forum? He found the common people scrambling around to retrieve these coins very amusing. Then he does the same thing the next day. So figure by the third day the word is out and the Forum is jammed with people awaiting this money shower. And if it went on to a fourth, fifth, etc day it's going to be a *major* mob scene (criminals, riff-raff, commoners, slaves, shop owners, etc). Caligula is having a grand time now because it has gotten very violent. I've read (sorry can't find the reference) that on one of those days dozens of people were killed in the mayhem that ensued (perhaps some even murdered for the gold coins that they retrieved?). I remember it was about thirty men, about twelve women and one Eunch (him I remember for certain, men don't forget that visual:=( ).

Next: #16.5: Basilica Julia - Rectangular Outlined Structure in the Via Sacra
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