Caracalla became co-emperor with his brother Geta in 198 AD and shortly after murdered Geta to become sole emperor. Characterised as a cruel tyrant, upon his death, his unpopularity with the senate and the public would likely have cause him to be declared as “hostis” were it not for his popularity with the military; some statues of Caracalla were removed however, as well as the abolition of horse races celebrating his birthday. Similarly, his depiction in portraiture sees as deviation from the image of the philosopher-emperor to a notably more militaristic image with a threatening countenance and short haircut of a soldier. His militaristic disposition is evidenced by the fact that after the murder of his brother he left Rome to pursue military campaign and was never to return. He successfully fought aggressing Germanic tribes after which time he became increasingly obsessed with Alexander the Great, going so far as to plan a Persian invasion in imitation. During his travel to Alexandria in preparation for this conquest, Caracalla also persecuted Aristotelian philosophers based on the accusation that Aristotle had poisoned Alexander. Furthermore when some Alexandrians had produced a satire mocking his pretensions he had many unrelated citizens slaughtered and set his troops to loot Alexandria. His favour for the military also undermined Rome’s economy; this was in keeping with reports of his fathers advice to always prioritise the wellbeing of the soldier before all others, yet despite this Caracalla’s reign was ended by his assassination by a disaffected soldier in 211 AD.

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