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Number 6 Elagabalus
Elagabalus became emperor at the age of 14, following a plot put together by his mother and aunt. As soon as he took the mantle of ruler, Elagabalus showed utter disregard for Roman values. To legitimize his rule, he took the name Marcus Aurelius Antonius Augustus. The young emperor was married five times. This caused outrage among Romans. Elagabalus preferred the company of men and described himself as the “wife” and “queen” of his chariot driver. He estranged the common people, the Senate and the Praetorian Guard.
Number 5 Caracalla
Caracalla became obsessed with Alexander the Great, mimicking his style. He organized 16,000 of his soldiers in Macedonian phalanxes.
Number 4 Nero
Nero’s path to power was likely cleared by his mother, Agrippina the Younger. He then had her head brought to Rome and showed it to his second wife. Whether this is true or not, Nero did have a massive palatial complex built on the charred remains of the city. It was called Domus Aurea, and the cost of its construction was supported by heavy taxation throughout the empire.
Number 3 Commodus
But the reality, supported by historical sources, was much worse. A megalomaniacal leader, he proclaimed himself the new Romulus and ritually re-founded Rome. The fleet, Senate and legions were all renamed to include “Commodus” in their name, as were the common citizens and the city itself. Historian Cassius Dio wrote a first-hand account of the emperor, describing him as “guileless” and of “great simplicity”. Commodus believed himself to be a living god, superior in physical prowess to all other men.
Number 2 Caligula
The word “insane” has been used to describe his rule. In 39 AD, he ordered the construction of a floating bridge, which was roughly 2 miles long. There’s even a legend that he made his horse a consul and ordered others to treat the animal as such.
Number 1 Julius Caesar
It may come as a surprise that Julius Caesar made our list, at number one nonetheless. Yet, those are exactly the reasons why his inclusion was so important. Caesar’s ascension to power marked the demise of the Roman Republic and enabled the rise of the Roman Empire. While Caesar was popular with the people, who weren’t opposed to the idea of him as a ruler, the Senate wouldn’t stand for it. By then, however, he’d already named Octavian as heir to his name and property.