Gaius Caligula is known as the mad emperor, the one who made his horse a consul.
He was violent and vicious, a murderer and guilty of committing incest with his sisters.
Yet, when he succeeded the aged recluse Tiberius, the Romans were delighted and for a few months at least he seemed generous and enlightened.
So what went wrong? Why was he murdered after a reign of only four years?
Is the conventional picture true or false: was he mad and evil or the victim of circumstance and rumour?
Is it possible to take a sympathetic view of Caligula...and is it possible to make sense of him?
In his new novel Allan Massie peels back the mask of the monster of popular myth to expose the young emperor as a real man and explore the truth of his brief but tempestuous reign.