Drusilla (sister of Caligula)

Drusilla (sister of Caligula)

Julio-Claudian dynasty

caption=Julia Drusilla, sister of Caligula
:"This article is about the sister of the Roman Emperor Caligula. For the same-named daughter of Caligula, see Julia Drusilla. For others of this name see Drusilla (name)." [http://www.drusilla.net]

Julia Drusilla (Classical Latin: IVLIA•DRVSILLA [Aut|E. Groag, A. Stein, L. Petersen - e.a. (edd.), "Prosopographia Imperii Romani saeculi I, II et III" (PIR), Berlin, 1933 - I 664] ) (September 16, 16June 10, 38) was a daughter to Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder. She had two sisters (Julia Livilla, Agrippina the Younger) and five brothers (Tiberius and Gaius Julius, who died young; Nero, Drusus, and Caligula). The last brother was nicknamed Caligula and later became the third Roman Emperor, reigning from March 28, 37, to January 24, 41.


Drusilla was born in Abitarvium, north of the later city of Koblenz, Germany. She was married in 33 to Lucius Cassius Longinus. The couple divorced in 37. By that time Caligula had reputedly become a lover to all three of his sisters, [Suetonius, "The Lives of the Caesars", The Life of Caligula, [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/Caligula*.html#24 24] ] and he may have instructed the couple to divorce. Shortly after however, Drusilla had her second marriage, to Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. He was reputed to have been one of Caligula's lovers by later historians. [Suetonius, "The Lives of the Caesars", The Life of Caligula, [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/Caligula*.html#36 36] ]


Drusilla was reportedly her brother's favorite. There are also rumours that she was also his lover. If true, that role likely gained her influence over Caligula. Though the activities between the brother and sister might have been seen as incest by their contemporaries, it is not known whether the two actually had any sexual relations. Drusilla herself earned a rather poor reputation because of the close bond she shared with Caligula and was even likened to a prostitute by later scholars, in an attempt to discredit Caligula's private life.Susan Wood, "Diva Drusilla Panthea and the Sisters of Caligula", American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 99, No. 3 (Jul., 1995), pp. 457-482]

Some historians suggest that Caligula was motivated by more than mere lust or love in pursuing relations with his sisters. He might instead have deliberately patterned himself after the Hellenistic Monarchs of the Ptolemaic dynasty where marriages between jointly ruling brothers and sisters had become tradition rather than sex scandals. This has also been used to explain why his despotism was apparently more evident to his contemporaries than those of his predecessors Caesar Augustus and Tiberius.

The source of many of the rumors surrounding Caligula and Drusilla may be derived from formal Roman dining habits. It was customary in Patrician households for the host and hostess of a dinner (or in other words, the husband and wife in charge of the household) to hold the positions of honor at a banquet at their residence. In the case of a young bachelor being the head of the household, the female position of honor was to be held by his sisters, taking turns sitting in the place of honor. Caligula apparently broke with this tradition in that rather than having his sisters take turns at the place of honor, the place was reserved exclusively for Drusilla. Caligula was thus, in a manner of speaking, publicly proclaiming that Drusilla was his wife, the female head of the household.Fact|date=May 2008


She died on June 10, 38, probably of fever which was rampant in Rome at the time. Caligula was said never to have left her side, and after she had died he would not let anyone take her body.


Caligula never really recovered from the loss. He buried his sister with the honors of an Augusta, acted as a grieving widower, and had the Roman Senate declare her a Goddess as "Diva Drusilla", deifying her as a representation of the goddess Venus or Aphrodite. Drusilla was consecrated as "Panthea", most likelyon the anniversary of the birthday of Augustus.

A year later, Caligula named his only known daughter Julia Drusilla after his late favorite sister. Meanwhile, her widowed husband Marcus Aemilius Lepidus reportedly became a lover to her sisters Livilla and Agrippina in an apparent attempt to gain their support in succeeding Caligula. The conspiracy was discovered by Caligula while in Germania Superior during the autumn. Lepidus was swiftly executed.

Cultural references

*Beth Morris played her in the 1976 BBC television adaptation of Robert Graves books "I, Claudius and Claudius the God", where a pregnant Drusilla was subjected to an amateurish Caesarian section (in imitation of the birth of Athena) by an insane Caligula, though scenes alluding to the death were cut from it before showing in the United States. They were restored for the VHS and DVD releases.

*Teresa Ann Savoy played Drusilla in the 1979 motion picture "Caligula", which showed the more plausible version of Drusilla dying from the fever, though it did follow up with a highly unlikely scene of Caligula licking her corpse in mourning and then having sex with it one last time (although the latter half of the sequence got deleted from all the released versions of the film).


External links

* [http://web.genealogie.free.fr/Les_dynasties/Antiquite/Rome_et_Constantinople/Gentes/A_Gentes.htm A list of members of the gens Aemilia who were her relations by marriage]

NAME= Julia Drusilla
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Sister and wife of the Emperor Caligula
DATE OF BIRTH= 16 September, 16
PLACE OF BIRTH= Liberec, Czech Republic
DATE OF DEATH= 10 June, 38

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