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|Portrait Gallery of Roman Emperors|
From Bad to Worse
From this point, his behaviour deteriorated (!), and he threw himself into excesses of amusements, games, spectacles and extravagant buildings including some very famous baths, and the continuing dispensation of large amounts of cash to his soldiers to retain his power.
In AD 201 he had married, receiving a large dowry, the beautiful Plautilla. Shortly after, he persuaded his father to banish her to the Lipari Isles, in about 205. On his accession, she was murdered along with their daughter, on Caracalla's orders.
In 215, he slaughtered 20,000 citizens of Alexandria, on little more than a whim. He then asked the King of Parthia, Artabanus, for his daughter in marriage. Possibly because of the fate of Plautilla, or because of a dowry demand, Artabanus refused, Caracalla invaded Media and devastated the entire region, before returning to winter quarters. He then invited Artabanus to a conference at which he took him captive, along with possession of his kingdom. The next year, on his way to another campaign against the Parthians, Caracalla was assassinated by Martialis, a member of his own bodyguard, on the instigation of Macrinus.
The sweeteners or donatives which Caracalla was obliged to give his troops in order to sustain his power were very costly. In order to pay them, he had to raise taxes and other income from citizens, asserting that all the wealth of the world belonged to him by right. It is said that his mother remonstrated with him about the size, frequency and cost of the payments, and Caracalla pointed to his sword saying "as long as we have this, money will always be forthcoming."
Caracalla became an object of universal hatred and contempt. His word, even under oath, was disbelieved by all, and with good reason. His removal would have had great popular support.
Caracalla introduced a new coin denomination, the antoninianus, which was named after him.
Roman Emperors Portrait Gallery
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