Death by Rose Petals

Death by Rose Petals 1

Musee des Beaux-Arts, Nice

Gustav-Adolf Mossa's "Lui," (1906): Elagabalus with mirror.

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Musee des Beaux-Arts, Nice

Gustav-Adolf Mossa's "Lui," (1906): Elagabalus with mirror.

Nero, Caligula, Elagabalus... Who?

Most of us will not know the third of these notorious emperors, whether as Elagabalus, Heliogabalus, or any other name (he had many). Yet the boy who ruled Rome for just under four years has had an afterlife in art, literature, drama, opera, ballet, pop music, and other realms that reaches the present.

First the background.

When the Emperor Caracalla was murdered in AD April 217, en route to battle in what is now eastern Turkey, he