The Roman floating state for the orgies and murders of the emperor

March 4, 2024

The two remnants of Emperor Caligula’s two “Lake Nemi Ships” which were really floating palaces on a land locked body of water 19 miles South of Rome and only covered a tiny (averaged out) 1800 square metres (Length x Width) During his period in power from 37-41 AD he spent lavishly, these two monsters are proof of that! They are very definition of the word decadent!

Roman Emperor's 'Floating Palace' Puts Today's Superyachts To Shame

And here the world of archeology has always had a legend haunting it: the two vessels palaces of Caligula, two huge ships supposedly made in a lake for his insatiable erotic appetites.

And we say supposedly because the academics did not believe that the Romans had the know-how to build such large ships. We may have reports from ancient sources about huge ships carrying grain, but science believed that the writers of the time exaggerated a bit.

The Roman floating state for the orgies and murders of the emperor - Famagusta News

Until the Roman legend came to the surface! A real shock for her archeology and the story when they were both pulled from the bottom of Lake Nemi in all their grandeur.

And while their presence has been known for centuries, both the size and the excitement they hosted changed a good deal of our knowledge of the Roman world. But also the story of Caligula himself, that we knew him filthy and frantic with orgies, but the thing passed to the next level…

The floating state of orgies

The Roman floating state for the orgies and murders of the emperor - Famagusta News

For centuries, fishermen who made a living from the calm waters of Lake Nemi, this small, volcanic pond some 30 miles [XNUMX km] south of Rome, knew a secret. It was already known from ancient and medieval times.

It was said that there were the rotten ruins of a giant ancient shipwreck that in many places lurked just a few meters below the surface of the water. The only problem; How the lake is tiny, with an area that does not exceed 1,5 square kilometers. And as it is a lake, it does not communicate with other water bodies.

So what good is such a big boat to do there? One boat which probably covered its entire surface and had no way out? But the stories persisted. And of course one could not expect that at the bottom of this pond would indeed be the remains of two of the most unique artifacts of the ancient world!

The floating state not only brought to light the eccentricities of the most infamous Roman emperor, but showed exactly what the Roman engineers were capable of. And then the innocent victims of World War II disappeared again…

Leviathan of sex

The Roman floating state for the orgies and murders of the emperor - Famagusta News

The search started from scratch. From an archeological crime in essence. Because the fishermen, in addition to their stories, took out with their hooks and harpoons artifacts from the remains of the mythical shipwrecks and sold them to black market. At one point a search warrant was issued.

Not in our time, but in 1446 all that! A young cardinal and nephew of Pope Martin V, a Prospero Colonna, decided to investigate the allegations and found a treasure. Despite the fact that the shipwreck was at a depth of 18 meters, at that time the number was inconspicuous and the only thing that succeeded in trying to retrieve the mysterious construction was to destroy some boards.

However, Colonna confirmed that something was there and that the baton was taken a century later, in 1535, by two Italian “marine explorers”, as advertised. Of course, they had in their hands a new technology, a diving chamber, and for the first time they saw the wooden superstructure up close. Taking ashore and some statues.

Some attempts still did not work out as expected and the fascist dictator had to come Benito Mussolini for humanity to see exactly what was in the bowels of the lake for 19 centuries.

The Roman floating state for the orgies and murders of the emperor - Famagusta News

Ο bigoted Duchess, who was obsessed with imperial Rome, had the lake drained, in a titanic effort that recruited the Navy, the Army and private industrial capital. The lake began to empty in October 1928 and by June 1931 both ships were fully exposed. The water level had dropped by 20 meters.

Until 1936 both ships were in the museum set up to house them. Next to them was discovered a smaller boat, with huge stones inside, in a clear attempt to sink…

What were Caligula’s ships?

The Roman floating state for the orgies and murders of the emperor - Famagusta News

Made to imitate the “pleasure ships” of Ptolemaic Egypt in Hellenistic times, since Caligula was a worshiper of both the Egyptian deities and pleasure of course, the ships actually covered the entire surface of the small lake.

One of the two, 75 meters long and 21 meters wide, even housed a temple inside. They were covered with marble, had mosaic floors and had heating systems and plumbing to have bathrooms. As for the technology at its disposal, the history of science believed that it appeared much later in the world.

None had a promotion system. They moved on the lake with the help of ropes and trailers. Everything here was amazing and luxurious. The running water pipes were engraved with Caligula’s name. The mosaics were elaborate, the walls incorporated ivory and the statues were made with enviable mastery.

The research brought to light all the incomparable luxury of boats. Bronze and marble dominated the constructions, alongside precious metals and ornate ornaments. Even the joints were made of copper and bronze. As for the roofs, they were made of copper-plated tiles, which would look extremely bright under the sun.

The Roman floating state for the orgies and murders of the emperor - Famagusta News

The cost of their construction was considered exorbitant. And Caligula, of course, did not think about wasting money. He even covered the wooden structure with lead, an expensive technique designed to protect saltwater vessels from worms. Only in fresh water such a thing is useless, since these worms do not live in the lakes.

This is where Caligula probably organized his sex marathons and here he cut the tongues of his enemies. Here are the famous orgies with his sisters. Some historians even believe that it was in these two floating states that Caligula’s jokes escaped, in these frantic and debauched parties he met with the wives of generals and senators. As it is delivered to us at least.

Everyone now believed Suetonius who described Caligula’s two ships in “On the Life of Caesars”. And he spoke of unprecedented luxury, unheard of even in the courtyards of the Roman emperors. Ten rows of oars, sterns with gems, art galleries, baths, living rooms, gardens with arbors and one deck full of gold and ornaments the historian told us that they had two ships. And he was probably right.

The Roman floating state for the orgies and murders of the emperor - Famagusta News

The ships were, after all, huge, as he wrote them, among the largest we have ever found since antiquity. Caligula ruled Rome for only 4 years, between 37-41 AD, but managed to become a timeless symbol of his sadism, brutality and hedonistic excesses.

The fact that he managed to empty the imperial treasury in just one year was considered a feat. And the construction of floating palaces certainly played its part in its squandering public money.

The choice of the small lake was not accidental, as academic scholars tell us, as Caligula chose it to honor the goddess Diana Nemorensis, an Italian divine entity that was Hellenized from the 4th century BC. and has since been confused with Artemis.

How they sank

The Roman floating state for the orgies and murders of the emperor - Famagusta News

Despite their cost and special operation, the two temples of akolasia lived only for a very short time. Not for more than a year, Suetonius tells us, as Caligula’s four-year rule would soon come to an end. The conspiracy of the Senate and the Praetorians would throw him dead at the beginning of 41 AD.

The scientific analysis of the ships found holes in their frames, but also the holdings full of stones, in order to accelerate their sinking. The Romans they wanted to destroy everything related to the extreme Caligula, and his floating palaces would not escape the same fate.

That, of course, is the case. It is assumed that Caligoulas himself plunged them into a drunkenness.

For Mussolini, however, their withdrawal was a personal triumph. Their emergence from the waters and mud of the lake served as a first-class metaphor for the promises it made about reviving the greatness of ancient Rome in modern times.

The Roman floating state for the orgies and murders of the emperor - Famagusta News

Only Mussolini, like Caligula, was to experience a resounding decline. And his ships, the ships of Caligula, would follow him to the ashes of History. On the night of May 31, 1944, less than four years after Duchess entered World War II on the side of Hitler’s Germany, the Nazis were already on Italian soil, defending the country from the Allied invasion.

Even today it is not clear exactly how that fire that would take them with it started. Was it the work of the American Artillery or was it a German arson? The Nazis were known to burn the abandoned positions in the flames, doing everything they could to limit the enemy’s advance.

Whatever happened, the ships of obscurity were lost forever. Just some bronze ornaments survived. But also a handful of photos from the historic shipwreck. The Museum of the Roman Navi in Nemi, what was made by Duchess to revive the history of the two ships, still houses some remnants of a story that is no longer told…