Caligula was interrupted while he was dictating a letter to his latest girlfriend, in which he was promising her separate quarters with her own servants, a private chef and ladies’ maids. His diplomatic advisor, one Polemarchus, a highly educated Greek, said the news from Africa was dark.
Of course it’s dark, what news is that?
The emperor was then treated to a detailed description of the tribes of Central Africa and how none of them would pay Rome tribute or even desist from ejecting the governors sent out to pacify and rule this vast territory.
Not being in a mood for momentous decisions, he told his aides to give the problem to the African Legions, who were supposed to be in the pacifying and tribute- collecting business. Let them deal with it.
A week later Caligula was given the cost of establishing all the outposts and bases the military wanted. At the time he was giving instructions on how to deal with that headstrong wench he had so injudiciously installed in his favorite villa in Syracuse.
She had so enjoyed the hospitality shown by the emperor that she invited her entire clan to share it with her, and they now constituted not only a domestic problem but a political and perhaps military one, too.
Instead of going immediately to Africa to deal with the recalcitrant tribes, he said, go to Syracuse and deal with that beguiling female and her family, with dispatch. And I mean “dispatch,” he emphasized. And keep the men out of my wine cellars and out of her bed. Please.
After that, go to Africa and set up fortified camps, and invite the tribal chiefs to pay their tribute. Give them the protection of my army. Be nice to them. Then report back, and don’t forget the tribute part. Please, no beads, no bones, and no decorated skulls. If they give girls and gold, we won’t bother them. They don’t have to do the worship thing. We don’t have to send them statues or build arches. We can more or less leave them alone, as long as they don’t bother us.
So when General David Rodriguez of the US Africa Command was marching through the jungles of Central Africa looking for an inconspicuous place for an outpost that wouldn’t be found by the press, he came upon a small tribe that had European features and spoke Latin. He sent to the Pentagon for a Latin translator, but they didn’t have one. So they sent a Roman cardinal who managed to find out they thought Caligula was still the emperor, and that they were holed up here avoiding the uncertainties of imperial rule. The legionnaires had found tribal life far better than Roman military life, and they had settled in. Might the general join them?