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How to Be a Truly Terrible Leader

What Caligula, Julius Caesar, and the bad Roman emperors can teach us

An illustration of Julius Caesar collapsed, wounded, amidst a group of Romans brandishing daggers.
Image: Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

TThe Roman biographer Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus believed power doesn’t corrupt so much as it allows one’s worst, preexisting instincts to go unchecked. His epic biography, Lives of the Caesars, showed how power made the emperors of Rome feel free to indulge their own passions and pursuits…

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Josiah Osgood

Josiah Osgood

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Josiah Osgood is Professor of Classics at Georgetown University in Washington DC. He is the author of How to Be a Bad Emperor (Princeton, 2020).