Which Emperor Made His Horse A Roman Consul? (Solution)

According to the ancient historian Suetonius, the Roman emperor known as Caligula loved one of his horses, Incitatus, so much that he gave the steed a marble stall, an ivory manger, a jeweled collar and even a house.

What was the name of Caligula’s horse?

  • According to the ancient historian Suetonius, the Roman emperor known as Caligula loved one of his horses, Incitatus, so much that he gave the steed a marble stall, an ivory manger, a jeweled collar and even a house.

Did Caligula really make his horse a consul?

On the subject of Caligula’s horse, the ancient sources are unambiguous in their testimony: he was not made a consul. The biographer Suetonius does, however, report that the emperor lavished gifts upon Incitatus, equipping him with a marble stall, ivory manger, purple blankets, luxurious furniture, and his own slaves.

What was Caligula’s horse called?

Caligula had a favourite racehorse named Incitatus (The Swift). He gave the animal regular treats and a stable made from marble. Soldiers were ordered to hush the neighbourhood when the horse was sleeping. “It is even said he planned to make the horse a consul.” All the above comes from Suetonius.

Who married their horse?

Wilma Hurskainen – The Woman Who Married A Horse.

What was the name of Caesar’s horse?

They say that Julio Cesar took that foal and called him Genitor. The horse with “human fingers” would be his main mount and, in order to preserve his safety, they say that on some occasion he came to unload in the middle of the battle so as not to compromise his horse.

Who set fire to the city of Rome?

On July 18, 64 CE, a fire started in the enormous Circus Maximus stadium in Rome, now the capital of Italy. When the fire was finally extinguished six days later, 10 of Rome’s 14 districts had burned. Ancient historians blamed Rome’s infamous emperor, Nero, for the fire.

Did the Romans name their horses?

The roman people loved horses so much that they named them in honor of gods, goddesses, and other important figures in Roman mythology as well as famous Roman generals.

Was a horse a Roman senator?

This actually sounds pretty endearing, until you consider that Caligula loved his horse as much as he hated other people (more on that later). Incitatus was Caligula’s prize racehorse, and he got special treatment for it. The most famous story about Incitatus is that Caligula made him a consul in the Roman Senate.

What kind of horses did the Romans ride?

In the Roman world there were three classes of horses: Noble horse – for riding, for the circus and sacred games. Mules – valued as highly as the noble horse and the best were bred in Italy. Common stock – used as working animals.

Can I marry my dog?

You can marry a dog in India Or any animal for that matter. Just as recently as 10 years ago, a Delhi man hitched himself to a hound in a ceremony that was just as lavish as any other wedding celebration in India.

Can you marry a cat in Canada?

Human-animal marriage is not specifically mentioned in national laws – meaning technically that there’s nothing to stop you entering a state of holy matrimony with your dog, cat, hamster. rabbit or whatever species you favour.

Can I marry my cat UK?

It’s not legal to marry a pet in the UK, so the “marriage” is a spiritual one, although Callaghan takes it seriously and has a certificate too.

Who was Julius Caesar’s horse?

Asturcus, the legendary horse of Julius Caesar, with human forefeet; a battle in the background.

What is the longest horse race in the world?

The longest horse race in the world is the 1,000-km Mongol Derby’ (Mongolia) in Binder, Mongolia.

Incitatus – Wikipedia

Caligula’s preferred mount, Incitatus (Latin pronunciation:, meaning “fast” or “at full gallop”), was his favorite horse throughout his reign, which spanned 37–41 AD. According to mythology, Caligula intended to appoint the horse to the position of consul.


According to Suetonius’ Lives of the Twelve Caesars (121 AD), Caligula intended to appoint Incitatus as consul, and the horse would “invite” guests to eat with him in a home furnished with attendants who would be on hand to host such occasions, according to the horse. Suetonius also described the horse’s stable as being made of marble, complete with an ivory manger, purple blankets, and a collar of valuable stones around its neck. In Cassius Dio’s (155–235 AD) account, the horse was watched by attendants and given oats mixed with gold flake, and Caligula elevated the horse to the status of a priest under his command.

Historical accuracy

The reliability of the accepted history is frequently called into doubt. Anthony A. Barrett and others argue that later Roman chroniclers such as Suetonius and Dio Cassiuswere affected by the political climate of their own era, when it may have been advantageous to the present emperors to denigrate the earlier Julio-Claudian rulers. Aside from that, the gruesome nature of the story provided flavor to their storytelling and gained them extra readers. Scholars believe that Caligula’s treatment of Incitatus was an elaborate hoax designed to humiliate and irritate the senate rather than a symptom of insanity, or that it was probably a kind of satire with the idea that a horse could perform the responsibilities of a senator.

In art and metaphor

  • Incitatus has been used as an allegory for political ineptitude for centuries, dating back at least to 1742
  • In Act III of Anton Chekhov’sThe Cherry Orchard (1904), Pishchik claims that his family is a victim of Incitatus “In Aleister Crowley’sLiber VIIChapter 4, verses 28–30, he suggests that Incitatus had a deeper significance, saying, “Who was Thou, O Caesar, that Thou knewest God in a horse?” Incitatus is said to be descended from the nag Caligula had inducted into the Senate. The life of Incitatus is the topic of Zbigniew Herbert’s poem “Caligula,” which is set in the Roman era “PAN COGITTO (Pan Cogito, 1974)
  • Incitatus is mentioned in Robert Graves’ novelI, Claudius, who writes that he was elevated to the position of senator and placed on a list to become a consul
  • That later, Claudius removed Incitatus’ governmental stipend and his senatorial status because he did not meet the monetary requirements
  • That Incitatus was slaughtered after injuring his leg at a race
  • And that Incitatus’ mate, Penelope, She overhears a conversation between two guys in which they appear to be planning her wedding and her future spouse
  • Leslie Phillips portrayed Incitatus in the 2000 BBC Radio 4 comedyMe and Small Boots, written by Shaun McKenna, which presented the narrative of Caligula (Latin for “little boots”) from the point of view of his servant Incitatus. When Incitatus talks too much, he risks giving away his fable status
  • He also regularly emphasizes his former position as a Roman senator
  • The progressive metal bandCaligula’s Horse is named after Incitatus
  • And the comic book seriesJack of Fables (2006–2011) features Incitatus as a story.


  1. Caligula is mentioned in Suetonius’ De vita Caesarum, Caligula, 55:consulatum, quoque traditur destinasse, which means “he meant to make him consul”
  2. Cassius Dio,Roman HistoryLIX.14
  3. Cassius Dio,Roman HistoryLIX.28
  4. Did Caligula actually make his horse a consul? abBarrett, Anthony A., History Channel, June 21, 2016
  5. Elizabeth Nix, History Channel, June 21, 2016
  6. (1990). Caligula, or the Corruption of Power, is a historical figure. ISBN 9780300046533 from Yale University Press
  7. AbMythbusting Ancient Rome – Caligula’s Horse, Shushma Malik and Caillan Davenport, The Conversation, May 4, 2017
  8. English translation of “Caligula Speaks,” by Zbigniew Herbert, translated by Oriana Ivy
  9. Radio Times listing for Me and Little Boots from March 2000
  10. Jack of Fables 22–24 from Jack of Fables 22–24
  11. Jack of F

Caligula the Mad Emperor: The Horse That Almost Became a Senator and Other Strange Tales

Stories The 27th of September, 2019 In the summer of my adolescent years, I worked construction for a heinous party animal named Caligula. It was a great experience for me. He went by the name of Phil, just for fun. The majority of the work consisted of sanding and plugging bung holes (google it up, it’s a real thing). I don’t recall much about the actual work. What I do remember, though, is the day Phil told me he’d done enough cocaine in his life to fill a tool shed, which I thought was pretty cool.

  1. What do you think?
  2. No way in hell.
  3. Maybe.
  4. Gaius Caesar Germanicus, better known as the infamous emperor Caligula, was only in power at Rome for a brief period of time, from 37 AD to 41 AD.
  5. Despite this, Caligula has a chariot-load of outrageous stories to his credit, which you can read about here.
  6. In the spirit of his legacy, I’m not going to hold back: the man was a true sick f*ck who did a lot of weird sh*t during his time on this planet.

But, well, that’s pretty much how most of history has gone. Here are six (reported) reasons why Caligula was stabbed more than 30 times by conspirators and thrown in a shallow grave after governing for only four years, now that we’ve cleared up our expectations: 1

Caligula’s Best Friend was a Horse

Except for the fact that Caligula adored his horse almost as much as he despised other people, this appears to be a quite charming description (more on that later). Incitatus was Caligula’s favored racehorse, and as a result, he received preferential treatment. If you lived near his stable, your entire neighborhood was required to remain silent the day before each race in order to allow Incitatus to concentrate on his work. Count Caligula was so taken with Incitatus that he would call him to supper, toast his well-being with golden cups, and feed him oats cut with gold flakes—Oatschläger, if you will—to keep him well.

2 The most well-known narrative concerning Incitatus is that he was elevated to the position of consul in the Roman Senate by Caligula.

According to historical records, Caligula wished to nominate his equestrian friends to the Senate, but he was slain before he could complete the appointment process.


Caligula Drank Pearls and Swam in Gold

Caligula was supposed to have possessed a legendary thirst for jewels. His favorite thing to do was to swim in gold. It wasn’t molten gold, mind you, because it would have saved his assassins a lot of time and energy. Additionally, he wasn’t swimming in Oatschläger (which had been designated as Incitatus’ particular reserve). Instead, he went about it in the manner of Scrooge McDuck, spilling money on the ground and letting them soak in them for hours at a time. Furthermore, he like to go barefoot over them.

While he did consume pearls, he did not gargle them like a gumball hopper, which would have been insane in his opinion.



Caligula Decided He Was Jupiter, Talked to the Gods, and Tried to F*ck the Moon

Okay, this one will require some deciphering. For starters, Caligula didn’t care for his given name, Gaius. He also disliked his nickname, Caligula, which was given to him by troops he encountered while he was a child, during his father’s battles in Germania, and which he later came to regret. Caligula is Latin for “little boots,” and the name was a play on the adorable tiny soldier’s attire that he wore. It stayed with him throughout adulthood, and he naturally despised the s**t that happened to him.

  1. As you can see, the new term didn’t stay because this page is about Caligula, not “Jupiter,” as the title suggests.
  2. He attempted to make it work, though.
  3. He also ordered the relocation of the huge statue of Zeus (Jupiter’s counterpart in Greece) from Olympia to Rome so that he may have his own head replaced with that of the statue.
  4. Caligula also felt that he had a direct line of communication with the gods and considered himself to be one of their number.

Aside from talking to the moon at night, he’d also try to persuade her (the moon is a lady, by the way) into descending down to his bed for a little celestial-meets-terrestrial liaison. She wasn’t interested in it. 5

Caligula Once Made the Senate Watch Him Dance

Let’s pretend for a second that you’re a Roman consular, a high-ranking politician who, though he or she has little actual authority under an emperor, has significant influence. Consider the possibility that your ruler is mad and ruthlessly cruel. In the middle of the night, you get a summons: the emperor has requested your presence. It appears as though you are about to be tortured and executed. That’s undoubtedly what Caligula’s consulars were thinking when something like this occurred to them.

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I’m not sure about you, but the opening Buffalo Bill sequence fromSilence of the Lambs is playing in my head right now.

Strange, isn’t it?

Caligula Passed Laws to Prevent People from Seeing His Bald Spot

Caligula was, according to legend, a hideous man. Even though he didn’t survive much past the age of 28, he was affected by some hereditary male pattern baldness, which he never fully recovered from. Rather than just adopting the role of hat guy, he enacted legislation prohibiting Romans from standing above him or otherwise staring down at him as he walked through the streets. Is there a bald spot if no one can see it? Is it actually there? And, like so many other men before and after him, he was plagued by a frustrating paradox: while his pate lost hair, his body began to grow it again.

As a result, Caligula declared it unlawful to discuss goats in his presence, which was only natural.


Caligula Was an Asshole, Generally Speaking

Even though items one through five illustrate Caligula’s narcissism quite well, they don’t really give you a sense of how evil the man was on an emotional and psychological level. Caligula had great pleasure in seeing other people suffer for his own gain. Of course, there’s the standard fascination with torturing and murdering people in this category. However, he was also a disturbed, antisocial prankster who played with people. In order to prevent people from reading the new laws, he would have them written in tiny letters and then hung them up extremely high.

On particularly hot days at the arena, he’d order the awnings to be drawn back and spectators barred from leaving, all so he could watch them sweat in front of him.

As you can see, Caligula enjoyed punching people in the face, most likely to conceal his bald spot from his victims.

What Was Caligula’s Problem?

It’s difficult to say, although he may have lost his mind as a result of an illness. During the first six months of Caligula’s rule, everything appeared to be quite stable, or at the very least, status quo. He even released political prisoners who had been wrongfully imprisoned, which was in stark contrast to his subsequent policy. Caligula fell terminally ill after just six months in power, signaling the beginning of the end of his reign. He was on the verge of death for a month, yet he was able to recover physically.

  1. It appears that he has experienced some type of brain damage as a result of his protracted illness—possibly as a result of a prolonged high temperature, but that is just a conjecture.
  2. 9 That he had changed so drastically was unpleasant for Caligula, as well as for everyone else in his immediate vicinity.
  3. Instead, he was insensitive to human emotion and tormented his people until they banded together to assassinate him.
  4. Chaerea was a notable warrior and a member of the Praetorian guard who served under Emperor Hadrian.
  5. According to the historian Suetonius, when Caligula wanted Chaerea to kiss his ring, he would move his hand about in a “obscene manner” and force him to say demeaning watch-words, such as “priapus,” which means “erection,” according to the chronicler.

The stabbing was carried out by Chaerea. Interestingly, Chaerea was joined by a number of other groups of conspirators who had a desire to see Caligula killed as well. As a result, you don’t treat people any worse than you treat racehorses. 10


  1. TheFamousPeople.com. (Retrieved on May 18, 2018). Caligula’s Life and Times. Lewis provided the information. (On the 17th of December, 2016). 10 Weird Things Caligula Did That You Didn’t Know About. Buffed was used to obtain this information. (3rd of June, 2017). Incitatus was Caligula’s horse, and he wanted to be a senator. Lewis provided the information. (On the 17th of December, 2016). 10 Weird Things Caligula Did That You Didn’t Know About. Lewis provided the information. (On the 17th of December, 2016). 10 Weird Things Caligula Did That You Didn’t Know About. Lewis provided the information. (On the 17th of December, 2016). 10 Weird Things Caligula Did That You Didn’t Know About. Lewis provided the information. (On the 17th of December, 2016). 10 Weird Things Caligula Did That You Didn’t Know About. Lewis provided the information. (On the 17th of December, 2016). 10 Weird Things Caligula Did That You Didn’t Know About. It was retrieved from (Accessed May 18, 2018). Caligula’s Life and Times. It was retrieved from (Accessed May 18, 2018). Cassius Chaerea is a fictional character created by author Cassius Chaerea. This information was obtained from

Caligula, the Infamous Roman Emperor Who Made His Horse a Senator

When the people of Rome were finally able to elect a new emperor in 37 AD, they were overjoyed. The gloomy Emperor Tiberius was no longer alive, and the population celebrated his death as a victory. After all, Tiberius had unleashed a wave of treason trials and executions that had wreaked havoc on Rome’s social order. Even worse, he had assassinated members of his own extended family. It was this purge that resulted in the new emperor becoming one of the survivors. Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus was just 24 years old at the time of his death.

  • It was only natural for the populace to associate the emperor Gaius, as he was known, with the restoration of the ancient ways.
  • Because, within four short years, their “savior” was no longer alive, having been killed by his own guards after a morning spent at the Olympics.
  • His boyhood moniker, which he detested, would likewise be etched in their minds.
  • Emperor Caligula was a murderous megalomaniac who was found guilty of blasphemy, incest, as well as state-sanctioned murder, torture, and thievery.
  • The emperor’s contemporaries began to doubt his mental stability as a result of these activities.
  • Tiberius was the Emperor of the Romans.
  • It is in the public domain.

The Consul Incitatus and Other Batty Moments

In Caligula’s first seven months as emperor, everything went swimmingly. Immediately after taking power, the new emperor paid Tiberius’ legacy and wooed the already adoring Roman populace with expensive gladiatorial games. He also ruled †democratically,â€TM contacting the Senate before making any decisions and refraining from using too many honorific titles in his speeches. Caligula summoned all exiles back to Rome, poured money into public works projects such as a new aqueduct in the Tiber valley, and enacted legislation that restored popular power over the judiciary.

  1. For a time, his life appeared to be in jeopardy, but to everyone’s great relief, he was able to survive.
  2. It’s possible that some of the emperor’s actions may be described as quirky, if not downright “batty.” Because one of the first things Caligula did was proclaim himself to be a demigod.
  3. It was, however, the first time that a live Roman had claimed such a distinction.
  4. He soon constructed his own priesthood and temple, replete with a life-sized golden statue for devotees to adorn, and he began receiving offerings.
  5. Google Images is a free image search engine.
  6. He was roaming the palace as Jupiter in one moment, replete with a fake golden beard and a thunderbolt in the other.
  7. When he transformed into Venus, Caligula even dressed in a woman’s robe and slippers.

When he wasn’t mimicking the gods, Caligula used his power to control the populace.

He even claimed to have bullied Capitoline Jupiter into sharing his temple—and to have compelled the moon goddess to sleep with him every full moon—in order to get access to the shrine.

He made the decision to go to war in 39 AD.

Once he had amassed a sufficient amount of booty, he traveled to the shore of Gaulish territory.

The emperor’s officers were under the impression that he was planning an invasion of Britain.

Caligula’s favorite racehorse, Incitatus, was the subject of one of his most bizarre stunts, which was possibly the most insane of them.

Guards were stationed the night before the horse’s race so that Incitatus could have a decent night’s sleep before the competition.

Incitatus received no denials from Caligula.

Incitatus was appointed consul by Caligula, who managed to outdo himself when he summoned the Senate one day and proclaimed his intention to promote him to the position.

Drusilla, Agrippina, and Livia, Caligula’s three sisters, are depicted here. Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. and Wikimedia Commons are credited with this image, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Murder and Terror

The majority of Caligula’s post-illness conduct, on the other hand, was anything but amusing. Immorality, brutality, and severe harshness earned him a bad reputation among his peers. His incestuous relationships with all three of his sisters were the least of his transgressions. Caligula was said to have been inconsolable at the death of his favorite, Drusilla. He was so consumed by grief that, upon her death, he declared it a deadly crime to laugh, bathe, or dine in public during the time of mourning that followed.

  • It is unclear whether or not this incest was voluntary or an issue of survival on the part of the couple.
  • The practice of having female dinner guests paraded before him so that he might select a sexual companion for later in the evening became a favorite of his and became a cherished tradition.
  • The emperor Caligula abruptly proclaimed in the middle of the wedding feast, “Hands off my bride.” In order to follow him home, he compelled Orestila to join him and “married” her—only to divorce her two days later.
  • Caligula was forced to discover new sources of revenue as the imperial coffers were rapidly depleted as a result of his extravagant spending.
  • Almost all of Rome’s married noblewomen—as well as a large number of young boys—were compelled to work at this imperial whorehouse.
  • Fedor Bronnikov’s painting, Dying Gladiator, is available on Wikimedia Commons.
  • The aristocrats were willing to put up with this indignity and maltreatment because they knew that far worse was in store for anybody who angered the emperor.
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It was only a few months following his sickness that he carried out his first executions, which included the praetorian prefect, Macro, as well as Macro’s young cousin, Gemellus, who were both slain on false accusations.

Gemellus, despite the fact that he was just a kid, posed a possible danger to Caligula because he was Tiberius’ grandson and had previously served as Caligula’s co-heir.

However, he was responsible for a slew of additional killings as a result of his pure brutality.

Those who were found guilty had their estates taken away.

Caligula, on the other hand, enjoyed battling the condemned asgladiators.

The emperor even dispatched a litter to transport a sick father to his son’s death, as a gesture of goodwill.

Caligula even hosted a supper for the father of one of his victims on the day of his son’s death, which was a first for the Romans.

Caligula’s original polychromy has been recreated in its entirety. The Istanbul Museum is a must-see. G.dallorto is credited with this photograph. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Mad-or Bad?

It is possible that Suetonius’s biography of Caligula was written decades after the emperor’s death, during the reign of Hadrian, and that some of its elements were intentionally moulded to fit Suetonius’s portrayal of the emperor as a crazy madman. However, this is not proven. For example, in his narrative of Caligula’s abortive invasion of Britain, he fails to mention that the Latin name for seashells”Musculi”was also slang for an engineer’s cottage among soldiers. Therefore, instead of sending his men to gather seashells, Caligula might have ordered them to rid the beach of military structures, which would have been more appropriate.

  1. It was confirmed in 2003 by the discovery of Caligula’s palace that it had really been rebuilt to link up with the Temple of Castor and Pollux.
  2. Considering that the events reported in the sources roughly conform to the facts, how should we judge Caligula’s character: is he insane or evil?
  3. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
  4. Caligula appears to have been somewhat rational before to his sickness.
  5. Caligula was eighteen years old when Tiberius took him to live with him on the island of Capri.
  6. He avoided being tricked by Tiberius’ courtiers into speaking out against the emperor by remaining silent.
  7. This suggests a certain level of intellect, self-control, and a well-developed sense of survival instinct in the individual.

Although Caligula’s behavior following his sickness was irrational and harsh, there is a pattern to his lunacy that can be seen; it is one that speaks of a young ruler trying to assert his dominance.

He no longer desired to be seen just as emperor, or as the foremost among equals, as he had been in the past.

Caligula needed to weaken the Senate’s position in order to do this effectively.

Since his sickness, pressure, and the corrupting nature of power had weakened his ability to regulate his actions, Caligula proceeded with reckless abandon toward this goal.

Caligula wished to degrade his opponents by stressing their vulnerability in the face of his overwhelming authority.

He was also a source of terror for them.

When Caligula was asked what the joke was, he said, “It came to me that all I have to do is give one nod and your necks would be cut right there and then.” Taking this into consideration, the episode with Incitatus is viewed in a whole different light.

What store do we get this item from?

Guild Publishing Company was founded in 1979.

The Telegraph published an article by Bruce Johnston on August 8, 2003.

Routledge published John Hazel’s book in 2002.

Stanford News Service published an article by John Stanford on August 9, 2003.

Odyssey, by Elise Ghibellini, published on May 10, 2016.

The Telegraph published an article by Allan Massie on July 20, 2013. A History of the Tremendous Lives and Dramatic Deaths of Twelve Roman Caesars, by David R. McKay Posted on November 6, 2017 by Alexander Meddings, History Collection

Mythbusting Ancient Rome – Caligula’s Horse

If there is one thing that springs to mind when thinking of the emperor Caligula, it is John Hurt’s magnificently manic performance in the BBC television series I, Claudius. Horrified passersby watch as Hurt parades his favorite horse around the streets of Rome, decked out in the toga of a consul, while wearing a gold bikini and sporting a beard stained with the blood of his children. He embodies the precise definition of a deranged Roman ruler. The legend that Caligula elevated his favorite horse, Incitatus, to the position of consul has always piqued our interest.

Caligula’s horse, Incitatus, is mentioned in the Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, which defines the name as “the name of Caligula’s horse, who was appointed a consul by the emperor.” The fact that Incitatus has his own Wikipedia page, on the other hand, is perhaps the most compelling evidence of his immortality.

The emperor’s favourite ass

The consulship was the highest magistracy in the Roman Republic, and it was held by the most powerful men in the land. Although it was still in existence throughout the reign of the empire, the rank was largely an honorary title, which emperors used to award loyal senators. When it comes to Caligula’s horse, the ancient sources are explicit in their testimony: he was not elevated to the position of consul. According to the writer Suetonius, the emperor showered gifts upon Incitatus, providing him with a marble stall, ivory manger, purple blankets, luxury furnishings, and servants from his own household.

The historian Cassius Dio, who lived in the first century AD, provides a slightly different version: .and he has even agreed to appoint a consul.

As a result, it is likely that the narrative was inspired by a casual comment made by Caligula, who mentioned that he would appoint Incitatus as a consul (though he never followed through with it).

It’s often assumed that the emperor was making fun of the consuls since they were such “asses” that he may as well include his horse in this exclusive club.

“Incitatus” is Latin for “rapidly moving.” A clever hypothesis advanced by historian David Woods is that the term was intended to be an insult directed at one specific consul, Asinius Celer, whose name translates as “swift ass.” A joke made by Caligula the comedian has been taken as historical fact by certain people.

A party fit for a horse

Caligula was a great cry from his imperial predecessors Augustus and Tiberius in terms of personality and character. Augustus is sometimes referred to as the “first emperor,” yet he saw himself more as a prominent Republican politician than a king throughout his time in power. His successor, the stoic Tiberius, made it a point to turn down as many royal honors as he possibly could. Caligula, on the other hand, was a raucous young man in his mid-twenties who had a reputation for being reckless.

  • In a nutshell, Caligula desired to be – and to be perceived as – a monarch.
  • Compared to the care shown to prize horses by other young nobles, Caligula’s lavish treatment of Incitatus was far more extravagant.
  • It is true that Caligula did throw parties for his guests in the horse’s magnificent stables, with Incitatus himself serving as the “host.” Caligula and his entourage, on the other hand, were the actual beneficiaries of all the bling, which allowed them to party in style.
  • Imagining the emperor Caligula and his drinking cronies ridiculing the stuck-up consuls and proclaiming that Incitatus would soon be joining their ranks is not difficult to envision.

The neighs have it

Salvador Dali’s Caligula’s Horse (also known as Dali’s Horses) was painted in 1971. A Fair Use Licence is required. As a parable of political abuse, the story of Caligula and Incitatus proved to be so compelling that it didn’t seem to matter that the horse never worn the consular toga in the end. Commentators have had a lot of fun over the ages comparing modern politicians to the emperor’s favorite horse, which has been a source of great amusement for them. On the 6th of February, 1742, the London Magazine and Monthly Chronologer published an article that is considered to be one of the most sophisticated examples of this.

Robert Walpole was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at the time, and he had been defeated in a vote of no confidence in Parliament on the 28th of January 1742.

must it have been to have lived under the auspicious Reign of the Emperor Caligula, who had such a great regard for Merit wherever he found it, and took such a fatherly Care in providing for the Happiness of his People, that When contrasted to Walpole, Incitatus comes out on top since the horse shows all of the characteristics of a successful Prime Minister.

It also appears in more serious contexts, such as the British response to the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, which was titled “The Rights of Great Britain Asserted Against the Claims of America.” Caligula’s horse also appears in more serious contexts, such as the American Declaration of Independence in 1776.

  1. The biases and anxieties of the common people were the steps that ambitious leaders took to advance to a position of power, which they then used to impose tyranny on their gullible constituents.
  2. The narrative of Incitatus is transformed into a fable on what occurs when a state abandons its basic values at the demand of sycophants, as is the case today.
  3. In his memoirs, Cassius Dio claims that Caligula transformed a horse – presumed to be Incitatus – into an emperor’s priest.
  4. Therefore, we have been accustomed to viewing this tale as one about the misuse of governmental, as opposed to religious, authority.

However, despite the fact that Caligula’s horse was never given the opportunity to sit in the ivory chair of the Roman Senate (his ivory stable had to suffice), we still like fantasizing about the days when politicians were physically badasses.

The Roman Emperor Who Tried to Make His Horse Consul

In most people’s minds when they think of Roman Emperors, they think of either the heroic generals and brilliant philosophers such as Caesar Augustus and Marcus Aurelius, or the insane and depraved despots such as Nero and Commodus, or some combination of the two. The latter two are well known for their long list of antics, for a video on Nero’s famous fiddle incident and the truth about all that, check out the link in the description below. But both Nero and Commodus were preceded by an Emperor who, in his three years and 10 months as ruler in Rome, acted in a manner that at first was bizarre and then descended into outright insanity.

  1. During his early childhood he would travel with his father, Germanicus, on his military campaigns dressed in a little soldier’s outfit.
  2. After this, the young Caligula spent time in the care of his mother until she and his brother Nero were exiled to the island of Pandateria for treason.
  3. When he was in exile, his brother and mother were abused and malnourished, and as a result, they died in the years 31 and 33 AD respectively.
  4. Caligula was relocated to the island of Capreae, a popular resort island off the western coast of Italy.
  5. For example, he ingratiated himself with Naevius Sutorius Macro, the chief of Tiberius’ guard, who would often speak favourably of Caligula on his behalf.
  6. but his wife, Junia Claudilla, died in childbirth shortly after.
  7. A mere two years after that, Emperor Tiberius died in March of 37 A.D.
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As for Macro, Roman historian Tacitus claims he smothered the 77 year old Emperor with a pillow, while Suetonius alleges Caligula did the deed himself.

He was inaugurated by the Senate later that month and was heralded by the Roman people with immense celebration.

Ingratiating himself to the masses, he relieved citizens overburdened by Imperial taxation, recalled political exiles, and funded many public spectacles.

But in October of his first year as Emperor, something changed.

But either way, something changed directly thereafter, at least if his behavior is any indication.

His two younger sisters were exiled, and only his Uncle Claudius, the future fourth Emperor and Caligula’s replacement, was spared, simply to be kept around as an object for ridicule and amusement.

Over the next three years Caligula’s reign would become more and more erratic.

This ingratiated him with the common people, but drew the ire of the Roman elite.

He completed the temple of his great grandfather, the now deified Caesar Augustus as well as the Theater of Pompey.

And went so far as hauling an obelisk all the way from Egypt to use as a centerpiece in a Circus he had built- the obelisk is still around today and is prominently displayed near the Vatican in Rome.

He did this just to ride his favorite horse, Incitatus across the bay and fulfil a mock prophecy saying he had ‘no more chance of becoming Emperor than of riding a horse across the bay of Baiae’.

Caligula also designated a house, fully furnished and filled with attendant slaves, for dinner parties held by the horse on occasion.

However, he did manage to make him a priest.

He supposedly also had an incestuous relationship with his sister, Drusilla, and kept her with him even after she married.

He later incorporated the temple devoted to the twin deities Castor and Pollux into his own palace.

Naturally this did not sit well.

Apparently having a bucket list life goal to piss off as many people as humanly possible, Caligula also began to execute accused criminals without hearing their cases, going so far as to compel parents to be present at their children’s executions.

And once, when he heard an Equestrian crying out that he was innocent in the arena, Caligula had the man brought to him, cut out his tongue, and tossed him back in.

Keeping of up the crazy, Caligula also in one instance apparently asked a man whom he’d brought back from exile how he spent his time away from home.

But Caligula’s mistreatment of others did not end with the poor or his political rivals.

In one specific instance, it’s also noted that while training, the veteran gladiator with whom Caligula practiced his martial skills, purposely threw himself at the Emperor’s feet in defeat.

Reversing his early efforts to ingratiate the masses, he ultimately began taxing the Roman people heavily, even arresting wealthy citizens and confiscating their property and once demanded gifts to be given to him on New Year’s day from every single person in Rome.

Beyond day to day management of the empire, Roman Emperors were often marked by their military campaigns, but Caligula was a tad different here too.

Wishing to conquer Britain, he assembled a fast army and made way.

Encountering no resistance along the way, he ordered some Germanic members of his guard to cross the Rhine and lie in wait.

When he reached the northwestern coast of Gaul, (modern France), he declared war against Neptune himself.

Then, gathering the best and tallest Gaulish men he could, he ordered them to dye their hair blonde and assume German names, so they could be presented as prisoners of war upon his return to Rome.

He is also described as affixing a golden beard to his face, wearing women’s shoes, or dressing in the habit of Venus.

At one point, he even ordered that all statues of deities be brought from Greece so that he could replace their heads with his own.

Not limiting himself to the Greek or Roman Gods, frustrated and mistrustful of the Hebrews for their stubborn displays of Monotheism, Caligula attempted to have his statue erected in the Temple of Jerusalem.

After advisors finally convinced him to reverse the order, Caligula quickly changed his mind, renamed the temple ‘The Temple of Illustrious Gaius the New Jupiter’ and built a colossal bronze gilt statue of himself to place within.

Finally the Senators grew tired of his antics.

As for Chaerea’s specific beef with the emperor, Caligula seems to have enjoyed making powerful people kiss his ring while he extended his middle finger at them.

When he asked for the watchword Gaius would give him “Priapus” or “Venus,” and when Chaerea had occasion to thank him for anything, he would hold out his hand to kiss, forming and moving it in an obscene fashion.”In any event, the conspirators’ plans were forced into motion when Caligula stated that he planned to move to the Egyptian city of Alexandria to be worshipped as a living god there.

  1. It is reported that he made no sound of alarm when the assassins struck, and only attempted to flee out of the tunnels as he was stabbed to death.
  2. The Emperor’s body was half-burned on a hastily assembled pyre and buried on the spot.
  3. Legend had it that the garden in which the Emperor was burned and buried became haunted by spiritual apparitions, until Caligula’s sisters, having returned from exile, finished the cremation and gave him a proper burial.
  4. As to why he acted so bizarrely during his rule, this is a matter of debate.
  5. This may have led him to become so obsessed with putting on military shows, promoting himself as the very incarnation of several deities, and the constant self-promotion through trying to assert his image onto every statue in the empire- obsessed with being remembered as his forbears were.

If you like this post, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, and Feed), as well as the following other articles and resources:

  • How to Tell the Truth About Gladiators and Getting a Thumbs Up
  • Maximinus Thrax, the Giant Who Pretended to Be a Roman Emperor But Never Set Foot in the City of Rome
  • Damnatio Memoriae is the term used to describe when the Romans purposefully erased people from history. Sections about Julius Caesar and “Caesarean” sections
  • The Truth About Julius Caesar and “Caesarean” Sections

This Roman Emperor Made His Horse A Consul

The Print Collector is represented by Getty Images. Whatever your feelings about the leadership of the United States at any moment in the country’s history, let us all take a collective sigh of relief that none of us lived during the reign of Caligula, the “Mad Emperor,” in the Roman Empire from 37 to 41 CE. It has been attempted in recent years to excuse or diminish his madness, psychopathy, and sexual exploits by blaming them on conditions such as hyperthyroidism, but let’s be clear, once again: that guy is insane.

Moreover, in terms of tyranny, brutality, and matricide, Caligula raised the bar for his nephew and future emperor Nero significantly (who ruled from 54-68 CE).

His reign was marked by some typical emperor actions, such as the progress of the invasion of Gaul (modern-day France), but once there, he simply ordered the soldiers to collect some seashells as “spoils of the conquered ocean,” according to Britannica.

Oh, sure, I see what you mean.

Possibly better at government than some people, it’s true

Heritage Images courtesy of Getty Images To be fair, “horse consul” is a proper title. According to Britannica, a consul in ancient Rome was one of the most powerful magisterial posts in the empire. Presidents presided over the Senate and the courts, and they also had command of the army, among other responsibilities as leaders. If consuls were horses, they would naturally be significantly more adept at doing their duties than they are now. According to history, Caligula considered his favorite horse, Incitatus, a consul and lavished him with a marble stall, an ivory manger, a diamond collar, and even a mansion, which he referred to as “the horse’s palace.” As stated in the The Conversation, this story comes from the Roman historian Suetonius (69-122 CE), who wrote about Rome’s rulers from Julius Caesar to Domitian, who are collectively known as the “Twelve Caesars.” Imperial Rome is depicted in this book as a city of unrelenting intrigue, plotting, and assassinations, which has contributed to the creation of our present perception of the period.

Suetonius also said that Caligula subjected prisoners to “wild creatures,” engaged in incest, and “conversed with the moon” during his reign.

They claim that the politicians of ancient Rome would never have tolerated such irrational behavior. However, Caligula is far from the first ruler whose behavior (whether insane or worse) was tolerated, if not endorsed, by his fellow officials in the Roman Republic.

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