What Roman Emperor Made His Horse A Consul? (Correct answer)

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.

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 was emperor after Caligula?

How did Caligula die? In January 41, four months after his return to Rome from Gaul, Caligula was murdered at the Palatine Games by Cassius Chaerea, tribune of the Praetorian Guard, Cornelius Sabinus, and others. Caligula’s wife and daughter were also put to death. He was succeeded as emperor by his uncle Claudius.

Who made their horse a consul?

The most famous story about Incitatus is that Caligula made him a consul in the Roman Senate.

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.

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.

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.

What happened to Napoleon’s horse?

Marengo stood at stud (unsuccessfully) at New Barnes, near Ely, at the age of 27. He eventually died at the old age of 38, and his skeleton (minus two hooves) was preserved and later passed to the Royal United Services Institute and is now on display at the National Army Museum in Chelsea, London.

Who was the best Caesar?

Why? This man forged an Empire. Despite springing from relatively modest origins, Augustus Caesar’s legacy was the foundation of an imperial system that dominated Europe for over four centuries.

Does Caligula have a child?

Q: Why is Roman Emperor Caligula remembered as the cruelest Emperor? Shortly into Emperor Caligula’s rule, he fell ill from what many suggest was syphilis. He never recovered mentally and became a ruthless, wanton killer of Roman citizens, including even his family.

Did Caligula really make his horse a consul?

Suetonius reports that the Roman emperor Caligula cherished one of his horses, Incitatus, to such an extent that he lavished lavish gifts on the steed, which included a marble stall, ivory manger, jewel-encrusted collar, and even a private residence. One of the most famous historians, Cassius Dio, subsequently claimed that servants fed the animals oatmeal sprinkled with gold flakes. According to legend, Caligula had affairs with his sisters, gave captives to wild animals, and had talks with the moon—so coddling a pet horse would seem like a minor transgression in comparison to the rest of his many crimes.

The tale of Incitatus’ consulship, like most of what we think we know about Caligula, comes from a writer who lived decades after the emperor’s four-year rule and wrote about it in his own words.

Many academics disagree with the claim that Caligula frightened Rome with his unfettered craziness, believing that his fellow legislators would very certainly have removed him from office if he had engaged in such behavior.

A sane explanation for such behavior is not the only one, according to historian Aloys Winterling, author of the 2011 book “Caligula: A Biography.” Winterling argues in his book that many of the emperor’s most bizarre acts, like as his treatment of Incitatus, were intended to embarrass and humiliate senators and other members of the ruling class.

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 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.

  1. It was only natural for the populace to associate the emperor Gaius, as he was known, with the restoration of the ancient ways.
  2. 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.
  3. His boyhood moniker, which he detested, would likewise be etched in their minds.
  4. Emperor Caligula was a murderous megalomaniac who was found guilty of blasphemy, incest, as well as state-sanctioned murder, torture, and thievery.
  5. The emperor’s contemporaries began to doubt his mental stability as a result of these activities.
  6. Tiberius was the Emperor of the Romans.
  7. 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.
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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.

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?

Caligula’s post-illness conduct, on the other hand, was far from amusing. Immorality, brutality, and excessive cruelty were associated with his name. His incestuous relationships with all three of his sisters were the least of his transgressions, though. Caligula was said to have been inconsolable when his beloved, Drusilla, died. During the mourning time, he became so deranged with sorrow that it became a criminal crime for anybody to laugh, bathe or eat in public while the period was still in effect.

  • Nobody knows if this incest was voluntary or if it was necessary for survival.
  • 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 favorite ritual.
  • It was in the middle of the wedding banquet when Caligula proclaimed, “Hands off my wife.” In order to follow him home, he compelled Orestila to join him and “married” her—only to divorce her just a few days later.
  • Caligula had to discover new sources of revenue since the imperial coffers were being depleted as a result of his extravagant spending.
  • To work as a prostitute in this imperial whorehouse, all of Rome’s married noblewomen, as well as a large number of young boys, were necessary.
  • Fedor Bronnikov’s painting, “Dying Gladiator,” is available on Wikimedia Commons for free use.
  • Caligula, on the other hand, would have men tortured and killed on the whim of a single individual.

The assassination of Tiberius was said to have aided Caligula in his ascent to power, and Macro is said to have assisted him.

It appears that Caligula suffered from a degree of paranoia, as evidenced by Gemellus and Macro’s deaths.

Another means of generating much-needed funds, Caligula had recreated the treason trials of Tiberius’ reign.

But if they did not commit suicide or die in jail, they might expect to be executed in front of a crowd.

Caligula enhanced his enjoyment of these performances by compelling the relatives of the condemned to attend.

He was killed beside his kid, who had requested permission to close his eyes rather than see the death of another.

In order to avoid dying, the devastated father was compelled to sit and laugh at the emperor’s jokes for the whole evening.

Caligula’s polychromy has been recreated in its original form. The Museum of Istanbul G.dallorto is credited with the photograph. The Commons is a repository for public domain images and media.

Mythbusting Ancient Rome – Caligula’s Horse

However, the majority of Caligula’s post-illness conduct was far from amusing. His depravity, brutality, and excessive cruelty earned him a bad reputation. His incestuous relationships with all three of his sisters were the least of his misdeeds. Caligula is said to have been distraught after the death of his favorite, Drusilla. He was so consumed by sadness that, upon her death, he declared it a deadly crime to laugh, bathe, or dine in public during the period of mourning. He even went so far as to proclaim Drusilla a goddess, which was an extraordinary accolade for a woman at the time, and had her name included to imperial vows.

  • Caligula, on the other hand, was unmistakably a sexual predator.
  • When he was a guest at Gaius Piso and Livia Orestila’s wedding, he developed feelings for the bride.
  • He coerced Orestila into accompanying him home, and they †married,’ only for him to divorce her just a few days later.
  • As a result of his extravagant spending, Caligula’s imperial coffers were rapidly depleted, and he was forced to find new sources of revenue.
  • All of Rome’s married noblewomen—as well as a large number of young boys—were compelled to work in this imperial whorehouse.
  • Fedor Bronnikov’s painting, “Dying Gladiator,” is available on Wikimedia Commons.
  • Caligula, on the other hand, would have men tortured and executed on the spur of the moment.

Macro is said to have assisted Caligula in his rise to power by assassinating Tiberius.

The deaths of Gemellus and Macro suggest that Caligula was plagued by paranoia to some degree.

Caligula had resurrected the treason trials of Tiberius’ reign as a means of raising additional funds for his ailing kingdom.

However, if they did not commit suicide or die in prison, they could expect to be executed in public.

Caligula augmented his enjoyment of these spectacles by compelling the condemned’s families to attend as well as to witness them.

The death of another, who requested permission to close his eyes rather than watch, occurred alongside his son.

He was either forced to sit and laugh at the emperor’s jokes for the entire evening, or he would perish himself.

Caligula’s original polychromy has been recreated. The Istanbul Museum is located in the city’s historic district. Image courtesy of G.dallorto Wikimedia Commons has a large collection of images.

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.

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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 clever thinkers such as Caesar Augustus and Marcus Aurelius, or the mad and corrupt despots such as Nero and Commodus, or some combination of the two. The latter two are well-known for their numerous misadventures; for a video on Nero’s famous violin incident and the truth behind it all, see the link in the description section below. The Emperor Commodus, who reigned in Rome for three years and ten months before Nero, was known for acting in a weird and eventually insane way during his three years and ten months as ruler of the city.

Born Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, he became the third person to hold the title of Roman Emperor.

The troops found great amusement in this and gave him the moniker Caligula, which translates as ‘little boot.’ At the age of seven, his father died in Syria, allegedly as a result of poisoning carried out by an agent of his great-uncle, the Emperor Tiberius, who viewed his nephew as a possible political competitor.

  • For the next many years, he resided with his Great-Grandmother Livia, who happened to be the wife of Emperor Augustus, and afterwards with his grandmother, Antonia Minor.
  • As a result, Caligula harbored a great deal of anger towards Tiberius, which was not surprising given the circumstances.
  • He was in this situation under the careful eye of his great-uncle, but he was able to avoid being banished or executed thanks to some cunning and acting ability.
  • In the end, he was awarded an honorary Quaestorship, which was a significant political position.
  • Approximately two years later, in A.D.
  • Two years later, in March of 37 A.D., Emperor Tiberius died, and it was thought that Caligula or maybe the aforementioned Macro had had a role in hastening his death, which was probably unexpected.
  • It doesn’t matter what the reality is about that; following the Emperor’s death, Caligula and Macro were successful in having Gemellus removed from Tiberius’ testament, and he became the only heir to the Principate.

According to all accounts, the first seven months of his reign were a time of great happiness.

His personal efforts included retrieving the ashes of his mother and brothers and ensuring that they were given a befitting burial in an appropriate location.

In the event that Caligula became unwell, some historians speculate that he may have been poisoned, while others maintain that he was simply suffering from a normal ailment.

A short time later, he began to execute members of his own family, including his cousin Gemellus and his in-laws, as well as his own father and brother-in-law.

As a result, Caligula proceeded to defame the memory of Emperor Augustus, claiming that his own mother was the product of an incestuous liaison between Augustus and his own daughter.

To begin with, he fought for tax changes to help an overwhelmed people, and he promoted a number of Plebeians to the more prestigious Equestrian position, which was afterwards abolished.

In addition to this, he was involved at a number of construction projects, including the enlargement of ports at the tip of Italy and in Syracuse to accommodate increased grain imports.

The building of two huge aqueducts to improve the distribution of water across the city began under his watch.

At the beginning of his reign, he also built what is arguably the most ridiculous of his construction projects: a massive pontoon bridge over the gulf of Baiae in southern Italy.

Speaking of his horse, it appears that he intended to elevate the animal to the position of consul by constructing a marble stable, an ivory manger, and lavishly furnishing the horse’s not-so-humble house with the best purple furnishings and trappings.

Unfortunately for the sake of the overall hilarity, he was unsuccessful in his attempt to make Incitatus a consul.

Caligula, according to Roman historians, went on to refer to himself as Pater exercituum, or “father of the army,” and Optimus Maximus Caesar, or “the finest and greatest Caesar” as a result of this.

As soon as she died, he ordered a period of public morning mourning over her body.

Continuing his pattern of bizarre and potentially deadly conduct, he would sell seats to Plebeians in order to ensure that when Equestrians arrived to performances, all of the seats were already taken.

This, of course, did not sit well with the audience.

On occasion, he would even close the granaries to allow the people to go hungry for a short period of time.

One man who claimed to be ill and unable to attend a public execution was greeted by Caligula’s personal litter, which was dispatched to bring him to safety.

He also fed captives to the wild creatures he kept for his games, and it didn’t seem to matter whether or not they were genuinely guilty of whatever crime they were being held accountable for.

“I hoped to the gods that Tiberius would die and that you would be appointed Emperor,” the man said cautiously, fearing for his own fate.

However, Caligula’s abuse of others did not stop with the impoverished or with his political opponents; it extended to everyone.

In one specific case, it is also stated that the experienced gladiator with whom Caligula honed his combat abilities deliberately flung himself at the Emperor’s feet in defeat when they were training together.

Reversing his earlier efforts to ingratiate the populace, he eventually began taxing the Romans harshly, even arresting and taking the property of affluent inhabitants.

Then, once he’d gotten his gifts, he appeared to be having a good time by rolling about in a big mound of gold coins he’d gathered as a result of his haul.

His reign as Emperor was marked by the participation in only one military expedition.

He would command the army to advance with such rapidity that his Elite personal guard would have to stow their standard in order to keep up, while at other times he would order the army to move slowly enough that he could order the towns ahead to sweep the roads and water them down to settle the dust.

  1. In the middle of his evening meal, he summoned a messenger to warn him that the enemy was on the march.
  2. After reaching the northern coast of Gaul (modern France), he declared war on Neptune himself when he reached the city of Troy.
  3. Afterwards, he gathered the best and tallest Gaulish men he could find and ordered them to color their hair blonde and adopt German names so that they might be portrayed as prisoners of war when he returned to Rome.
  4. He is also portrayed as growing a golden beard on his face, donning women’s shoes, and clothing in the manner of Venus, among other things.
  5. At one point, he even ordered that all sculptures of Greek deities be carried to the United States so that he might replace their heads with his own, which was eventually accomplished.
  6. As you might guess, the governor of Syria put the order on hold for over a year, afraid that it might spark an uprising.
  7. As you can guess from all of this, piling on virtually everyone in his empire, as well as more than a few people outside of it, couldn’t endure indefinitely.
  8. Three men, led by a man named Cassius Chaerea, began plotting to assassinate him shortly after his arrival.
  9. The bird has been given to people for thousands of years, with the original implication appearing to represent the penis, as we’ve previously discussed the origin of giving people the bird in another article.
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Gaius would give him “Priapus” or “Venus” as a watchword, and whenever Chaerea had an opportunity to thank him for anything, he would extend his hand to kiss her, forming and moving his hand in an obscene manner.” In any case, the conspirators’ plans were put into motion when Caligula announced that he intended to relocate to the Egyptian city of Alexandria in order to be worshipped as a living god there.

  • As a result, they, together with a large number of other conspirators, were able to trap the Emperor in an underground passage beneath the palace and administer the traditional Caesarian treatment.
  • He is believed to have made no sound when they struck.
  • An hastily constructed pyre was used to partially burn the Emperor’s body, which was then buried on the spot.
  • According to legend, the garden in which the Emperor was cremated and buried became haunted by spiritual apparitions until Caligula’s sisters, who had returned from exile, completed the cremation and laid him to rest in a proper grave in the nearby cemetery.
  • What caused him to behave in such a bizarre manner during his reign is still up for debate.

That he became obsessed with putting on military shows, promoting himself as the very embodiment of several deities, and the constant self-promotion through attempting to assert his image onto every statue in the empire may have been a result of his desire to be remembered in the same way that his forefathers were may have been a result of this.

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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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Historical Figures: Caligula

Caligula traveled to Germany in September of 39 AD to gather his soldiers in preparation for a military campaign. There, he uncovered a severe conspiracy against him, orchestrated by the army leader Gaetulicus, which he was unaware of. According to historical records, Gaetulicus intended to replace Caligula with the widower of Drusilla, Aemilius Lepidus, who at this time was the lover of one of Caligula’s other sisters, Agrippina the Younger. However, Gaetulicus was assassinated before he could complete his scheme.

  • The next winter, he spent in Germany, but his planned campaign, which would have finally encompassed the invasion of Britain, never materialized.
  • It is at this era of his reign that the other most famous tale suggesting that Caligula had lost his mind first surfaced: he appoints his horse to the position of consul.
  • Even if this was the case, it was likely less an indication of insanity and more a manifestation of his absolute contempt for the authority of the senate upon his return from his trip to Germany.
  • What is undeniable is that Caligula elevated himself to the status of a god and expected to be worshipped as such.
  • The discovery of the ancient Temple of Castor and Pollux within his palace during excavations in the Roman forum in the summer of 2003 revealed that he would go to great measures to elevate himself to godlike status.
  • The Praetorian Guard killed Gaius on January 21st, 41 AD, along with his wife Caesonia and their daughter, as one might anticipate given Caligula’s combination of self-deification and disdain for authority during the reign of the emperor Caligula.
  • When his uncle Claudius became emperor, the Praetorian Guard made the announcement, which was later confirmed by the Senate.
  • Was Caligula a clinical case of madness?
  • Philo tells the story of a man who was self-absorbed, killed on the spur of the moment, and boasted about his sexual experiences.
  • Despite this, all surviving records suggest that Caligula was mad; nonetheless, it is worth noting that in ancient Rome, insanity and sexual perversions were frequently associated with bad governance, which he very certainly exhibited.

But regardless of the circumstances, Caligula has gone down in history as the most dictatorial of Rome’s emperors, a judgment that is maybe a bit harsh, considering the times in which he lived.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is Caligula best known for?

In full, Gaius Caesar Germanicus was born on August 31, 12CE in Antium, Latium and died on January 24, 41 CE in Rome. He reigned as Roman Emperor from 37 to 41CE, succeeding Tiberius as the first Roman Emperor after him. Caligula ordered the transfer of the final legion that had been under the direction of a senatorial proconsul (in Africa) to an imperial legate, therefore establishing the emperor’s monopoly over army command in the Roman world. Ancient historians’ accounts of Caligula’s rule are so skewed against him that it is nearly hard to separate fact from fiction at this period.

In popular opinion, Tiberius’ manipulations were responsible for the murders of his father in 19CE, of his mother, Vipsania Agrippina, in 33CE, and of his two eldest brothers, Julius Caesar Nero in 31CE and Drusus Caesar in 23CE, among other people.

Gaius Caesar Germanicus was the name he took after his father, who had been a famous general.

Following this, he revived the Treasontrials, displayed tremendous harshness, and indulged in wild autocratic caprice, such as when he crossed the Bay of Naples with boats fromBaiaeto Puteoli in the summer of 39, among other things.

On his death (in 38), he was consecratedDiva Drusilla, making her the first woman in Rome to receive such an honor.

Some academics think that he sought to construct a Hellenistic-style monarchy after the brother-sister marriages of the Ptolemies of Egypt in order to unite the country under a single rule.

(See Researcher’s Note: Caligula’s horse for further information.) He might have been suffering from epilepsy.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Rogers Fund, 1914, 14.37,appeared unexpectedly on the Upper Rhine in October 39 and suppressed anincip Caligula soon spent the large sums of money Tiberius had amassed in the imperial treasury upon his ascension to the throne.

Early in the year 40, Caligula marched with an army into Gaul, whose population he pillaged to the point of extinction.

Furthering his claims to divinity, Caligula ordered his statue to be constructed in the Temple at Jerusalem in the summer of 40.

The Roman public had become tired of this insane and unpredictable ruler by this point, and a number of plots were organized against him.

Caligula’s wife Caesonia, as well as his daughter, were also put to death on his orders. Claudio succeeded him as emperor and was replaced by his uncle Claudius. Those in charge of editing the Encyclopaedia Britannica John P. Rafferty has changed and updated this article in the most recent version.

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