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Wednesday, July 19, 2017


As I watch all the incompetence in Washington DC, I think about all the manure that needs to be shoveled out of that town and those government buildings. This reminds me of another time when a ruler was dealing with a Senate that was not functioning and a horse who became a Senator!

Caligula was the emperor of Rome from AD 37 to AD 41. He is one of the better known emperors as he was quite eccentric and pulled some pretty funny stunts. He spent his short term, before he was assassinated, feuding with the Roman Senate. He strove to increase his power and expand the Roman empire into Northwest Africa. But his most memorable actions involved his favorite horse, Incitatus.

Incitatus means "Swift" in Latin and was the emperor's favorite horse. The white stallion was so beloved by Caligula that he was housed in a marble stall and ate from a manger made of ivory. He was draped in a purple blanket. At that time, purple dyes were very rare and hard to come by. Therefore, purple fabric was reserved for royalty and signified great social status. Records have noted that Incitatus was fed oats laced with flecks of gold. Another historian recorded that Incitatus had an elaborate jeweled collar. I don't know if they meant a halter, bridle or a Breast Collar.

History records two funny incidents involved Caligula and Incitatus. The soothsayer for Caligula's great uncle prophesied that Caligula had no more chance of becoming Emperor than of riding a horse across the Bay of Baiae that separated the towns of Baiae and Puteoli. So in 39 AD, Caligula ordered grain barges to be connected front to back clear across the bay. He then rode Incitatus across the floating bridge from Baiae to Puteoli!

The other incident involved Caligula's continual conflict with the Roman Senate. He was so angry with the lack of cooperation he was getting from the Senate that he appointed Incitatus to be a Senator and possibly also a Consul. In ancient Rome, two consuls were elected annually to be the chief magistrates who jointly ruled the republic. This move has caused some to claim that Caligula was insane. I think he was pretty smart to call attention to the manure that was being shoveled out of the Senate. I think President Trump should get a horse!

This stunt is what made Caligula famous. Many movies and works of art have picked up on this story.

In  addition, it has been the brunt of lots of jokes.

I can sympathize with Caligula. I'll bet my horses could get more done than our current batch of Senators!

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