To what extent do you adore your pet? What steps are you willing to take to see them accomplish incredible things? We aren’t talking of winning a ribbon or a show, but rather holding a political office. Many bizarre things happened in ancient Rome, and one of them is the appointment of a horse as a senator.
Caligula – From the Best to a Beast
Gaius Caesar Germanicus, also known as Caligula, was only 24 years old when he was appointed Roman emperor in 37 A.D. and his rein was well received. His first act in office was to free the people that his predecessors had imprisoned unjustly. He also eliminated an unpopular tax.
Six months into his rule, Caligula fell ill; an illness that saw him change from a famous ruler to one that everyone despised. He became paranoid, raised taxes to finance his extravagant lifestyle, and ordered the killing of many people.
A Hostile Emperor
Caligula’s reign lasted for four years. During most of this time, legend has it that he gained an unpleasant reputation for being a cruel ruler with a disturbing personality and affinity for extravagance. Some historians claim that his illness may have made him insane.
Caligula attempted to increase the emperor’s power. Caligula also spent a lot of his time commissioning and constructing large structures, including several opulent palaces and massive aqueducts. It is also said that Caligula committed incest with his sister, but some historians don’t agree with this narrative. Others say that the emperor enjoyed hostility and ordered the killing of children as the parents watched. Whether these accusations are valid or not is something we may never know.
The Beloved Horse
The strangest action among everything that Caligula did is the legend that he wanted to appoint his horse, Incitatus, to the Roman senate. The horse is said to have been given special treatment. The horse dined with distinguished guests, dignitaries, and the emperor.
His stables were made using marble, and he slept on vibrant purple blankets. His collar was made of precious gems and his manger of ivory. Caligula instructed his servants to feed the horse with a mixture of oats and gold flakes.
Why Would Caligula Appoint a Horse as a Consul?
The consul was the highest elected position in the empire, and the act would demean and humiliate senators and other elites of the time. Bestowing such a top status to an animal would mean that their work was meaningless to the extent that an animal could do it.
All Against This Say ‘Neigh’
Considering that many sources claim that Caligula was mad, historical records have it that the act may have been a joke and not anything serious. He may have said it to ridicule senators without the intention of doing it. Well, now there is no way of knowing if Caligula meant what he said.
Caligula’s behaviors made him unpopular, which led to his murder by a group of guards. He was stabbed more than 30 timed before being thrown into a shallow grave. His wife and daughter were treated to the same fate. No old files show what became of Caligula’s beloved horse.