How a Horse Named Incitatus Almost Became a Roman Senator

Caligula, the Roman emperor notorious for his eccentricities, is often linked to a truly bizarre story: appointing his favorite horse, Incitatus, to the Senate. But was this a serious political move or a symptom of Caligula’s madness?

The Tales of Incitatus

Ancient historians like Suetonius and Cassius Dio documented Caligula’s lavish treatment of Incitatus.  The horse reportedly had a marble stable, an ivory manger, and even enjoyed meals served by servants.  Some sources claim Caligula planned to make Incitatus a consul, the highest elected office in Rome.

Fact or Fiction?

Modern historians debate the truth behind these stories. While some believe Caligula was genuinely delusional, others argue it was a deliberate act of satire. By elevating a horse, Caligula might have been mocking the corruption and hypocrisy of the Roman Senate, highlighting how some senators seemed as useful as a prized racehorse.

The Legacy of Incitatus

Regardless of the truth behind Incitatus’s senatorial status, the story has endured as one of the most intriguing anecdotes from ancient Rome. It serves as a reminder of the eccentricities that can emerge from absolute power and the peculiar chapters in history that continue to captivate our imagination.

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