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Incitatus (Latin pronunciation: [in.ki.ˈtaː.tus]) was the favored horse of Roman emperor Caligula (reigned 37–41 AD). His name is a Latin adjective meaning "swift" or "at full gallop".

According to Suetonius' Lives of the Twelve Caesars (121 AD), Incitatus had a stable of marble, with an ivory manger, purple blankets, and a collar of precious stones. Dio Cassius has indicated that the horse was attended to by servants, and was fed oats mixed with gold flake. Suetonius also wrote that it was said that Caligula planned to make Incitatus a consul, and that the horse would "invite" dignitaries to dine with him in a house outfitted with servants there to entertain such events.

Caligula's folly[edit]

The accuracy of the received history has been questioned by historical revisionists such as Anthony A. Barrett. They suggest that later Roman chroniclers such as Suetonius and Dio Cassius were influenced by the political situation of their own times, when it may have been useful to the current Emperors to discredit the later Julio-Claudian Emperors. Also, the lurid nature of the story added spice to their narratives, winning them additional readers.

One suggestion is that Caligula's treatment of Incitatus was an elaborate prank, intended to ridicule and provoke the Senate, rather than a sign of insanity, or perhaps a form of satire, with the implication that a horse could perform a Senator's duties.

Barrett notes that "Many stories were spread about Incitatus, originating most likely from Caligula's own humorous quips."[1] "Possibly out of perverted sense of humor Caligula would pour libations to Incitatus' Salus [health and well-being], and claimed that he intended to co-opt him as his priest."[1]

In art and metaphor[edit]

Incitatus appears as an allegorical figure when referencing examples of political ineptitude. A Melbourne lawyer once remarked that Incitatus would have the numbers for premier in Victoria, and in act III of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard (1904) Pishchik says that his family is "descended from that very nag Caligula inducted into the Senate."

Ayn Rand, in her novel Atlas Shrugged (1957), refers to Incitatus, when she says that the character Cherryl Brooks is "the horse of some Roman emperor." Brooks is a poor dime store clerk who dates, and eventually marries, Jim Taggart, the wealthy President of Taggart Transcontinental, described as "one of the most powerful men in Washington."

The life of Incitatus is the subject of Zbigniew Herbert's poem "Caligula" (in Pan Cogito, 1974).

In Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges's Jack of Fables, Incitatus talks so much that he risks giving away his status as a Fable and frequently mentions his former status as a Roman senator.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Barrett, Anthony A. (1990). Caligula: The Corruption of Power. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 
  2. ^ Jack of Fables #22-24

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incitatus — Please support Wikipedia.
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5 news items

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 16:50:58 -0700

President Barack Obama spoke at a press conference during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, addressing the Ebola outbreak and peacekeeping efforts in Africa. Photo/Video: WhiteHouse.gov. WASHINGTON—President ...
 
Almomento.net
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 04:06:33 -0700

La historia nos recuerda el caso del tercer emperador romano Cayo Julio César Augusto Germánico, mejor conocido como "Calígula", el cual "nombró" Senador de Roma en el congreso de esa república a su caballo preferido "Incitatus" que en latín significa ...

Aporrea.org

Aporrea.org
Mon, 04 Aug 2014 08:37:26 -0700

Lástima que Incitatus murió hace más de mil años, sí no, fuese el más preparado candidato para ser elegido en esa locura llamada MUD. Por lo menos Incitatus se dedicaría a comer pasto, al contrario de Capriles y Ledezma que lo producen a través de sus ...

il Giornale

il Giornale
Fri, 08 Aug 2014 23:42:37 -0700

... più nefasto giorno per il Senato di Roma dopo quello in cui, ventuno secoli fa meno qualcosa, il «premier» Caligola per manifestare il suo disprezzo nei confronti dell'assemblea decise di nominare senatore niente di meno che il suo cavallo Incitatus.

Avanti!

Avanti!
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:39:09 -0700

Sembra quasi di essere tornati indietro nel tempo. In uno dei periodi più bui dell'impero romano. L'imperatore romano Gaio Giulio Cesare Germanico, soprannominato Caligola, successore di Ottaviano Cesare Augusto, si dice che nominò senatore Incitatus, ...
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