Cultural Cocktail Hour
Roman Emperor Caligula loved horsing around…
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
Leticia Marie Sanchez
Salvador Dalí s painting, “Le Cheval de Caligula” depicts Incitatus, pampered pony of blood-thirsty Roman emperor Caligula.
The often-violent Caligula became so enraptured with his stallion that he giddily showered him with 18 servants, a marble stable, an ivory manger, rich red robes, and a bejeweled collar. Caligula even made sure that his horse had a lil’ wifey and presented him with the alluring mare Penelope as a bride. The neurotic emperor demanded that everyone bow down to his horse as a god.
No Mueslix or chewy carrots for this horsey. According to Roman historian Suetonius, Caligula’s horse snacked on oats mixed with flex of gold, naturally, and sipped the finest wine from golden goblets. Dignitaries must have clenched their teeth politely when Caligula required that they all sit at the dinner table with the guest of honor, the horse. But, how could anyone say no? The punishment for daring to disrupt the horse’s beauty sleep before a big race was pain of death. Gulp.
Caligula longed to appoint his beloved horse to the prestigious position of Consul. To be fair, Incitatus was probably no better or worse than some of today’s politicians.
Le Cheval de Caligula (ca. 1971) by Salvador Dalí