Caligula comes to the party, or maybe vice versa

POLITICAL ANALYSIS (Rooters agency) – The Reactionary Party convention, to be held in Cleveland in July, has been officially renamed by the party’s National Committee as the Convention of Americans Loyal to Independence, God, Unceasing Lying and Anger.

City authorities have already begun preparing for the convention, installing large street posters proclaiming “Welcome CALIGULA” (the acronym from the name of the convention).

It was only several days later that some wag on Facebook pointed out that Caligula was the name of an ancient Roman Emperor with a less than savory reputation.

Caligula, according to historians writing after his demise, was widely regarded as a misogynist, warmonger, and public nuisance. (He would have been known as a racist as well, except for the fact that ancient Rome hadn’t yet invented races, despite being big on slavery.)

Caligula was said to have planned to appoint his horse to the position of consul. That was a scandal because consuls in ancient Rome were important government officials, not today’s issuers of passports and trade promoters whose jobs could easily be filled by a moderately intelligent chimpanzee, if not a horse.

According to some accounts, Caligula also made the horse a Senator, but in ancient Rome that would not have attracted much more attention than would be attracted today by the election of a horse or a dead person to the US Senate. There is no record of how the horse voted in the Roman Senate, if indeed it sat or stabled there, but lobbyists would surely have promised it green pastures if it behaved as required, and that no doubt settled the matter.

The name of Caligula’s favored horse was Incitatus, which is Latin for “Troublemaker”. Some, probably deranged, commentators have tried to draw a parallel between all that and the current situation, in which CALIGULA will appoint as its candidate for President (Consul) the hair stylist Ronald Dump.

This claimed parallel is based on Dump, like Caligula, being a misogynist, warmonger, racist, and public nuisance. But that clearly is absurd, because it compares Dump with Caligula, when it should of course compare him with Caligula’s horse.

Incitatus comes away very well in such comparisons, having been known as well mannered, peaceful, intelligent, and indifferent to racial and gender distinctions. Sadly for Incitatus (and perhaps for ancient Rome), his advancement was stymied in 41 A.D. when Caligula’s imperial re-election campaign was cut short by his assassination.

Historical footnote: Caligula, like US presidents, ruled for four years. But US presidents differ from Caligula in that none of them for at least a century have been real horse aficionados.

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