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Caligula on the subject of namesD.J. Enright
Vol. 15 No. 23 · 2 December 1993

Caligula on the subject of names

D.J. Enright

236 words

Though he had little Latin
He seemed to like his title
I named him Incitatus
Meaning to run swiftly
But also to excite, to incite
Or so to speak spur on
Me they dubbed Baby-Boots
I gave him iron ones
He was born in a tailored toga
I hoped he would spur on the others
So I made him a consul
There’s a Pole called ‘I think’ who thought
He performed his duties perfectly
‘That is, he didn’t perform them at all’
Which is not entirely accurate
At times he intervened in the proceedings
He applauded with his hooves
His neigh was his nay
And invariably well timed
His droppings were neat and odourless
Unlike most of the magistrates
And invaluable to market gardeners
As I pointed out when taking their money
He rode roughshod
He spurred on the others
Many of whom left the Senate hurriedly
Small committees I always argue
Are preferable to large ones
I found it quite exciting
‘My kingdom for a horse’ I would say
Visiting him in his stable afterwards
(Yes, it was made of the finest marble)
His hay was his yea
What happened later I was not alive to tell
And the pertinent books of Tacitus
(Not too badly named) are lost
I like to think he trotted off to Thessaly
And joined the centaurs
(No, not akin to senators)
He was partial to the wine-trough.

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