a curious Yankee in Europe's court

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Would Nietzsche say bravo? Rome’s poor horses

Posted on the February 23rd, 2010

When I took this photo in Rome a couple of weeks ago, I felt a bit of a louse. The horse doesn’t exactly look happy, and here I was flashing a camera a few feet from its face.

Today when I saw the article at ANSA.IT about the city of Rome issuing new regulations to ease the lives of the buggy horses there, I felt some sense of vindication, even though irrational, probably (“Rome gives buggy horses a break” Feb 22, 2010).

“The new regulations were adopted after a series of accidents over the past few years, which have seen horses maimed in the line of duty.

In addition to limiting the horse’s work-day to a maximum of eight hours with mandatory breaks during the hottest hours of the day, the city ordinance mandates regular check-ups by city-approved veterinarians.”

Animal rights activists aren’t satisfied with these regulations, according to the article, which quotes Animalisti Italiani head, Walter Coporale:

“We’re not going to stop lobbying until we get them off the streets for good,” said Walter Coporale.

“It simply isn’t conceivable for horses to be carting people around in 2010,” he said.

Coporale suggested that the city should have gone further in its regulations and allowed the buggy horses only along the shady trails of parks.

All this brings back to mind the compelling story of Nietzsche’s last sane act, which leading scholars insist is mythical. From the website Nietzsche Circle:

On January 3, 1889, Nietzsche collapsed in a piazza in Turin. It is oft repeated that he saw a coach-driver beating his horse, threw his arms around the horse in tears, and collapsed; however, this is but another apocryphal legend that cannot be corroborated with absolute verity. Italian Nietzsche scholar Verrecchia investigated and disputed this tale, which was originally published in an Italian newspaper somewhat akin to the Daily News called Nuova Antologia.

Whatever the doubts of the scholars, they can no more prove this didn’t happen, than its proponents can prove it did. So, going with my heart — I’ve read Nietzsche, I admire Nietzsche, and I say it did.

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