HOME
The Info List - Apocolocyntosis





The Apocolocyntosis
Apocolocyntosis
(divi) Claudii, literally The Gourdification of (the Divine) Claudius, is a political satire on the Roman emperor Claudius, probably written by Seneca the Younger. It is one of only two examples of Menippean satire from the classical era that have survived, the other being Petronius' Satyricon. The title plays upon "apotheosis", the process by which dead Roman emperors were recognized as gods.

Contents

1 Authorship 2 Plot 3 Context 4 See also 5 Notes 6 References

Authorship[edit] "Apocolocyntosis" is Latinized Greek, and sometimes transliterated Apokolokyntosis. In the manuscripts the anonymous work bears the title Ludus de morte Divi Claudii ("Play on the death of the Divine Claudius"). The title Apokolokyntosis (Attic Greek Ἀποκολοκύντωσις , "Gourdification", or sometimes, anachronistically, "Pumpkinification") comes from the Roman historian Cassius Dio (who wrote in Greek). Cassius Dio attributed authorship of a satirical text on the death of Claudius, called Apokolokyntosis, to Seneca the Younger.[1] Only much later was the work referred to by Cassius Dio identified (with some degree of uncertainty) with the "Ludus" text.[2] Most scholars accept this attribution, but a minority hold that the two works are not the same, and that the surviving text is not necessarily Seneca's.[3] One of the scholars that attributes the work to Petronius is Gilbert Bagnani. See his Arbiter of Elegance: A study of the Life & Works of C. Petronius (1954). Plot[edit] The work traces the death of Claudius, his ascent to heaven and judgment by the gods, and his eventual descent to Hades. At each turn, of course, Seneca mocks the late emperor's personal failings, most notably his arrogant cruelty and his inarticulateness. After Mercury persuades Clotho
Clotho
to kill the emperor, Claudius
Claudius
walks to Mount Olympus, where he convinces Hercules
Hercules
to let the gods hear his suit for deification in a session of the divine senate. Proceedings are in Claudius' favor until Augustus
Augustus
delivers a long and sincere speech listing some of Claudius' most notorious crimes. Most of the speeches of the gods are lost through a large gap in the text. Mercury escorts him to Hades. On the way, they see the funeral procession for the emperor, in which a crew of venal characters mourn the loss of the perpetual Saturnalia
Saturnalia
of the previous reign. In Hades, Claudius
Claudius
is greeted by the ghosts of all the friends he has murdered. These shades carry him off to be punished, and the doom of the gods is that he should shake dice forever in a box with no bottom (gambling was one of Claudius' vices): every time he tries to throw the dice they fall out and he has to search the ground for them. Suddenly Caligula
Caligula
turns up, claims that Claudius
Claudius
is an ex-slave of his, and hands him over to be a law clerk in the court of the underworld. Context[edit] Seneca had some personal reason for satirizing Claudius, because the emperor had banished him to Corsica. In addition, the political climate after the emperor's death may have made attacks on him acceptable. However, alongside these personal considerations, Seneca appears also to have been concerned with what he saw as an overuse of apotheosis as a political tool. If an emperor as flawed as Claudius could receive such treatment, he argued elsewhere, then people would cease to believe in the gods at all. A reading of the text shows Seneca was not above flattery of the new emperor Nero
Nero
– such as writing that he would live longer and be wiser than the legendary Nestor. See also[edit]

Imperial cult (Ancient Rome)

Notes[edit]

^ "Seneca himself had composed a work that he called Gourdification,—a word made on the analogy of 'deification'" (Dio Cassius, Book 61, No. 35 - Translation by Herbert Baldwin Foster, 1905, retrieved from Project Gutenberg) ^ See introduction of W. H. D. Rouse's translation: "This piece is ascribed to Seneca by ancient tradition; it is impossible to prove that it is his, and impossible to prove that it is not. The matter will probably continue to be decided by every one according to his view of Seneca's character and abilities: in the matters of style and of sentiment much may be said on both sides. Dion Cassius (lx, 35) says that Seneca composed an "apokolokintosis" or Pumpkinification of Claudius
Claudius
after his death, the title being a parody of the usual "apotheosis"; but this title is not given in the MSS. of the Ludus de Morte Claudii, nor is there anything in the piece which suits the title very well." ^ Clausen, W. V.; Kenney, E. J. The Cambridge History of Classical Literature. 2. p. 137. ISBN 0521273722. 

References[edit]

Altman, Marion (1938). "Ruler Cult in Seneca." Classical Philology 33 (1938): 198–204. Astbury, Raymond (1988). "The Apocolocyntosis." The Classical Review ns 38 (1988): 44–50. Colish, Marcia (1976). "Seneca's Apocolocyntosis
Apocolocyntosis
as a Possible Source for Erasmus' Julius Exclusus." Renaissance Quarterly 29 (1976): 361–368. Relihan, Joel (1984). "On the Origin of 'Menippean Satire' as the Name of a Literary Genre." Classical Philology 79 (1984): 226–9.

Translations

At Project Gutenberg: E-text No. 10001, English translation of the Apocolocyntosis
Apocolocyntosis
by W. H. D. Rouse, 1920 Claudius
Claudius
the God, by Robert Graves
Robert Graves
contains a translation of the Apocolocyntosis
Apocolocyntosis
in the annexes. J.P. Sullivan (ed), "The Apocolocyntosis" (Penguin Books, 1986) ISBN 978-0-14-044489-6

v t e

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Philosophy

Dialogues

De Beneficiis De Brevitate Vitae De Clementia De Constantia Sapientis De Ira De Otio De Providentia De Tranquillitate Animi De Vita Beata

Letters

Letters to Lucillius

Consolations

Seneca's Consolations
Seneca's Consolations
(ad Helviam Matrem, ad Marciam, ad Polybium)

Natural philosophy

Naturales quaestiones

Literature

Plays

Agamemnon Hercules
Hercules
Furens Hercules
Hercules
Oetaeus (doubtful) Medea Octavia (spurious) Oedipus Phaedra Phoenissae Thyestes Troades

Satire

Apocolocyntosis

Other

Letters to Saint Paul (spurious)

Related

Senecan tragedy Stoicism

Portraits

Socrates and Seneca Double Herm Pseudo-Seneca The Death of Seneca (1773 painting)

Family

Seneca the Elder (father) Gallio (brother) Pompeia Paulina (wife) Lucan (nephew)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 312406782 BNF: cb1236

.