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Apocolocyntosis   By: (4 BC - 65)

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Apocolocyntosis by Lucius Annaeus Seneca is a thought-provoking and satirical work that offers a unique perspective on power, human nature, and the flaws of the Roman Emperor Claudius. Written in the form of a mock epic, the book showcases Seneca's wit and intelligence as he narrates the deification of Claudius in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

The narrative commences with the death of Claudius and follows his journey to the heavens, where he faces the Senate of the gods. Seneca skillfully weaves in various satirical elements, poking fun at Claudius' shortcomings and the insincere flattery he received during his lifetime. Through the use of clever wordplay and irony, the author highlights the absurdity of deifying such a flawed character.

One of the most striking aspects of the book is Seneca's biting criticism of the Roman political system. He exposes the corruption, hypocrisy, and sycophancy that pervade the empire, drawing parallels between the traits of Claudius and those of other influential figures of the time. The author's scathing commentary on power and its corrupting influence is masterfully executed, offering readers a valuable lesson in the dangers of unchecked authority.

Seneca's writing style is characterized by its elegance and precision. His command of rhetoric, coupled with his keen observation of human nature, allows him to craft a narrative that is entertaining as well as thought-provoking. The author's wit shines through his use of irony and mockery, making Apocolocyntosis an enjoyable read that transcends its ancient origins.

While the humor and references may be rooted in Roman society and politics, the underlying themes and critiques remain relevant even in contemporary times. Seneca's examination of power dynamics, the perils of flattery, and the absurdities of human behavior are universal, making the book resonate with readers of all backgrounds.

The only potential drawback of Apocolocyntosis is that its satirical nature may not appeal to all readers. Some may find the humor too subtle or esoteric, as it heavily relies on the historical context of the Roman Empire. Additionally, the book's brevity may leave some craving for more in-depth exploration of the themes and characters.

Overall, Apocolocyntosis is a remarkable piece of literature that combines biting satire, insightful commentary, and skillful storytelling. Seneca's creativity and intelligence are evident throughout the book, captivating readers and allowing them to reflect on the timeless flaws of human nature. Whether one is interested in Roman history, political satire, or simply appreciates well-crafted writing, this book is a must-read.

First Page:







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 [Greek: apokolokuntosis] or Pumpkinification of Claudius after his death, the title being a parody of the usual [Greek: 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.

As a literary form, the piece belongs to the class called Satura Menippea , a satiric medley in prose and verse.

This text is that of Buecheler, with a few trifling changes, which are indicated in the notes. We have been courteously allowed by Messrs Weidmann to use this text. I have to acknowledge the help of Mr Ball's notes, from which I have taken a few references; but my translation was made many years ago.



Editio Princeps: Lucii Annaei Senecae in morte Claudii Caesaris Ludus nuper repertus: Rome, 1513... Continue reading book >>

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