Senecae Apocolocyntosis Divi Claudii1
Quid actum sit in caelo ante diem III idus Octobris anno novo, initio saeculi felicissimi, volo memoriae tradere. Nihil nec offensae nec gratiae dabitur. Haec ita vera si quis quaesiverit unde sciam, primum, si noluero, non respondebo. Quis coacturus est? Ego scio me liberum factum, ex quo suum diem obiit ille, qui1 verum proverbium fecerat, aut regem aut fatuum nasci oportere. Si libuerit respondere, dicam quod mihi in buccam venerit. Quis unquam ab historico iuratores exegit? Tamen si necesse fuerit auctorem producere, quaerito ab eo qui Drusillam euntem in caelum vidit: idem Claudium vidisse se dicet iter facientem “non passibus aequis.” Velit nolit, necesse est illi omnia videre, quae in caelo aguntur: Appiae viae curator est, qua scis et divum Augustum et Tiberium Caesarem ad deos isse.
The Pumpkinification Of Claudius
I wish to place on record the proceedings in heaven October 13 last,1 of the new year which begins this auspicious age. It shall be done without malice or favour. Ask if you like the source of my knowledge of these events which are so true; to begin with, I am not bound to please you with my answer. Who will compel me? I know the same day made me free, which was the last day for him who made the proverb true—One must be born either a Pharaoh or a fool. If I choose to answer, I will say whatever trips off my tongue. Who has ever made the historian produce witness to swear for him? But if an authority must be produced, ask of the man who saw Drusilla2 translated to heaven: the same man will aver he saw Claudius on the road, dot and carry one.3 Will heVirg. Aen .ii 724 nill he, all that happens in heaven he needs must see. He is custodian of the Appian Way; by that route, you know, both Tiberius and Augustus went up to the
- 1On 13 October a.d. 54 Claudius died, and the Senate decided that for his merits he should be added to the gods with the title “divus Claudius” as we might say “the (late lamented) deified Claudius.” He had reigned since a.d. 41.
- 2Not Livia Drusilla, wife of Emperor Augustus (30 b.c.-a.d . 14) but Julia Drusilla, sister of Emperor Gaius Caligula (a.d. 37–41). When she died in a.d. 38, Gaius insisted on her deification. In support of its accomplishment one Livius Geminius swore that he saw her going up to heaven.
- 3The Latin means walking “with his steps not equal” as did little lulus when in escaping from Troy he followed his father (Virgil, Aeneid, II, 724). But here the sting lies in the fact that Claudius was lame in his right foot.