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Per Saturam Or Performance? Seneca's Initium Saeculi Felicissimi: Ritual Hilarity And Millennial Closure In The Apocolocyntosis

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Chapter Summary

To deal with the aftermath of the imperial terror, it is not surprising that Lucius Annaeus Seneca declared an initium saeculi felicissimi in a court satire hastily written for his patron the new emperor Nero. This chapter shows how Apocolocyntosis works to expunge, through laughter, the political tensions of the past reign of Claudius and of the events surrounding his death, and provides an emotional cleansing through laughter and also, through the invocation of the gods. Additionally, with Garry Trompf 's fascination with the millennial in mind, the chapter highlights how the humour of this work is intensified by its millenarian heralding of a 'most bountiful age'. The authors' contention is that the Apocolocyntosis should be treated as a script for a courtly performance around the time of Claudius' funeral. The analysis relies on this assumption and on a reasonable imagining of how that performance may have been presented.

Keywords: Apocolocyntosis; emperor Nero; initium saeculi felicissimi; Lucius Annaeus Seneca



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