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The Afterlife of Emperor Claudius in Seneca's Apocolocyntosis

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Seneca's Apocolocyntosis, the earliest extant example of ancient Menippean satire, tells of Emperor Claudius' death and ascent to heaven, where his request for deification is rejected by the council of the gods, and his subsequent descent to the underworld, where he is condemned of mass murder of Roman noblemen. Claudius is not an observer of things in heaven and the underworld or a character involved in a quest for knowledge and truth, but a dead character who undergoes judgment. He is also a dead character who behaves as if he were still alive. Seneca suggests that Claudius' afterlife is a mere continuation of his earthly life and vice-versa that he had always been living in an isolated and “fantastic” world. The Apocolocyntosis parodies epic descents and historiographical topoi as well as the mythological otherworld of punishment and reward, ideas of afterlife, and imperial deification.

Affiliations: 1: University of Crete, 74100 Rethymnon, Greece;, Email:


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