Apocolocyntosis: The Dehumanized Caricature Of Claudius

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Seneca’s literary parody, Apocolocyntosis, exemplifies the dehumanized caricature of Claudius’s character by emphasizing his speech impediment and physical disabilities. While there is an element of humor, it furthermore bears gravity, as Roman aristocrats, believed that a man’s voice was an important skill to acquire so that one could preform public speeches. The satire refers numerous times to Claudius’ difficulty in speaking, which in the eyes of; the historian Tacitus, the biographer Suetonius and the philosopher Seneca, rendered him unsuitable as a political leader and Princeps. Though whilst Claudius’ disabilities may have resulted in him being depicted him as an inept ruler, it does not suggest why Claudius was pictured as an unintelligent…show more content…
Seneca places the emperor in his own trial at Olympus, where the gods become a panel of adjudicators. In the satire, Augustus rises and questions the dead emperor, “Tell me, divine Claudius, why you condemned any one of the men and women whom you put to death before you understood their cases” (10). Claudius’ sentence is discussed for a long time before the gods decided a new punishment should to be prepared (14). Seneca aims to ridicule Claudius because Claudius would on occasion direct extreme orders and inappropriate punishments that often broke the law (Suetonius, 15.1 – 15.2). In Seneca’s Apocolocyntosis, Claudius is described as a vicious tyrant that he could not make himself understood with his words, but only with, “that movement of the trembling hand…by which he was accustomed to decapitate men” (Seneca, 6). These inconsistent and questionable hearings and cases are also present in Suetonius’s Life of Claudius, where he presents the audience with a, “hasty,” “inconsiderate,” “silly” emperor who played judge. Seneca is almost giving Claudius a taste of his own medicine as his punishments and rulings were often absurd and problematic. Now, not only does the audience have an image of a dribbling, limping, old fool but an inconsiderate and impulsive one at

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