Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

The satire of Seneca on the Apotheosis of Claudius commonly called the Apocolocyntosis; online

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the consul, Cicero, announcing (c. 14) : Patres Con-
script iy mult a hodie frequentia est, itaque non ibo per
singiilos : per Sattiram exquirendae sententiae sunt.
Die, si quis voles e Poetis, There are speeches by
Sallust, Ovid, Varro, Pliny, and others, and at the
end an elaborate senatiis constdtum, disposing vari-
ously of the different sorts of critics of whom the
authors had complained.

On his own account Lipsius adds a useful re-
mark ad lectorem : Quaedam in hoc scripto obscuri-
ora fore iuventuti scio, Lector: idque considto coft-
silio a nobis factum, Satyra enim aliter non fit.

The Sardi Venales of Cunaeus is another of the
books perhaps nearly enough forgotten to be "as
good as manuscript." It is, however, a more pon-
derous as well as somewhat longer piece than the
Somnium, to the suggestion of which there is some



temptation to suspect it owes its existence. It has
the air, if one may particularize so far, of being an
imitation of an imitation, and at times it appears
as if the writer stopped and took pains to say
something a Httle differently from what he had in-
tended, lest his indebtedness to his recent model
should be too patent. The attack upon homines
inepte eruditos was a good idea, but hardly one to
be developed with such laborious humor.

It was directed against the theologians of the
Reformation. The materials upon which it draws,
however, are chiefly pagan, the scene being laid in
the Epicurean intermundia, where the shades con-
vene with Erasmus as president. The speeches
reveal a good deal of conservatism among the
shadowy denizens of that country. Menippus ap-
pears incidentally, as he did in the Somrmim: in
fact, Cunaeus seems to have drawn upon Lucian
more than Lipsius did. In both of these Menip-
pean satires the admixture of verse is only in the
form of an occasional brief quotation from one of
the poets. Petrus Cunaeus (van der Kun) was
professor of Latin, then of jurisprudence and poli-
tics, at Leyden, where the Sardi Venules was pub-
lished in 1612, along with a translation of Julian's
Caesares. It was often reprinted, e.g. in 161 7 at
the end of a volume containing Erasmus's Enco-
mium Moriae and Lipsius's Somnitc^n. In 1720, at
Leipzig, appeared Cortius's edition of Tres Satyrae
Menippeae^ i.e, the Apocolocy mitosis ^ Lipsius 's Som-


niiim, and Cunaeus's Sardi Venules^ with annota-

Of less-defined traces of the Hterary influence of
the Apocolocyntosis it would, of course, be futile to
attempt anything like an enumeration. Petronius
has been claimed as at some points an imitator of
Seneca's satire, though upon grounds hardly more
substantial than similarities due to the fact that
both authors drew freely upon colloquial sources
for their language. Lucan's verses {Phars. vi. 785
seq.) in which the ghost raised by the witch to
prophesy to Sextus describes the angry shades in
Hades, have been called an imitation of the pas-
sage in the Apocolocyntosis {(z. 13) where the hostile
assemblage of Claudius's victims gathers to meet
him in the same region. It seems to me that there
is no more reason to think that Lucan is imitating
his uncle Seneca than that he is imitating Vergil,
or that, having a situation more or less conven-
tional, he treats it in a way which follows the line
of least resistance.

A passage in Ausonius, however, who was a pro-
fessed borrower, certainly does read like a remi-
niscence. It is in a letter to his son {Ep. xxiii ^),
referred to in the notes. After some verses poeti-
cally defining the season and the hour, somewhat
similar to those in Seneca's chapter 2, he resumes
prose with the remark, Nescis, pjcto, qtiid velhn
tot versibtis dicere, meditcs fidiics 7ieque ego berie
1 Teub. ed., p. 266.


intellego : tamen suspicor. iam prima nox erat ante
diem nomcm decimimi Kal. Ian. cum . ., . etc.
This seems to be a genially intended parody.

A similar but modern trace appears in Paul Scar-
ron's Roman comiqtce (Paris, 165 1). Of course it
is true that the mock-heroic style is essentially the
same in all situations, and that coincidence will
account for many resemblances. But Scarron
showed in his Virgile travesti what he could do
in one direction, and the manner of the Roman
comiqtie as a whole reminds us strongly of Petro-
nius. Indeed, Scarron seems often to have the
self-conscious air that comes with the attempt at
either imitation or avoidance. But at least in his
opening lines his obligation seems to be particular
rather than general, and to the same model as that
of Ausonius already quoted. He begins, Le soleil
avoit acheve plus de la moiti^ de sa course^ et son
char ayant attrapp^ le penchant du monde, rouloit
plus vtte qu'il ne vouloit. Then a bit of playful
elaboration is followed by. Pourparler plus humaine-
m.ent et plus intelligiblement^ il ^toit entre cijiq et
six, quand U7ie charrette entra dans les Halles du
Mans, etc.

Hardly to be passed over in the quest of simi-
larities^ are Southey's and Byron's Visions of Judg-
ment, describing the appearance of George IH
before the bar of heavenly justice. The composi-


1 See Merivale, History of the Rotnans under the Empire, c.
50, fin.


tion of the poet laureate is not very much in the
spirit of Seneca's satire, but perhaps equally with
Byron's, which is quite so, it suggests that the
author had the same sort of data for his poetical
problem in mind. There are one or two phrases
in Byron's verses, however, which particularly inti-
mate his reading of the Apocolocyntosis, e,g. in

stanza ix: —

" And no great dearth

Of aught but tears — save those shed by collusion,"

which last looks like a possible misreading of the
phrase in the Apocolocyntosis (c. 12), plane ex animo.
Then there are the lines in stanza xii : —

" The king who comes has head and all entire,
And never knew much what it was about —
He did as doth the puppet — by its wire,^'

etc., which, as well as some other lines, recalls
points in the characterization of Claudius. A par-
allel might of course be fancied, too, between the
situations of Byron's St. Peter and Seneca's Her-
cules meeting Claudius at the heavenly gate.

Another passage that has been cited in com-
parison with our satire is that in Shakespeare's
Richard ///(Act i. sc. 4), as referred to in the
notes to chapter 13. Here, however, no claims
can be plausibly made beyond those of mere

In a work of the ninth century, the Vita Walae
of Radbertus, which is included in Mabillon's col-
lection of the Acta Sanctorum Ord. S. Benedicti, is


a passage quite distinctly plagiarized from the first
chapter of the Apocolocyntosis^ as Mabillon is said
to have pointed out. The passage extends from
quis umquam ab historico iuratores exegit to etiamsi
in medio foro hominefn occiso vidisset^ inclusive.
Since this is perhaps older than any of the exist-
ing manuscripts of the Ludus itself, it has a certain
interest in text criticism, for which it is cited by F.
Jonas {Hermes^ vi. 126). It is referred to in the

As to an author's popularity in the Middle Ages,
the number of manuscripts which have come down
to us containing his works is a natural evidence.
Judged in this way, Seneca on the whole fared
well. We should expect it of a writer who, in spite
of his pagan limitations, was unofficially canonized
by the Church, and made the beneficiary of pious
forgery. Naturally, however, the regard of the
ecclesiastical arbiters of taste was less keen for the
satire than for the moral essays. The Ludus was
sufficiently overlooked at least to be counted a dis-
covery when, in the Revival of Learning, as the
classics were being rapidly brought out in printed
editions, this found its way to the press.

The manuscript source of this first publication
(15 1 3) is unknown. The text was nuper in Ger-
mania repertus when carried to Rome, certainly
in a very imperfect condition, lacking the Greek


quotations and including a number of interpolated

The principal manuscript texts known and col-
lated by the more recent critics are enumerated
in the following list, compiled chiefly from the
accounts of Ruhkopf, Fickert, Schenkl, and espe-
cially Bucheler :

Codex Sangallensis, in the library of St. Gall,
No. 569, containing lives of the saints, etc., written
by various hands in the tenth and eleventh cen-
turies. Page 243 begins with the title, Diiii Claudii
incipit AIIOGHOCIC Annei Sejiece per satiram. The
piece ends on page 251 with Diui Claudii explicit
Apotheosis Annei Senecae persaturam. It is writ-
ten on parchment, thirty-two lines to the page, the
initial letters of sentences and verses and the
Greek being in red. Punctuation is abundant,
though sometimes incorrect. A comparison of
this manuscript with Lipsius's second edition (Ant-
werp, 161 5), is given by Orelli in the Epistola
Critica ad Madvigiunty prefixed to his edition of
Cicero, Orator, etc., Zurich, 1830. Biicheler had
two careful comparisons of the St. Gall manuscript
made for him, one with Haase's and the other with
Schusler's text.

Codex Valenciennensis, in the library of Valen-
ciennes, No. 190,^ considered to be of the end

1 See Leopold Delisle, on the Catalogue , . . des manuscriis de la
bibliotKeque de Valenciennes^ Journal des Savants, i860, pp. 377-



of the ninth or the beginning of the tenth century,
since it is inscribed as written by the presbyter
Hucbaldus. It is a parchment i2mo, containing
a variety of pieces. According to Oehler, who
collated it for Fickert, the title of the satire is
given as Senece Ludus de morte Claudii, while at
the end comes the epigram, of uncertain appli-
cation :

Damnabis numquam longum post tempus amicum ;
Mutavit mores sed pignora prima memento.

This manuscript is said to be the same that was
used by H. Junius, under the name of the Codex

The Wolfenbiittel manuscript {Codex Guelferby-
tanus) Extravag. 299, an Italian parchment of the
fifteenth century, containing besides our satire
the Satiricon of Petronius and two other works.
It begins (fol. 2a), Ludus Senece de morte Claudii
Neronis foeliciter Incipit, and closes (fol. i6b) after
ut cognationibus abesset (sic), with the double sub-
scription Ludus Senecae de morte Claudii Neronis
finit Foeliciter and Lucii Annei Senecae Satira de
Claudio Cesare Finit foeliciter. The text contains
many errors, and lacks the Greek quotations.

In the French Bibliothique Natio7tale are a num-
ber of manuscripts which were collated for Ruh-
kopf. They are all of the thirteenth to fifteenth
centuries, and the titles where given are always
with the word Ludus in some form.


Paris. No. 6630, of the thirteenth century, 1 10
parchment leaves in small 8vo. On folio 98a:
L, Annei Senece de Be7ieficiis libri VII explicit
feliciter^ incipit eittsdem Senece Ltidus de Morte
Claiidii Cae saris. On folio 103b, Explicit Ltidus
Sence. [sic] incipittnt proverbia eiusdem Senecae per
ordinem alphabeti. This manuscript is carefully
written, and in comparison with the following ones
offers a but slightly corrupted text. The Greek is
carefully copied. It was collated for Biicheler by
A. Holder.

Paris. No. 8717, a parchment of the fourteenth
century. Between the title and the satire is in-
serted Martial's Epigram, v. 42. The text is
hastily written and the Greek quotations are lack-
ing, except in chapter 4. Compared throughout
for Biicheler.

Paris. No. 1936, parchment, of the fourteenth

Paris. No. 6389, parchment, of the fourteenth

Paris. No. 5055, an Italian manuscript on
paper ; of the fourteenth or beginning of the fif-
teenth century.

Paris. No. 6395, parchment, of the fourteenth
century, lacking the Greek passages, and without
spaces left for them.

Paris. No. 8544, parchment, written 1389 a.d. ;
it is without title and contains only the first part of
the text, ending, curiously, with Qiiod nunc prof ani


vocis incerto sonas? (c./) at the bottom of a page,
deo gratias explicit. The next page begins with
the De dementia,

Paris. No. 8542, parchment, of the fourteenth
or beginning of the fifteenth century, lacking the
Greek, but with spaces left for it.

Paris. No. 8501A, of the end of the thirteenth
century; it contains only the beginning of the satire.

Paris. No. 8624, of the thirteenth century ;
giving the title, but containing only the beginning
of the satire. This Biicheler had compared for
chapters i and 2.

Not collated for Ruhkopf , were —

Paris. No. 2389, of the fourteenth century,
lacking the Greek ; collated for Biicheler for chap-
ter 10, and

Paris. No. (Supplem.) 12 13, reported to Biiche-
ler by A. Holder.

In the Vatican library, four manuscripts given
by Ruhkopf as up to his time uncollated, and
having the title, Ludus de Morte Claudii Caesaris,
in —

Vatican. No. 2201, parchment folio, of the
thirteenth century.

Vatican. No. 2212, an ornate German parch-
ment foHo, of the fifteenth century.

Vatican. No. 2216, parchment folio, of the four-
teenth century.

Vatican. No. 4498, parchment quarto, of the
fifteenth century.


Also reported to Ruhkopf was a manuscript in
St. Mark's Library, Venice, Codex No. 267, a
quarto of the fourteenth century, badly written
and full of errors.

According to Fickert,^ Gronoviiis bis laicdat Cod,
Harlemensem ; Lip sins {Epp. Q,) aliquoties stium.

The so-called Codex Weiss enbicrgensis^ used by
B. Rhenanus, and the Codex Ciirionis, as well as
the unknown manuscript which was the source of
the editio princeps, are not at present identifiable,
even if in existence.

As to the relative critical value of the different
codices, the St. Gall manuscript is recognized in
general as undoubtedly the best. The Valenciennes
manuscript is, except in a few points, considered
second to this, all the others being later and inferior.
The existing manuscripts appear all to have been
derived from the same archetype, from which,
judging from the lacuna before chapter 8, at least
one leaf must have been missing. The St. Gall
text is nearest this original one. The Valenciennes
manuscript, even though it be chronologically ear-
lier, is farther removed from the primitive in order
of copy .2 It and all the other manuscripts belong,
as opposed to the St. Gall codex, in one group.
The title which they give, where it is not omitted,

1 Gruter, he said, had no manuscript guide.

2 Schenkl condemns Wehle for saying that St. G. is evidently
nearer the source than Val., apparently overlooking this very simple


is Ltidus instead of the Apotheosis of the St. Gall.
Within the text also the variations show the same
relation. A typical instance of this is the sentence
in chapter 3, which in the St. Gall manuscript is
quid huic et rei ptiblicae invides? while in the
others it is, with minor variations, quid huic in-
vides? respondit, etc., reip having been changed
into respondit and transposed in position. The
St. Gall manuscript is said to be freer than any of
the others from senseless blunders of the copyist,
though, as Rossbach points out, in certain points
the Valenciennes text is more accurate than the
St. Gall. In two or three instances, referred to in
the notes, errors in the latter text are corrected by
a consensus of the others.


The editio princeps of the Ludus was published
at Rome in 15 13. Apparently it has been little
known.^ It is a thin pamphlet of only twenty-four
pages small quarto, unnumbered, and its explana-
tion of itself is unfortunately somewhat meagre.
The title-page reads, Lucii Annaei Senecae in morte
Claudii Caesaris Ludus nuper repertus. Then
comes the dedicatory letter, Alberto Pio Carporum
principi illustrissimo, Imp, Caesaris Maximiliani
Augusti legato ^ C. Sylvanus Germanicus salutem,

1 Neither Ruhkopf nor Fickert had seen it, and some of the edi-
tors appear not to have been aware of its existence. The library of
Columbia University acquired a copy in 1901.


About three pages follow, highly complimentary
to Albert the Pious, setting forth the difficulty of
being so good a prince as he, and the appropriate-
ness of dedicating to him a satire on so bad a one
as Claudius had been. Nostri maiores, says the
editor, bonos \_principes'] mentis laudibiis extule-
rimt : malos veiv & detestati stmt : & in eos super-
stites adhuc scommata : atit in defiinctos edidemnt
loedoria. Scilicet ut tanq\_tiant] in speculo facultds
vidcndi principibits essety quos aut emidarentur aut
ficgerent. Ex qtiibics unus L. Annaeus Seneca in
fnorte Clatidii Caesans, qui nisi Neronem adoptasset
qziis inter Cues ares crude lior habefidus ftierity
S.P.Q.R. dubitavissety libellmn edidity quo maxime
ipsum Clatidiiini deridet.

The letter presently includes a remark more im-
portant : Qiiare cum sis doctissimus & antiquitatum
amantissimuSy hoc opuscuhmiy quod in tenebris tot
annisy paucisque admodum notum fuity tibi dicare &
omnibus impartire duxi. Turn, quod qui hoc lege-
rinty per te id legisse cognoscant : tibique id accoep-
turn referant. Turn quia Senecae: si qua cura
mortuos tangit : id futurum non minime voluptati
sperOy quod Indus suus 7iomine tuo insignitus tan-
dem emergat in lucem. Qui princeps es & re & no-
mifte pius. Tu vero qtialecumque fit quod offerOy
vultu hilari accipito. Quando non hoc opusculumy
sed meipsum tibi dedo & dedico perpetuum manci-
pium. Vale decus heroum,. Romae quarto Nonas
Augusti MDXIIL


Then, just before the text of the satire itself
comes the not very brilUant epigram entitled, Ma-
riangelus Accursius Sylvano :

Finge alios post te ludo hoc quaecumque super sunt
Aedere iam decus id cedit utrunque tibi

Annaeum nam dum properas ab labe veterni
Asserere, invito s elicis invidulos.

After the end of the satire is added this note,

Qualem hunc mecuni e Germania Ludum attuli
visum est aedere atque impertire studiosisy ut nos-
trum est inge7iium prodesse velle plurimis. Quae
autem mendosa videbantur paucula pudore nostra
non corrigimus, turn spatium ad excribenda graeca
quae desiderabantur linquimus : ut integrum sit
bono cuique meliora et adiicere et instaurare.

On the whole, the editor*s is a scanty piece of
work, too much so, it would seem, even to justify
Mariangelus Accursius. One is tempted to think
that Sylvanus had other and unavowed reasons for
so hastily putting his prize into print, the fear, per-
haps, that some one else would forestall his inten-
tion of using it as a means to princely favor.

The text itself, as he gives it, is evidently taken
from one of the inferior group of manuscripts.
The Greek quotations, as he says, are altogether
lacking, and spaces are left blank for filling them
in. There are, however, a number of interpolated
passages, some not found in any existing manu-


script, of which Schenkl gives the evident expla-
nation : that some homo doctiis^ having one of the
later manuscripts and knowing Suetonius and Ju-
venal, set out to fix up the text afterward published
by Sylvanus, who for himself professes that he did
nothing at all to his material. The unknown
emender simply took liberties with his author.
The interpolations thus made, however, after being
detached from the text, have the same claim to our
attention as early scholia ; they are mentioned in
the notes as the passages occur.

The first annotated edition of the Ludiis was by
Rhenanus at Basle, not quite two years later than
the editio pruiceps. His was entitled, Ludiis Z.
Annaei Senecae de morte Claudii Cue saris nuper in
Germania repertus aim scholiis Beati Rhenani,
On the same title-page appear a translation of
Synesiiis Cyrc7iensis de laiidibus Calvitiiy also ed-
ited by Rhenanus, and Erasmi Roterodami Moriae
Encomitim. It is dated, Basileae in aedibiis loan-
nis Frobenii mense Martio a7tno MDX V. The text
of this edition was taken from the editio princeps,
with such minor corrections as the editor out of
his own resources could make, and scholiis ex Stie-
tonio et Tacito tumidtiia7iter adjiotatis. It is inter-
esting especially for his attempt to supply, as he
says, divi?tandOy some of the missing Greek quota-
tions. In one instance he succeeded in divining
the same bit of Greek which was afterward found
in the manuscripts, viz. Hercules's question to Clau-


dius in chapter 5, t/? iroOev eZ? avSpcjv, etc. (See
note on the passage.)

Later in the same year, 1515, Rhenanus's text
and commentary of the Ludus were included in
Erasmus's first great edition of the two Senecas,
and this appears to have been the earliest text
accessible to many of the later scholars who have
dealt with the satire.

Some time after his first work upon it Rhenanus
found the manuscript of the Ludus, referred to as
the Codex Weissenburgensis, from which he could
correct his Greek conjectures. His commentary
was repeated in many successive editions of Sene-
ca's works, and has of course been, by reason of its
priority at least, subject to selection ever since.

Other commentators' names appear with their
works in the bibliography appended to this intro-
duction. Notable among the early ones were C.
S. Curio, Hadrianus Junius, Nic. Faber, Daniel
Heinsius, and Justus Lipsius. The first applica-
tion of the title Apocolocyntosis to the Ludits of
the manuscripts and the first editions is ascribed to
Junius. In 1557 appeared the edition of Seneca's
works, edited by Coelius Secundus Curio, in which
the satire is printed with its Greek designation.
Curio prefaces his own castigationes with the asser-
tion that he had himself applied the title from Dio,
and called it to the attention of Hervagius several
years previously, before Junius in suis Animadver-
sorum libris had independently come out with the


same idea. In this same edition are also given the
notes of Junius, rather oddly with the designation,
In Senecae Ludum de morte Clandii^ and his own
claims for the propriety of using Apocolocyntosis
as the title, repeating his earlier arguments. The
edition reprints, besides, the scholia of Rhenanus.

In 1632, from the Plan tin printing-house at Ant-
werp, came the third Lipsius edition of (Lucius)
Seneca's works, with the Scholia ad Ltidiivt, by
Libertus Fromond, which were repeated in the
fourth Lipsius edition by the same publisher in
1652, and in the Elzevir edition of 1672.

In 1675 appeared the notes of lo. Scheffer to the
Apocolocyntosis^ which are exigui momentiy as Ruh-
kopf says, but quaint enough to be curious.

During the eighteenth century, a period, so far
as Seneca's works were concerned, chiefly of edi-
tions with " selected " notes, a few small separate
editions of the Ltidus were brought out, among
which that of Neubur (1729) is often admirable in
its critical appreciation, and that of Guasco (1787)
is notable for its introduction of epigraphic and
numismatic material by way of illustration.

The edition of Seneca by Ruhkopf (Vol. IV,
1808) with that of Sonntag a few years before,
made an important epoch in the literary history of
the satire. In some respects this has found no
more sympathetic critic than Ruhkopf, who was
willing to explain some of the passages upon
which earlier commentators had too enterprisingly



cast suspicion. He also reverts to the title, Ludus
de Morte, etc., of his manuscripts, instead of taking
the name from Dio. His collation of the Paris and
Vatican codices has already been noted.

Fickert's edition is noteworthy for the relatively
greater importance which it gives to a collation of
the Valenciennes manuscript. His title is L, Annaei
Senecae Ludus de morte Claudii. Schusler (1844)
makes a more extensive use of the St. Gall text, a
collation of which had been made accessible by
Orelli in 1830, and uses the name Apocolocyntosis.
The Teubner edition of Seneca, by F. Haase (1852
seq.\ is characteristically conservative in its treat-
ment of the satire. It gives simply the manuscript
title, Ludus, etc., and many of the interpolated
readings traditional from the first edition are in-
cluded in smaller type and brackets.

By far the greatest work upon the Apocolocyn-
tosis is that of Professor Franz Biicheler, in his
edition of 1864, p. 31 seq., of the Symbola Philo-

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Online LibraryLucius Annaeus SenecaThe satire of Seneca on the Apotheosis of Claudius commonly called the Apocolocyntosis; → online text (page 6 of 18)