Getting into heaven
Lucian’s Icaromenippus and Seneca’s Apocolocyntosis
WithAnderson Graham
Pages 7

Lucian’s Greek dialogue Icaromenippus usefully illustrates what an educated and sophisticated author in the Early Roman Empire can do with the commonplaces of a literary education and a sense of whimsical fun. Seneca’s Apocolocyntosis does the same, and across much of the same subject-matter, but in the coarser idiom of Roman Satire around a century earlier. A vexed question in the past has been the degree of indebtedness to Menippus himself, a real satirical writer with Cynic sympathies of the Hellenistic era. Comparison with the Apocolocyntosis, a Latin Menippean satire for other reasons, shows community of material, right down to a shared quotation when Menippus/the Emperor Claudius reaches heaven. Seneca’s satire on the death and deification of the Emperor Claudius in 54 CE offers a number of points of comparison with the Icaromenippus. Where the Apocolocyntosis comes into its own in comparison with Lucian is the much greater emphasis on the contemporary.