Tuesday, October 27, 2020


"The Suicide of Seneca" by Manuel Domingez Sanchez (1871)

Apocolocyntosis is the name of a play by Seneca. You probably will never read it, but it’s one of those exotic transliterations from the Latin, which produces its own nexus of associations. The word is onomatopoeic imitating as it does the sound of literary terms like onomatopoeia. If you look up the meaning, it states that the play is about the "pumkinification" of the Emperor Claudius on his way to hell. It’s identified as satire particularly since the tyrannical emperor’s fate, one would guess, is to end up as a pumpkin. The Urban Dictionary identifies the word as slang for being turned into a pumpkin, but with the exception of rivalrous scholars in a classics department, who would wish this on anyone? You have the great classics by Seneca like Medea and Phaedra which are mainstays of the canon and then you come to this send up with the weird name that also sounds like a gum condition that requires treatment by a periodontist. Can you imagine Mark Rylance starring in Apocolocyntosis? That’s one production that deserves a production on Zoom.

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