You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Friday, July 9, 2010


3. Julia Drusilla (17 - 38 CE) had incestuous relations with her brother Gaius (Caligula) for many years. At her death he mourned elaborately, a decree of deification was voted, and a senator named Lucius Geminus swore on an oath that he had seen her ascending into heaven. She was consecrated as Panthea.

12. Ebuliit, which suggests liquid bubbling, though it does not specify the orifice from which the liquid is flowing.

18. Fever was a recognized Roman divinity who had a shrine on the Palatine. Malaria was common in the region, and this is probably the type of fever most connected with the goddess. Thus "I who have lived with him for many years" links Claudius's tremors and uncontrolled movements to the shivering and shaking characteristic of malaria.

28. A proverbial saying, but here with added humor: a pun on gallus (both "Gaul" and "rooster"), and a reference to the fact that Claudius had made Rome a pile of shit.

37. Literally, "mice lick the millstones," an obscure phrase that probably signifies austerity. (You only lick the flour dust off the millstones if you can't find enough to eat elsewhere.)

50. The auctorati were citizens who had sold themselves into the gladiatorial schools.

65. According to our sources, a common practice of Claudius.

68. Suetonius reports that after giving the order for Messalina's death, Claudius went to dinner and asked why she was not there.

83. There were laws against gambling, but Claudius's public addiction to the dice games made it impossible to enforce them.

100. Claudius, who has always given freedmen unusual power, now ends up as a menial servant to one, with a powerless and boring task.

Selected from Lucius Annaeus Seneca, The Pumpkinification of Claudius the God
Translated and with notes buy Martha Nussbaum
University of Chicago Press

1 comment:

  1. So, the kitschification of dissatisfaction began long ago...