Homer Hesiod Hymns Tragedy Remythologizing Tools Blackboard Info
Author of a satiric romance, certainly of the time of Nero, and probably the Gains Petronius whose licentiousness and congenial tastes obtained for him the high favour of Nero, at whose court he played the part of arbiter elegantiae (maître de plaisir), until, in 66 A.D., in consequence of the intrigues of his rivals, he committed suicide by opening his veins [Tacitus, Ann. xvi 18, 19]. Of his social romance, entitled Saturae, which must originally have consisted of about twenty books, only fragments are left to us, being part of books xv and xvi. The most complete and famous is the "Banquet of Trimalchio " (Cena Trimalchionis). Judging from the fragments, the scene was laid under Tiberius, or possibly Augustus, in S. Italy, chiefly in an unnamed colony in Campania, partly in Croton. The work is astonishing for the truth with which both manners and men are painted. A masterly hand appears in the treatment of the dialogue, adapted as it is in every instance to the character of the speaker, now plebeian, in the mouth of Trimalchio, the freedman who has become a millionaire; now refined, in the cultivated Greek Encolpius; or again bombastic, in the case of the poet Eumolpus. All situations in life (with a preference for the filthiest), and even literature and art, come under discussion. In the prose are introduced numerous and sometimes extensive pieces of poetry, mostly intended to parody some particular style.
Type: Standard
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