Cena Trimalchionis

Cena Trimalchionis

Cena Trimalchionis

Cena Trimalchionis

Excerpt

There is no evidence on the reception given to the Satyricon, the novel of which the Cena Trimalchionis forms part, by those who first read or heard it. In later antiquity it won praise even when the mutilation, whether accidental or deliberate, which has left the novel in its present fragmentary state may already have begun to take place. By the time classical learning revived, the greater part of the work, including most of the Cena, had been lost; yet scholars still responded to Petronius' elegant style, even if they could not bring themselves to approve altogether of his choice of subject-matter (one sixteenth-century writer even wondered whether it might be advisable to change Giton, the boy-friend of the 'hero' Encolpius, into a girl, Gitona). In an enthusiastic letter to a friend Lipsius (1547-1606) expresses his admiration of Petronius' attractive, incisive style; he regrets the scandalous nature of some passages but is ready to forgive such blemishes: 'ioci me delectant, urbanitas capit.'

The rediscovery in 1650 of a nearly complete text of the Cena (see III below) brought a great increase in Petronius' popularity. His skill in handling an episode of some length was more obvious than before; the dinner-party, a theme long familiar in literature, was seen to be treated with a liveliness and breadth not seen in his predecessors, and his masterly portrait of a section of society not usually thought worthy of a serious writer's attention attracted readers towards not merely the Cena but the fragments already known. The Cena made it possible to guess more plausibly at the scope of the novel as a whole. The inclusion of this . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.