Petronius (pĬtrō´nēəs), d. c.AD 66, Roman satirist, known as Petronius Arbiter because of his now generally accepted identity with Gaius Petronius, to whom Tacitus refers as arbiter elegantiae in the court of Nero. According to Tacitus, Petronius served first as proconsul, then as consul of Bithynia. He is remembered chiefly, however, as an indolent and profligate lover of luxury. When Tigellinus, a rival for the favor of Nero, caused the arrest of Petronius, the latter ended his own life, at Cumae, by slashing his veins. He made dying a leisurely procedure, attended by festivity among his associates. To him is accredited the authorship of a satirical work, Petronii arbitri satyricon, a romance with skillful delineation of characters, written in prose interspersed with verse. Parts of the 15th and 16th books have been preserved. Among the surviving fragments the most complete and valuable section is the Cena Trimalchionis (Trimalchio's Dinner), presenting a humorous episode of vulgar display on the part of a man whose great wealth is newly acquired. These satires furnish a vivid study of the life and manners of the time in a sustained, connected example of the colloquial language. The Latin style of Petronius is among the best of its period.

See translations by J. P. Sullivan (1986) and W. Arrowsmith (1987); study by N. Slater (1990).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Satyricon: Selected full-text books and articles

The Satyricon
Petronius; P. G. Walsh.
Oxford University Press, 1997
Oxford Readings in the Roman Novel
S. J. Harrison.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of Satyricon in multiple chapters
Powers of Expression, Expressions of Power: Speech Presentation and Latin Literature
Andrew Laird.
Oxford University, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Ideology and Taste: Narrative and Discourse in Petronius' Satyricon"
Prometheans, Ancient and Modern
Burton Rascoe.
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1933
Librarian’s tip: "Petronius" begins on p. 87
Petronius and the Anatomy of Fiction
Victoria Rimell.
Cambridge University Press, 2002
Classical Myth & Culture in the Cinema
Martin M. Winkler.
Oxford University Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XII "The Social Ambience of Petronius' Satyricon and Fellini's Satyricon"
The True Story of the Novel
Margaret Anne Doody.
Rutgers University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "Parody, Masculinity, and Metamorphosis: The Roman Novels of Petronius and Apuleius"
Critical Essays on Roman Literature: Satire
J. P. Sullivan.
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963
Librarian’s tip: "Satire and Realism in Petronius" begins on p. 73
Petronii Arbitri Cena Trimalchionis
Martin S. Smith; Petronius Arbiter.
Oxford University, 1982
Librarian’s tip: "The Satyricon" begins on p. xii
Fifty Key Classical Authors
Alison Sharrock; Rhiannon Ash.
Routledge, 2002
Librarian’s tip: "Petronius" begins on p. 310
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