Introduction

Proconsul of Bithynia,
Who loved to turn the night to day,
Yet for your ease had more to show
Than others for their push and go,
Teach us to save the Spirit's expense,
And win to Fame through indolence.
( St Oliver John Gogarty, An Offering of Swans
( Dublin, 1923), 17)


I

Though the date at which the Satyricon was composed has been hotly debated since the Renaissance, virtually all modern critics have now concluded that its author is identical with the Petronius of the Neronian age, unforgettably portrayed in a thumbnail sketch by Tacitus. The references to contemporary figures, the economic and social indications offered by the novel, the legal arguments, and above all the literary connections with the younger Seneca and with Lucan, have combined to make this Neronian date highly probable. Moreover, the sobriquet Arbiter appended to the novelist's name in the manuscripts corresponds with the title of elegantiae arbiter accorded him by Tacitus. Once this identification of the author with the Petronius in Tacitus is accepted, it is possible to date the Satyricon closely. Tacitus' Petronius died by his own hand in early AD 66; and there are manifest connections between Petronius' poem on the Civil War with its preliminary observations (§§ 118-24) and the epic of Lucan, which was still incomplete when its author committed suicide in 65. Even if the Satyricon was

-xiii-

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The Satyricon
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Satyricon i
  • Title Page iii
  • Preface and Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • Select Bibliography xlvi
  • 1 - At the School of Rhetoric 1
  • 2 - Dubious Encounters in the Town 5
  • 3 - Jealousy at the Lodging 7
  • 4 - An Episode in the Market 9
  • 5 - Enter Quartilla, the Priapic Priestess 12
  • 6 - Dinner at Trimalchio's 20
  • 7 - Giton Spurns Encolpius for Ascyltus 67
  • 8 - Eumolpus in the Art Gallery 71
  • 9 - Reconciliation with Giton; Eumolpus as Rival 79
  • 10 - The Episode on Ship. Enter Lichas and Tryphaena 88
  • 11 - The Journey to Croton 110
  • 12 - The Encounter with Circe 124
  • 13 - Eumolpus and the Legacy-Hunters 145
  • Index and Glossary of Names 205
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