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"Deep grief gnaws at my vitals and drags me down, almost to the very doors of death itself," moans Quartrilla, drawing near Encolpius, her eyes glistening. "I am afraid that, with the careless impulsiveness of youth, you may divulge, to the common herd, what you witnessed in the shrine of Priapus -- and reveal the rites of the Gods to the rabble. "I stretch out my supplian "Deep grief gnaws at my vitals and drags me down, almost to the very doors of death itself," moans Quartrilla, drawing near Encolpius, her eyes glistening. "I am afraid that, with the careless impulsiveness of youth, you may divulge, to the common herd, what you witnessed in the shrine of Priapus -- and reveal the rites of the Gods to the rabble. "I stretch out my suppliant hands to your knees. I beg and pray you do not make a mockery and a joke of our nocturnal rites . . . nor lay bare the secrets of so many years," she whispers -- and tells the young man how he must pay . . . by "curing" her body of the "ills" besetting her. The Rabelaisian Satyricon of Petronius, one of the most infamous books of all time, follows the rogue Encolpius and his serving boy Giton as they engage in fortune-hunting adventure, amorous misadventure and extravagant feasting in the Rome of the first century, in the time of Nero's court.


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"Deep grief gnaws at my vitals and drags me down, almost to the very doors of death itself," moans Quartrilla, drawing near Encolpius, her eyes glistening. "I am afraid that, with the careless impulsiveness of youth, you may divulge, to the common herd, what you witnessed in the shrine of Priapus -- and reveal the rites of the Gods to the rabble. "I stretch out my supplian "Deep grief gnaws at my vitals and drags me down, almost to the very doors of death itself," moans Quartrilla, drawing near Encolpius, her eyes glistening. "I am afraid that, with the careless impulsiveness of youth, you may divulge, to the common herd, what you witnessed in the shrine of Priapus -- and reveal the rites of the Gods to the rabble. "I stretch out my suppliant hands to your knees. I beg and pray you do not make a mockery and a joke of our nocturnal rites . . . nor lay bare the secrets of so many years," she whispers -- and tells the young man how he must pay . . . by "curing" her body of the "ills" besetting her. The Rabelaisian Satyricon of Petronius, one of the most infamous books of all time, follows the rogue Encolpius and his serving boy Giton as they engage in fortune-hunting adventure, amorous misadventure and extravagant feasting in the Rome of the first century, in the time of Nero's court.

30 review for The Satyricon by Petroni Gaius Petronius Arbiter to Nero, Fiction, Classics, Historical

  1. 5 out of 5

    Evan Leach

    Today, the Satyricon is most famous for two things: 1. For being (arguably) the first novel, and 2. For being a very, very dirty little book. Unfortunately, only 141 chapters of a much longer work have survived. But those chapters are extremely compelling. Written during the reign of Nero in the 1st century, the Satyricon is quite simply unlike anything before it. Perhaps the best way to think about this book is to look at it like a little prose Odyssey. Except instead of the king of Ithaca, our he Today, the Satyricon is most famous for two things: 1. For being (arguably) the first novel, and 2. For being a very, very dirty little book. Unfortunately, only 141 chapters of a much longer work have survived. But those chapters are extremely compelling. Written during the reign of Nero in the 1st century, the Satyricon is quite simply unlike anything before it. Perhaps the best way to think about this book is to look at it like a little prose Odyssey. Except instead of the king of Ithaca, our hero is the ex-gladiator (and current scoundrel) Encolpius. And instead of trying to get home to a faithful wife after 10 years of war, the protagonist is concerned with getting free meals, tricking legacy hunters out of their money, and (most importantly) fixing his erectile dysfunction so he can get back to the business of pederasty. So I guess it’s not exactly like Homer. It all ends up being very funny stuff, though. I don’t always have the taste for ancient comedy. Aristophanes is funny, but Menander/Terence/Plautus/etc. don’t do much for me. But listen to this: Tryphaena’s cohorts, spurred on by the hysterical screaming of her maids, prepared to attack us with their bare hands. Only the pilot remained aloof, cursing the whole fracas as the lunatic work of a mob of perverts and threatening to abandon his post unless we stopped immediately. Even this dire threat, however, failed to quench our martial ardor...[s]uddenly, however, our gallant Giton turned the edge of his razor against his own manhood, threatening at one fell blow to lop away that root of all our troubles. Tryphaena, overcome with horror, cast all pretense aside and rushed forward to prevent the consummation of such a catastrophe.” “The lunatic work of a mob of perverts” wouldn’t be a terrible subtitle to this book. Encolpius and Giton end up falling in with a self-anointed poet named Eumolpus. Eumolpus happens to be terrible, much to his distress and our amusement. Here is a typical response to one of his (many) poetic outbursts: At this moment, several of the people who were strolling about the gallery greeted Eumolpus’ epic effusion with a volley of stones. Eumolpus, clearly no stranger to these tributes of his talent, wrapped his head in his robes and dashed from the temple. Fearing they might accuse me of being a poet too, I raced after him and caught him at the shore. “Look here,” I said, “can’t you rid yourself of this loathsome disease? I’ve been with you for less than two hours, but in all this time you’ve talked more like a Homer than a man. No wonder people pelt you with stones. In fact, I’m going to fill my pockets with stones right now, and every time you start spouting, I’ll bloody your head for you.” The comedy is even funnier if you’ve read Homer or Virgil. Part of what makes the story so silly is when the characters compare their stupid, squalid problems with those of the epic heroes. Particularly, there are a number of direct parallels with the Odyssey: Encolpius calls himself Polyaenos at one point, he compares his inability to ‘get it up’ with the trials Poseidon imposed on Odysseus, at one point Giton has to cling to the underside of a bed like Odysseus clinging to the ram’s belly, etc. The group of lowlife scoundrels at the heart of the tale never fail to think of themselves and their ridiculous trials in heroic terms, which I found endlessly hilarious. Aside from the comedy, this book is also interesting as a very frank look at the underbelly of Roman life in the first century. Very few books from antiquity really look at what life was life for the little people; the Satyricon provides a revealing, if comic, look at what it must have been like to live in the early Roman empire. I read the Arrowsmith translation, which at 53 years old is almost a classic in its own right. But it doesn’t feel dated at all, and is justifiably the gold standard English translation. I thought about knocking a star or half star off because what’s left of the book is so fragmented, making the experience of reading it feel a bit incomplete. But what’s there is so entertaining that I’m giving it the whole five. This is the best post-Augustan Roman work I’ve read, and one of the very best Roman writings, period. 5 stars, highly recommended!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    First of all, I have to get something off my chest. In the profile for Petronius on GR somebody has written "Tacitus records that he was eventually forced to commit suicide after being embarrassed in front of Nero." This is what Tacitus actually wrote: And so Tigellinus, jealous of a rival whose expertise in the science of pleasure far surpassed his own, appealed to the emperor’s cruelty (Nero’s dominant passion) and accused Petronius of friendship with the conspirator Scaevinus. A slave was br First of all, I have to get something off my chest. In the profile for Petronius on GR somebody has written "Tacitus records that he was eventually forced to commit suicide after being embarrassed in front of Nero." This is what Tacitus actually wrote: And so Tigellinus, jealous of a rival whose expertise in the science of pleasure far surpassed his own, appealed to the emperor’s cruelty (Nero’s dominant passion) and accused Petronius of friendship with the conspirator Scaevinus. A slave was bribed to incriminate Petronius; no defense was permitted and most of the prisoner’s household was placed under arrest. At the time the emperor was in Campania. Petronius had gone as far as Cumae when he was apprehended. The prospect of temporizing, with its attendant hopes and fears, seemed intolerable; equally he had no desire to dispatch himself hastily. So he severed his veins and then bound them up as the fancy took him, meanwhile conversing with his friends, not seriously or sadly or with ostentatious courage. And he listened while they talked and recited, not maxims on the immortality of the soul and philosophical reflections, but light and frivolous poetry. He then rewarded some of his slaves and assigned beatings to others. He dined and then dozed so that his death, even though compulsory, might still look natural. Nor did he adopt the conventional deathbed routine of flattering Nero, Tigellinus, and the other worthies. Instead, he wrote out a list of the emperor’s debaucheries, citing by name each of his sexual partners, male and female, with a catalogue of his sexual experiments, and sent it off to Nero under seal. He then destroyed his signet ring so that it could not be used later for the purpose of incriminating others. It is also evident from this quote that Petronius was no mere voluptuary. And does he manifest less character here than Cato did when he cut open his stomach with his own sword after the defeat at Utica and refused medical attention (an episode held up by many as being exemplary, but I digress)? Tacitus also informs us that while serving as governor of Bithynia and as consul, Petronius was "a capable and energetic administrator." OK, I feel better now. Finally, The Satyricon . I must echo what a GR friend has already written here: what a sadness the many lacunae in this text are! One can only hope that someone finds a complete copy in some mouldering crypt somewhere; after all, the butchered text upon which this translation is based was found only in 1663... This book is funny, funny, funny, on so many different levels, some of which cannot be appreciated by the unwashed, non-Latin-reading, ignorant-of-most-Latin-literature drooling imbeciles... Oh, wait, that's me!! OK, but I can appreciate second hand, due to William Arrowsmith's scholarship, that Petronius wrote this book using many different styles and genres of Latin literature to heighten yet more the various kinds of irony at play here. An English reader must imagine a text in which Shakespearean prose is placed next to a rich and luscious paragraph by Virginia Woolf, placed next to a Spenserian stanza, placed next to a comedy bit by (insert your favorite standup comic), placed next to an orotund address by Gibbon, placed next to the mewling of a nearly speechless teenager (OK, maybe not the latter), with each style artfully chosen to make a particular point, to enrich the ironies... (By God, I'm almost tempted to disinter my high school Latin books!) Arrowsmith admits he can't do that; he can only tell us about it and try to translate some of it. And, of course, puns cannot be translated, and apparently The Satyricon is replete with them. Alright, but much of the humor, satire and irony does come through, and what a treat it all is. All of the postmodern gurus about whose knees so many of the more sophisticated readers in GR are gathered should themselves sit at Petronius' feet quietly and listen carefully. And this satire and irony is by no means bitter or cutting (as opposed to so much of our contemporary literature); even the most ridiculed character (usually through his own words) is not reduced to some kind of symbol to be despised - Petronius, who was no moralizer, empathizes with each and lets them breathe. What I would give to be able to go to Trimalchio's banquet!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    The ancient pagans, as we all know, loved big dicks and anything that symbolized them, such as Priapus, the well-endowed fertility god. And so, many centuries later, it might have come as a shock to proper Christian bakers and the families that enjoyed their kneaded hot-cross buns at table if someone had told them that they were basically biting into a nice, warm, firm big dick. Let me try to explain. You see, over time the Christians managed to wheedle, cajole, beat, burn or use whatever means ne The ancient pagans, as we all know, loved big dicks and anything that symbolized them, such as Priapus, the well-endowed fertility god. And so, many centuries later, it might have come as a shock to proper Christian bakers and the families that enjoyed their kneaded hot-cross buns at table if someone had told them that they were basically biting into a nice, warm, firm big dick. Let me try to explain. You see, over time the Christians managed to wheedle, cajole, beat, burn or use whatever means necessary to de-paganize and convert the heathens, which included a requirement that they give up on silly old gods like Priapus. After all, there really was only one God, and if any god was going to be allowed to be attributed big dick status, it was Him. But the pagans, while acceding to give up the other gods, remained fond of ole Priapus and were resistant to forsaking him and his promise of tumescence. They didn't have Viagra or Levitra to fall back on back in the day. Priapus was it, baby; he was all they had, apart from allegedly magical aphrodisiacal potions of spit and insect mush slathered on the forehead by old witches, and that foul stuff was hardly a turn-on. And besides, the Christian God seemed awfully gunshy about sex, even with his mixed messages of being fruitful and multiplying. They liked their sex, those pagans, and they liked their sex god. No reason to rock the boat or deflate the sails, at it were. And they liked baking long phallic loaves of bread in honor of him. Deciding to use honey rather than a stinger, the Christians hit upon a compromise: the phallic loaves honoring Priapus could be kept as long as they were blessed with a Christian cross carved into them. Thus, the hot cross bun was born, and so too was the hand-off of the big baton from Priapus to God Almighty. I bring all this up, in part, to provide a fascinating anecdote for you increasingly demanding Goodreads review mavens to chew on, but also to note how often Priapus is invoked in Petronius' masterwork, The Satyricon. The above facts about Priapus and his conversion into hot cross buns are, not surprisingly, not taught very much--nay, I vouchsafe, never--in Sunday school, nor is The Satyricon taught often enough in high schools. I think if it were, instead of, say, The Iliad and Odyssey or The Scarlet Letter, a continuing interest in literature might be planted in otherwise idling and distracted young minds. There was a time, a few generations ago, when the Satyricon was kind of a hush-hush thing. If you could find it at all, it was probably in a limited edition, expensive leather-bound cover latched on both sides by a strap and a bronze lock and secured inside an impenetrable oaken cabinet in the off-limits environs of a respectable, well-to-do gentleman's smoking den. Even as late as 1930, when the Allinson translation was published, this was still classed as "erotica." And, indeed, this 2000-year-old romp is very very dirty stuff. Not really explicit, per se, but filled with delightful debaucheries unsuitable to delicate sensibilities. To say it is not politically correct would be an understatement. The Romans had very different ideas about sex; in many ways they were much freer. And so by the time this opus is over we've seen our lower-class protagonist scamps in many states of un-toga-ness, enjoying much boy love (along with the occasional woman or girl). At one point, when Priapus fails to raise the wilted member of our lively young anti-hero, Encolpius, an old witch tries to cure his impotence with an herbal-laced leather dildo shoved up his ass. He and an old lecher poet companion, Eumolpus, think nothing of enjoying the favors of the children of Philomela, who pimps out her kids whenever she thinks the patrons are rich (in the case of Encolpius and Eumolpus, they're not; they're just big liars and thieves who go from place to place trying to evade the law and their wake of angry victims; that is, when they're not fighting among each other and their companions in jealous boy-love rages over the favors of the fair 16-year-old Giton). The characters fight and fart and fuck. And when they fart, the characters laugh. Mel Brooks and Beavis and Butthead would have felt right at home. So, yes, it's that kind of book. It's the Iliad and Odyssey of illicit and ornery. The Candide of cock. The Don Quixote of dong. The Canterbury Tales of tail. It's all in the grand Western literary tradition of the great journey. Like Voltaire's Candide the action is fleet, the forward motion is sweeping; fortunes change quickly, up and down; the situations are outrageous, comical, bawdy and raucous. Hot passions, animus and temporal alliances wax and wane at the drop of a toga, which is often. Luckily, deus ex machina are always ever present whenever a new story wrinkle or an escape is needed. It proceeds with an almost naive, wide-eyed sense of good humor. After reading it, I wondered how Fellini in 1969 could have made such a dour movie out of this breezy concoction. I think the Italian master director kind of missed the point. Several chapters are devoted to describing an amazing multi-course feast hosted by a foolish egotistical bourgeosie named Trimalchio. It has to rank as one of the marvels of literature and historical insight. The kinds of things people used to eat and the ways in which the dishes and attendant frivolities were served to impress guests is inherently fascinating to me. Along the way there also are lovely ruminations on mortality, art, and love as well as prescient portents about the fate of the empire (not just of Rome, but of later ones, eg. the USA). The book is episodic, to be sure, and I felt like I could probably read it backwards without there being much difference. What we have of The Satyricon is a surviving fragment, perhaps as little as 1/5th of the original book. But what we do have is golden, though admittedly it probably works best in Latin, dependent as most of us are on translations of varying quality. As a literary read, I give it three stars; as an invaluable record from antiquity I give it five. I split the difference... I think there might be one quote in the book that sums up its ethos: "So much better does it profit a man to train his member than his mind!" ------ A few more favorites include: "I knew not whether I was the more incensed with the boy for having robbed me of my mistress, or with my mistress for debauching the boy." "You never saw so unfortunate a fellow; soaked leather, that's what his tool is!" "On hearing this, Oenothea sat down between us, and after shaking her head awhile, "I am the only woman," she said, "knows how to cure this complaint. And that you may not think I'm doing at random, I require the young fellow to sleep one night with me, and see if I don't make it stiff as horn! "I was still deploring the stranger's fate, as I supposed him to be, when the swell heaved the face, still quite undisfigured, towards the beach, and I recognized the features of Lichas, my erstwhile enemy, so formidable and implacable a foe, now cast helpless almost at my feet. I could restrain my tears no longer, but smiting my breast again and again, "Where is your anger now," I exclaimed, "and all your domineering ways? There you lie, a prey to the fishes and monsters of the deep; you who so short a while ago proudly boasted your despotic powers, have never a plank left of your great ship. Go to, mortals; swell your hearts with high-flown anticipations. Go to, ye men of craft; arrange the disposal for a thousand years to come of the wealth you have got by fraud. Why! only yesterday this dead man here cast up the accounts of his fortune, and actually fixed in his own mind the day, when he should return to his native shore. Ye Gods! how far away he lies from the point he hoped to reach. Nor is it the sea alone that disappoints men's hopes like this. The warrior is betrayed by his arms; the householder in the act of paying his offerings to heaven is overwhelmed in the ruin of his own penates. One is thrown from his car, and breathes his last hurried breath; the glutton dies of an over-hearty meal, the frugal man of fasting. Reckon it aright, and there is shipwreck everywhere. But then a drowned man misses burial, you object. As if it made one scrap of difference how the perishable body is consumed,--by fire, by water, or by time. Do what you will, these all end in the same result." "Many are the victims, my young friends," he began, "poetry has seduced! The instant a man has got a verse to stand on its feet and clothed a tender thought in appropriate language, he thinks he has scaled Helicon right off. Many others, after long practice of forensic talents, finally retreat to the tranquil calm of verse-making as to a blessed harbor of refuge, imagining a poem is easier put together than an argument all embroidered with scintillating conceits. But a mind of nobler inspiration is revolted by this flippancy; and no intellect that is not flooded with a mighty tide of learning, can either conceive or bring to birth a worthy poetic child. " "Nor less in Mars's Field Corruption swayed, Where every vote was prostitute to gain; The People and the Senate both were sold. E'en Age itself was deaf to Virtue's voice, And all its court to sordid interest paid, Beneath whose feet lay trampled Majesty. E'en Cato's self was by the crowd exiled, Whilst he who won suffused with blushes stood, Ashamed to snatch the power from worthier hands. Oh! shame to Rome and to the Roman name! 'Twas not one man alone whom they exiled, But banished Virtue, Fame and Freedom too. Thus wretched Rome her own destruction bought, Herself the merchant, and herself the ware. Besides, in debt was the whole Empire bound, A prey to Usury's insatiate jaws; Not one could call his house, or self, his own; But debts on debts like silent fevers wrought, Till through the members they the vitals seized."

  4. 5 out of 5

    P.E.

    A collection of fragments alleged to be the first novel in Western literature. A farcical mixbag of daily life and cant, with poetry, parodies and pastiches, and don't forget a good coating of saucy and nonsensical episodes. The feast at Trimalchio's has to give you the giggles :D ------------------------ Le Satiricon a la réputation de premier roman de l'histoire littéraire occidentale. Au menu : - épisodes burlesques - une bonne dose d'étrangeté pour les yeux des lecteurs du 21e siècle : par moment A collection of fragments alleged to be the first novel in Western literature. A farcical mixbag of daily life and cant, with poetry, parodies and pastiches, and don't forget a good coating of saucy and nonsensical episodes. The feast at Trimalchio's has to give you the giggles :D ------------------------ Le Satiricon a la réputation de premier roman de l'histoire littéraire occidentale. Au menu : - épisodes burlesques - une bonne dose d'étrangeté pour les yeux des lecteurs du 21e siècle : par moments, le Satiricon paraît parfois proche de nous, et à d'autres moments, sans l'appareil critique et ses notes on perd pied. - une prose entrecoupée de petits poèmes et de lacunes dans le texte, qui laissent l'impression d'entractes dans un roman pastoral. - une salade de sacré et de profane, de pensées élevés et d'épisodes quotidiens, de bavardages et de discours comminatoires sur les valeurs contemporaines, de prose et de poésie, de merveilleux et de bouffon. - Rumeurs, bavardages, flatteries, discussions sur les valeurs contemporaines, Un épisode ressort entre les lacunes : le festin chez Trimalchion ; chez Trimalchion, c'est une mise en scène de tous les instants. Trimalchion, ancien esclave, est le prototype de l'affranchi fat, artificiel, hâbleur et cabotin émérite : '"(...)Et maintenant Homère raconte comment les Troyens et les Parentins se font la guerre. Naturellement, c'est Agamemnon qui fut vainqueur, et il maria sa fille à Achille. C'est pourquoi Ajax est fou, et tout de suite, il va vous en donner la preuve." Après ces mots de Trimalchion les Homéristes poussèrent un grand cri et, au milieu des valets courant de tous côtés, on servit un veau bouili placé sur un plat de deux cent livres, et le veau avait un casque sur la tête. Ajax venait derrière et, tirant l'épée, comme s'il était fou, se mit à taillader le veau; puis, après avoir fait avec son arme des passes en tous sens, il prit les morceaux sur la pointe et, à notre grand émerveillement, nous distribua la viande. Nous n'eûmes pas longtemps la possibilité d'admirer d'aussi beaux tours d'adresse; car, tout d'un coup, le plafond se mit à résonner et toute la salle à manger vibra. Pris de panique, je me levai, craignant que, par le toit, ne descendit quelque équilibriste. Non moins étonnés, les autres convives levèrent la tête, dans l'attente de la nouveauté que leur annonçait le ciel. Et voici que les caissons s'entrouvrent soudain et que l'on voit descendre un grand cercle apparemment enlevé à quelque énorme cuve : tout autour étaient accrochées des couronnes d'or avec des alabastres de parfum.'

  5. 5 out of 5

    AB

    For the longest time, I always wished we had the missing books of the Annals. Reading all these fragmentary or incomplete sources nothing could trump my desire to see what Tacitus had to say about Caligula. Today, I add another source I wish was more complete: the Satyricon. It was so frustrating reading this and having such great leaps in the story due to how fragmentary parts are. I felt keenly interested in reading more about the bumbling Encolpius and his misadventures. The Satyricon is by f For the longest time, I always wished we had the missing books of the Annals. Reading all these fragmentary or incomplete sources nothing could trump my desire to see what Tacitus had to say about Caligula. Today, I add another source I wish was more complete: the Satyricon. It was so frustrating reading this and having such great leaps in the story due to how fragmentary parts are. I felt keenly interested in reading more about the bumbling Encolpius and his misadventures. The Satyricon is by far the most bizarre piece I have ever read from the Roman world. This piece is profoundly sexual, perhaps the most sexual I have read from the Roman world (so far). More than any other Roman work I have read, I felt that I could not fully appreciate the piece because it was in translation. The editor attempted and did help alleviate lost in translation meaning, but I could not shake the feeling that I was missing otherwise important elements. Sexual jokes can be funny regardless of language, but the poetry, puns, and witticisms did not impact me as much as they should have. This is especially the case for the Civil War poem. While we are told that this is a poor rendition of Lucan, it cannot be fully appreciated in English. Oh well, just another reason to keep learning Latin.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tristan

    Petronius' Satyrica more than lives up to its bawdy reputation. Those ancient pagans sure were a riot, let me tell you. Sadly, due to its fragmentary nature (only two books have survived), it fails in ever truly making the reader - well, this one at least - care about the actual story. As a series of vignettes it sort of works, but not as a novel. Furthermore, this particular translator (Folio Society edition) I feel was too liberal in his approach. The many modern references (the United Nation Petronius' Satyrica more than lives up to its bawdy reputation. Those ancient pagans sure were a riot, let me tell you. Sadly, due to its fragmentary nature (only two books have survived), it fails in ever truly making the reader - well, this one at least - care about the actual story. As a series of vignettes it sort of works, but not as a novel. Furthermore, this particular translator (Folio Society edition) I feel was too liberal in his approach. The many modern references (the United Nations, really?), slang language ("fly", the adjective), kept pulling me out of the story. Guess that makes me a puritan. Gorgeous presentation and illustrations, though. Just wished for a different translation.

  7. 4 out of 5

    G.

    It's always a gamble with old classics: sometimes you're utterly convinced you're going to love them, but end up merely appreciating them. Well, not "merely", but the sentiment certainly holds when it comes to The Satyricon. Yes, it's as bawdy and funny as expected, but it's also a collection of bigger and smaller surviving fragments of a longer text, which makes it difficult to judge or enjoy as a cohesive longer text. That said, glad I read it. It's always a gamble with old classics: sometimes you're utterly convinced you're going to love them, but end up merely appreciating them. Well, not "merely", but the sentiment certainly holds when it comes to The Satyricon. Yes, it's as bawdy and funny as expected, but it's also a collection of bigger and smaller surviving fragments of a longer text, which makes it difficult to judge or enjoy as a cohesive longer text. That said, glad I read it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    The Satiricon is a novel that is sure to please communists and sexual deviants in that it combines a dizzying sequence of unnatural sexual acts with a rigorous analysis of the class structure of Rome at the time of Nero written by a contemporary. The Satiricon is simply hilarious. It describes the picaresque journey of the sexually amphibious Encolpe through Roman Society. The reader is presented with a delightful collection of rogues including long-winded poets, underhanded sodomites, rich vulga The Satiricon is a novel that is sure to please communists and sexual deviants in that it combines a dizzying sequence of unnatural sexual acts with a rigorous analysis of the class structure of Rome at the time of Nero written by a contemporary. The Satiricon is simply hilarious. It describes the picaresque journey of the sexually amphibious Encolpe through Roman Society. The reader is presented with a delightful collection of rogues including long-winded poets, underhanded sodomites, rich vulgarians, lewd women and pompous pedants finishing with a cannibalistic dinner. All in all the Satiricon is more fun than the Rocky Horror Picture Show. In the introduction to the edition of the Satiricon that I read the great novelist and playwright Henri de Montherlant brilliantly describes the work in this way: " Le Satiricon est, par sa date, le père du roman latin, ... et le père du roman tout court. Il est aussi, et de beacoup, le plus réussi des romans grecs et latins; par sa drolerie, son invention toujours rebondissante, la peinture vivace des caractères et des moeurs et son style qui est croustillant sans etre grossier. ... Et cela flatte mon patriotism que Pétrone ait été natif de Marseille." "The Satiricon is the father of the Latin novel and in fact the father of the novel itself. It is by far the best novel of the classical era by its humour, rebounding inventiveness, and its vivacious portrait of characters and morals. It is risqué but never crude. I am proud as a Frenchman to note that Petronius was a native of Marseille."

  9. 5 out of 5

    ☙ nemo ❧ (pagesandprozac)

    i enjoyed this a lot! it didn't seem particularly cohesive, but this is no doubt due to petronius' lost fragments rather than a flaw in the work itself. i'm glad as much of it survived as it did. i enjoyed this a lot! it didn't seem particularly cohesive, but this is no doubt due to petronius' lost fragments rather than a flaw in the work itself. i'm glad as much of it survived as it did.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Regina Andreassen

    A book that I would call a literary artefact rather than a novel, other readers have expanded on this. One key word can give the plot away: debauchery. The edition I read was published by Norilana Classics, it is presented as the ‘complete and unexpurgated translation by W.C. Firebaugh in which are incorporated the forgeries of Nodot and Marchena and the readings introduced into the text by De Salas.’ The forgeries are added to the text and in order to differentiate the forgeries from the origin A book that I would call a literary artefact rather than a novel, other readers have expanded on this. One key word can give the plot away: debauchery. The edition I read was published by Norilana Classics, it is presented as the ‘complete and unexpurgated translation by W.C. Firebaugh in which are incorporated the forgeries of Nodot and Marchena and the readings introduced into the text by De Salas.’ The forgeries are added to the text and in order to differentiate the forgeries from the original, there are three codes: in parenthesis () we find the forgeries of Nodot, Marchena’s forgeries are written in brackets {} and Salas’s additions are inserted in italics. Interestingly, the section I enjoyed the most was not Petronius’s loosely called novel, but the notes written by Marchena, which first appeared in 1800 and have now been published for the first time by Norilana Classics. Marchena’s introduction is dedicated to The Army of the Rhine and it is followed by six chapters discussing Soldiers in love, Courtesans, Greek love, Pollution, Virginity, and Pandars. As a whole The Satyricon is a rather fragmented, crude, controversial yet well written book, which needs to be read taking into consideration the historical and social context in which the narrated ‘adventures’ take place. I suspect that most readers who are not accustomed to this type of literature will not enjoy this book, this is a book to be appreciated by a niche audience.

  11. 5 out of 5

    César Lasso

    Erotic literature of the Roman Empire, written about two thousand years ago. What reached us is only fragments from the original novel. This was one of the findings of my second year of Latin at University. Thanks God, we were allowed to read it in translation - the point of that year was just taking contact with Roman literature. Another finding of that course? The Golden Asse by Apuleius - of course.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder

    Classic Bingo 2016. I1: Written/published before 1600s. This is very bawdy, but not graphic.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Simon Pressinger

    Smutty. Filth. Debauched. Riddled with biting satire. Ridiculously over-the-top and downright hilarious.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anand

    I am a huge fan of ancient Greek and Roman literature. I love their great tragedies, depictions of epic heroism, and fantastical myths. When I come to Satyricon, I also love it. There are moments where I am not entirely sure what is happening, so some of the comic effect is diluted. I also do think comedy ages in a way that tragedy doesn't (this doesn't mean it's bad; Shakespeare's comedies, for example, or the Greek comedies are still popular among those who read literature and love the arts). I am a huge fan of ancient Greek and Roman literature. I love their great tragedies, depictions of epic heroism, and fantastical myths. When I come to Satyricon, I also love it. There are moments where I am not entirely sure what is happening, so some of the comic effect is diluted. I also do think comedy ages in a way that tragedy doesn't (this doesn't mean it's bad; Shakespeare's comedies, for example, or the Greek comedies are still popular among those who read literature and love the arts). But I always loved the parts at Trimalchio's feast where there was food of the richest, most vulgarly exotic sort. I loved the tale of the widow and the soldier, grimly comic as it was. I was amused by the Satyricon's ironic, detached, yet somewhat amused eye toward the mores of its characters. I loved the burlesque poetic portions that were inserted into the work, that shows that, though it might not be the most popular or conventional way to write novels, it could be possible to include verse and prose together (Herman Melville's Moby-Dick shows, I think, similar experimentation through its inclusion of traditional novelistic narration and dramatically-staged scenes in the Shakespearean convention). Sarah Ruden's supplementary analyses of antiquity, particularly on oratory, the Roman household, and sexuality, are wonderful. I loved her translation of the Aeneid, and I appreciate her book Paul Among the People, an astute reading of Paul as critic of the Greco-Roman world of late antiquity. The fact that the surviving portions of the Satyricon are fragmentary help explain why I find it a little strange. Perhaps a second reading would make the work more vivid. Anyways, I loved giving a taste of Petronius. Next up will be Apuleius' Golden Ass.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I had to read this book for class. I loved the class, I hated the book--as did everyone else in the class. We hated reading the book so much that we couldn't even give the movie a fair shot. The book is hard to read for multiple reasons. I can't talk about the quality of the writing, since that would depend on which translation one is reading, but no matter who did the translation, some things can't be fixed. First of all, this novel is made up of only the surviving parts of the original story. T I had to read this book for class. I loved the class, I hated the book--as did everyone else in the class. We hated reading the book so much that we couldn't even give the movie a fair shot. The book is hard to read for multiple reasons. I can't talk about the quality of the writing, since that would depend on which translation one is reading, but no matter who did the translation, some things can't be fixed. First of all, this novel is made up of only the surviving parts of the original story. There is supposed to be more, but it's lost to us, and so all we have to read are bits and pieces. This makes it, understandably, difficult to follow the story. But beyond that there was, for me, a greater problem: the bits that were there were unpleasant. They were violent, disgusting, graphically sexual, and otherwise distasteful. I didn't want to find out what had happened in the missing bits, because I didn't enjoy what was happening in the bits there were. Perhaps a different translation might be able to make up for the unpleasantness of the story by having excellent prose that would make me want to keep reading...perhaps. I've both loved and hated The Iliad because of different translators, so I can't say that it's impossible. But I doubt it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alex Hogan

    Petronius was a Roman writer. Yep, actually at the time. He was a friend of Nero’s, hanging out in his set. I think Nero may have had him killed in the end, when he (Nero) was going on his standard paranoid-autocrat’s-rampage of killing everyone off. If you read this book you will get an idea of why conservative Romans didn’t like Nero. This story is debauched, hedonistic and so openly gay, in both senses of the word. What I especially like about this is – apart from it being such a rollick – is t Petronius was a Roman writer. Yep, actually at the time. He was a friend of Nero’s, hanging out in his set. I think Nero may have had him killed in the end, when he (Nero) was going on his standard paranoid-autocrat’s-rampage of killing everyone off. If you read this book you will get an idea of why conservative Romans didn’t like Nero. This story is debauched, hedonistic and so openly gay, in both senses of the word. What I especially like about this is – apart from it being such a rollick – is that it shows all of us from the post-christian era just what it was like in the days before homosexuality became a sin. Sure, the conservative Romans didn’t like homosexuality all that much, well at least for the patrician class, but they didn’t consider it a sin. You can get that feeling by reading this. It is unique, it is strange, to read about a time when expression of same-sex feelings was so free.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Piers Haslam

    This had me laughing out loud at several points, which is quite impressive for a book of this age. Its highly fragmentary nature presumably makes it more confusing than it originally was, but I think this adds greatly to its strange appeal. It's a gaudy mess. That said, it's not all fun and frolicking. The book is quite a scathing attack on social artifice (like so much Roman literature), and some of the fragments at the end read very soberly: "My bed was soft, the early night was bliss. My drowsy This had me laughing out loud at several points, which is quite impressive for a book of this age. Its highly fragmentary nature presumably makes it more confusing than it originally was, but I think this adds greatly to its strange appeal. It's a gaudy mess. That said, it's not all fun and frolicking. The book is quite a scathing attack on social artifice (like so much Roman literature), and some of the fragments at the end read very soberly: "My bed was soft, the early night was bliss. My drowsy eyes surrender - Love broke my rest And shook me by the hair in wild protest. Nails ripped my flesh. 'To waste a night like this! You're mine,' he said. 'You broke a thousand hearts, Can you, hard-hearted, lie alone and rest?'" (p. 164)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Markus

    This book made me discover my liking of roman literature, fictions or historical. I would like to read it again, some time.

  19. 4 out of 5

    D

    One of the few Latin texts that we translated with enthusiasm, although we were warned not to, in (catholic) high school. I, and everyone in the class, loved it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    "Our eyes deceive us. Our senses Stray and trouble the mind, and Lie to us. This tower hard by is square; From a distance its corners are round. A well-gorged belly spurns even Hybla's honey, and time and again Cassia offends the nostrils. So this or that might never Please or displease, unless the senses Were forever compelled to lock in strife, To battle with doubt, trembling in the balance." So, admittedly a bit of a slog. But a key read if you are interested in Classics. For those familiar this will "Our eyes deceive us. Our senses Stray and trouble the mind, and Lie to us. This tower hard by is square; From a distance its corners are round. A well-gorged belly spurns even Hybla's honey, and time and again Cassia offends the nostrils. So this or that might never Please or displease, unless the senses Were forever compelled to lock in strife, To battle with doubt, trembling in the balance." So, admittedly a bit of a slog. But a key read if you are interested in Classics. For those familiar this will be no insight, but for those without the historical context it may seem striking to see the range of sexuality expressed and normalized. Read this and then read Fitzgerald's Gatsby, and you will never look at that book the same way. While you're at it, read TS Eliot's The Waste Land to get the fulsome threesome. "...satire is the only way to restrain their madness..." "...The skinflint buries his treasure, then stumbles on surfaced gold. A huntsman rends the woodlands With his pack of hounds; a drowning sailor Plucked overboard rights the keel Of his boat; this mistress writes A love letter, that adulteress sends A gift, and the dog sleeps on and marks The footing of the hare. In the tarrying of the night The wounds of the hapless abide." **note: I read the Paul Dinnage englishing, from 1953, revised 1998. Thought it was quite good, but definitely limited in terms of notes on the text. While that was done by design, I don't think this is the one scholars will reach for. Oh well. I thought it was very readable, but no idea how it relates to the Latin.

  21. 4 out of 5

    anna (½ of readsrainbow)

    "the satyricon's protags are a same-sex couple whose erotic difficulties with e/o & with other ppl in their lives constitute the basic plot of the novel. (...) their relationship is the sole stable element in their lives" "the satyricon's protags are a same-sex couple whose erotic difficulties with e/o & with other ppl in their lives constitute the basic plot of the novel. (...) their relationship is the sole stable element in their lives"

  22. 4 out of 5

    dimwig

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (arrowsmith) it's basically indistinguishable from fragmented surrealist porn (apollinaire etc) 75% of the time. that's a good thing (arrowsmith) it's basically indistinguishable from fragmented surrealist porn (apollinaire etc) 75% of the time. that's a good thing

  23. 4 out of 5

    Quiver

    Perhaps unusually for a review of the Satyricon, allow me to quote the paragraph that first brought to my attention the existence of Petronius’s work. It was not always to be called The Great Gatsby. In a letter to Maxwell Perkins Fitzgerald wrote: ‘I have now decided to stick to the title I put o the book. Trimalchio in West Egg’ (circa 7 November 1924). Trimalchio is, of course, the vulgar social upstart of immense wealth in the Satyricon of Petronius — a master of sexual and gastronomic revels Perhaps unusually for a review of the Satyricon, allow me to quote the paragraph that first brought to my attention the existence of Petronius’s work. It was not always to be called The Great Gatsby. In a letter to Maxwell Perkins Fitzgerald wrote: ‘I have now decided to stick to the title I put o the book. Trimalchio in West Egg’ (circa 7 November 1924). Trimalchio is, of course, the vulgar social upstart of immense wealth in the Satyricon of Petronius — a master of sexual and gastronomic revels who gives a banquet of unimaginable luxury in which, unlike Gatsby who is a non-drinking, self-isolating spectator at his own parties, he most decidedly participates. He is a most literal glutton, while Gatsby stands at a curious distance from all he owns and displays, just as at times he seems to stand back from his own words and consider them appraisingly, as he would the words of another, just as he will display shirts he has never worn, books he has never read, and extend invitations to swim in the pool he has never used. (From Tony Tanner’s Introduction to The Great Gatsby, Penguin Modern Classics edition) Trimalchio did not so much capture my imagination, as did Fitzgerald’s original idea of titling his book so. A couple of years later, and I’ve finally come around to the Satyricon: it’s hardly like Gatsby (though the extended dinner scene is comparably lavish) and Trimalchio’s character has a supporting role of purely satirical value (is he Nero?). So forget Gatsby. The Satyricon is a picaresque novel featuring the protagonist Enclopius and his boyfriend Giton, a seventeen-year-old erstwhile slave. Part of it is lost, but what remains is presumably fairly representative of the whole: a burlesque romance that mixes low adventure and high literary sophistication, with the goal of achieving the coveted paradoxical status of bawdy-and-brainy entertainment. The so-called internal episodes focus on the relation of Enclopius and Giton, while the external episodes focus on satirising characters or practices of Roman society. The external episodes with which these internal scenes alternate parade a range of contemporary figures and attitudes which Petronius is concerned to satirize; thus the Saturika, the satyr-like behaviour, merges with the satura, the satirical element. (From Walsh’s Introduction to the Satyricon) On the burlesque side: Jealousy and romantic rivalry are major driving forces of the novel: firstly Ascyltus competes with Enclopius for Giton, then Eumolpus does the same. Both succeed to a certain degree—Giton playing the traditional, feminised, pacifying and passive role—ultimately to fail and for Giton to return to the pining Enclopius. The literary side: the text is peppered with numerous poetic portions imitating well-known styles (e.g. Virgil), but they too are meant as pure imitation, if not outright mockery. The subjects and references would have required an education: a nod to Plato’s Symposium , for example, or the various pseudo-heroes Enclopius is made to impersonate through his actions (Achilles, Aeneas, Odysseus—there’s a whole chapter where we meet Circe). Fitzgerald wasn’t the only one to be influenced by Petronius’s work.  Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy references the work seventy-odd times; T. S. Eliot had particular opinions about it; and most elements of the modern satirical picaresque (à la Voltaire’s Candide ) can be traced to the Satyricon, though its influence was largely obscured historically and had to be rediscovered. I can’t say this was the most riveting adventure, but then the picaresque genre holds little interest for me in general. However, I do think it is an important work of antiquity that teaches, if not historical fact, then parody, travesty, and literary caricature. It’s a curious lesson: less funny, more outrageous. Are we humans that outrageous? (The answer is yes.)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Crito

    The Satyricon is in every sense an artifact. First and most immediately apparent is its fragmentation. Not only are what I take to be nearly 2/3rds of the books that make the original work up lost, the ones we do have, with the exception of a single book, are all broken up with either large or small chunks missing. Occasionally you'll get a page of nothing but singular sentences one after the other all missing their original contexts. Reading this is as if your roommate is watching a film in ano The Satyricon is in every sense an artifact. First and most immediately apparent is its fragmentation. Not only are what I take to be nearly 2/3rds of the books that make the original work up lost, the ones we do have, with the exception of a single book, are all broken up with either large or small chunks missing. Occasionally you'll get a page of nothing but singular sentences one after the other all missing their original contexts. Reading this is as if your roommate is watching a film in another room and you occasionally step in and catch a few minutes here and there. This makes an absolutely frustrating experience to read. Almost as frustrating as the Roman-ness of it. This is where the other facet of its nature as an artifact comes in. This was never a work to be high brow, it's very much steeped in the underbelly of roman culture, and this is part of the reason it wasn't preserved like, say, the Aeneid. On the plus side out of this you get some funny anecdotes about pederasty. On the other hand, for the average reader most of the jokes will fly over their head. There'll be a joke playing on how the couches in a roman house are set up and you'll think nothing of it until you read the footnote explaining the joke and it'll elicit no more than "huh" or "ok" from you. And this insight into the culture, especially in the well written appendix commentaries, are interesting if roman life and culture is something you're into. It's a wonderful artifact, I won't deny that. You either learn a lot or you'll get to see stone first hand source proof of what we know about roman culture, and that can be exciting. It's not good literature though in this state, its jesting mood does not make up for how frustrating it can be to read. Occasionally you'll get a chuckle, and there was one startling passage of contemplation followed by some real striking verse. And then passages will read like the roman equivalent of one of the lesser chapters in a Brett Easton Ellis novel cut to pieces in a way where you're not sure if you missed anything of value. It can be interesting yes, but I can't recommend it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

    Any help with translation/edition selection for Petronius will be most welcome. The more notes and apparatus the better. Preference of translation is for that stilted style which leaves the Latin flavor intact. Latest scholarship is also always a must. Is it too much to ask for a bi-lingual? --> don't skip Ali's comment justbelow. Possiblities: P. G. Walsh from Oxford University Press, 1996/2009. http://www.amazon.com/The-Satyricon-O... I've got the 1996 edition ; don't know how the '09 updates. Sar Any help with translation/edition selection for Petronius will be most welcome. The more notes and apparatus the better. Preference of translation is for that stilted style which leaves the Latin flavor intact. Latest scholarship is also always a must. Is it too much to ask for a bi-lingual? --> don't skip Ali's comment justbelow. Possiblities: P. G. Walsh from Oxford University Press, 1996/2009. http://www.amazon.com/The-Satyricon-O... I've got the 1996 edition ; don't know how the '09 updates. Sarah Ruden from Hackett, 2000. http://www.amazon.com/Satyricon-Petro... I might still have my eyes out for this one. J.P. Sullivan & Helen Morales from Penguin, 1965/2012. http://www.amazon.com/The-Satyricon-P... The one I read ; with the revisions of 1986. Would think to prefer the 2012 which probably has some dusting up regarding some details and whatknot.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I purchased this translation of the Satyricon for a Petronius translation class; I was given free rein to pick my translator, and I have always been partial to Sarah Ruden after reading her translation of the Aeneid. I feel like I made a good choice. Having dealt with Petronius in Latin, I find that Ruden does him justice in English. Her translation gives her readers a taste of what the original language is like- you won't find the polished language one tends to expect from a translation from La I purchased this translation of the Satyricon for a Petronius translation class; I was given free rein to pick my translator, and I have always been partial to Sarah Ruden after reading her translation of the Aeneid. I feel like I made a good choice. Having dealt with Petronius in Latin, I find that Ruden does him justice in English. Her translation gives her readers a taste of what the original language is like- you won't find the polished language one tends to expect from a translation from Latin. Ruden takes the conversational tone of Petronius's Silver Age Latin and turns it into richly translated English that accomplishes the difficult task of capturing the feel of a text written in another language 1900 years ago. Also, this book contains a footnote that reads "Thunder as divine farting?" which I childishly chortled at for longer than is respectable. That doesn't have much bearing on the translation, but it's like a cherry on top of what is already a good read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lee Broderick

    Whether judged as satire or prose it's hard to warm to this. The nouveau riche are gauche. Great art is long dead and money reigns supreme now. Such sentiments have probably been popular since a time not long after the first artists and the displacement of the first elite. Perhaps I'm being unfair. Is it even possible to fairly judge something of which so small a portion survives? There are hints here that the tale of Encolpius is modelled on that of Odysseus and the equivalent there would be if Whether judged as satire or prose it's hard to warm to this. The nouveau riche are gauche. Great art is long dead and money reigns supreme now. Such sentiments have probably been popular since a time not long after the first artists and the displacement of the first elite. Perhaps I'm being unfair. Is it even possible to fairly judge something of which so small a portion survives? There are hints here that the tale of Encolpius is modelled on that of Odysseus and the equivalent there would be if we only knew of the episodes involving Circe and the Laestrygonians. As it stands though, this reads like an explicit Up Pompeii! or self-aware Footballer's Wives.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    My interest was initially piqued some time ago by a viewing of Fellini's version of the story in a dingy college room last year. And it's interesting enough in its way. The culture of ancient Rome is so different as to seem surrealist at times. Unlike the Canterbury Tales or other documents from the root of Western civilization, I feel no analogy here. It's entertaining at times, but without a heavy steeping in the Greek and Roman classics, I mostly felt as if I just didn't get it. My interest was initially piqued some time ago by a viewing of Fellini's version of the story in a dingy college room last year. And it's interesting enough in its way. The culture of ancient Rome is so different as to seem surrealist at times. Unlike the Canterbury Tales or other documents from the root of Western civilization, I feel no analogy here. It's entertaining at times, but without a heavy steeping in the Greek and Roman classics, I mostly felt as if I just didn't get it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ivan

    I remember having read this out of curiosity when I was around 16 years old, what surprised me was the intelligence of the writer and the character of the people encountered by the hero throughout the book. It certainly wasn't my first of the Roman classics, but the one which opened my eyes to the fact that civilization and society do not develop following a neat straight and "rising" vector. I remember having read this out of curiosity when I was around 16 years old, what surprised me was the intelligence of the writer and the character of the people encountered by the hero throughout the book. It certainly wasn't my first of the Roman classics, but the one which opened my eyes to the fact that civilization and society do not develop following a neat straight and "rising" vector.

  30. 5 out of 5

    M.A.

    Two young men romp around the Roman empire while fighting over who gets to diddle the teenage boy. I guess it's pretty easy to have your work considered a "classic" when it's one of the few remaining texts to survive. Two young men romp around the Roman empire while fighting over who gets to diddle the teenage boy. I guess it's pretty easy to have your work considered a "classic" when it's one of the few remaining texts to survive.

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