The Satyricon, Satyricon liber (The Book of Satyrlike Adventures), or Satyrica,is a Latin work of fiction believed to have been written by Gaius Petronius, though the manu*********** tradition identifies the author as Titus Petronius.
THE SATYRICON OF PETRONIUS ARBITER
The Satyricon, Satyricon liber (The Book of Satyrlike Adventures), or Satyrica,is a Latin work of fiction believed to have been written by Gaius Petronius, though the manu*********** tradition identifies the author as Titus Petronius. The Satyricon is an example of Menippean satire, which is different from the formal verse satire of Juvenal or Horace. The work contains a mixture of prose and verse (commonly known as prosimetrum); serious and comic elements; and erotic and decadent passages. As with The Golden Ass by Apuleius (also called the Metamorphoses),classical scholars often describe it as a Roman novel, without necessarily implying continuity with the modern literary form.
The surviving sections of the original (much longer) text detail the bizarre exploits of the narrator, Encolpius, and his slave and boyfriend Giton, a handsome d boy. It is the second most fully preserved Roman novel, after the fully extant The Golden Ass by Apuleius, which has significant differences in style and plot. Satyricon is also regarded as useful evidence for the reconstruction of how lower classes lived during the early Roman Empire.
The date of the Satyricon was controversial in 19th- and 20th-century scholarship, with dates proposed as varied as the 1st century BC and 3rd century AD. A consensus on this issue now exists. A date under Nero (1st century AD) is indicated by the work's social background
Encolpius, illustration by Norman Lindsay
Encolpius: The narrator and principal character, moderately well educated and presumably from a relatively elite background
Giton: A handsome boy, a slave and a sexual partner of Encolpius
Ascyltos: A friend of Encolpius, rival for the ownership of Giton
Trimalchio: An extremely vulgar and wealthy freedman
Eumolpus: An aged, impoverished and lecherous poet of the sort rich men are said to hate
Lichas: An enemy of Encolpius
Tryphaena: A woman infatuated with Giton
Corax: A barber, the hired servant of Eumolpus
Circe: A woman attracted to Encolpius
Chrysis: Circe's servant, also in love with Encolpius
The work is narrated by its central figure, Encolpius, a retired, famous gladiator of the area. The surviving sections of the novel begin with Encolpius traveling with a companion and former lover named Ascyltos, who has joined Encolpius on numerous escapades. Encolpius' slave, Giton, is at his owner's lodging when the story begins.
In the first passage, Encolpius is in a Greek town in Campania, perhaps Puteoli, where he is standing outside a school, railing against the Asiatic style and false taste in literature, which he blames on the prevailing system of declamatory education (1–2). His adversary in this debate is Agamemnon, a sophist, who shifts the blame from the teachers to the parents (3–5). Encolpius discovers that his companion Ascyltos has left and breaks away from Agamemnon when a group of students arrive (6).
Encolpius then gets lost and asks an old woman for help returning home. She takes him to a brothel which she refers to as his home. There, Encolpius locates Ascyltos (7–8) and then Giton (8), who claims that Ascyltos made a sexual attempt on him (9). After raising their voices against each other, the fight ends in laughter and the friends reconcile but still agree to split at a later date (9–10). Later, Encolpius tries to have sex with Giton, but he's interrupted by Ascyltos, who assaults him after catching the two in bed (11). The three go to the market, where they are involved in a convoluted dispute over stolen property (12–15). Returning to their lodgings, they are confronted by Quartilla, a devotee of Priapus, who condemns their attempts to pry into the cult's secrets (16–18).
The companions are overpowered by Quartilla, her maids, and an aged male prostitute, who sexually torture them (19–21), then provide them with dinner and engage them in further sexual activity (21–26). An orgy ensues and the sequence ends with Encolpius and Quartilla exchanging kisses while they spy through a keyhole at Giton having sex with a seven-year-old virgin girl; and finally sleeping together (26).
Chapters 26–78, Cena Trimalchionis (Trimalchio's dinner)
Fortunata, illustration by Norman Lindsay
This section of the Satyricon, regarded by classicists such as Conte and Rankin as emblematic of Menippean satire, takes place a day or two after the beginning of the extant story. Encolpius and companions are invited by one of Agamemnon's slaves, to a dinner at the estate of Trimalchio, a freedman of enormous wealth, who entertains his guests with ostentatious and grotesque extravagance. After preliminaries in the baths and halls (26–30), the guests (mostly freedmen) enter the dining room, where their host joins them.
Extravagant courses are served while Trimalchio flaunts his wealth and his pretence of learning (31–41). Trimalchio's departure to the toilet (he is incontinent) allows space for conversation among the guests (41–46). Encolpius listens to their ordinary talk about their neighbors, about the weather, about the hard times, about the public games, and about the education of their children. In his insightful depiction of everyday Roman life, Petronius delights in exposing the vulgarity and pretentiousness of the illiterate and ostentatious wealthy of his age.
After Trimalchio's return from the lavatory (47), the succession of courses is resumed, some of them disguised as other kinds of food or arranged to resemble certain zodiac signs. Falling into an argument with Agamemnon (a guest who secretly holds Trimalchio in disdain), Trimalchio reveals that he once saw the Sibyl of Cumae, who because of her great age was suspended in a flask for eternity (48).
Supernatural stories about a werewolf (62) and witches are told (63). Following a lull in the conversation, a stonemason named Habinnas arrives with his wife Scintilla (65), who compares jewellery with Trimalchio's wife Fortunata (67). Then Trimalchio sets forth his will and gives Habinnas instructions on how to build his monument when he is dead (71).
Encolpius and his companions, by now wearied and disgusted, try to leave as the other guests proceed to the baths, but are prevented by a porter (72). They escape only after Trimalchio holds a mock funeral for himself. The vigiles, mistaking the sound of horns for a signal that a fire has broken out, burst into the residence (78). Using this sudden alarm as an excuse to get rid of the sophist Agamemnon, whose company Encolpius and his friends are weary of, they flee as if from a real fire (78).
Encolpius returns with his companions to the inn but, having drunk too much wine, passes out while Ascyltos takes advantage of the situation and seduces Giton (79). On the next day, Encolpius wakes to find his lover and Ascyltos in bed together naked. Encolpius quarrels with Ascyltos and the two agree to part, but Encolpius is shocked when Giton decides to stay with Ascyltos (80). After two or three days spent in separate lodgings sulking and brooding on his revenge, Encolpius sets out with sword in hand, but is disarmed by a soldier he encounters in the street (81–82).
After entering a picture gallery, he meets with an old poet, Eumolpus. The two exchange complaints about their misfortunes (83–84), and Eumolpus tells how, when he pursued an affair with a boy in Pergamon while employed as his tutor, the youth wore him out with his own high libido (85–87). After talking about the decay of art and the inferiority of the painters and writers of the age to the old masters (88), Eumolpus illustrates a picture of the capture of Troy by some verses on that theme (89).
This ends when those who are walking in the adjoining colonnade drive Eumolpus out with stones (90). Encolpius invites Eumolpus to dinner. As he returns home, Encolpius encounters Giton who begs him to take him back as his lover. Encolpius finally forgives him (91). Eumolpus arrives from the baths and reveals that a man there (evidently Ascyltos) was looking for someone called Giton (92).
Encolpius decides not to reveal Giton's identity, but he and the poet fall into rivalry over the boy (93–94). This leads to a fight between Eumolpus and the other residents of the insula (95–96), which is broken up by the manager Bargates. Then Ascyltos arrives with a municipal slave to search for Giton, who hides under a bed at Encolpius's request (97). Eumolpus threatens to reveal him but after much negotiation ends up reconciled to Encolpius and Giton (98).
In the next scene preserved, Encolpius and his friends board a ship, along with Eumolpus's hired servant, later named as Corax (99). Encolpius belatedly discovers that the captain is an old enemy, Lichas of Tarentum. Also on board is a woman called Tryphaena, by whom Giton does not want to be discovered (100–101). Despite their attempt to disguise themselves as Eumolpus's slaves (103), Encolpius and Giton are identified (105).
Eumolpus speaks in their defence (107), but it is only after fighting breaks out (108) that peace is agreed (109). To maintain good feelings, Eumolpus tells the story of a widow of Ephesus. At first she planned to starve herself to death in her husband's tomb, but she was seduced by a soldier guarding crucified corpses, and when one of these was stolen she offered the corpse of her husband as a replacement (110–112).
The ship is wrecked in a storm (114). Encolpius, Giton and Eumolpus get to shore safely (as apparently does Corax), but Lichas is washed ashore drowned (115). The companions learn they are in the neighbourhood of Crotona, and that the inhabitants are notorious legacy-hunters (116). Eumolpus proposes taking advantage of this, and it is agreed that he will pose as a childless, sickly man of wealth, and the others as his slaves (117).
As they travel to the city, Eumolpus lectures on the need for elevated content in poetry (118), which he illustrates with a poem of almost 300 lines on the Civil War between Julius Caesar and Pompey (119–124). When they arrive in Crotona, the legacy-hunters prove hospitable.
When the text resumes, the companions have apparently been in Crotona for some time (125). A maid named Chrysis flirts with Encolpius and brings to him her beautiful mistress Circe, who asks him for sex. However, his attempts are prevented by impotence (126–128). Circe and Encolpius exchange letters, and he seeks a cure by sleeping without Giton (129–130). When he next meets Circe, she brings with her an elderly enchantress called Proselenos who attempts a magical cure (131). Nonetheless, he fails again to make love, as Circe has Chrysis and him flogged (132).
Encolpius is tempted to sever the offending organ, but prays to Priapus at his temple for healing (133). Proselenos and the priestess Oenothea arrive. Oenothea, who is also a sorceress, claims she can provide the cure desired by Encolpius and begins cooking (134–135). While the women are temporarily absent, Encolpius is attacked by the temple's sacred geese and kills one of them. Oenothea is horrified, but Encolpius pacifies her with an offer of money (136–137).
Oenothea tears open the breast of the goose, and uses its liver to foretell Encolpius's future (137). That accomplished, the priestess reveals a "leather dildo," (scorteum fascinum) and the women apply various irritants to him, which they use to prepare Encolpius for anal penetration (138). Encolpius flees from Oenothea and her assistants. In the following chapters, Chrysis herself falls in love with Encolpius (138–139).
An ageing legacy-huntress named Philomela places her son and daughter with Eumolpus, ostensibly for education. Eumolpus makes love to the daughter, although because of his pretence of ill health he requires the help of Corax. After fondling the son, Encolpius reveals that he has somehow been cured of his impotence (140). He warns Eumolpus that, because the wealth he claims to have has not appeared, the patience of the legacy-hunters is running out. Eumolpus's will is read to the legacy-hunters, who apparently now believe he is dead, and they learn they can inherit only if they consume his body. In the final passage preserved, historical examples of cannibalism are cited
1. During my visit to London for studies where we had an Old Ancestral Home, I stumbled on a family treasure. Apart from other things I also found a hump of books, diaries, and notes in the treasure which contained classic, Age-old, Erotic books, Novels, and Magazines probably collected by my Ancestors. They are all timeless and precious. They are a must-read for all erotica lovers.
2. Out of the aforesaid collection, presenting an amazing account which was is dated between 1st century BC and 3rd century AD
3. The ". THE SATYRICONIS is written by PETRONIUS ARBITER
4. The surviving sections of the original (much longer) text detail the bizarre exploits of the narrator, Encolpius, and his slave and boyfriend Giton, a handsome d boy.
5. All characters be read as of more than age of 18 years.
7. My sincere apologies to the author of the Novel and readers for editing, or modifying the underage content, if any, to make it suitable for publishing in Modern times.