CL302 Petronius' Satyrica
MW 2.30-3.50 LI 442
Prof. Michael Arnush
Ladd 209 x5462 Hours MTuTh 11-12




Riot in the Amphitheater
Pompeii, Naples Arch. Museum



During the Hellenistic era, the age between the death of Alexander in 323 BC and the principate of Augustus in 31 BC, the literary genre of the novel developed and flourished. Not surprisingly, Greek schools of rhetoric served as one of the backdrops for the origins of the novel, for it was there that students articulated imaginary and fantastic stories as they practiced their declamation. Other literary developments in Greece and further east - Milesian tales and Menippean satire - contributed to the beginnings of the novel, including romantic narratives from the ancient Near East. Finally, there are the works of such great Roman satirists as Horace and Lucilius which had an extraordinary impact on the development of the novel. By the first century A.D., Roman Silver Age authors made significant strides in improving this literary genre. We will examine the earliest Latin manifestation of the novel: Petronius’ Satyrica. C. Petronius Niger (floruit 50-65 AD), arbiter elegantiae to the court of the Emperor Nero (54-68 AD), framed and gave shape to the Roman conception of the novelistic form. Our focus will be on a set-piece within the larger work: the Cena Trimalchionis or the “Dinner of Trimalchio.”


Michael Arnush
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Maintained by Michael Arnush, Classics Department
Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, 12866
518 580-5462