Gaius Petronius was an amazing novelist born in Massalia at 27 A.D.. He was known as a Roman courtier during the period of Nero’s reign. Petronius, during this time, was described by historian Tacitus as a man who held a privileged but a very dangerous position as unofficial “Arbiter of Elegance” or “Judge of Elegance” at the court of Nero. When he was the governor of Bithynia and consul, he accomplished to show us that he himself a capable and energetic administrator. Even though he was the consul during Nero’s reign, his main occupation was a novelist. His main work that he wrote was Satyricon. The Satyricon attributed to one of the emperor Nero’s courtiers. It represented mix prose and verse, conventional literary idiom and vulgar language. The Satyricon also satirizes and parodies the human absurdities and the failures that have happened in Roman society. His depictions throughout this book were mostly see outrageous and obscene. The Satyricon was also in fragments of the Cena Trimalchionis, which described a dinner party given by an ex- slave and self made millionaire named Trimalchio. Eventually, he was aroused by Nero’s suspicions and died by suicide, surrounded by his friends that always comforted him throughout his life.
The time period in which Petronius lived was significant because of the way he displays Latin literature and speech at the time. He portrays the conversations that typical Roman people had at the time, as seen in Petronius’ passage, “Cena”. The own speech of Petronius in his writing is able to characterize figures at the time in which he wrote.
Gaius Petronius died of suicide. He was surrounded by his friends who comforted him with cheerful songs rather than doctrines. This is significant because Petronius was a scholar and he did not die as a scholar normally would rather with joy and frivolous songs.
The main fact that makes the Satyricon unusual in comparison to all the other works we have read is the use of satire throughout the works of Petronius in the Satyricon. Satire is the use of humor to mock or criticize a person’s misgivings or bad traits. The other works we have read have enacted the use of drama and romantic themes as for the Satyricon it does not tell such a meaningful story as experienced in past works.
Trimalchio was an ex-slave who became a millionaire by himself. He is the subject of a part of the Satyricon titled the “Banquet of Trimalchio”. This part of the Satyricon describes a dinner party thrown by him. This banquet had army of slaves that serve as a vast array of dishes. During the time at the banquet, most of them disguised as something other than what they are. For example, were glowing “coals”that were made of sliced damsons and pomegranates, which was a roast boar with sausages for entrails and a sow with pastry “piglets”.In conclusion, throughout the rest of the banquet, the guests were being entertained by musicians, actors, or singing writers of various degrees of awfulness.
Petronius' account of his Banquet of Trimalchio is a comical interpretation of life during the Roman Empire. Petronius' account of the dinner with Trimalchio is a fictitious story similar to other works we have experienced, but unlike those other works it is based on events which could actually take place during society in the Empire. The account is meant to point out flaws in society by use of humor and satire. Trimalchio is portrayed as an ex-slave millionaire, who is self-characterized by the events of his supposedly lavish banquet and tactics which most would find offensive.
Petronius' double vision is comprised of the way in which Trimalchio sees himself and the way he presents himself to others, and the way which the readers will see Trimalchio. In part of the Satyricon, Trimalchio has images of him and the gods painted on his wall. This shows the way which Trimalchio thinks of himself, and allows the reader to see Trimalchio's personality. The function of Petronius' double vision is to provide humor which the reader will understand, rather than those in the story, a common theme in satirical literature.
The Satyricon portrays the speech and habits of the common person. This is significant because this type of account is unique. Most pieces of Roman literature provided accounts of the activities of the nobility and the Roman leaders. The Satyricon, however, gives an uncommon account of a dinner of common Roman Citizens.