Petronius, Satyricon

LCL 15: 2-3

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INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION

AUTHOR AND DATE

Petronius and the Satyrica (also known as the Satyricon liber, hence the popular title Satyricon), author and work, are both surrounded by mysteries. Almost everything that we know about Petronius is found in Tacitus, Annals 16.17–19. By the force of his rhetoric he has made Petronius memorable, appealing, eccentric (Ann. 16.18): nam illi dies per somnum, nox officiis et oblectamentis vitae transigebatur; utque alios industria, ita hunc ignavia ad famam protulerat . . . (“he spent his days sleeping and his nights working and enjoying himself. Diligence is the usual basis of success, but with him it was idleness . . .”), but he writes not one word about the Satyrica or something similar, though he makes the effort to include 104 words (Ann. 16.19) about Petronius’ suicide, forced on him by Nero in AD 66: neque tamen praeceps vitam expulit, sed incisas venas, ut libitum, obligatas aperire rursum et alloqui amicos, non per seria aut quibus gloriam constantiae peteret . . . ut quamquam coacta mors fortuitae similis esset (“Not that he was hasty in taking leave of his life. On the contrary he opened his veins and then, as the fancy took him, he bound them up or reopened them, and all the while talked with friends, but not on serious topics

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.petronius-satyricon.2020