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The Satyricon

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Satyricon (or Satyrica) is a Latin work of fiction in a mixture of prose and poetry. It is believed to have been written by Gaius Petronius, though the manuscript tradition identifies the author as a certain Titus Petronius. As with the Metamorphoses of Apuleius, classical scholars often describe it as a "Roman novel", without necessarily implying continuity with the modern literary form.

The surviving portions of the text detail the misadventures of the narrator, Encolpius, and his lover, a handsome sixteen-year-old boy named Giton. Throughout the novel, Encolpius has a hard time keeping his lover faithful to him as he is constantly being enticed away by others. Encolpius's friend Ascyltus (who seems to have previously been in a relationship with Encolpius) is another major character. It is a rare example of a Roman novel, the only other surviving example (quite different in style and plot) being Metamorphoses written by Lucius Apuleius. It is also extremely important evidence for the reconstruction of what everyday life must have been like for the lower classes during the early Roman Empire.

First Page:

[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an entire meal of them. D.W.]


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.

Among the difficulties which beset the path of the conscientious translator, a sense of his own unworthiness must ever take precedence; but another, scarcely less disconcerting, is the likelihood of misunderstanding some allusion which was perfectly familiar to the author and his public, but which, by reason of its purely local significance, is obscure and subject to the misinterpretation and emendation of a later generation.

A translation worthy of the name is as much the product of a literary epoch as it is of the brain and labor of a scholar; and Melmouth's version of the letters of Pliny the Younger, made, as it was, at a period when the art of English letter writing had attained its highest excellence, may well be the despair of our twentieth century apostles of specialization... Continue reading book >>

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