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The Satyricon (Oxford World's Classics) 1st Edition
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"Trimalchio gave a loud snap of his fingers. The eunuch came waddling up with the chamber pot, Trimalchio emptied his bladder and went merrily on with his game. When he was done, he shouted for water, daintily dipped the tips of his fingers and wiped his hands in the long hair of a slave."
Eventually tiring of his Master of Dissolution, Nero ordered Petronius to commit suicide (as was his charming habit). The noble Arbiter complied by throwing a big party, enjoying it in his hot bath; ordering a surgeon to slice open his arm, bleeding into the bathwater, then having a tourniquet tied to stop the blood. As the night passed gaily on, every once in a while, he would order the tourniquet opened, bleed out some more, and have it tied up again. By morning, he was dead.
This sounds like something straight out of his masterpiece, The Satyricon, but it actually happened. Ah, life in Nero's court! Who could ever forget it?
After a lucid account of the transmission of the text Walsh surveys the impact of Petronius on later European literatures, particularly for the sake of "a new class of readers...students of Classical Civilization and Comparative Literature" (p. xliv). A few examples illustrate the range of his inquiry. The learned Robert Burton frequently quoted Petronius in "The Anatomy of Melancholy" (1621). Among later enthusiasts was T.L. Peacock, who in his novels with verse insertions, notably "Gryll Grange" (1860), includes quotations and motifs from Petronius. For T.S. Eliot, Petronius was of great importance from student days to the period of The "Waste Land" (1922), where in addition to the famous epigraph of the aged Sibyl in the bottle remote parallels may be sought, e.g. between the drowned Lichas and Phlebas the Phoenician.
Walsh's translation has a forceful directness that grips the reader immediately: "verbal gobstoppers coated in honey" for mellitos uerborum globulos (1.3), for example.Read more ›