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The Satyricon (Oxford World's Classics) 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199539215
ISBN-10: 0199539219
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Classical literature can be entertaining, and this new edition is admirably served by a translation which brings the ancient Romans into the late 20th century." --The Daily Telegraph

About the Author

P. G. Walsh is Emeritus Professor of Humanity at the University of Glasgow. He translated and edited Apuleius, The Golden Ass for World's Classics.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (May 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199539219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199539215
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.5 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Is that all these reviewers have to say about this classic satire from one of history's most notable arbiters of fashion? Nero was not an easy man to get along with, but he delighted in his Petronius...for a time. Long enough at least to give the world this little gem from one of the most decadent periods in history. Dinner with Trimalchio illustrates this wonderfully, or horribly, I can't say which:
"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?
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Format: Paperback
In a concentrated introduction of some 30 pages, Walsh includes the main aspects of Petronian studies, combining literary flair with wide erudition and common sense. He accepts that the author of the "Satyricon" was Petronius, the efficient voluptuary described by Tacitus, and views him not as an Epicurean moralist but as a master of sustained literary frivolity. The title suggests "a narrative of lascivious behavior infused with satirical elements" (p. xvi). Walsh rejects the anarchic notion of an enormous "Satyricon". Like most scholars he postulates basic parody both of the Odyssey and of the Greek romantic novel, for which he rightly compares Fielding's "Shamela" (p. xxiv).

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.
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By Audrey on February 3, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
for a course called Classics in Translation at Queens College
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