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The Satyricon

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  3,886 ratings  ·  165 reviews
The Satyricon is a classic of comedy, a superbly funny picture of Nero's Rome as seen through the eyes of Petronius, its most amorous and elegant courtier.William Arrowsmith's translation—a lively, modern, unexpurgated text—recaptures all the ribald humor of Petronius's picaresque satire. It tells the hilarious story of the pleasure-seeking adventures of an educated rogue, ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 1st 1983 by Plume (first published 66)
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J.G. Keely
Mar 16, 2009 J.G. Keely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to J.G. by: Ama
I remember the sense I had as a child that sexual perversity had been invented in the 1960's. Before that, everyone did it purely for procreation, and only to people they were married to.

This was often the face put forward in the fifties, the dark ages of sex as culture. It's no wonder that this is where we get stories about couples having no idea what they are actually supposed to do on their wedding nights.

The depression and the war resulted in the centralization of cultural power. Nationalism
...more
Evan Leach
Today, the Satyricon is most famous for two things:

1. For being (arguably) the first novel, and

2. For being a very, very dirty little book.

Unfortunately, only 141 chapters of a much longer work have survived. But those chapters are extremely compelling. Written during the reign of Nero in the 1st century, the Satyricon is quite simply unlike anything before it. Perhaps the best way to think about this book is to look at it like a little prose Odyssey. Except instead of the king of Ithaca, our he
...more
Teresa
Um relato sobre a vida no Império Romano - escrito há quase dois mil - composto por alguns episódios de banquetes e de aventuras (e desventuras) sexuais, que têm a sua piada pelo insólito da situação. Muita comida, muita libertinagem e um final estranho.
Não o apreciei, ou porque me falte formação académica para o compreender, ou um gosto mais apurado por História. Não creio ser um livro para o leitor comum.
Steve
First of all, I have to get something off my chest. In the profile for Petronius on GR somebody has written "Tacitus records that he was eventually forced to commit suicide after being embarrassed in front of Nero." This is what Tacitus actually wrote:


And so Tigellinus, jealous of a rival whose expertise in the science of pleasure far surpassed his own, appealed to the emperor’s cruelty (Nero’s dominant passion) and accused Petronius of friendship with the conspirator Scaevinus. A slave was b
...more
Evan
The ancient pagans, as we all know, loved big dicks and anything that symbolized them, such as Priapus, the well-endowed fertility god.

And so, many centuries later, it might have come as a shock to proper Christian bakers and the families that enjoyed their kneaded hot-cross buns at table if someone had told them that they were basically biting into a nice, warm, firm big dick.

Let me try to explain. You see, over time the Christians managed to wheedle, cajole, beat, burn or use whatever means ne
...more
César Lasso
Erotic literature of the Roman Empire, written about two thousand years ago. What reached us is only fragments from the original novel.

This was one of the findings of my second year of Latin at University. Thanks God, we were allowed to read it in translation - the point of that year was just taking contact with Roman literature. Another finding of that course? The Golden Asse by Apuleius - of course.
Bruce
The precise identity of the author is a bit uncertain, but he is generally agreed to have written this Latin work of Roman literature in the first century CE, during the reign of Nero. Claimed by some to be an early example of the novel, the work is a mixture of prose and poetry telling the adventures of Encolpius, an impoverished adventurer, and his boy-lover Giton. The fragmentary nature of the text makes the fluidity of the narrative problematic, perhaps the most complete and interesting sect ...more
Mel
My husband bought me this as one of my Christmas presents. (And we subsequently managed to get it picked for this month's bibliogoth book - Convenient!) He thought I'd like it as it was a Roman On the Road. And I have to say I enjoyed it very much. I didn't think it was quite On the Road, as these people clearly had far more Money than Sal, but then they also suffered far worse punishments!!! In some ways I loved it for the same reasons I enjoy Torchwood, being that everyone was without matter o ...more
Alex Hogan
Petronius was a Roman writer. Yep, actually at the time. He was a friend of Nero’s, hanging out in his set. I think Nero may have had him killed in the end, when he (Nero) was going on his standard paranoid-autocrat’s-rampage of killing everyone off.

If you read this book you will get an idea of why conservative Romans didn’t like Nero. This story is debauched, hedonistic and so openly gay, in both senses of the word.

What I especially like about this is – apart from it being such a rollick – is t
...more
Czarny Pies
Aug 30, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Communists and libertines
Recommended to Czarny by: University Course Reading List
Shelves: greek-and-roman
The Satiricon is a novel that is sure to please communists and sexual deviants in that it combines a dizzying sequence of unnatural sexual acts with a rigorous analysis of the class structure of Rome at the time of Nero written by a contemporary.

The Satiricon is simply hilarious. It describes the picaresque journey of the sexually amphibious Encolpe through Roman Society. The reader is presented with a delightful collection of rogues including long-winded poets, underhanded sodomites, rich vulga
...more
Rachel
Jun 07, 2010 Rachel rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rachel by: School - Jed Wyrick
I had to read this book for class. I loved the class, I hated the book--as did everyone else in the class. We hated reading the book so much that we couldn't even give the movie a fair shot.

The book is hard to read for multiple reasons. I can't talk about the quality of the writing, since that would depend on which translation one is reading, but no matter who did the translation, some things can't be fixed. First of all, this novel is made up of only the surviving parts of the original story. T
...more
Cher
This is possibly the first novel, beating out Murasaki by 700 years, but it's hard to say as much of the text was lost and/or edited out by anti-sex monks during the middle ages. Two wealthy young men, boyfriends of sorts, the mores are so totally alien from our time, run around squandering their fortunes on hilarious misadventure and sexcapades with quite varied persons. It is a damn shame the graphic sexual scenes are edited out! But it's also hilarious to see what the monks who kept and trans ...more
Vera Novitsky
Жалко, что произведение не сохранилось целиком. Очень понравились сексуальные сцены, вообще в этом аспекте полная свобода и отсутствие ханжества. Длинное описание пира у богача-вольноотпущенника тоже богато интересными деталями. Если бы перевести бытовые сцены на русскую почву, получилась бы чернуха и безобразие, а у римлян то же изысканно и красиво.
Lee Broderick
Whether judged as satire or prose it's hard to warm to this. The nouveau riche are gauche. Great art is long dead and money reigns supreme now. Such sentiments have probably been popular since a time not long after the first artists and the displacement of the first elite.

Perhaps I'm being unfair. Is it even possible to fairly judge something of which so small a portion survives? There are hints here that the tale of Encolpius is modelled on that of Odysseus and the equivalent there would be if
...more
Andrada
This is one of those books you wish someone would discover a complete version of somewhere! I found the longest surviving segment(Trimalchio’s dinner) the least interesting one and wish I could have read more from the other sections or we had a clearer idea of the whole outline of the book and how it ended. Because of all this, Satyricon is a bit of a tantalizing read that ends in frustrating you given there is no way of finding out more. It’s a shame really, I think the full book would have mad ...more
Carlos Hugo Winckler Godinho
Divertido, mas principalmente informativo. Um livro sem frescurinhas de que isso ou aquilo não se pode escrever.
James F
Petronius, Satyricon [about 60 AD?] e-book, approx. 200 pages [in Latin]
Petronius, The Complete Satyricon W.C. Firebaugh tr., 1922] 268 pages

Perhaps the earliest novel to be (partially) extant, the Satyricon consists of one long and several shorter fragments; it is narrated in the first person by the main character, Encolpius, who may be (the passage is difficult) an escaped gladiator, and satirizes the greed and vulgarity of the early Roman Empire through the account of his travels with his lov
...more
J'von
Chapter 1, Among the Rhetoricians: The concepts of old Rome are introduced as rhetoric of broken bottles and cheap dream analysis as Ascyltus thinks.
Chapter 2, Giton, Ascyltus and I: An argument over Giton’s love by Ascyltus and Encolpius.
Chapter 3, Lost Treasure Returned: Cache (a tunic with gold in the seams was returned to Ascyltus and Encolpius after losing it, as they assumed the role of salesmen. A peasant wanted to buy a Mantle cloak from them that was stolen from him, so they both called
...more
Sean Trott
(There might be minor spoilers in this review.)

This was great. I don't have much experience reading classics, and I was a little concerned that it would be dense and inaccessible, but the William Arrowsmith translation renders it very readable and entertaining. The back of my book is full of translator's notes, which contain helpful clarifications on obscure (to me) classical references, as well as explanations of why passages were translated in a certain way (for example, there is a very long p
...more
Roza Howton
My first impression was: "WTF did I just read?????!!!!"

My second impression was: "If you're easily offended by other cultures and practices, then this is NOT a book for you"

My advice is, suspend your modern moralising, and read this book as it's meant to be; a Time Capsule into the life of the average plebeian Roman youths, aristocrats, the social classes and cultures of the peoples from various reaches of the then Roman Empire.

It does touch (no pun intended!) a lot on the practice of Pederasty
...more
Justin Griffiths-Bell
It's been a while since I read a book that was just dull, so it had to happen eventually.
Andy
May 16, 2009 Andy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: blue-nosed republicans and democrats alike
Shelves: kool-imports
Oh my. Such bawdy goings-on depicted in all form of madness and debauchery. Such ribald tales arouse me so - all forms of nocturnal shenanigans are inexhaustibly described in erotic sexplanation. Now I have to watch the Fellini film again.
Monica
Feb 01, 2008 Monica marked it as maybe-someday  ·  review of another edition
Another Penguin Classic. I added the bookjacket information and excerpt about Petronius in the description. For the non nerds among you prandial means of or relating to a meal. Time to make dinner.
Shane
"Nothing is falser than people’s preconceptions and ready-made opinions; nothing is sillier than their sham morality . . ."
Daniel Burton-Rose
It's amazing how enduring the common tropes of physical comedy are, like hiding under a bed until betrayed by a sneeze...
Colin Williams
The ending is surprisingly sad.

I think the best decision I made was to finish it backstage at a Drag Show.
Marie
Nothing worth obsessing over in my opinion. Perhaps I should re-read it some other time but I'm nauseated and confused.
M
"THE WANTON WORLD OF NERO'S ROME CAUGHT BY THE SATIRIC GENIUS OF ITS MOST CULTURED CYNIC."
Yann
Quelle tristesse toutes ces lacunes...
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The 40 greatest parties in literature 1 15 Sep 17, 2012 08:21AM  
  • The Sixteen Satires
  • The Pot of Gold and Other Plays
  • The Art of Love
  • The Golden Ass
  • Epigrams
  • Odes and Epodes (Loeb Classical Library)
  • Pharsalia: The Civil War
  • The Comedies
  • The Georgics
  • The Agricola and The Germania
  • Daphnis and Chloe
  • The Complete Poems
  • The Letters of the Younger Pliny
  • The Jugurthine War and the Conspiracy of Catiline
  • Four Tragedies and Octavia
  • Leucippe and Clitophon
  • The Later Roman Empire: A.D. 354-378
  • Rome and Italy: Books VI-X of the History of Rome from its Foundation
The Satyricon and The Apocolocyntosis Cena Trimalchionis Trimalchio's Feast (Little Black Classics #21) Trimalkion pidot Satyricon & Satiricon

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“Can't you see that I'm only advising you to beg yourself not to be so dumb?” 101 likes
“Nothing is falser than people's preconceptions and ready-made opinions; nothing is sillier than their sham morality...” 17 likes
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