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The Satyricon

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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  3,439 ratings  ·  141 reviews
Satyricon (or Satyrica) is a Latin work of fiction in a mixture of prose & poetry (prosimetrum). It's thought to have been written by Gaius Petronius Arbiter, tho the manuscript tradition identifies the author as a certain Titus Petronius. As with the Metamorphoses of Apuleius, classicists often describe it as a Roman novel, without necessarily implying continuity with ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 19th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 60)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Keely
Mar 16, 2009 Keely rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Keely 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
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 br
...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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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...
M
"THE WANTON WORLD OF NERO'S ROME CAUGHT BY THE SATIRIC GENIUS OF ITS MOST CULTURED CYNIC."
Jolanda
Petronius' Satyricon is wickedly funny, incredibly vulger and refreshing in every single way.
The novel is many things, part parody of Greek romance novels, part comedy of errors and.. well, go read the thing. Sadly the novel has not survived in its totality, only certain fragments amounting to about 150 pages are left of what once must have been a sizable novel. That is partly where its charm is at. One minute you are reading about Encolpius, the novels main character, undergoing some horrendou
...more
Kevin Cole
I will always hate the fact that so much of the story has been lost. What survived is fabulous--at least according to my taste. There must've been a style of Latin back then, that easily translates into smooth English that, dare I say it, sounds contemporary. Of course, if you're looking for heroes, don't read this.
Oddly enough, the section most people rave about--the Roman dinner party--I thought was the worst part of the book. It goes on too long and focuses on details at the expense of narrat
...more
Christian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jesse
Contrary to what one might think at first, the Satyricon is not really a satire of anything; rather, it seems to be simply a series of goofy, comic scenes meant to either mildly amuse, or, at best, to raise the eyebrow of the reader. Much of the plot is an incoherent mess, but we may be fairly certain that it is something not unlike "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" (I have never seen this movie so I might be wrong). Petronius noticeably does not write any moral into his buffoonery - it is si ...more
Evan
The Satyricon is a fascinating, honest glimpse at one of my favorite periods. It's a shame that it exists in such piecemeal form - to think that it could have consisted of over a thousand pages! - because it sparkles with an almost Wodehousian wit. It's probably one of the earliest kinds of prose with genuine belly laughs on offer. And that's as much a measure of Sarah Ruden's success with the translation as anything else. Ruden expresses a sardonic tone wonderfully, although having read neither ...more
Jasper
After a month spend reading and re-reading the Aeneid (yes, I was taking an exam) The Satyricon comes as an amazing relief. Virgil doesn't do jokes, but Petronius' Aeneid send-ups are a delight.

Petronius was the Emperor Nero's 'arbiter of elegance' and, after being stitched up in a palace intrigue, committed suicide in AD 65. But shortly before his untimely death he wrote this low-life comic novel, satirising Roman foibles from religious superstition to the excesses of the nouveaux riches and th
...more
Phil
Feb 19, 2008 Phil rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Roman History Fans
This is one I picked off of my father's bookshelves when it was referred to in another book. My father had thousands of books and I knew where they all were.
Anywho, this is the tale of two young 'students' in the stews of Rome (Aeshyltus and Encolpius) and their picaresque adventures, generally accompanied by their catamite slave Gitone (whom Gibbon describes as a 'hobbledehoy'). This is a fragment of a much larger work written by Petronius, the mad emperor Nero's 'Arbiter Of Taste'(Petronius wa
...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Aug 09, 2012 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis marked it as i-want-money
Any help with translation/edition selection for Petronius will be most welcome. The more notes and apparatus the better. Preference of translation is for that stilted style which leaves the Latin flavor intact. Latest scholarship is also always a must. Is it too much to ask for a bi-lingual?

Possiblities:
P. G. Walsh from Oxford University Press, 1997/2009.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Satyricon-O...

Sarah Ruden from Hackett, 2000.
http://www.amazon.com/Satyricon-Petro...

J.P. Sullivan & Helen Morale
...more
D Freeman
Remarkable in its modernity, The Satyricon brilliantly foreshadows the later conception of the "novel" as we know it. Lewd, lascivious, and hilarious, even as a fragment it is worth reading. Throw all your preconceptions about Classical lit out the window because this has very few of them: only seldom (mainly in the versified interludes) does the author resort to the verbose allusions and invocations of gods that have alienated me in the past. Rarely does Petronius rely on this (unsurprisingly) ...more
Sean Mooney
Mar 14, 2008 Sean Mooney rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hardcore Romaphiles
I would like to like this book more. I think my favor for it is in the romantic ideal that it is fragmented due to the lack of source documents and I would like to thin that somewhere the rest of the story is waiting to be dug up so the tale can be completed. I did enjoy reading this but alas due to the fact that it is incomplete I feel the story is too disjointed to really follow completely. If you are hip to the contemporary issues of Petronius' day there are parts of this book that stand as r ...more
Meagan
What the hell did I just read?! Man what the teacher said it was going to be an interesting read he wasn't joking. Never have I read more sex in a novel that was odd. Especially the last couple of chapters where the narrator was stuck being a slave and a lady was trying to have sex with him and they kept doing all of this weird stuff to him because he couldn't hold an erection. Goodness. Why would a teacher give this to us for reading?! It was only have the time that I actually understood what w ...more
Stuart
An interesting little literary footnote of classical literature, probably more entertaining to Roman history and literature scholars than the casual reader. Still, Encolpius and his serving boy Giton make for interesting heroes, particularly as early homosexual leads. There are enough fragments left to construct a reasonable plot line but not much in the way of character arcs, which results in the principals eventually becoming somewhat grating as they drift from one misadventure to another. Mor ...more
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The 40 greatest parties in literature 1 11 Sep 17, 2012 08:21AM  
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The Satyricon and The Apocolocyntosis Cena Trimalchionis Trimalkion pidot The Satyricon; Dinner of Trimalchio The Satyricon; Crotona Affairs

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