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(pĭtrō`nēəs), d. c.A.D. 66, Roman satirist, known as Petronius Arbiter because of his now generally accepted identity with Gaius Petronius, to whom Tacitus refers as arbiter elegantiae in the court of Nero. According to Tacitus, Petronius served first as proconsul, then as consul of Bithynia. He is remembered chiefly, however, as an indolent and profligate lover of luxury. When Tigellinus, a rival for the favor of Nero, caused the arrest of Petronius, the latter ended his own life, at Cumae, by slashing his veins. He made dying a leisurely procedure, attended by festivity among his associates. To him is accredited the authorship of a satirical work, Petronii arbitri satyricon, a romance with skillful delineation of characters, written in prose interspersed with verse. Parts of the 15th and 16th books have been preserved. Among the surviving fragments the most complete and valuable section is the Cena Trimalchionis (Trimalchio's Dinner), presenting a humorous episode of vulgar display on the part of a man whose great wealth is newly acquired. These satires furnish a vivid study of the life and manners of the time in a sustained, connected example of the colloquial language. The Latin style of Petronius is among the best of its period.


See translations by J. P. Sullivan (1986) and W. Arrowsmith (1987); study by N. Slater (1990).



(Gaius Petronius Arbiter). Year of birth unknown; died A.D. 66, in Cumae. Roman writer.

Petronius was called the “arbiter of taste” at the court of Nero. Implicated in court intrigues, he committed suicide. He is considered as most probably the author of the Satyricon. Written in the form of a Menippean satire, the novel provides a truthful reflection of the moral degeneracy of Roman society. Vignettes

of the public squares, taverns, and dens give a realistic picture of the everyday life of the middle and lower strata of Roman society. The plot consists of the amorous and picaresque adventures of characters from the “lower depths” of society. The erotic theme is treated on a low comic level. Part of the novel, the “Banquet of Trimalchio,” which describes the everyday life and mores of freedmen, is especially interesting. Writing from the viewpoint of an aristocrat and aesthete, the author satirically portrayed pretentious social climbers. The narrative manner of the Satyricon combines elegance with burlesque. The examples of colloquial Latin in the dialogue are of particular literary and linguistic interest. The text has been poorly preserved, and the extant manuscripts represent only an insignificant part of the novel.


Satyricon: Cum apparatu critico. Edited by K. Müller. Munich, 1961.
In Russian translation:
“Satirikon.” Translated by B. Iarkho. In Akhill Tatii: Levkippa i klitofont.… Moscow, 1969.


Istoriia rimskoi literatury, vol. 2. Moscow, 1962.
Paratore, E. Il Satyricon di Petronio, parts 1-2. Florence, 1933.
Sullivan, J. P. The Satyricon of Petronius. London [1968].



called by Roman historian Tacitus “a man of refined luxury,” and “the arbiter of elegance”; lived in the reign of the emperor Nero. [Rom. Hist.: EB (1963) XVII 681]


Gaius , known as Petronius Arbiter. died 66 ad, Roman satirist, supposed author of the Satyricon, a picaresque account of the licentiousness of contemporary society
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Communis opinio holds that the author of the Cena was the Petronius described by Tacitus: (8)
So Petronius and Paul are not far apart in time; neither are they far apart in subject matter.
Petronius in West Egg: The Satyricon and The Great Gatsby.
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Runte, "Translatio Viduae: The Matron of Ephesus in Four Languages," RLA: Romance Languages Annual 9 (1997): 114; Runte, Wikley, Farrell, Seven Sages; Gaselee, "Bibliography of Petronius," 180-81.
I clearly remember a notice printed on the wall of a senior manager's office, attributed to Caius Petronius 66 AD: 'We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganised.
The usual characters are here too: Falco's young daughters Julia and Favonia; Petronius Longus and the vigils; the handsome playboy Titus Caesar; Falco's shifty father and ill-humored sisters; and Nux the dog.
We know from the poetry of Martial and Petronius about a cult of celebrity in fourth-century Rome that resembled our twenty-first-century version.
As far back as Petronius (circa 27-66 AD), a noted Roman writer and satirist and courtier to the emperor Nero, public speakers (or "rhetors," as they were called in Roman times) were being accused of using an "empty discord of words" and "windy and high-sounding bombast" (Petronius, 1966, pp.
Lamb's implicit swipe at the vegetarians and his borrowings from modern and classical sources, such as Swift's "Modest Proposal" and the recipes or scenes in Apicius and Petronius, suggest that he undoubtedly expected his readers to recognize the false notes of excess, vanity, and even infant cannibalism revealed by Elia's appetite.