Titi Petronii Arbitri Equitis Romani Satyricon: cum Fragmento Nuper Tragurii Reperto

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by Petronius

Titi Petronii Arbitri Equitis Romani Satyricon

Title page from Titi Petronii Arbitri Equitis Romani Satyricon, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Petronius
Editor Michael Hadrianides?
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published Amstelodami: Typis Ioannis Blaev
Date 1669
Edition {{{edition}}}
Language Latin
Volumes 2 volumes in 1 volume set
Pages {{{pages}}}
Desc. 8vo (20 cm.)
Location Shelf J-4
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]
Half title.
Petronius (27-66 CE) was a Latin satirical writer.[1] Though he did write several lyric and elegiac poems, Petronius is best known for writing the Satyricon “Tales of satyrs” or Satyrica.[2] Extant are only fragments of books 14, 15, and 16.[3] It cannot be proven that the author is the same Petronius who was a politician and arbiter elegantiae from Nero’s court, but the Satyrica’s style and detail, combined with Tacitus’ description of Nero’s courtier, indicate the likelihood that they are the same.[4]

With strong imagery, Petronius’s work closely resembles a Greek Hellenistic novel.[5] However, it also contains many familiar Roman satirical themes, including legacy-hunting and the comic meal.[6] The almost-complete Book 15 contains the well-known comic meal "Trimalchio’s Feast," which parodies Plato’s Symposium. Trimalchio is a vulgar and ignorant freedmen ostentatiously displaying his wealth at a dinner party,[7] to which he welcomes random adventurers.[8] The evening is characterized by over-the-top decorations, extravagant courses, ridiculous conversation, and inappropriate dinner incidents such as a dog-fight and a drunken brawl. Alhough not good examples of Roman moral character, Trimalchio and his guests are somewhat likable even as their behavior becomes more and more raucous. Their explicit, colloquial Latin helps modern scholars understand how common Romans spoke at the time.[9]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Petronius. notis varior. 8vo." This was one of the books kept by Thomas Jefferson. He later sold two copies of Petronius to the Library of Congress in 1815, but the likely match for George Wythe's copy no longer exists to verify the edition or Wythe's prior ownership.[10] George Wythe's Library[11] on LibraryThing indicates that the 1669 edition published in Amsterdam is the "probable edition." The Brown Bibliography[12] agrees, noting "the 1669 edition ... more closely corresponds to the [Wythe] copy recorded" by Jefferson. The Wolf Law Library purchased a copy of the same edition.

Bookplate of Wellington College, front pastedown.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Rebacked with contemporary leather boards. Spine features red morocco label with gilt lettering and designs. Includes the armorial bookplate of Wellington College, Master's Library (Berkshire, England) on the front pastedown.

Images of the library's copy of this book are available on Flickr. View the record for this book in William & Mary's online catalog

See also


  1. "Petrō'nius A'rbiter” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, ed. by M.C. Howatson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  2. “Petrōnius" in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World, ed. by John Roberts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
  3. “Petrōnius" in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World.
  4. Ibid.
  5. "Petrō'nius A'rbiter” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature.
  6. “Petrōnius" in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World.
  7. Ibid.
  8. "Petrō'nius A'rbiter” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature.
  9. Ibid.
  10. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 4:511-512 (no.4489-4490).
  11. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe", accessed February 27, 2014.
  12. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433

External Links

Read this book in Google Books.