Difference between revisions of "Titi Petronii Arbitri Equitis Romani Satyricon"

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Revision as of 15:04, 28 February 2014

Titi Petronii Arbitri Equitis Romani Satyricon: cum Fragmento Nuper Tragurii Reperto. Accedunt Diversorum Poëtarum Lusus in Priapum, Pervigilium Veneris, Ausonii Cento Nuptialis, Cupido Crucifixus, Epistolae de Cleopatra, & alia Nonnulla. Omnia Commentariis, & Notis Doctorum Virorum Illustrata

by Petronius Arbiter

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 Arbiter
Editor Michael Hadrianides?
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published Amstelodami: Typis Ioannis Blaev
Date 1669
Edition {{{edition}}}
Language Latin
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages 942
Location [[Shelf {{{shelf}}}]]
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]
Petronius (27-66 CE) was a Latin satirical writer.[1] Though he did write several lyric and elegiac poems,[2] Petronius is best known for writing the Satyricon “Tales of satyrs” or Satyrica.[3] Extant are only fragments of books 14, 15, and 16.[4] It cannot be proven that he is the same Petronius who was a politician and arbiter elegantiae from Nero’s court. However, the Satyrica’s style and detail combined with Tacitus’ description of Nero’s courtier indicate the likelihood of their unity as one individual.[5]

Petronius’s work closely resembles a Greek Hellenistic novel with strong imagery.[6] However, it also contains many familiar Roman satirical themes including legacy-hunting and the comic meal.[7] The almost-complete Book 15 contains the well-known comic meal of the Satyrica – “Trimalchio’s Feast” which parodies Plato’s Symposium. Trimalchio is a vulgar and ignorant freedmen ostentatiously displaying his wealth at a dinner party[8] to which he welcomes random adventurers.[9] The evening is characterized by over-the-top decorations, extravagant courses, ridiculous conversation, and unexpected and inappropriate dinner incidents (a dog-fight and drunken brawl). Though not good examples of Roman moral character, Trimalchio and the other guests are somewhat likable as their behavior becomes more and more raucous with added alcohol, and their explicit, colloquial Latin helps modern scholars understand how the common Roman people spoke at the time.[10]

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.[11] George Wythe's Library[12] on LibraryThing indicates that the 1669 edition published in Amsterdam is the "probable edition." The Brown Bibliography[13] 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.

View this book in William & Mary's online catalog


  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. Ibid.
  4. “Petrōnius" in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World.
  5. Ibid.
  6. "Petrō'nius A'rbiter” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature.
  7. “Petrōnius" in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World.
  8. Ibid.
  9. "Petrō'nius A'rbiter” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature.
  10. Ibid.
  11. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson 2nd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1983), 4:511-512 (no.4489-4490).
  12. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe", accessed February 27, 2014.
  13. 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

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