Satyricon Essay

878 Words Dec 13th, 2010 4 Pages
The Satyricon, like many other works written in the time of early Ancient Rome, is a narrative whose author is not known definitively. However, the best candidate from the time was Titus Petronius (Arbiter).The story, looking especially from the scene “Dinner with Trimalchio,” is a satiric masterwork of the pragmatic and materialistic attitude of the time, soon to be replaced by Christianity. “Dinner with Trimalchio” tells a tale from the perspective of Encolpius, a vagabond student of the master Agamemnon, who is invited along as a pupil of Agamemnon to a banquet. The host of the banquet is Gaius Trimalchio, who was once a slave but now a freedman millionaire, who worked hard to attain his power and wealthy status. Trimalchio is known …show more content…
Classical gender roles make the women behave as if they are second-class citizens, being grateful to be in the presence of a powerful male figure; where in actuality, Fortunata, Trimalchio’s wife, sold her jewelry to finance Trimalchio’s first wine selling business, which is how he made his millions. Without the help and generosity of Fortunata, Trimalchio would, himself, be a second-class citizen who struggles to pay for daily bread, like most of the poor lower-class Romans.

Another way Petronius exemplifies his purpose of writing this story is showing the importance of education in ancient Rome during the time, and how the culture valued it so much. Agamemnon, the scholarly teacher and friend of Trimalchio, is very well respected by the populace of the story. There is one passage in particular where Trimalchio tries to spark a conversation with Agamemnon about the stores of Hercules and Ulysses wherein Trimalchio makes obvious to Agamemnon that he is not well read in Homer’s literature, yet pretends to be. Trimalchio questions, 
“Do you remember the twelve labours of Hercules and the story of Ulysses—how the Cyclops tore out his thumb with a pair of pincers. I used to read about them in Homer, when I was a boy. In fact I actually saw the Sibyl at Cumae with my own eyes dangling in a bottle.”
This unintelligent miscue may not be noticed amongst the banquets’ crowd of guests, but among the educated individuals familiar with
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