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 for throwing elegant and overly extravagant dinner parties complete with exotic foods and fine wines. This banquet, however, takes a turn for the worst when Trimalchio, who is superstitious and very obsessed with his own death, begins describing in detail his tomb in which he will be buried, which is overly grandiose, and even goes as far as bringing out his will. Quickly the dinner party turns into a drunken circus, eventually coming to a conclusion after the guests, solely to tickle his fancy, act out Trimalchio’s funeral.
I believe, in discord with critic John Wright, that Petronius in fact had a moral purpose for writing The Satyricon. Furthermore, I feel that there are underlying cultural traits that support ideas of divisions of social classes, the value of education, and the love of material wealth. Because Petronius colloquially writes about serious topics including exposing blindness to spiritual values, distrust of the intellect, and preoccupation with the awareness of being cheated by one’s neighbor, some critics do not accept that he is writing on a much more incisive level.
Petronius, in my opinion, wrote The Satyricon as a call for change in Roman society. Through his satirical writing, he specifically...
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