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6. The Satyrica and Neronian Culture

Caroline Vout


Subject Classical Literature » Latin Literature

People Petronius

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405156875.2009.00011.x


Extract

When betting on the date of the Satyrica , the smart money is on late in the reign of Nero. As the Introduction to this volume has explained, its author, Petronius, is now routinely aligned with the Petronius of Tacitus's Annales , one of Nero's courtiers, who killed himself in ad 66 (see introduction , p. 5). Once this link is established, allusions to the Neronian writers Lucan and Seneca, and to Nero himself, are identified throughout – both bolstering, and gaining credence from, the Tacitean association. This chapter is not about to argue with this: the combination of external and internal evidence, mutually dependent though they are, makes the odds as good, if not better, than for other options. But it is going to think hard about what to do with our winnings. Even if additional evidence were to turn up tomorrow to prove that the text is not Neronian, what follows demonstrates how our reading of Petronius is informed by comparison with other imperial authors. Dating (alone) does not lead to fulfillment; it can often overly dictate a way of reading as the critic overlooks the obvious in favor of a forced parallel. Appendix A of Kenneth Rose's influential book (1971) – to which the popularity of a late Neronian date owes so much – lists some of the most forced, when it collates what Petronian scholars from the seventeenth century onwards have read as allusions to Nero, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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