Full Text

7. Freedmen in the Satyrica

Jean Andreau

Subject Classical Literature » Latin Literature

People Petronius

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405156875.2009.00012.x


Translated by Paul Dilley Although Trimalchio's dinner, the Cena Trimalchionis , represents only about a third of the Satyrica (50 paragraphs out of 140 in total), to many it is what comes to mind when one thinks of Petronius's work. And when one thinks about this dinner it is the freedmen who stand out. But can the adventures of these freedmen, who are the characters of a novel, and what is more, of a satura , a Menippean satire, that is to say a story dependent upon other works and other literary genres, be taken as evidence for social history? This is clearly the central question, constantly posed and at the same time constantly frustrated: because there is no definitive solution. Such an author of fiction chooses the elements he needs as a function of his literary project, in the context of his period; he interprets them, he presents them according to his own ideas and preferences, and he can even distort them voluntarily – for example, in order to parody or caricature ( Dupont 1977) . But, among his literary objectives there is also the desire to make the reader feel a strong effet de réel (“sense of reality”): the author avails himself of settings taken from everyday life, and the freedmen form part of these settings. The descriptions of city life in the Satyrica , of tombs and funerary rites, of cuisine, of sexuality, and of ships and life at sea, bear witness to this ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top