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2. Petronius and Greek Literature

J. R. Morgan

Subject Classical Literature » Latin Literature

People Petronius

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405156875.2009.00007.x


The Greekness of the Satyrica is palpable at many levels. The action of the surviving portions of the text plays out apparently in the cities of Magna Graecia in southern Italy, and the cast list is populated by characters with Greek names. The thematic prominence of homosexuality is no doubt an aspect of the Roman representation of Greek ambience. It is equally clear that the novel would not be the way it is were it not for the Greek literature which underlies it. This chapter addresses the ways in which the novel actively enters into intertextual relationships with the Greek literary canon as part of its own creation of meaning (see Panayotakis, petronius and the roman literary tradition ). This is less a matter of listing the literary influences to which Petronius might have been subject than of exploring what he did with his own and his reader's awareness of Greek literature. The discussion will concentrate on three main areas of Greek literature: firstly Homeric poetry (with a vaguer mythological penumbra), secondly Plato, and finally the vexed issue of the extent to which the Satyrica draws on Greek traditions of fictional narrative. Petronius's novel could hardly advertise its relation to the Odyssey more clearly. The extant text ends with a fragmentary sequence in which Encolpius is disguised as a slave called Polyaenus, one of the Homeric epithets for Odysseus, and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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