The Works of Petronius Arbiter (1714)


The Works of Petronius Arbiter (1714)


Title: The Works of Petronius Arbiter, translated by several hands, with a Key by a person of honour, and also, his life and character, by Monsieur St Evermont, to which is added some other of the Roman poets, viz, Catullus, Tibullus, and Propertius. And translations from the Greek of Pindar, Anacreon and Sappho. With a Poem on Telemachus by the Duke of Devonshire and Essay on Poetry by John Duke of Buckingham, the whole adorn’d with cuts

Author: Petronius Arbiter, etc

Publisher: Sam Briscoe, London, 1714. Fourth edition.

Condition: Full leather, calf. Very good. Leather slightly rubbed, but in excellent condition for its age. With 12 engraved plates. Ex-libris plate of one Robert Long, probably Sir Robert Long, an 18th century English politician. 360pp excluding contents, app 8″ by 4.5″.

1 in stock

About the author (from Wikipedia):

Gaius Petronius Arbiter (c. AD 27 – 66; sometimes Titus Petronius Niger) was a Roman courtier during the reign of Nero. He is generally believed to be the author of the Satyricon, a satirical novel believed to have been written during the Neronian era (54–68 AD).

Tacitus, Plutarch and Pliny the Elder describe Petronius as the elegantiae arbiter (also phrased arbiter elegantiarum), “judge of elegance”, in the court of the emperor Nero. He served as suffect consul in 62. Later, he became a member of the senatorial class who devoted themselves to a life of pleasure. His relationship to Nero was apparently akin to that of a fashion advisor.

Petronius’ development of his characters in the Satyricon, namely Trimalchio, transcends the traditional style of writing of ancient literature. In the literature written during Petronius’ lifetime, the emphasis was always on the typical considerations of plot, which had been laid down by classical rules. The character, which was hardly known in ancient literature, was secondary. Petronius goes beyond these literary limitations in his exact portrayals of detailed speech, behaviour, surroundings, and appearance of the characters.

The message Petronius tries to convey in his work is far from moral and does not intend to produce reform, but is written above all to entertain and should be considered artistically. Nevertheless, his writings can be a valuable tool to better comprehend the customs and ways of life of Roman society at that particular time, since the author strives to preserve the plausibility of his representation, as can be noted by the frequent use of allusions and detailed descriptions of characters and behaviours. As the title implies, the Satyricon is a satire, specifically a Menippean satire, in which Petronius satirizes nearly anything, using his taste as the only standard. It is speculated that Petronius’ depiction of Trimalchio mirrors that of Nero. Although the author’s own opinion is never alluded to, the opinions of the characters involved in the story are evident, as is how Encolpius criticizes Trimalchio.