The Satyricon

The Satyricon


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The Satyricon by Petronius, Seneca

"This version by a translator who understands the high art of low humor is conspicuously funny."—Time

The Satyricon is a classic of comedy, a superbly funny picture of Nero's Rome as seen through the eyes of Petronius, its most amorous and elegant courtier.

William Arrowsmith's translation—a lively, modern, unexpurgated text—recaptures all the ribald humor of Petronius's picaresque satire. It tells the hilarious story of the pleasure-seeking adventures of an educated rogue, Encolpius, his handsome serving boy, Giton, and Ascyltus, who lusts after Giton—three impure pilgrims who live by their wits and other men's purses. The Satyricon unfailingly turns every weakness of the flesh, every foible of the mind, to laughter.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780452010055
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/28/1983
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 670,935
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Gaius Petronius Arbiter was a Roman courtier. He was the author of the Satyricon, a satirical novel written during the Neronian era.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, statesman, philosopher, advocate and man of letters, was born at Cordoba in Spain around 4 BC. He rose to prominence in Rome, pursuing a career in the courts and political life, for which he had been trained, while also acquiring celebrity as an author of tragedies and essays. Falling foul of successive emperors (Caligula in AD 39 and Claudius in AD 41), he spent eight years in exile, allegedly for an affair with Caligula’s sister. Recalled in AD 49, he was made praetor and was appointed tutor to the boy who was to become, in AD 54, the emperor Nero. On Nero’s succession, Seneca acted for some eight years as an unofficial chief minister. The early part of this reign was remembered as a period of sound government, for which the main credit seems due to Seneca. His control over Nero declined as enemies turned the emperor against him with representations that his popularity made him a danger, or with accusations of immorality or excessive wealth. Retiring from public life he devoted his last three years to philosophy and writing, particularly the Letters to Lucilius. In AD 65 following the discovery of a plot against the emperor, in which he was thought to be implicated, he and many others were compelled by Nero to commit suicide. His fame as an essayist and dramatist lasted until two or three centuries ago, when he passed into literary oblivion, from which the twentieth century has seen a considerable recovery.

William Arrowsmith was an American classicist, academic, and translator. His translations include works by Euripides, Aristophanes, and Petronius. He died in 1992.

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The Satyricon 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Cliff_from_Alaska More than 1 year ago
What strikes me the most about Petronius' story is how similar some of the situations are to America today. It gives the stories a contemporary flavor that is at once surprising and scary. We live in a fairly decadent society and I think if we don't watch it we will go the same route as the Romans in the not-too-distant future. One can only hope that civilization will prevail and we won't be thrown into a new Dark Age.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Petronius' Satyricon is a unique satire on decadence and pleasure. Although the story takes place during Nero's reign, one begins to see that many of the scenes have relevance to today's society and its own debaucheries. The story follows the adventures of Aschyltus and Encolpio; two rhetoricians who are on an infinite quest for pleasure. Their frienship is challenged by their mutual attraction to Giton, a scoundrelous slave-boy who seems to have more wits and vices than all of the other characters combined. This triad of debauches is also joined by Emolpus, a sheming trickster and pseudo-intellectual who's always looking to hit the jack pot. The most memorable scene in the fragmentary work is Trimalchio's dinner; this chapter surprisingly brings the ancient past closer to modern times in its recital of the characters' casual conversations on money, opportunism, business, and, of course, pleasure. I personally found this translation the most faithful in trying to convey the type of low-brow humor and puns that Petronius seems to have intended in his work. I strongly recommend this translation above other for that reason.