Petronius and the Anatomy of Fiction by Victoria Rimell

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By Victoria Rimell

Metaphors of the physique shape an enormous function of Petronius' Satyricon. This publication claims that the textual content should be learn as a unified entire instead of as episodic jumble, regardless of its fragmentation. awarded as hectic in addition to comedian, intricately established in addition to chaotic, the examine asserts that the Satyricon's imagery continuously mirrors obvious paradoxes. hence corporeality is explored as a metaphor instead of simply as an index of the "low" style of the unconventional.

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Much of the Satyricon is staged in darkness. After the twilight scenes at the market, the drama of Quartilla’s brothel continues into an evening which never ends: even after wrestling with the cinaedus, Encolpius reports at Sat. , utcumque igitur lassitudine abiecta cenatoria repetimus / ‘And so the tiredness somehow vanished and we put on evening dress again’. When after several courses and gallons of Falernian wine they begin to drop off to sleep, Quartilla rouses them again: etiam dormire vobis in mente est, cum sciatis Priapi genio pervigilium deberi?

Opertis, et quis non dare manum languentibus volet? nudis, et quid erit aliud quam se ipsos proscribere? ) How can we get off the ship without everyone seeing us? Shall we cover our heads or bare them? If we cover them, everyone will want to do the poor sick men a favour. If we keep them uncovered, we’ll basically be setting ourselves up! ). Whether something is or is not an act in the Satyricon is often staged as a dilemma concerning the perception of or distinction between what is inside and outside the (human or metaphorical) body.

For similar imagery also see Quint. Inst. . Cicero De Or. .  Petronius and the Anatomy of Fiction The imaging of Roman literature as a free, liquid energy which once read, learnt and consumed is barely confinable within the human body, reverberates at significant junctures throughout the Satyricon. Agamemnon’s poem at Sat.  In Sat. , at the brothel of Quartilla, a cinaedus enters to offer his advice in verse to sodomites (eiusmodi carmina effudit / ‘He poured out the poem as follows’), telling them to let their limbs run free and soft and highlighting again the idea that the ‘pouring out’ of liquidised words entails somehow the penetration of solid physical borders: the phrase cursum addite (‘let ’em run, too’) here runs in parallel to Agamemnon’s advice in Sat.

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