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A sacred ceremony in honour of the buttocks: Petronius, Satyrica 140.1–11*

  • Costas Panayotakis (a1)

The episode at Croton is the last series of events we possess from the surviving Satyrica, though not necessarily the last part of the novel in its original form. The action takes place in a town which no longer existed at the suggested time of the novel's composition. The plot is focused, mainly, on two themes: legacy-hunting and Encolpius' impotence. His unsuccessful relationship with the nymphomaniac Circe (126.1–130.8) and his painful experience with the witch-like priestesses Proselenos and Oenothea (131.1–139.5) are manifestations of the latter theme. Philomela's prostitution of her children (140.1–11) is a brief example of the former theme and shows the kind of gifts the Crotonians offered Eumolpus in order to win his favour and a share in his vast legacy (124.4). The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the anecdote of the matron Philomela was composed by Petronius as a narrative equivalent of a theatrical farce. The paper is divided in two parts. The first aims to establish the theatrical (mimic) backcloth of the story, in front of which the ensuing action is going to take place. The second shows the theatrical nature of the anecdote itself, i.e. the structure, the characters, the staging, the language and the multiple levels of its description that demonstrate its theatricality.

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1 See Schmid D., Der Erbschleicher in der Antiken Satire (diss.) (Tübingen, 1951), pp. 26–7; Walsh P. G., The Roman Novel (Cambridge, 1970), p. 104 and n. 1.

2 On this strange description of Croton, see Schmid, op. cit. (n. 1), pp. 27–9; Fedeli P., ‘Petronio: Crotone o il mondo alla rovescia’, Aufidus 1 (1987), 8ff. and n. 8. On the shrewd practice of legacy-hunting in Rome, see Hor. Sat. 2.5.23ff.; Pers. 6.41–2; Juv. 3.129, 4.19, 12.93ff.; Mart. Ep. 4.56; Schmid, op. cit. (n. 1); Tracy V. A., ‘Aut captantur aut captant’, Latomus 39 (1980), 399402. Fedeli P., ‘Encolpio – Polieno’, MD 20-21 (1988), 12, notes that the farm-bailiff functions in the narrative not only as a person who provides pieces of information but also as the ‘Prologue’ in the farce that Eumolpus and his troupe are going to perform at Croton.

3 For a discussion of this mime in relation to the Petronian episode, see Collignon A., Étude sur Pétrone. La critique littéraire, l'imitation et la parodie dans le Satiricon (Paris, 1892), p. 279, and Rosenblüth M., Beiträge zur Quellenkunde von Petrons Satiren (Berlin, 1909), pp. 47–8. Both of them cite Cic. Phil. 2.66 and Sen. Ep. 114.6 as evidence for the popularity of the subject in the theatre of the mimes. Skutsch O., ‘Quotations in Cicero’, RCCM 2 (1960), 197–8, speculates that the Ciceronian expression ‘modo egens, repente dives’ must have been not only part of a senarius of the mimic script but also the actual title of the mime. A treatment of the same theme seems to be implied in the title of a fabula Atellana: Pomponius L., Heres Petitor 4950. Frassinetti P. (ed.), Atellanae Fabulae (Rome, 1967), p. 103, prefers the vaguer interpretation ‘candidato’ to ‘petitor hereditatis’. See, however, Leo F., ‘Die römische Poesie in der sullanischen Zeit’, Hermes 49 (1914), 174, n. 7, who interprets ‘heres petitor’ as ‘petitor hereditatis’.

4 A detailed example of the theatrical material that was occasionally presented on stage in order to make a trick more plausible (the kind of material Eumolpus wishes he had) is shown in Plautus, Miles Gloriosus 1178–82: Pleusiples, the ‘adulescens’, is told by Palaestrio, the slave, to disguise himself as a ship-master in order to deceive Pyrgopolynices, the ‘miles’, and take Philocomasium, the soldier's concubine, away from him. Cf., also, the swindler's hat (which makes him look like a mushroom) and costume in Trinummus 851–60, or Simia's alleged military costume in Pseudolus 91 1ff. On props in some mimic productions, see Wiemken H., Der Griechische Mimus (Bremen, 1972), pp. 191–7 and 202–4.

5 On ‘instrumentum’ = ‘apparatus’, ‘ornatus scaenicus’, see Fedeli 1988 (op. cit., n. 2), 10, who refers to Festus ap. Paul. 45.19L (‘choragium instrumentum scaenarum’) and to Seneca, Dial. 6.10.1 ‘instrumentis scaena adornatur’. Cf. Plin. Ep. VII.17.9 ‘latior scaena et corona diffusior’; Suet. Jul. ‘diuerso quemque [triumphum] apparatu et instrumento’.

6 Sandy G., ‘Scaenica Petroniana’, TAPhA 104 (1974), 345, refers to Reich H., Der Mimus (Berlin, 1903), p. 319, n. 4 and notes that ‘the ruse formulated by Eumolpus at 117.2–10 in such richly theatrical and mimic metaphors is specified in Rhet. ad Her. 4.50.63 as a trick of the mimic stage’.

7 On the mimic death, see Plut. De Sollert. Animal. 973e–974a; the Μοιχετρια-mime (in Greek Literary Papyri [London and Cambridge, MA, 1942], pp. 350–61), lines 60–8; Sat. 94.15. Cf. Xen. Ephes. III.5; Achil. Tat. III.20, V.7; Iambl. IV. On mimic dances which ended in mimic deaths, see Davies M. I., ‘The suicide of Ajax: a bronze Etruscan statuette from the Käppeli collection’, Antike Kunst 14 (1971), 152. For a discussion of the ‘Scheintod’-theme in the ancient novel, see Wehrli F., ‘Einheit und Vorgeschichte der griechisch-römischen Romanliteratur’, MH 22 (1965), 142–8. On the mimic shipwreck, see Sen. Dial. IV.2.4–5; Tac. Ann. 14.6; Dio 62.12.2. On the mimic reversal of fortune, see Cic. Phil. 2.66.

8 Collignon, op. cit. (n. 3), p. 276 interprets the verb ‘condiscimus’ (117.6) as a technical theatrical term in the sense ‘Ils apprenent leur rôles’. Cf., also, Schmid, op. cit. (n. 1), pp. 34ff.

9 On the μωρς ϕαλακρς or ‘stupidus’, see Juv. S. 5.171 1ff. and Mayor J. E. B., Thirteen Satires of Juvenal 4, ad loc.; John Chrysostom, Περ Μετανοας ь' 291 [Migne, P.G. 59, 760]; Gregory of Nazianzus, Carm. II.ii. 85–9 [Migne, P.G. 37, 1583]; Nicoll A., Masks, Mimes and Miracles. Studies in the Popular Theatre (London, Sydney and Bombay, 1931), pp. 4750 and figures 31–7; Wiemken, op. cit. (n. 4), pp. 179–81; cf. Sat. 110.4.

10 George P., ‘Petroniana’, CQ 17 (1967), 132, following Fraenkel, suggests emending the participle ‘ficti’ (117.6), which is in plural and refers to Encolpius, Giton and Corax, to ‘fictum’, in order to refer to the singular accusative ‘dominum’ (‘the master of our own making’). Cf., however, Müller's (31983) apparatus ad hunc loc.: ‘ficti ne deleamus neve fictum scribamus numerus obstat’.

11 Fedeli 1987 (op. cit., n. 2), 16, notes the double function the word ‘dominus’ has for the narrative: ‘nella finzione del “mendacium” Eumolpo sarà “dominus gregis”, “inventor” e primo attore, ma nella realtà dovrà apparire come il vero e proprio padrone di quelgi schiavi improvvisati.’ Eumolpus was responsible for the theatrical scenes at 94.15 and 106.1, as well.

12 See their gladiatorial oath at 117.5, and cf. Schmid, op. cit. (n. 1), pp. 34–5 and p. 177, n. 16.

13 See Χαρτιον-mime (in Greek Literary Papyri [op. cit., n. 7], pp. 336–49), lines 4, 24, 44–5. Cf. Arist. Frogs 8ff.

14 See Schmid, op. cit. (n. 1), pp. 26–53 and Sullivan J. P., ‘Satire and realism in Petronius’, in Sullivan J. P. (ed.), Critical Essays on Roman Literature – Satire (London, 1963), p. 89, who regard the legacy-hunting episode in Petronius as a conventionally satirical theme.

15 The interest of scholars is focused mainly on its textual problems or on its sexual dimensions. The most controversial passage in this scene for many years now has been Sat. 140.5 and the attempt to define what is the exact meaning of the ‘†pigiciaca† sacra’. Sullivan J. P., The Satyricon of Petronius. A Literary Study (London, 1968), p. 75, notes the ‘wit of the prose’ and the ‘farcical nature of the scene’, but is mainly concerned with the sexual point of view of the episode (pp. 239ff.). There are, however, a few scholars who have commented on the theatrical elements in this scene, though partially and briefly. Gill C., ‘The Sexual Episodes in the Satyricon’, CPh 68 (1973), 180ff. considers this episode as an obvious example of the literary characteristics of the sexual scenes in this novel and Slater N. W., Reading Petronius (Baltimore and London, 1990), pp. 131–2, notes the role-playing of the main characters. Dimundo R., ‘Il perdersi e il ritrovarsi dei percorsi narrativi. (Petronio, 140.1–11)’, Aufidus 2 (1987), 4762, notes the similarities of both subject-matter and verbal terms between the Philomela-episode and the two Milesian tales narrated by Eumolpus earlier on in the novel. Most of these parallels do exist; the reason, however, for their existence is not an intertextual relationship among the episodes of the novel, but rather that all three of the short stories have a common sub-literary source (Milesian tales, mime), in which farcical elements abound.

16 ‘Honesta’ has the ironical meaning of a ‘socially and morally irreproachable’ woman. On ‘honesta’ as ‘titulus honorificus’ especially for women, see ThLL, s.v., I.A.1.II.

17 The obscure content of ‘bonitas’ is cleared up at Sat. 140.7. The same combination of sex and moral education occurs in Pomponius L., Maccus Virgo 71–2 (Frassinetti).

18 The word ‘tragoedia’ which, in this scene, characterizes the unfortunate and unhappy future life of a childless ‘podagricus’, and comes in juxtaposition with the extremely funny sequence, occurs in the sense of a mock-tragic performance, i.e. of theatre and pretence in general, at Sat. 108.11, when Giton threatens to castrate himself. On the same meaning, cf. also Cic. De Orat. I.219; II.205; Quint. 6.1.36.

19 The MS 1 has ‘Philomena’ while one scribe has written in the margin ‘Philumene’, which is the Latin transliteration of the Greek word ϕιλουμνη the ‘loved-one’, a word appropriate to a prostitute. The classical ‘Philomela’ (= nightingale) becomes ‘Philomena’ in mediaeval Latin. That might be an explanation for the reading of 1. However, we have a ‘Philumena’ as a character in a fabula palliata by Caecilius Statius, 141, and in Plautus' Stichus. For parallels in the Corpus Inscriptionum Atticarum, see Collignon, op. cit. (n. 3), p. 385.

20 Dimundo, op. cit. (n. 15), 57–8, adds a third reason: ‘potrebbe esistere un' intima relazione fra i nomi Filomela/Eumolpo, entrambi parlanti e dotati di un esplicito riferimento alla musica et al bel canto.’ On the ironical use of mythological names in Petronius, see Sullivan, op. cit. (n. 15), p. 228; Schmeling G., ‘The Literary Use of Names in Petronius' Satyricon’, RSC 17 (1969), 8; Priuli S., ‘Ascyltus. Note di onomastica petroniana’, Collection Latomus 140 (Bruxelles, 1975), pp. 54–7.

21 See OCD 2 s.v. and Roscher W. H., Ausführliches Lexicon der Griechischen und Römischen Mythologie, III.2, 2343–8. Bieber M., The History of the Greek and Roman Theater, 2(Princeton, 1961), p. 29 and figure 105, speaks of Tereus, the lost tragedy of Sophocles (see TrGFIV, pp. 435–45, Radt), and gives an illustration of it, showing probably Tereus and Prokne or Philomela.

22 Bieber, op. cit., p. 96 and figure 349 gives comments on and an illustration of the ‘lena’. On the character of the mimic hag, see Headlam W. and Knox A. D. (edd.), Herodas. The Mimes and Fragments (Cambridge, 1922), Intro., pp. xxxii–xxxvi; Nicoll, op. cit. (n. 9), p. 93.

23 In the Asinaria, Cleareta, the ‘lena’, will not allow her daughter Philaenium, the ‘meretrix’, to spend a whole year with Argyrippus, the ‘adulescens’, unless he brings her a certain amount of money. In the Cistellaria, if the ‘lena’ did not prostitute her daughter, Gymnasium, her household would perish by mournful hunger.

24 The key for the assumption of that particular role by Eumolpus lies, I think, in the fact that ‘gout was assumed to be a consequence of wealth; cf. Juv. 13.96ff.’ (so Smith M., Petronii Arbitri Cena Trimalchionis [Oxford, 1975], ad 64.3). Mayor 4II, ad loc., also gives many parallels to support this; note, though, that Eumolpus adopts the role of a character we find in a mime by D. Laberius, Aquae Caldae 5.

25 On the role of slaves in Roman Comedy, see Duckworth G., The Nature of Roman Comedy (Princeton, 1952), pp. 249–53; Stace C., ‘The slaves of Plautus’, G&R 2nd S. 15 (1968), 6477; in the mimes, see Sen. Ep. Mor. 47.14; Choricius Gazaeus, Apologia mimorum (orat. XXXII) 26; 110. For children in Roman Comedy, see Prescott H. W., ‘Three puer scenes in Plautus and the distribution of roles’, HSCP 21 (1910), 3150; ‘Silent Roles in Roman Comedy’, CPh 31 (1936), 103, 110–11 and n. 15; in the mimes, see Choricius XXXII.16; 110. Bieber, op. cit. (n. 21), p. 251 and figure 836 gives additional pictorial evidence for the existence of children in a mime-cast.

26 See Dimundo, op. cit. (n. 15), 58.

27 For parallels, see Sat. 56.1; Sen. Ep. XV.7; Cic. De Orat. I.130.

28 On the word ‘doctus’ in the same meaning of a person taught by practice, an expert, cf. Sat. 74.5; 84.5.

29 See Nicoll, op. cit. (n. 9), pp. 105–9; Beare W., The Roman Stage 3(London, 1968), p. 154 and pp. 267–74; Wiemken, op. cit. (n. 4), pp. 199–202.

30 For the existence of actual beds on stage, when necessary in the mime-performances (especially, the adultery-mimes), see John Chrysostom 6.55B (= Migne, PG lvi. 543).

31 Baldwin B.Pigiciaca sacra. A fundamental problem in Petronius?’, Maia 29-30 (19771978), 120, observing that ‘“clostellum” (presumably for “claustellum”) seems unique to this passage’, notes that there is an incongruity in the text: ‘However in some way not explained in the narrative, the boy is got out of the bedroom, for when Encolpius attempts him, he is watching his sister in action “per clostellum”, which appears to mean key-hole.’ He offers three possible explanations to solve it: ‘either the narrative of Petronius is a shade careless, or there is something missing from the text, or “clostellum” does not mean key-hole.’ Indeed, there is something peculiar in the function of this unique word in the passage. The OLD interprets it as ‘key-hole’, referring only to this Petronian passage. The ThLL renders it as ‘instrumentum claudendi’, which does not make very good sense in the context. In the Μοιχετρια-mime the ri ‘siparium’ represents a door (line 162 πορευθες τῇ πλατᾳ θρα). This could be the case here, as well: the boy is looking through a gap in the curtain. I believe, however, that none of Baldwin's suggestions is correct. The ‘clostellum’ is most probably a ‘key-hole’ through which the boy admires the ‘mechanical movements of his sister’ (140.11). This is not the first time that the peeping-through-a-hole motif occurs in the novel (cf. 26.4, 96.1 and, possibly, 11.2; see Sullivan, op. cit. [n. 15], p. 244 and n. 3). There is no reason at all for us to search for the exact moment in time when the ‘puer’ and Encolpius left the room. Baldwin's question is false because we do not need a logical explanation but we must just accept the fact that they have moved away from the ‘lectum Eumolpi’.

32 Gill, op. cit. (n. 15), 181. Mimic performances often enacted sexual intercourse on stage, in extreme cases quite realistically; see Nicoll, op. cit. (n. 9), p. 123.

33 For a brief summary of the emendations suggested, see Gill, op. cit. (n. 15), 181, n. 29, and Baldwin, op. cit. (n. 31), 119–21. Müller3 prints Bücheler's emendation, ‘Aphrodisiaca sacra’.

34 Cf. ‘deuro de’ (58.7); ‘laecasin’ (42.2); ‘madeia perimadeia’ (52.9); ‘sophos’ (40.1); ‘topanta’ (37.4).

35 Gill, op. cit. (n. 15), p. 182.

36 Cf., also, Pomponius, Adelphi 1; Sen. Contr. 1.2.22; Catullus 61.204.

37 The most recent discussion on the function of the name ‘Corax’ is Labate M., ‘Di nuovo sulla poetica dei nomi in Petronio: Corax “il delatore”?’, MD 16 (1986), 135–46. Labate notes that ‘Corax è nome di servo plautino e, insieme ad altri nomi di derivazione comica, dimostrerebbe una relazione privilegiata fra il Satyricon e appunto la commedia’ (p. 138). However, since there is no evidence in the surviving novel which would demonstrate the greedy nature of Corax in the manner of a Plautine ‘servus’, Labate finally argues that Eumolpus' attendant has this particular name because, as the ‘corvus’ in Ovid, Met. 2.536ff., he is not going to keep his mouth shut but he will reveal the whole fallacy to the Crotonians. This view is as speculative as the previous one concerning the connection with Plautus; although there are hints of Corax's betrayal at 125.3, the legacy-hunters ‘exhausti liberalitatem imminuerunt’ (141.1), not because Corax has spoken to them but because time passes by and there is no sign of the wealth Eumolpus promised to them (141.1). The noun κραξ signified also a military engine for grappling ships: see LSJ, s.v., II.1; OLD, s.v. ‘corvus’, 5.a; ThLL, s.v. ‘corvus’, V. In his position under the bed the servant Corax is transformed into a mechanical device which moves the αὐτματα on top of the bed. Another suggestion is put forward by Schmeling, op. cit. (n. 20), 6, where he notes the existence of a ‘lorarius’ with the same name in Plautus Captivi (657), without, though, stressing the point too much.

38 See Gill, op. cit. (n. 15), 179: ‘The rich artificiality of the language used to describe sexual events, and the disparity between verbal style and physical content (or sometimes between different styles in the same episode), do not reinforce the fictional reality of the action presented. Rather they tend to make each scene a temporary performance or display, the directness of the sexual impact undercut by the self-conscious style of the presentation. This quality of the language of the work is supplemented by the way in which characters are used, in the constructions of particular situations, to make scenes into theatrical spectacles.’

39 See 50.1; 54.4, and cf. Juv. 4.122; Sen. Ep. 88.22; Mart. Spect. 2.2. See Dimundo, op. cit. (n. 15), 56: ‘non siamo in presenza di macchine ma di esseri umani: la degradazione degli uomini è al tempo stesso la degradazione della macchina e 1' automatismo che coinvolge Corace, Eumolpo e la fanciulla in un unico stravagante congegno, ha il potere di ridurli in una sorta di automatum del sesso.’

40 See Aristotle, De Generat. Animal. 734b10 and Heron, Περ αὐτοματοποιητικς I.1. According to OCD 2, Heron was a mathematician and inventor, known as μηχανικς, and his floruit was a.d. 62. It is likely that his treatises were known to the cultivated ‘Arbiter Elegantiae’.

41 On the popularity of puppet shows in Rome, see Balsdon J. P. V. D., Life and Leisure in Ancient Rome (London, 1969), p. 288.

42 The number of actors who enacted a mimic plot was regularly three. This is valid in the ‘pygesiaca sacra’ – spectacle, as well: Eumolus/‘puella’/Corax.

43 One can find actual theatrical scenes in Plautus similarly structured: Pseudolus is watching Simia deceiving Ballio (Pseud. 959–1016). See Slater N. W., Plautus in Performance. The Theatre of the Mind (princeton, 1985) Cf. Gill, op. cit. (n 15), 179–80.

44 Sat. 19.1 ‘omnia mimico risu exsonuerant’; Quint. 6.3.8 ‘cum videatur autem res levis et quae ab scums, mimis, insipientibus denique saepe moveatur’; Choricius, XXXII.30 πε δ λον παιδι τς στι τ χρμα, τ πὐρας αὺτοῖς εἰς ᾠδν τινα κα γλωτα λγει. Πντα εἰς ναψυχν μεμηχνηται κα ῥᾳστώνην; Johannes Lydus, De Magistr. 1.40 μιμικ νν δθεν μνη σωζομνη, τεχνικν μν ἒχουσα οὐσν, λγῳ μνον τ πλθος πγουσα γλωτι. Sandy, op. cit. (n. 6), 339, refers rightly to the ‘mimicus risus’ as ‘a studied type of laughter, perhaps stridently aggressive, possibly like that of the “moecha” in Cat. 42.’ Beare, op. cit. (n. 29), p. 150, comments ‘that an element of indecency clung to the mime from the beginning; its aim was mere amusement, the “mimicus risus”.’ This is the case in that Petronian passage, as well. On the ‘rire ambivalent’ as ‘une structure profonde’ in the novel which is connected to the recurrent theme of the deceiver and the deceived, popular in mime and comedy, see Callebat L., ‘Structures narratives et modes de representation dans le Satyricon de Pétrone’, REL 52 (1974), 290–4.

45 See Schmeling G., ‘The “Exclusus Amator” motif in Petronius’, in Fons Perennis. Saggi critici di Filologia Classica raccolti in onore del Prof. Vittorio D'Agostino (Torino, 1971), p. 338.

46 See Sullivan, op. cit. (n. 15), pp. 238ff.

47 We do not really know the provenance of the ritual (if any) Petronius parodies here (‘pygesiaca sacra’ 140.5). For a discussion of this topic with bibliography, see Schmeling, op. cit. (n. 45), 354–6. He speculates that Eumolpus' anal copulation with the young daughter of Philomela may signify that ‘the sexual acts of a young girl or a young bride are anal on the first night, the cunnus being reserved for Priapus under the ius noctis primae. Underlying Eumolpus' choice of the young girl's culus may be the ritual prohibition against breaking the hymen and shedding blood’ (p. 355). It is worth noting, then, that Eumolpus' improvisational ritual should be related to the theme of parody-initiation (especially, Priapic rituals) in the Satyrica as a whole. The most prominent example is, of course, in the episode of Quartilla (16–26.6), on which see Cosci P., ‘Quartilla e l'iniziazione ai misteri di Priapo (Satyricon 20.4)’, MD 4 (1980), 199201; note, however, that the pseudo-rituals in both episodes are framed in a theatrical context of play-acting and pretence (on the mimic qualities of the Quartilla-scene, see Sandy, op. cit. [n. 6], 339–40; Panayotakis C., ‘Quartilla's Histrionics in Petronius, Satyrica 16.1–26.6’, Mnemosyne 47 [1994], 319–36): therefore, they assume a predominantly theatrical appearance, whatever their source of inspiration for Petronius was. Parody of ceremonies was popular in the comic stage: see Cèbe J.-P., La caricature et la parodie dans le monde romain antique des origines à Juvénal (Paris, 1966), 6775; Reich, op. cit. (n. 6), pp. 80–8.

48 I agree with Sandy, op. cit. (n. 6), 341, who does not believe that ‘Petronius’ work of comic prose fiction can be reduced to a string of low-comedy “skits” intended for performance'. His belief is ‘that the underlying theatrical quality echoes a dominant interest in the court of Nero “Artifex”’. On Nero's artistic interests, see Charlesworth M. P.,‘Nero: some aspects’, JRS 40 (1950), 6971; Sandy, ibid., 342, n. 28; Sullivan J. P., Literature and Politics in the Age of Nero (Ithaca and London, 1985), pp. 2731.

49 Apart from the spectacular ‘Cena Trimalchionis’, see Sat. 26.4–5; 79.11–80.8; 92.6–10; 94.8–99.4.

50 See Arrowsmith W., ‘Luxury and Death in the Satyricon’, in Essays on Classical Literature, selected from ARION with an introduction by Niall Rudd (Cambridge and New York, 1972), p. 326 for a moralistic interpretation of the Philomela-episode and cf. the acute remarks made by Anderson G., Eros Sophistes. Ancient Novelists at Play (Chico, 1982), p. 72 against this interpretation; ‘the humour here is concerned with the ingenious ruse which Eumolpus needs to invent in order to seduce his pupil, while still concealing the fact that he is not a cripple… the physical arrangements are similar to those of the lovers on top of the tub in Apuleius (Met. 9.7) – with the same element of amused voyeurism as in the episode of the woman and the ass in the Onos (52). Both of the latter cause are morally neutral, and it is difficult to see what is different about this one.’

* Earlier drafts of this paper were read at a graduate seminar at Glasgow University, in May 1991, and at the Classical Association's conference held at Magdalen College, Oxford, in April 1992. I gratefully acknowledge helpful comments made by the participants on these occasions. I am especially indebted to Prof. P. G. Walsh, Mr P. R. Jeffreys-Powell, Dr E. Urios-Aparisi, and the anonymous referee of the CQ for suggestions which improved the paper. Any remaining mistakes are, of course, mine. The edition used for references to Petronius' novel is K. Müller – W. Ehlers, Petronius. Satyrica 3(München, 1983).

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