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Arbitri Nugae

Petronius’ Short Poems in the "Satyrica</I>


Aldo Setaioli

This book aims to provide a comprehensive inquiry into the short metrical intermezzos inserted in the prose narrative of Petronius’ Satyrica. The text of each poem has been thoroughly investigated; in addition, special attention has been devoted to their function in the context and to the aspects connecting Petronius with the literature and culture of his time. Numerous contacts with other ancient authors have been pointed out to illustrate Petronius’ attitude to the cultural and literary heritage on the one hand, and the character of his own work on the other.


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Chapter VII - A Night of Love (Petr. 79.8) 133


Chapter VII A Night of Love (Petr. 79.8)* Qualis nox fuit illa, di deaeque, quam mollis torus! Haesimus calentes et transfudimus hinc et hinc labellis errantes animas. Valete curae mortalis; ego sic perire coepi. 5 L(=lmrtp) 5 mortales lmgtmg The hendecasyllables describing the bliss of Encolpius’ and Giton’s night of love, before the fickle boy deserts his lover to follow Ascyltos, neatly define, as Beck has rightly remarked,1 the level of what the protagonist and narrator of the Satyrica experiences or has experienced at the moment of the situation being narrated, as distinct from the later stage in time at which those very same ex- periences are narrated by an older, and presumably more mature and detached Encolpius. In fact, the clearly sought and intentional contrast between this poem and the prose which follows could hardly be more apparent, and it is emphasized by the narating voice’s comment, by which the utter groundlessness of the amo- rous elation expressed in the poem is pitilessly exposed with not so much as one word of transition: sine causa gratulor mihi. Connors has good reasons to em- phasize the irony stemming from this contrast.2 * A version of this chapter has appeared with the title La poesia in Petr. Sat. 79.8, “Pro- metheus” 27, 2001, 136-144. 1 Beck 1973, 58-59. 2 Connors 1998, 69. On the one hand she stresses the terminology’s ambiguousness, since the following prose sheds a different light on words that could be understood quite dif- ferently, if the...

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