The Book of Satyrlike Adventures
Translated and Introduced by W. C. Firebaugh
The Satyricon, or Satyricon liber (“The Book of Satyrlike Adventures), is a Latin work of fiction believed to have been written by Gaius Petronius, though the manuscript tradition identifies the author as a certain Titus Petronius. The Satyricon is an example of Menippean satire, which is very different from the formal verse satire of Juvenal or Horace. The work contains a mixture of prose and verse (commonly known as prosimetrum); serious and comic elements; and erotic and decadent passages. As with the Metamorphoses (also called The Golden Ass) of Apuleius, classical scholars often describe it as a “Roman novel”, without necessarily implying continuity with the modern literary form.
The surviving portions of the text detail the misadventures of the narrator, Encolpius, and his lover, a handsome sixteen-year-old servant boy named Giton. Throughout the novel, Encolpius has a difficult time keeping his lover faithful to him as he is constantly being enticed away by others. Encolpius’s friend Ascyltus (who seems to have previously been in a relationship with Encolpius) is another major character.
It is one of the two most extensive witnesses to the Roman novel (the only other being the fully extant Metamorphoses of Apuleius, which has significant differences in style and plot). Satyricon is also regarded as useful evidence for the reconstruction of how lower classes lived during the early Roman Empire.