Petronius [Gaius Petronius Arbiter]

Gareth Schmeling (ed.), A Commentary on The Satyrica of Petronius

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Chapter 10

§1 audirem sententias, id est vitrea fracta et somniorum interpretamenta. Ascyltos offers an excuse for sneaking away from Aga.'s colloquium (and, he fails to add, seducing Giton): 'Was I to stay there and listen to his banalities (1. 2 sententiarum vanisssimo strepitu), bits of broken glass and explanations pg 33of dreams?' The phrases id est (9×) and hoc est (4×) are also noted in the late Peregrinatio Aetheriae, Löfstedt (1911a) 91 ff. The sententiae of Aga. are termed vitrea fracta, the expression cited and defined by Otto (1890) vitrum 2, as an adage meaning 'unnütze Gedanken', and somniorum interpretamenta, on which the OLD somnium 2 comments 'fantasy, delusion'. Both expressions disparage the efforts of Aga.

Link §2 ut foris cenares poetam laudasti. 30. 3 C. noster foras cenat. Ascyltos accuses E. of paying court to Aga. so that he might cadge a free meal; Aga. in turn fawns over T. (52. 7 sciebat quibus meritis revocaretur ad cenam) so that he is invited to many free meals, though he had expressly condemned just this practice at 3. 3. P. describes a crude, yet effective, chain-reaction patronage system. hercule. An interjection, whose use in this position is rightly questioned by Bücheler; the comment in Müller (1961 multo mehercules turpior es tu 'coniecit Bücheler, haud scio an recte' becomes in Müller (1983+) simply 'coniecit Bücheler'. Bücheler's conjecture has much to recommend it. P. uses mehercules 19×, hercule 2×, hercules once. The various spellings might indicate levels of colloquial usage; Petersmann (1977) 108–9. poetam. Identified as Aga. by Ciaffi (1955a) 23–4; Kennedy (1978) 175–6; Soverini (1985) 1730 n. 110; but Pellegrino (1986) 180–1 has reservations.

§4 iniuriae. E. probably refers to Ascyltos' sex with Giton. On iniuria as violence/sex: 25. 7(?); 79. 9 (twice); 133. 1, 140. 11; Adams (1982) 198–9. convenire non posse, 'on grounds of incompatibility we cannot get along together'. sarcinulas partiamur, 'let us divorce/part company'. For similar scenes and expressions (separation = divorce): n. at 79. 11, 94. 6; Courtney (2001) 146. quaestibus, 'way of making a living'. E. says: et tu litteras scis et ego. ne quaestibus tuis obstem, aliquid aliud promittam. But after the Cena E.'s boast about knowing how to make a living from letters/education proves illusory: Ascyltos (because of the size of his sexual equipment) becomes the sexual partner of an eques Romanus (92. 9–10), and E. joins Eumolpus to defraud the captatores of Croton, where Chrysis is at first under the impression that E. sells sex (126. 1–2): vendisque amplexusnisi quod formam prostituis ut vendas. Ascyltos, for example, might not support himself exclusively by prostitution, but it is a profession practised throughout the S. E. puts on a brave face here and reassures himself and Ascyltos that they can find a way of making a living (quaestus), because they are educated, but the attentive reader suspects that quaestibus is a euphemism for our threesome's way of making a living by prostitution: 92. 10; Plautus Poen. 1140; Valerius Maximus 6. 1. 6, 6. 1. 10; Adams (1982) 156.

§5 aliquid aliud L: aliud aliquid 1. In not a few places 1 transposes two words from the order in most of L; five words after aliquid aliud 1 writes quotidie nos and L writes nos quotidie. mille, used 13×, means 'many', a hyperbole. rumoribus different. On the phrase and the power of gossip, cf. Tacitus Ann. 1. 4. rumoribus differebant.

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§6 tamquam scholastici. As Courtney (2001) 40 notes, this can be translated either 'as if we were scholastici' or 'in our capicity as scholastici'. The first is surely correct, since the three youths are scholastici just to get a free meal; they become that which the situation demands. See the Introduction to 3 on scholastici. ad cenam promisimus. This is possibly the cena alluded to at §2, where Ascyltos faults E. for cadging a meal, but here we see that he is willing to profit by it. For the phrase, Pliny Ep. 1. 15. 1 Heus tu! promittis ad cenam, nec venis? non perdamus. Normally ne perdamus, but non is more lively than ne; also used at 71. 7, 74. 15, 75. 6; Szantyr–Hofmann (1965) 337; Petersmann (1977) 229. aliquem has the meaning of aliquem alium; 126. 6 aliquas; Petersmann (1977) 140.

§7 tardum est … differre quod placet, 'But our minds are made up', I countered. 'Putting it off is mere procrastination' (Walsh). This sentence should be taken with what comes before; it is a comment on the plan to split up the triangle and not on what follows. placet has to do with a decision or resolution. On the inability of people to wait for the future and so lose the present, Seneca Brev. Vitae 16. 3 omnissperatae rei longa dilatio est.; Publilius Syrus 342 longum est quodcumque flagitavit cupiditas.

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