The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter, Gaius Petronius, trans. ascribed to Oscar Wilde (Privately Printed, 1928, Limited Edition 343/1200 stamped in ink)
9″ X 6 1/4″, 236pp, black spine with gilt titles (mostly worn off), decorated red boards. Fair copy, boards worn, binding good. Front board loose but holding.
Satyricon (or Satyrica) is a Latin work of fiction in a mixture of prose and poetry (prosimetrum). It is believed to have been written by Gaius Petronius, though the manuscript tradition identifies the author as a certain Titus Petronius. 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 boy named Giton. Throughout the novel, Encolpius has a hard 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 a rare example of a Roman novel, the only other surviving example (quite different in style and plot) being Metamorphoses of Apuleius. It is also extremely important evidence for the reconstruction of what everyday life must have been like for the lower classes during the early Roman Empire.