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  • Titill er á ensku The Recollections of Encolpius: A Reading of the Satyrica as Greco-Roman Erotic Fiction
  • Doktors
  • Útdráttur er á ensku

    While late nineteenth century scholars debated whether the Satyrica was a traditional or an original work in ancient literary history, twentieth century Petronian scholarship mostly took for granted that the author was a unique innovator and his work consequently a synthetic composition. Among the unfortunate consequences of this modern consensus have been the excessive emphasis on authorial intention and numerous studies of parts of the work, taken out of the larger context, which have tended to increase the already severe state of fragmentation in which the modern reader finds the Satyrica.
    This dissertation attempts to counteract this latest trend in the almost two thousand years reception history of the work by employing the ancient rhetorical theory of narratio for the analysis of the narrative form. By this means we are able to present a reading of the Satyrica as the mimetic and “spoken-to-be-heard” (as opposed to “written-to-be-read”) performance of the narrator Encolpius, involving multiple impersonations of characters, who often become subordinate narrators as well; and the use of various discourse types, including metrical speech.
    The textual presentation of the narrative of Encolpius as the “recollections” of the narrator requires a renewed effort at reconstructing the story told by this exiled Greek scapegoat with the education of a Roman aristocrat. Our reconstruction reveals a coherent travelogue with a formulaic plot and consistent characterization, delivered to an audience which is socially and morally superior to the comic narrator, who, besides relating his erotic suf-fering, practices satire and social criticism in the manner of popular philoso-phy. The nature of this moral satire and how it relates to the narrator’s ideal audience is analyzed in some detail.
    Finally, we attempt to revise the Satyrica’s position in the context of Greco-Roman literary history, revisiting the arguments of German fin de siècle philologist Karl Bürger, whose historically eclipsed thesis is vindicated by recently discovered Egyptian papyri. To Bürger’s arguments we add an analysis of the linguistic and cultural layering in the Satyrica, and show that the work is most likely an adaptation of a specific Greek model, also written in a mixture of discourse types. As a result, we conclude that the Satyrica is best classified with the other “shameless” erotic fictions referred to in Roman sources as Milesiae, after Sisenna’s early first century B.C.E. adaptation.

  • 17.12.2012

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