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The Roman poet Gajus Petronius Arbiter (14-66) wrote the famous 20-volume novel Satyricon, which is only preserved in fragments. It is a colourful depiction of the customs of its time, in which the eating and drinking culture of the Roman upper class in the first century AD is vividly portrayed. It is possible that he was influenced by the poet Martial (40-102), who in his epigrams also denounced the conditions in Rome and mocked them in verse form. Petronius was a close confidant of Emperor Nero (37-68) and as "arbiter elegantiae" at his court was responsible for questions of fine taste. In his various works he described the moral decline of the Roman Empire very drastically and critically. Despite the humorous and ironic portrayal, he had thereby incurred the disfavor and the deadly hatred of the emperor and was therefore forced to commit suicide. Petronius had his wrists opened. The historian Tacitus (55-120) describes him in his annals as vain, superficial, selfish and wavering in his decisions, betraying others without reason. For him he is the person from "the second row of history".

Satyricon - Petronius (Büste) und Bild „Ein römisches Fest“ von Roberto Bompiani

Picture left: By P. Bodart - GoogleBooks, Public Domain, Link
Picture right: By Roberto Bompiani - J. Paul Getty Museum, Public Domain, Link

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