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Petronius

The Roman poet Gajus Petronius Arbiter (14-66) wrote the famous 20-volume novel Satyricon, which is now only preserved in fragments. It is a colourful portrait of the mores of his time, in which the eating and drinking culture of the Roman upper class in the first century AD is vividly portrayed. He may have been influenced by the poet Martial (40-102), who also denounced the conditions in Rome in his epigrams and mocked them in verse. Petronius was a close confidant of Emperor Nero (37-68) and, as "arbiter elegantiae" at his court, was responsible for matters of refined taste. In his various works, he described the moral decay of the Roman Empire very drastically and critically. Despite the humorous-ironic portrayal, he had thus incurred the disfavour and mortal hatred of the emperor and was therefore forced to commit suicide. Petronius had his wrists slit. The historian Tacitus (55-120) portrays him in his Annals as vain, superficial, egotistical and wavering in his decisions, betraying others without reason. For him, he is the man from "the second row of history". See also under Literature.

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