The Poem at Petronius, Sat. 137,9


  • Aldo Setaioli


The poem at Petr. Sat. 137,9, the last to appear in the Oenothea episode, develops the theme of the omnipotence of money and, along with the prose narrative, provides a sobering assessment of the situation, in contrast with the literary idealization apparent in the previous verse intermezzos. It is cast in the form of a ‘Priamel’ listing the traditional lifestyles, which, however, appear to be made possible by money alone. Gold is more powerful than Jupiter himself – the tongue-in-cheek allusion to the mythological seduction of Danae and the final picture of the supreme god boxed up in the rich man’s money-chest actually border on the sacrilegious, like other poems in the Croton part of the Satyrica.

Petronius adroitly weaves a fine literary web, in which themes taken from comedy and diatribe converge with a travesty and reversal of motifs from Alexandrian and Roman poetry, just as he conflates mythology and situations from everyday life.

A final paragraph tackles textual and interpretive problems connected with specific points of the poem.

Professor Aldo Setaioli was born inFlorence,Italy, on Feb. 10, 1941. He graduated in classics from theUniversityofFlorencein June 1966 with a dissertation on the allegorical interpretations of Virgil. Immediately after he was hired as an assistant professor for Latin Literature in the same university. In 1969 he was given charge of a chair for Latin Language and Literature at theUniversityofBologna, where he taught until 1976. In that year he attained full professorship and was transferred to theUniversityofPerugia, where he successively held the chairs for Latin Grammar and for Latin Language and Literature. He retired on November 1, 2002 for reasons of health, though later he completely recovered.

From 1973 to 1982 he was a member, and subsequently head, of the editorial staff of the philological journal Studi Italiani di Filologia Classica, then edited by Professor Alessandro Ronconi. At present he is a member of the ‘Consejo Asesor’ of the Spanish philological journal Cuadernos de Filo-logía Clásica. Estudios Latinos published by the Universidad Complutense ofMadrid.

His scientific interests span the fields of both Latin and Greek literature. In particular he devoted his attention to such writers as Seneca and other Stoics, Virgil, Horace, Servius, Macrobius, Petronius, as well as several others. He has also studied the beliefs on afterlife in philosophy and religion atRomeand in Greek and Roman late antiquity.

His publications include seven books and over 130 papers – some of which are extensive – published in philological journals inItalyand abroad, including several in foreign languages. He has also edited two miscellaneous books and published translations of books and papers into and from foreign languages. He has often lectured at conferences or as an invited guest in Europe and inAmerica, in Italian, English, Spanish, French, and German.