Gaius Petronius Arbiter, several editions (Google Books)

On 15 October 1663, Lister recorded reading the entertaining and timelessly bawdy Satyricon of Gaius Petronius Arbiter (27-66 A.D.)

It was an entertaining work that would appeal to a young man to stave off boredom during his travel to France on the Yarmouth Brig Matthew. Petronius was an adviser to Nero, and his work satirised those around him and their way of life.

Narrated by Encolpius whose name roughly translates as ‘crotch’, the work abounds with endless feasts, contemporary Roman slang, and tasteless ostentation. Lister later donated two copies of this book to Oxford in Latin and in French.

Petronius’s work was adapted and made into a film by Federico Fellini.  As film critic Roger Ebert noted:

The Movie was made two years after the Summer of Love — it came out at about the same time as the documentary ‘Woodstock’  — and it preserves the post-Pill, pre-AIDS sexual frenzy of that time, when penalty-free sex briefly seemed to be a possibility (key word: seemed). . . . it may be one of the best films about the Summer of Love — not celebrating it, but displaying the process of its collapse. 1

  1. Roger Ebert, ‘Fellini Satyricon’, 27 July 2011,

Comments are closed.