Completing the Fragmented: Supplements to Petronius’ “Satyricon” Between Forgery and Reconstruction

This lecture looks at supplements to Petronius’ fragmentarily preserved Roman novel Satyricon from the 17th to the 20th century, and at how these supplements oscillate between creative attempts at forgery and scholarly attempts at reconstruction.

Public lecture by Prof. Silvio Bär (University of Oslo)

Petronius’ Roman novel Satyricon has been transmitted only in fragmented form. Although we possess a considerable portion of the text, a probably even larger part has been lost. The fragmentary state of the Satyricon, along with its mesmerizing narrative that defies any clear-cut generic categorization, has not only led to speculations about the content of the lost passages, but it has also been an incentive for various attempts at filling the gaps and completing the fragments. In this lecture, I will give an overview of the different supplements that were produced between the 17th and the 20th century. It will be demonstrated that the history of the completion of the Satyricon is a history that constantly oscillates between creative attempts at forgery and scholarly attempts at reconstruction, and it will be argued that a sharp distinction between the two areas cannot (and should not) always been drawn.

Published Feb. 19, 2020 11:23 AM - Last modified Feb. 28, 2020 8:02 PM