Theatrum Arbitri: Theatrical Elements in the "Satyrica" of Petronius

Panayotakis, Costas (1993) Theatrum Arbitri: Theatrical Elements in the "Satyrica" of Petronius. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The title of this thesis is 'Theatrical elements in the Satyrica of Petronius". It is a literary study which deals with the possible influence that Roman comic drama (comedies of Plautus and Terence, theatre of the Greek and Roman mimes, (the fabula palliata, fabula togata, fabula Atellana) might have exerted on the surviving extant fragments of Petronius' novel. In the preface I summarise briefly the generally accepted view about the identity of the novel's author and the diverse nature of his work, and I explain the method and criteria which are to be used for the intended study of the novel. The introductory chapter has two purposes: first, to delineate in a lucid way the theatre of the mimes and its main features, since this theatrical genre is predominant in the world of entertainment in Petronius' time; second, to provide a brief account of both the ancient testimonia and modern scholarly works which make fundamental comments on this novel from a theatrical point of view. Chapters one to fifteen form the main part of the thesis: I follow the narrative thread of the Petronian novel in its episodic form and attempt to interpret the events in terms of visual role-playing and the stage. The conclusion draws together the main themes of the thesis, and attempts to explain the strong impact of theatre and its intended function in the Satyrica. The bibliographical material has been divided into three sections, due to its length, and for the convenience of the reader: a) editions and commentaries of texts referred to in the thesis, b) books and articles to which reference has been made in the footnotes, and c) other works consulted to form a more complete view of the problems concerning Petronius' text, the novel in general, and popular theatre, Greek and Roman. A detailed theatrical study of the Satyrica is more than a mere enumeration of passages from a genre which influenced Petronius. It can shed light on the dispute over the delivery of the text and gives a clearer picture of how Petronius may have viewed his literary creation. Finally, the farcical features which recur throughout the narrative support the interpretation of this composite text as an eccentric innovation in the area of literature which, through sophisticated means, aimed to amuse without preaching moral lessons.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: P G Walsh
Keywords: Classical literature, Theater history
Date of Award: 1993
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1993-74559
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2019 17:47
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2019 17:47

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