The Satyricon as a whole has long been recognized as deeply indebted to the Odyssey, both in its individual episodes and as an adventure narrative, and perhaps even as an extended parody of Homer's poem. However, the longest extant episode of the Satyricon, the Cena Trimalchionis, has traditionally been thought to contain only glancing references to the Odyssey. This article demonstrates the importance of the Odyssey as a primary intertext for the Cena Trimalchionis. While Plato's Symposium and Horace's Satire 2.8 are recognized influences on the Cena, Odysseus's visit to the Phaeacians and the account he gives there of his adventures are even more systematically and repeatedly alluded to, evoked, and reworked in the Cena. Petronius appropriates episodes from the adventures of Odysseus from his arrival on Scheria to his encounters with the Lotus-Eaters, Circe, Scylla and Charybdis, the Sirens, and the Cyclops. These and other episodes are transmuted and incorporated into the world and experience of Trimalchio's dinner party in a variety of ways: as clever extended allusions, as epic reworked in folktale form, as contemporary events occurring in the midst of Trimalchio's dinner party. What emerges from this discussion is the recognition that the Cena Trimalchionis is much more integrated into the overall narrative and thematics of the rest of the Satyricon than heretofore appreciated.
Odyssean Adventures in the Cena Trimalchionis
I would like to thank Gareth Williams for his comments on an earlier version of this article, the members of the MACTe colloquium, and particularly Ellen Oliensis and the anonymous readers at Classical Antiquity for their numerous suggestions which have greatly strengthened this final version.
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Michael Mordine; Odyssean Adventures in the Cena Trimalchionis. Classical Antiquity 1 April 2013; 32 (1): 176–199. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ca.2013.32.1.176
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