What would most people say the thesis of The Satyricon is?

Most people would say that the thesis of The Satyricon is that wealthy people’s way of life contradicts the virtues they teach. The Satyricon is a satire of ancient Roman society and critiques the values of the upper class.

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The Satyricon is ultimately a satire of the Roman society in which it was written. Petronius uses satire to critique the taste and values of the upper class. He critiques the wealthy’s greed in all aspects of life, such as the way wealthy people value indulging in large amounts of food with fancy ingredients. He also critiques the activities the wealthy partake in and what these activities say about the upper class’s values.

For example, he discusses the wealthy's taboo sexual exploits and how these behaviors contradict the virtues the wealthy teach. Petronius also underlines a contrast in the idea of taste, explaining how the upper class thinks it is important to have good taste and yet are the ones that define taste themselves. Overall, the text highlights a sense of ridiculousness in upper-class life.

For instance, consider how Petronius depicts people who are wealthy and powerful, like Trimalchio. Trimalchio is portrayed as a greedy and gluttonous man who rose up the social ranks from slavery and ended up rich. Petronius depicts him as having poor taste in decor and entertainment, showing that wealth does not equate with style. Eumolpus's sexual exploits also demonstrate the rampant lust of the upper class. Through depictions like these, Petronius comments on the problematic behaviors and misguided values of the upper class.

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