by Gaius Petronius Arbiter

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Only by the broadest definition a novel, Petronius’s The Satyricon really defies categorization, but it is best understood as the first mock-epic narrative in any literature. By an original, inventive combination of elements from a multitude of literary genres and modes, Petronius effectively both depicts and satirizes Roman life under Emperor Nero, and he does so with such compassionate, earthy, and tragicomic humanism that The Satyricon richly deserves its recently acquired status as one of the greatest works of literature of the ancient world.

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