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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2018

Sailing from Massalia, or Mapping Out the Significance of Encolpius’ Travels in the Satyrica

Gottskálk Jensson


The aim of this paper is to suggest a way of reading the severely fragmented text of the Satyrica by investigating the literary and cultural significance of the Massaliotic identity of Encolpius, the narrator and fictional author of this ancient Graeco-Roman traveler’s tale by Petronius. I argue that, even if we are missing many details of the plot, we are still able to draw important conclusions about the basic purpose and artistic aim of the original full-text Satyrica, which was most likely designed as an entertaining satire on the sorry state of Greek cities under Roman rule. Accordingly, the underlying story can hardly have been conceived by a member of the Roman senatorial aristocracy; rather, the Satyrica appears to be a Roman adaptation, however freely made, from an otherwise lost Milesian novel in Greek.

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston