Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2018

Fortunata and Terentia: A Model for Trimalchio’s Wife

From the book Cultural Crossroads in the Ancient Novel

  • Shannon N. Byrne


One of the analogues for Trimalchio is Maecenas, both the historical figure and the decadent caricature criticized by Seneca in the Epistles. This paper looks at Trimalchio’s wife, Fortunata, for whom Maecenas’ wife, Terentia, serves as an analogue. What little we know about Terentia are things Petronius’ contemporaries would have known and enjoyed seeing in Fortunata: for example, both women married high-maintenance men, both behave questionably with a family friend, both have a sharp eye for finances, and both like to dance. Endowing Fortunata with Terentia’s characteristics made the Trimalchio/ Maecenas connection all the more amusing for Petronius’ audience.

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
Downloaded on 2.12.2023 from
Scroll to top button