LINEBURG


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Agamemnon? And is Agamemnon in agreement only because he is being
forced to do precisely what he bemoans the teacher of oratory must do
to stay in business “ ¬‚atter his students and offer them seductive bait? As
Encolpius™ and Petronius™ audience, our inevitable uncertainty over how to
read these scenes situates us right inside the hothouse school of Sat. 1“2,
where we experience the same smothering of sensibility.
Similarly, as much as they enact stereotyped ˜decline™ in their obsession
with credit ratings, the freedmen™s attitudes seem also to revive the ideals
outlined by Agamemnon and Encolpius as lost “ whereby a boy learns by
practical experience and by observation of his respected elders, and grows up
with his feet ¬rmly on the ground,46 rather than being pushed aggressively
through the arti¬cial school system and pressured to reach the highest levels
(the image of contemporary education painted by Agamemnon at Sat. 4:
˜they drive the unripe schoolboy into the lawcourts, and thrust eloquence,
the noblest of callings, on young boys who are still kids™ (4.2)). Or, as
well as performing (self-consciously or not?) as butts of ridicule, are the
self-taught freedmen also discomforting, subversive ¬gures whose lectures
from the University of Life undermine traditional educational values and
ways of systematising knowledge?
Trimalchio himself, who boasts of his sophistication and learning but
apparently exposes his de¬ciencies when he misremembers myths, is usually
taken to model both the transparent witlessness of the freedmen and our
privileged, editorial perspective on their ¬‚awed knowledge. Thus at Sat.
52.1, Trimalchio announces that he owns four-gallon cups engraved with
the image of Cassandra killing her sons (error: that was Medea), in which
the sons are dead but are painted so realistically you would think they
were still alive. Here, he may well be presenting a crude/funny muddling

46 See, e.g., Tac. Dial. 34.1“6.
Petronius™ lessons in learning “ the hard way 123
of knowledge gleaned from Pliny™s account of realist artworks in book 35
of the Natural history (according to the grammarian Apione, Pliny tells
us, when experts saw the faces of men depicted by the great Apelles, they
were able to divine not only how old they were, but how long they had to
live),47 the joke being that Trimalchio confuses realness with aliveness. The
symposiarch also has jugs on which you can see Daedalus shutting Niobe
into the Trojan Horse (52.2). Howler: the wife of Amphion had nothing to
do with Troy, and we all know Daedalus made a wooden cow, not a horse.
And in Sat. 59.3“5, when performers act out a mythical story in Greek,
Trimalchio reads out a Latin translation from a book, saying,
˜So do you know what story they™re doing? Diomede and Ganymede were brothers.
Helen was their sister. Agamemnon kidnapped her and sacri¬ced a deer to Diana in
her place. So here Homer is telling the tale of the war between Troy and Parentium.
He won of course, and after that he married his daughter Iphigenia to Achilles,
which drove Ajax bonkers “ that bit™s coming up in a second.™
Trimalchio obviously perverts these well-known narratives. On Sat. 50“2,
Smith comments, ˜Petronius will unfold Trimalchio™s absurd ignorance of
history and mythology, as well as his pretensions to good taste.™48 Slater
emphasises the ˜dense comedy™ of these ˜typical Trimalchian confusions of
mythology™.49 On Sat. 59, Smith states the accepted view that, ˜Trimalchio™s
wild version of the story is entertaining precisely because each detail dis-
torts some identi¬able part of the normal version™:50 thus he supplements
Castor and Pollux with the Greek warrior Diomedes and the Trojan boy
Ganymedes, whose names merely look related. Agamemnon replaces Paris
as Helen™s abductor, and Helen is crossed with Iphigenia when, as in the
Iphigenia story we know, a deer is sacri¬ced in her place. The false promise
that Iphigenia will marry Achilles if she comes to Aulis is realised in Tri-
malchio™s version, but the marriage occurs at the end of the war, not the
beginning. Instead of being maddened when the arms of the dead Achilles
were given to Ulysses rather than to himself, Ajax is enraged with sexual
jealousy at Achilles™ marriage, whether we are meant to imagine his lust
¬xated on Iphigenia or on Achilles himself.
Yet we shouldn™t be too quick to laugh down Trimalchio™s buffoonish
˜confusions™. In the case of the four-gallon cups, we read Trimalchio™s com-
mentary through Encolpius™ sloppy, tipsy narration, and we™re blind to the
correspondence (or lack of it) between the engraving and its description.
Similarly at Sat. 59, there is no comment from Encolpius to con¬rm or deny
that what Trimalchio says he is reading from the book in Latin corresponds
47 48 49 50
Plin. HN 35.88. Smith (1975) 134. Slater (1987) 168. Smith (1975) 165.
124 victori a ri me ll
to the dining-room drama that is being enacted in Greek. Equally, we might
read Trimalchio™s ˜mistakes™ as a provocative gag, an attempt to take his role
as deceptive and manipulative ˜author™ of the Cena to an extreme, loosening
myths as he preaches lax bellies and bladders. If so, then he could hardly
have picked more appropriate mythical characters to personalise these tales
than Cassandra (the revealer of truth who is never believed, to whom Tri-
malchio compares Fortunata in Sat. 74.15), and Daedalus (the labyrinth
architect and Trimalchio™s talented head chef ). Indeed, his wild ˜imagina-
tion™ is reminiscent of, for example, Dio Chrystostom™s sophistic revision of
Homer (the fall of Troy at Or. 11, for instance, where he argues the city was
never taken, the Greeks came home defeated and Hector killed Achilles),
or Dictys of Crete™s Diary of the Trojan war, which gives us, among other
things, a startling new version of Homer™s Achilles.51
Meanwhile Trimalchio™s game of character swapping in Sat. 59 re¬‚ects the
topic of acting as metamorphosis at work in the Cena and throughout the
Satyricon: characters are either named after mythical ¬gures (Agamemnon,
Menelaus, Circe, Psyche, Ganymede, Bacchus, Dionysus, Philomela, and
so on)52 or playact as them (Giton plays Ganymede in Sat. 92 and Ulysses in
Sat. 97, where Lichas is imagined as a Cyclops; Encolpius adopts the epithets
of Odysseus in Sat. 127; Eumolpus is Aeneas reciting the fall of Troy as in
Aeneid 2 in Sat. 89, and so on). His novelistic imagination becomes a drama-
tisation of acting and theatricality run wild, a lesson in the transformative
strategies and re-writings of the Satyricon as a whole. Just as he owns land,
slaves and luxury goods, breeds his own pedigrees from exotic imports and
relabels his human possessions with mythical names, so he can monopolise
and concoct mythic plots. In the megalomaniac imagination, (even) knowl-
edge can be bought. The possible political undertones of this are obvious:
those in power dictate and delimit belief, gloss the ˜facts™ any way they please.
His audience will (be forced to) publicly marvel and applaud, whether we
read Encolpius™ comment at 60.1 (˜we were not allowed very long to admire
these elegant performances™53 ) as na¨ve sycophancy, a sarcy joke, or real
±
praise of innovation. Yet there may be restrictions, too, on Trimalchio™s (or
any autocrat™s) ownership of knowledge: he risks accusations of ignorance
and foolery in asserting his ˜control™, while the idea that knowledge has a

51 For discussion of this and other Greek revisions of Homer™s Trojan War, see Merkle (1994).
52 Slaves were often given mythological names, perhaps, as Fitzgerald suggests (2000) 5, because it
˜allowed their masters to share in the civilized world of which Greek culture was the most precious
fruit™. For Trimalchio, naming is always about creative control, about playing at being a (Greek)
poet thinking up new names to ¬t his ¬ctional worlds.
53 nec diu mirari licuit tam elegantes strophas.
Petronius™ lessons in learning “ the hard way 125
price tag must by de¬nition entail its destabilisation. Literary structures,
systems of belief, are up for grabs in Trimalchio™s kitchens, when even the
tyrant™s perspectives can be outbid (if only in the imagination).
The notion that Trimalchio reads a ˜translation™ in Latin rather than
follow the ˜pretentious™ Greek (˜while the reciters conversed in Greek, in that
conceited way of theirs, he intoned Latin from a book™ (59.3)) raises further
questions about the politics of (re)ordering knowledge in the Satyricon.
Might we assume that he doesn™t understand Greek (and that his Greek
library is just for show), so uses the Latin book as subtitles? At one point
Encolpius hints that he doesn™t know Greek either (Plocamus ˜whistled
out some offensive stuff I didn™t catch “ he declared afterwards that it was
Greek™ (64.5)). But we might also read Trimalchio™s ˜translation™ as an act
of cultural imperialism, whereby he exploits the kudos of Greek education
while also publicly appropriating and Romanising it (compare 38.3: civilised
Athenian bees are inbred with Roman bees, and relied upon to improve the
natives). At Sat. 53.13 similarly, he tells guests that he once bought a Greek
comedy company, but preferred them to perform Atellan plays (i.e., native
Latin comedy), and told his pipe player to have Latin songs. His proclivities
resonate with what we hear of Nero™s egomaniacal philhellenism, whether or
not we imagine Trimalchio to be a recognisable caricature of the emperor
(and whether or not we read them more as an anti-Neronian rejection
of Hellenistic in¬‚uence than as a mirroring imperialistic strategy). These
passages may prompt us to think more broadly about the politics of cultural
hybridity in the Satyricon: Petronius transfers and Romanises the milieu of
the Greek novel, and explores a colourful Roman literary culture, steeped
in pungent satire and monumental epic, through the adventures (in Greek
or half-Greek landscapes) of non-Greek characters bearing Greek names.

knowing too mu ch , too fa s t
Yet Petronius and his characters do more than creatively undermine, rede-
¬ne and (re-)appropriate knowledge. The narratives of the Satyricon also
regularly imagine the threat, shame or sordidness of literary learning. At
Sat. 56, for example, Trimalchio estimates the professions of medicine and
money-lending to be the most dif¬cult after writing, because the doctor
gets to know what poor men™s guts really look like, just as the money-lender
sees the copper under the silver. This bogus philosophising (˜He was just
throwing the philosophers out of work™ (56.7)) is bang in line with Trimal-
chio™s ˜expert™ jurisdiction over interiors, from his conveyor-belt of layered
dishes carved or bitten to reveal their unexpected (and in the case of the
126 victori a ri me ll
pig, gut-wrenching) insides, to his cushions, stuffed (as only he appreci-
ates) with feathers in princely purple (38.5). As the Cena progresses and
the opera of tyranny crescendoes, the nauseous guests are less and less keen
to be party to this inside-info, as horror and trepidation replace surprised
glee. In Quartilla™s brothel, the gang stumble upon the secret rites of Pri-
apus and are tortured for their discoveries, afterwards swearing that the
˜horrid secret should die with the two of them™ (inter duos periturum esse
tam horribile secretum 21.3): in any tyranny, knowing too much is always far
more dangerous than knowing too little. Encolpius describes Eumolpus™
recitation of poetry as a ˜disease™ (morbus, 90.3), while in the Bellum civile,
con¬‚ict is sparked (and is imagined as a ˜disease™ metastasising in Roman
bones) when conquering Rome ˜held the whole world, both sea and land,
and the course of sun and moon™ (lines 1“2) yet is not satis¬ed (line 3) even
with the thrill of constant discovery and invention. And in Lichas™ tale at
Sat. 111“12, the widow of Ephesus is corrupted by snippets of Virgil, the
narrative of her downfall propelled by (our) rereading of the story of Dido,
whose spectre suggests that this post-Ovidian seduction cannot rule out an
ominous fate for chastity™s fallen queen.
Knowledge and discovery in the Satyricon seem to foil and be opposed
to pleasure, even while they also equate to (imperial) power, just as readings
of this text™s riddling complexity as entertaining farce seem dependent on
concomitant conclusions of readers™ inescapable (and enjoyably escapist)
˜ignorance™ or oblivion. And on the one hand, the weirdness and episodic
architecture of this ¬ction, together with its Saturnalian rhythms and the
rejection of traditional education both by the guests at Trimalchio™s Cena
and our narrator himself, seem to invite an experience of reading that is
more sensual than intellectual, more ludic than learned. On the other,
the Satyricon is also incredibly demanding, immersed in and descriptive
of dense, high-pressure systems of education, and a text which imagines
a symbiosis of corporeal and intellectual knowledge. I have already high-
lighted the imagery of literary consumption used by the two teacher-¬gures
of the Satyricon “ Agamemnon (in his poem at Sat. 5), and Eumolpus (in
his speech before the Bellum civile at Sat. 118): today™s students and poets
must almost drown themselves in learning, be full to the brim with literary
knowledge, in order to reach the higher echelons of scholarship (and, it
seems, of empire). Eumolpus even threatens that the poet will sink under
the burden if he attempts a trendy new poetic topic like civil war, unless he
is stuffed with knowledge (plenus litteris), so as to command an artillery of
allusions, great thoughts coloured by mythology, and strokes of vatic inspi-
ration (118.6). Civil war comes to exemplify the poetry of excess, the chaotic
Petronius™ lessons in learning “ the hard way 127
landscape dreamt up in ¬‚ashes by the liber spiritus; this is the kind of war
Eumolpus envisages being sown, like a biological attack, in the marrow of
Rome™s insatiable citizens, just as the poet himself must ful¬l an insatiable
appetite for literary knowledge in order to write about civil war. The portrait
of conspicuous consumption and unquenchable greed at the beginning of
the Bellum civile is immediately reminiscent of the scenes from Trimalchio™s
Cena, and not only in the activity of eating to the point of nausea/moral
corruption; the tyrant™s estate, with its armies of slaves and endless imports
of exotic products, is a microcosm of Roman empire. Indeed civil war is a
dominant image throughout the Satyricon, from the ongoing ˜Theban™ love
triangle between (sexual ˜brothers™/comrades in arms) Encolpius, Giton and
Ascyltos, to the civil war scenes on board Lichas™ ship at 108“9; civil war
epic infects this ¬ction from beginning to end, sending the heavyweight
plot-model of Odyssean wandering into a tail spin.
The culmination of literary expertise in the Satyricon is a physical ordeal
that always presages a violent eruption of consumed knowledge “ whether as
vomiting (in the sickening Cena) or as an outpouring of verse (˜pouring out
words from the heart™ defundes pectore verba (5, line 22); ˜this effusion™; hic
impetus (118.6); ˜when Eumolpus had poured out these lines with immense
¬‚uency™; cum haec Eumolpus ingenti volubilitate verborum effudisset (124.2)).
Is the retainability (the permanence) of knowledge, on which all Greco-
Roman theory of education depends, now under threat? The accumulation
and discovery of knowledge in the Satyricon looks ugly, violent, even physi-
cally menacing. As Quintilian comments, during his advice on how to edu-
cate the young: ˜nothing is so bad for the memory as being overburdened™
(Inst. 1.2.27). Foucault, fearing that plebeian readers might misunderstand
his latest bestseller, Les Mots et Les Choses, famously said, ˜A little knowledge
is a dangerous thing™;54 Petronius seems to warn precisely the opposite, at
the same time.
Instead of assuming information slowly and gradually, as Quintilian
advises (Inst. 1.2.27“8), the characters of the Satyricon enact or discuss the
speeding-up and concentration of learning.55 In Neronian Rome™s refocus-
ing of human experience ˜around the entry into social knowledge rather
than the seasoned administration of the order of culture™,56 prematurity
is idolised (especially in Petronian paedophilic fantasies) at the expense of

54 Strangely, this enormously dif¬cult book became a huge hit in France when it was published in
1966: Foucault was none too pleased, however, eager to command the powers of exclusivity with the
warning that his work was not for everyone.
55 Cf. Juv. 14.189ff, [Plut.] De lib. educ. 13, Tac. Dial. 30, Quint. Inst. 1.10.
56 I quote Henderson (1993) 128.
128 victori a ri me ll
traditional pedagogy. Agamemnon complains that boys are pushed cruda
(raw) into the forum by over-ambitious parents; at 75.10 Trimalchio says
he wanted to grow up too quickly, so used to oil his chin to stimulate/fake
beard growth, and winds up the dinner party with his premature funeral,
despite the fact that he has ˜30 years, 4 months and 2 days™ left to live
(77.2); his friend Habinnas likes nothing better than to make ˜two days
out of one™ (72.4); and Quartilla™s protegee Pannychis is de¬‚owered at the
age of seven by Giton, a mere boy himself, who is the focus or catalyst of
most of Encolpius™ adventures.
The notion that fast-forwarding (educational) experience actively imper-
ils the preservation of memories (and hence knowledge)57 is exempli¬ed by
the ¬gure of the freedman in Trimalchio™s Cena: the freedman is obsessed
with memorialisation (Trimalchio is very impressed by the astrologer Ser-
apa, who tells him things he has forgotten: 76.11), yet at the same time needs
to forget and distance himself from his (slave) past, to pack a lifetime™s worth
of fun and privilege into his remaining ˜free™ years. He needs to forget who
he was in order to learn who he is (and forgetting can fuel creation of the
new, as my reading of Trimalchio™s jumbling of myths hints): the buzzing
University of Life teaches living for the moment, yet the freedman veers
between living solely in the novelistic present and being reminded of his
own mortality, and hence of the need to reaf¬rm and commemorate his
evolving identity (which must ironically always be contingent on his previ-
ous life in captivity). His psychology echoes the contradictions of Encolpius™
narration: fundamentally, the ¬ction of the Satyricon itself depends on it
having been written down from Encolpius™ memory, yet the central joke or
dilemma of reading it is that our narrator™s memory is apparently fallible,
subjective and inadequate.58

rememb ering a n d f org e t t i n g
Crucially, this paradox often seems calculated to jolt and unsettle reader
memory (and unlike Trimalchio, we don™t have an expert on hand to remind
us what we may have forgotten in a long and complex ¬ction). In this ¬nal
section, I want to discuss three points in the Satyricon where I think we are
urged to do a double-take, as it were, and to re-analyse our initial readings
or memory of previous passages. The ¬rst example concerns what emerges,
57 On the importance of memory in education see Quint. Inst. 11.2.17ff, 33ff, 45ff, and 11.3.25; Rhet.
Her. 3.16.29ff and 20.33“4. Also see Morgan (1998) 250.
58 E.g., see Sat. 56.10 (˜we laughed for ages; there were, like, six hundred of these jokes, which have now
escaped my memory™; diu risimus: sexcenta huiusmodi fuerunt, quae iam exciderunt memoriae meae).
Petronius™ lessons in learning “ the hard way 129
even in our broken text, as a carefully patterned mirroring between the
˜beginning™ and ˜end™ of the Cena. At Sat. 72“3 Ascyltos and Encolpius plan
to dodge Trimalchio™s furnace-hot bath, but as they head for the door they
are so startled by the appearance of a snarling dog on a chain that Ascyltos
falls straight into the ¬sh-pond, followed shortly by a sloshed Encolpius.
Our narrator comments: ˜I, who had been frightened even of a painted
dog (qui etiam pictum timueram canem) was also drunk, and while I was
trying to help the swimmer, I fell into the same abyss™(72.7). The doorman
saves them by pacifying the dog, and Encolpius reports that heroic Giton
had already got the beast on side by throwing it all the titbits he had saved
from the dinner. Clearly, the distraction of the guard dog in this way recalls
the doping of Cerberus in Virgil, Aeneid 6.417“23, while the fall into the
Charybdis-like whirlpool resembles a botched crossing of the Acheron: this
is after all the gateway to Trimalchio™s hell-on-earth. As we slip into hellish
fantasy worlds, is the guard dog a ¬gment of our narrator™s imagination,
the same dog we found painted on Trimalchio™s hallway wall when the
guests entered back in chapter 29 (˜beware of the dog™; cave canem (29.1))
which Encolpius mistook, apparently, for the real thing? It is emphatic in
the scene at 72 that we have been here before: Encolpius mentions that
Giton leads him (back) ˜through the gallery™ (per porticum (72.7)). This,
together with the reminder of the earlier scare with the guard dog sends
us back to Sat. 29 “ a neat ring composition. Yet now, it seems, the dog is
real, not painted. Did we understand the joke at Sat. 29, and are we now
double-crossed? Did the other guests laugh because (as we were ¬rst led
to presume) Encolpius was startled by a mere picture? Given the fact that
Encolpius is, by his own confession, legless, by Sat. 72, is the joke that he™s
still hallucinating guard dogs, that he still thinks the painted dog is real,
even as he remembers ˜I mustn™t be scared of painted dogs this time™? Or
did he make the more ludicrous error at Sat. 29 of believing the real dog
was part of the frieze, an object for his artistic critique?
Meanwhile the presence of another, apparently real dog, named Scylax,
in Trimalchio™s dining room, adds further confusion. For Scylax and the
painted dog at Sat. 29 look like one and the same: the dog Encolpius reports
seeing at 29.1 (˜to the left as you went in, not far from the porter™s of¬ce
(ostiarii cella)™) is canis ingens, catena vinctus (˜a huge dog tied up on a chain™)
while the real dog at Sat. 64 is also ingentis formae . . . canis catena vinctus
(˜a dog of huge proportions tied up on a chain™) and belongs to the ostiarius
who kicks it to heel under Encolpius™ table (64.7). Hence the division of
real from fake is complicated further: readers are made to get a taste of the
same dizziness and self-doubt that (apparently) plagues Encolpius himself,
130 victori a ri me ll
but only, paradoxically, if their memory for what has already happened in
this anti-narrative is razor-sharp.
A similar muddle occurs at Sat. 54.3, and this is my second example:
Trimalchio pretends to have been hurt by a clumsy slave, and a mini-
drama ensues in which doctors rush to his aid, Fortunata is in tears and the
slave is begging for his life. Encolpius, suspecting a impending joke, says:
˜I was afraid that his petition was leading up to some comic turn. The cook
who had forgotten to gut the pig had not faded from my recollection™. He
is referring us back to the earlier scene at Sat. 49, where the cook pretends
to have forgotten to gut the pig, a sham unveiled when the beast is sliced
open and sausages and black puddings slop out in the guise of intestines. Is
the joke at 54.3 that Encolpius has forgotten that Daedalus didn™t forget to
gut the pig, or do we read ˜forgotten™ in inverted commas? Remembering
what has already happened in the Satyricon uncovers booby traps as well as
artful narrative patternings.
Like all good comics (we might imagine), Encolpius knows when he™s
onto a good formula. The sketch at the end of Sat. 108 plays the mem-
ory game for a third time. In the midst of the civil-war theatre on board
Lichas™ ship, Giton and Encolpius both turn tragic and stage mock suicides;
Encolpius comments:
˜Then the gallant Giton took a razor to his manhood, threatening to end all our
troubles by self-mutilation . . . I also lifted a barber™s knife to my throat several
times, no more meaning to kill myself than Giton meant to do what he threatened.
Still, he ¬lled the tragic part more recklessly, because he knew he was holding the
same razor he had already used to cut his throat™. (108.10“12)

This episode sends us rewinding to events at the end of Sat. 94, which
showcased Giton™s previous attempt at suicide (by drawing a barber™s trainee
razor twice across his throat (94.12)). The melodrama ended happily, as
the fake blade meant that ˜Giton was not marked by even a trace of a
wound™ (94.14), something Encolpius now seems to have forgotten, or
˜forgotten™. Are we seeing our narrator™s appalling memory in action (the
joke embellished by the fact that the razor is a learning tool, as well as
a pantomime prop), or his overactive imagination hyping up reality for
the occasion (Giton™s ˜tragic role™ needs just such a cue, he hints)? At 108,
in any case, there is potential confusion over whether the razor Giton
wields is sharp or fake, as the razor, belonging to Eumolpus™ hired slave-
boy (mercennarius) (94.12 cf. 103.1) has just been used on the ship to cut
the hair and eyebrows of Encolpius, Ascyltos and Giton (103.1) Is there one
razor, or two (and which is sharp/blunted)? Are all wounds and scars in
this text metaphorical, operating as narrative markers, memory-like traces
Petronius™ lessons in learning “ the hard way 131
of events that have happened before, in the Satyricon or elsewhere? The
stowaways™ branding marks (written in the poet™s ink on shaved foreheads)
are fake, just as Trimalchio™s wounded arm at 54.2 is a put-on, and Encolpius™
chest-wound at 91.6 is psychological and has left no scar; at 99.2, Encolpius
declares that Giton will have to rid his mind of scars caused by previous
episodes if they are to get back together, at 113.7, every kiss Tryphaena plants
on Giton™s face is experienced as a wound, and at 113.8, Encolpius is afraid of
reopening a tender ˜scar™ just as the wound of love has begun to heal. In the
Odyssey, scarring is associated with the memory of narrative (in Od. 19, with
the story of Odysseus™ rite of passage on a boar-hunt), and Petronius triggers
the memory of this concept when he makes Lichas recognise Encolpius by
his crotch, just as Ulysses™ nurse identi¬ed her master by his scar (105.9“10).
Scars are associated with, or are symbolic of recollection, that much is
clear, yet the Satyricon™s layering of real, metaphorical, visible and invisible
scars seems to typify the way in which this ¬ction makes memory signif-
icant, only to suggest that remembering functions not as af¬rmation or
clari¬cation but as obfuscation, forcing us to reconsider perspectives on
either the event that is being recalled, or on the scene that has triggered the
recollection. Whereas compilatory writers like Valerius Maximus empha-
sise hierarchy and pattern in order to facilitate learning and recall, Petronius
seems to play a perversely opposite game, whereby ˜truths™ in the text are
found to be dynamic rather than static, and a good memory uncovers fur-
ther tangents and uncertainties. As ever, there is always the possibility that
we might be missing a crucial section of narrative that would clear up the
confusion. However, given the run of ˜memory tricks™, supported by precise
verbal pointers and by Encolpius™ characterisation as forgetful narrator, it
is tempting, at the very least, to think that such jokes were more rather
than less emphasised, and certainly not non-existent, in the original text.
Potentially, the game would be made more challenging by a novel too bulky
to digest in one, or even three or four sittings.

In questioning, as we have seen, both the retainability of knowledge and
the status of memory as retained knowledge, the Satyricon takes on the
core components of Greco-Roman educational theory. I have argued that
remembering in the Satyricon erodes knowledge, demoting it at best to belief
or conjecture, spurring scrutiny of what (we think) we know, or knew. As
Connors puts it, ˜The Satyricon becomes part of Neronian discourses about
the power of the distant past in the present™;59 yet going back to the past, in
literary terms and in the narratives of the Satyricon itself, involves not just

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