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Trimalchio ­ Laura Smith Background: · Trimalchio is a fictional character in The Satyricon by Petronius, and only features in one section of the entire work, named the Banquet of Trimalchio in which describes said banquet from the point of view of one guest, named Encolpius (who is one of the three main characters continued throughout The Satyricon) · The chapter is not complete, starts part way into the story · Though to be book 15 of an original 26, and we only know this from other authors in Rome writing on the extreme size of The Satyricon but sadly they were all rather vague on the details · Pertonius lived from roughly 27 to 66AD, probably wrote Satyricon during the reign of Nero · The description of Trimalchio has been called "one of the most clever and unsparing delineations in ancient literature" · Trimalchio is a freedmen who has attained power and wealth through hard work and perseverance · He has nothing to commend himself except money · According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica; obvious that the table talk is based on Petronius' own observations of provincial societies The name of Trimalchio and its meaning · His full name is Gaius Pompeius Trimalchio Maesenationus (his name features the names of Pompey and Maecenas in his name to enhance his ostentatious character · Fundamental root of the name `Trimalchio' means king (`thrice king' or `great king') although modern scholars are not convinced that Petronius would have been aware of the real meaning of his character's name · His name also means house blessed · His name is Semitic and therefore shows him to be a Semite, thought to have belonged to the province of Asia (he was apparently not circumcised, and this was not something that was highly practiced among Semites) · He comes from Asia, not Syria as often thought there would be no clear reason why he would have a Semitic name were he not a Semite The Banquet of Trimalchio · He throws a massive dinner party and intends to impress his guests with his extremely lavish food and decorations ­ throughout his dwelling grand excesses could be seen · He has servants bring extreme and exotic delicacies for the guests to enjoy e.g. live birds shown inside a pig and a dish to represent every sign of the Zodiac · The chapter also features a lengthy description of his proposed tomb, which is extremely lavish ­ he plans for it to be designed by well-known tomb builder called Habinnas, who was present at the banquet ­ he wished for his tomb to show he was a freedman, as he was very proud of this · At the end of the banquet, his drunken showiness leads to the entire household acting out his funeral, all for his own amusement and egotism

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