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Gaius Petronius known as Arbiter

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Gaius Petronius
Gaius Petronius

Gaius Petronius called Arbiter, who is credited with the authorship of the anonymously published novel Satyricon, gained a great influence on Emperor Nero, bored with the stoic Seneca. For the emperor, fascinated with Greek culture and who considered himself an artist, and his mannered court, he became an oracle in matters of good taste and artistic values.

Hence the nickname Arbiter elegantiae (elegantiarum). He paid his influence on the emperor not only with Seneca’s dislike but also with the hatred of Ophonius Tigellinus, the praetorian prefect, who used the plot to kill Nero (65 CE) to accuse Petronius of having contacts with one of the leaders of the plot, Gaius Piso. Like Seneca and Lucan, Petronius chose to commit suicide and avoid a shameful execution. Expecting the imminent death sentence, he organized a feast during which he opened his veins, then tightened them with a bandage to delay his death. For several hours, he made his property dispositions, feasted, talked with friends, and listened to recitation and music.

  • Krawczuk Aleksander, Spotkania z Petroniuszem
  • Prag Jonathan, Petronius: A Handbook, 2009

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