First of all, I have to get something off my chest. In the profile for Petronius on GR somebody has written "Tacitus records that he was eventually forced to commit suicide after being embarrassed in front of Nero." This is what Tacitus actually wrote:And so Tigellinus, jealous of a rival whose expertise in the science of pleasure far surpassed his own, appealed to the emperor’s cruelty (Nero’s dominant passion) and accused Petronius of friendship with the conspirator Scaevinus. A slave was bribed to incriminate Petronius; no defense was permitted and most of the prisoner’s household was placed under arrest. At the time the emperor was in Campania. Petronius had gone as far as Cumae when he was apprehended. The prospect of temporizing, with its attendant hopes and fears, seemed intolerable; equally he had no desire to dispatch himself hastily. So he severed his veins and then bound them up as the fancy took him, meanwhile conversing with his friends, not seriously or sadly or with ostentatious courage. And he listened while they talked and recited, not maxims on the immortality of the soul and philosophical reflections, but light and frivolous poetry. He then rewarded some of his slaves and assigned beatings to others. He dined and then dozed so that his death, even though compulsory, might still look natural. Nor did he adopt the conventional deathbed routine of flattering Nero, Tigellinus, and the other worthies. Instead, he wrote out a list of the emperor’s debaucheries, citing by name each of his sexual partners, male and female, with a catalogue of his sexual experiments, and sent it off to Nero under seal. He then destroyed his signet ring so that it could not be used later for the purpose of incriminating others.It is also evident from this quote that Petronius was no mere voluptuary. And does he manifest less character here than Cato did when he cut open his stomach with his own sword after the defeat at Utica and refused medical attention (an episode held up by many as being exemplary, but I digress)? Tacitus also informs us that while serving as governor of Bithynia and as consul, Petronius was "a capable and energetic administrator." OK, I feel better now.Finally, The Satyricon . I must echo what a GR friend has already written here: what a sadness the many lacunae in this text are! One can only hope that someone finds a complete copy in some mouldering crypt somewhere; after all, the butchered text upon which this translation is based was found only in 1663...This book is funny, funny, funny, on so many different levels, some of which cannot be appreciated by the unwashed, non-Latin-reading, ignorant-of-most-Latin-literature drooling imbeciles... Oh, wait, that's me!! OK, but I can appreciate second hand, due to William Arrowsmith's scholarship, that Petronius wrote this book using many different styles and genres of Latin literature to heighten yet more the various kinds of irony at play here. An English reader must imagine a text in which Shakespearean prose is placed next to a rich and luscious paragraph by Virginia Woolf, placed next to a Spenserian stanza, placed next to a comedy bit by (insert your favorite standup comic), placed next to an orotund address by Gibbon, placed next to the mewling of a nearly speechless teenager (OK, maybe not the latter), with each style artfully chosen to make a particular point, to enrich the ironies... (By God, I'm almost tempted to disinter my high school Latin books!) Arrowsmith admits he can't do that; he can only tell us about it and try to translate some of it. And, of course, puns cannot be translated, and apparently The Satyricon is replete with them.Alright, but much of the humor, satire and irony does come through, and what a treat it all is. All of the postmodern gurus about whose knees so many of the more sophisticated readers in GR are gathered should themselves sit at Petronius' feet quietly and listen carefully. And this satire and irony is by no means bitter or cutting (as opposed to so much of our contemporary literature); even the most ridiculed character (usually through his own words) is not reduced to some kind of symbol to be despised - Petronius, who was no moralizer, empathizes with each and lets them breathe. What I would give to be able to go to Trimalchio's banquet!