Titus Petronius probably wrote the Satyricon. He was an aristocratic friend of Emperor Nero but conspired in 65 a.d. against him and committed suicide in accordance with imperial order in 66 a.d.

Only fragments of the Satyricon survive, and Dinner with Trimalchio is the most often anthologized portion, in which a literature student and his friends eat with businessmen for whom they have little respect. Trimalchio considers himself a god, like Mercury, the god of business. The epic overtones of the work satirize the mercenary values and anti-intellectualism of these merchants. In the end, Trimalchio enacts his own funeral -- a lark which makes a point unrecognized by the bunch.

Works Consulted

"Petronius." The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces, Volume I. 6th ed. NY: W.W. Norton and Co., 1992. 943-960.