Study Guide for Petronius' Satyricon

Here are a few websites on Satyricon:

Some Study Questions

1. What is Trimalchio doing when you first meet him? What does this suggest to you about his character?

2. How does Petronius describe Trimalchio's house? What does his house suggest about him?

3. Outline Trimalchio's family history as it is revealed in the novel. Who were his parents? What was their legal status? How does this status affect his behavior?

4. Describe Trimalchio's relationship with his wife Fortunata. Would you consider them happily married? Why or why not? How does their relationship compare to that of other couples mentioned in the course readings?

5. How does Trimalchio treat his slaves? What does this suggest to you about Trimalchio's character?

6. What provisions has Trimalchio made for disposition of his property after his death? Why?

7. Apply the following codes of conduct to Trimalchio: arete; Cicero's portrait of friendship; Socrates' theory of love. What is Trimalchio's code of conduct?

8. Compare the behavior of characters in the Satyricon to that of characters in Terence's Brothers. Look for both points of similarity and of difference.

9. What does the plot of Satyircon have in common with Roman comedy?

This material has been published on the web by Prof. Tom Sienkewicz for his students at Monmouth College. If you have any questions, you can contact him at

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