Author: Petronius Arbiter

Chapter the Fifty-Second.

"And when it comes to silver, I’m a connoisseur; I have goblets as big as wine-jars, a hundred of ’em more or less, with engraving that shows how Cassandra killed her sons, and the dead boys are lying so naturally that you’d think ’em alive. I own a thousand bowls which Mummius left to my patron, where Daedalus is shown shutting Niobe up in the Trojan horse, and I also have cups engraved with the gladiatorial contests of Hermeros and Petraites: they’re all heavy, too. I wouldn’t sell my taste in these matters for any money!" A slave dropped a cup while he was running on in this fashion. Glaring at him, Trimalchio said, "Go hang yourself, since you’re so careless." The boy’s lip quivered and he immediately commenced to beg for mercy. "Why do you pray to me?" Trimalchio demanded, at this: "I don’t intend to be harsh with you, I’m only warning you against being so awkward." Finally, however, we got him to give the boy a pardon and no sooner had this been done than the slave started running around the room crying, "Out with the water and in with the wine!" We all paid tribute to this joke, but Agamemnon in particular, for he well knew what strings to pull in order to secure another invitation to dinner. Tickled by our flattery, and mellowed by the wine, Trimalchio was just about drunk. "Why hasn’t one of you asked my Fortunata to dance?" he demanded, "There’s no one can do a better cancan, believe me," and he himself raised his arms above his head and favored us with an impersonation of Syrus the actor; the whole household chanting:

Oh bravo
Oh bravissimo

in chorus, and he would have danced out into the middle of the room before us all, had not Fortunata whispered in his ear, telling him, I suppose, that such low buffoonery was not in keeping with his dignity. But nothing could be so changeable as his humor, for one minute he stood in awe of Fortunata, but his natural propensities would break out the next.


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Chicago: Petronius Arbiter, "Chapter the Fifty-Second.," Satyricon, trans. W. C. Firebaugh in Satyricon (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922), Original Sources, accessed November 30, 2023,

MLA: Arbiter, Petronius. "Chapter the Fifty-Second." Satyricon, translted by W. C. Firebaugh, in Satyricon, New York, Boni and Liveright, 1922, Original Sources. 30 Nov. 2023.

Harvard: Arbiter, P, 'Chapter the Fifty-Second.' in Satyricon, trans. . cited in 1922, Satyricon, Boni and Liveright, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 30 November 2023, from