The Satyricon, like many other works written in the time of early Ancient Rome, is a narrative whose author is not known definitively. However, the best candidate from the time was Titus Petronius (Arbiter).The story, looking especially from the scene “Dinner with Trimalchio,” is a satiric masterwork of the pragmatic and materialistic attitude of the time, soon to be replaced by Christianity. “Dinner with Trimalchio” tells a tale from the perspective of Encolpius, a vagabond student of the master Agamemnon, who is invited along as a pupil of Agamemnon to a banquet. The host of the banquet is Gaius Trimalchio, who was once a slave but now a freedman millionaire, who worked hard to attain his power and wealthy status. Trimalchio is known
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Trimalchio’s love for money and material wealth makes him stand out in the city, but as suggested by Petronius, for the wrong reasons. His taste for fine wines and glamorous cuisine at the lavish parties he throws—mainly to show off his great prosperity— is particularly revolting thought, knowing Trimalchio could easily share his riches with the hungry and suffering people of his city. Trimalchio does not know any god other than Mercury, the patron of business operations. He has dedicated a gold bracelet, worth one tenth of his total savings, to Mercury’s honor; but instead of depositing it into a shrine of the god, he wears it on his arm. Clearly Trimalchio is not humbled by the great fortune with which he is blessed. Petronius’ remarkable argument is that people, if fortunate enough to be as prosperous as Trimalchio, should not invest their savings in materialistic things and live so nicely, yet they should give back to those in need; for the true treasures in life are not made of gold and silver, it is more important to be spiritually rich.
As for not having a moral purpose for writing such a profound satirical piece, I cannot agree with the critics. I accept the idea that Petronius was using this work as a tool for individuals to better themselves in cultural ways of thinking, the acceptance of others, and grow introspectively