If you have not picked something to read this summer, you owe it to yourself to consider Petronius.
The Satyricon is fairly easy for Latin graduates. The obstacle has always been vocabulary, not grammar, and this new Pharr-styled commentary of Cena Trimalchionis will make it easier than ever to focus on the content–particularly for those of us who want to read for pleasure this summer.
The Cena Trimalchionis tells the story of Encolpius, who with his friends crashes a dinner party where the guests are freedman and the host is the extremely wealthy Trimalchio. The story is rich with satire and social commentary and will seem refreshingly worlds away from the Latin of Caesar, Cicero, and Vergil.
Just read the first four lines of the Cena below.
Vēnerat iam tertius diēs, id est expectātio līberae cēnae, sed tot vulneribus cōnfossīs fuga magis placēbat quam quiēs. Itaque cum maestī dēlīberārēmus, quōnam genere praesentem ēvītārēmus procellam, ūnus servus Agamemnonis interpellāvit…
The third day had already come. There was an expectation of a free dinner, but with so many wounds struck, an escape was more pleasing than rest. And so while we were deliberating, grief-stricken, in what way we might avoid the present storm, a slave of Agamemnon interrupted…
If you are a Latin graduate, this text is well within your grasp. If you read two and a half times the reading above each day (10 lines), you will complete the Cena in four months. If you read five times the amount above each day (20 lines), you will finish Petronius in just two months–from June 1st to August 1st!
There is no commitment to buy the book. While paperback copies will be available in May for 9.95 USD, you can just as well use the pdf. Translation sheets will be available for those who prefer to write out translations or notes as they read. All you need is 20 to 30 minutes each day.
As you plan for the summer, keep Petronius in mind.