Title: The Satyricon
Author: Petronius Arbiter
Release Date: May, 2004 [EBook #5611] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on July 21, 2002]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** Start of the project gutenberg EBOOK, the satyricon ***
This eBook was produced by Gordon Keener.
Translated by William Burnaby
Introduction by C. K. Scott Moncrieff
ON READING PETRONIUS
AN OPEN LETTER TO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN
My dear --------,
On a bright afternoon in summer, when we stand on the high ground above Saint Andrew’s, and look seaward for the Inchcape Rock, we can discern at first nothing at all, and then, if the day favours us, an occasional speck of whiteness, lasting no longer than the wave that is reflecting a ray of sunlight upwards against the indistinguishable tower. But if we were to climb the hill again after dinner, you would have something to report. So, in the broad daylights of humanity, such as that Victorian Age in which you narrowly escaped being (and I was) born, when the landscape is as clear as on Frith’s Derby Day, the ruined tower of Petronius stands unremarked; it is only when the dark night of what is called civilisation has gathered that his clear beam can penetrate the sky. Such a night was the Imperial Age in Rome, when this book was written; such was the Renaissance Age in Italy, when the manuscript in which the greater part of what has survived is only to be found was copied; such, again, was the Age of Louis XIV in France, of the Restoration, and the equally cynical Revolution in England, during which this manuscript, by the fortune of war, was discovered at Trau in Dalmatia, copied, edited, printed, in rapid succession, at Padua, Paris, Upsala, Leipzig and Amsterdam, and, lastly, “made English by Mr. Burnaby of the Middle Temple, and another Hand,” all between the years 1650 and 1700; such an Age was emphatically not the nineteenth century, in which (so far as I know) the only appearance of Petronius in England was that rendered necessary—painfully necessary, let us hope, to its translator, Mr. Kelly,—by the fact that the editors of the Bohn Library aimed at completeness: but, as emphatically, such is the Age in which you and I are now endeavouring to live.