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Title:Hair as a literary feature in Petronius' Satyrica
Author(s):Marillier, Emily
Advisor(s):Augoustakis, Antonios
Department / Program:Classics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Roman social class
Abstract:This thesis comprises a case study, to explore one motif that Petronius uses throughout his work. The chosen topic is the use of descriptions of hair: how Petronius describes hair, where he includes it, and what significance he gives to it. Hair is a subject that was written about by prominent poets like Ovid and even emperors like Domitian, and in the Satyrica we see the importance of hair and appearance for art and social standing reflected. The thesis begins with a survey of important literary figures that Petronius drew upon, including Homer, Catullus, Virgil, Ovid, and Seneca, and how they use hair as a literary motif in their own works. It then proceeds to survey each of the major passages of the Satyrica that still survive to see how Petronius plays off of the work of his predecessors. In the first major passage, the Cena Trimalchionis, hair is presented as a mark of the social status of slaves and freedmen (Schmeling 2011), Trimalchio's inability to accept the loss of his hair and move on reflects his failure to move successfully from his slave status to that of a truly free man; thus his hair reflects his occupation of a limbo between servility and wealth that he cannot escape. In Roman society, a freedman like Trimalchio, no matter how rich or popular, is forever stuck in a social underworld from which he can never escape (Bodel 1994). In the passage about the voyage and shipwreck, the ties between hair and literature are strengthened, especially when Eumolpus gives his poem in praise of hair, and Encolpius and Giton have their hair shaved only to be replaced by wigs and painted eyebrows. In the final extant passage of the Satyrica in the city of Croton, Encolpius’ encounter with the alluring Circe shows how Petronius uses hair to add to the mock-heroic nature of the scene. Encolpius feels like an Odysseus, but in the end, just like the fake wig he is wearing at the time, this is only a pose.
Issue Date:2014-05-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Emily Marillier
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
Date Deposited:2014-05

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