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Seminar Latin: Petronius Satyrica


Admission requirements

This class can be taken in fulfilment of the requirements of both the MA and the Research MA program in Classics and Ancient Civilizations (track Classics).
Admission requirements for other students: a BA degree in Classics obtained from a university in the Netherlands, or a comparable qualification obtained from a university outside the Netherlands. Moreover, students with an international degree have to contact the coordinator of studies to check admissibility.


Petronius' Satyrica is a masterpiece, so much is certain. All the rest – author, title, date, plot, genre, style, etc. – is not. In this course, we will delve into this elusive masterpiece, exploring its problems, themes and infinite interpretative potential. Magic, (homo)sexuality, (im)morality, intertextuality, vulgar language, (sur)realism, illusionism, cannibalism: students of Petronius are bound to find something to their liking.

In the first half of the semester, we will read substantial parts of the Latin text and address some central issues: Is the author to be identified with Nero's elegantiae arbiter (Tac. Ann. 16.17)? How "Neronian" is the Satyrica? To what genre does the text belong? How does the Satyrica compare to the Greek "novel"? These and other questions will be explored on the basis of the Latin text as well as secondary literature.

In the second half of the semester, each student will present a paper on a specific passage and a related interpretative issue or theme; each presentation will be followed by a prepared response by another participant. Possible research topics include: How does Eumolpus' epyllion on Rome's second civil war relate to Lucan's epic Bellum civile? How should we read Agamemnon's discourse on the decline of oratory? How should we interpret the intertextual allusions to Homer and Vergil? But students are encouraged to formulate their own research questions. Towards the end of the semester, students will write up their presentation in the form of an essay.

Time permitting, we will also pay attention to reception: the character of Petronius in Sienkiewicz' 1895 novel Quo vadis? (1895) and, of course, Fellini's film Satyricon (1969).

Course objectives

  • Broadening knowledge of Latin literature;

  • Enlarging reading and interpretative competence of Latin texts;

  • Reflection on 'genre' and 'generic enrichment';

  • Practising critical assessment of secondary literature;

  • Enhancing presentational skills;

  • Enhancing writing skills;

  • Enhancing research skills.


Please consult the Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours:

  • Class: 28 hours;

  • Weekly preparation (incl. reading Latin texts): 84 hours;

  • Reading prescribed primary literature (pensum): 60 hours;

  • Preparation of presentation: 38 hours;

  • Preparation of response to presentation: 10 hours.

  • Writing paper: 60 hours;

Assessment method

  • Oral presentation (20%)

  • Response to other presentation (10%)

  • written exam pensum (30%)

  • written presentation essay (40%)

  • Students who have read Petr. Sat. 26.7-79 in their third year (BA3 pensum Latijn) will read a different pensum.

  • Research MA-students will be expected to show a more independent scholarly attitude (in formulating and working out the research question; quantity/ complexity of literature).

If the overall mark is unsatisfactory, the student can revise his/her paper and/or retake the written examination (after consultation with the teacher). There is no resit for the oral presentation and response.


In addition to a 'Petronius shelf' in the University Library, secondary literature and other course materials will be made available on Blackboard.

Reading list

Students are expected to have:

  • K. Müller (ed.) Petronii Arbitri Satyricon reliquae (Teubner, 2003);

  • a Dutch or English translation of the text.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in [English]) and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Dhr. dr. J. Soerink


Students are encouraged to read the Satyrica in translation before the start of the second semester.