'Non humana viscera sed centies sestertium comesse' (Petr. Sat. 141, 7): Philomela and the cannibal heredipetae in the Crotonian section of Petronius' Satyricon

Paolino Onofrio Monella

Risultato della ricerca: Chapter

Abstract

The connection between the themes of money and death is widespread in Petronius' Satyricon, and is definitely not limited to the Cena Trimalchionis, where it has been widely examined. The aim of my paper is to consider the peculiar form that the motif takes in the Crotonian section of Petronius' Satyricon, and its connections with the mythical memory of the Procne and Philomela story. The theme of corpses dismemberment appears at the end of the episode of the shipwreck, the one immediately preceding the Crotonian section, through Encolpius' reflections on the sepultura practice and the destiny of human bodies after our death (Petronius, Satyricon 115, 6-19); the same theme closes the introductory speech of the farmer on the city of Croton (Sat.116, 9: Adibitis, inquit, oppidum tanquam in pestilentia campos, in quibus nihil aliud est nisi cadavera quae lacerantur aut corvi qui lacerant). The connection between 'eating' heritages and eating human bodies is made explicit in the final paragraphs of the extant text of the novel (Sat. 140 and 141), not only through Eumolpus' testament dispositions, but also through a net of symbols identifying man (or, more precisely, his objectified body) with his patrimony, including the bait metaphor in Sat. 140, 15, and the suggestion to the aspiring cannibal heredipeta in Sat. 141, 7: Operi modo oculos, et finge te non humana viscera, sed centies sestertium comesse. In this net of narrative and symbolic elements, a significant role is played by the allusion to the mythological figure of Philomela through the character of the greedy matrona who offers her children to the sexual desire of Eumolpus. In paragraph 140 of the Satyricon, the language used to describe the woman and her acts seems to allude to the mythical background of the Procne and Philomela legend (especially to the narrative in the sixth book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses), but paradoxically, in the petronian novel, it is the flesh of the sexually greedy Eumolpus which should eventually be eaten – together with his (imaginary) substances – by Philomela's children and the other Crotonian heredipetae.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteIntende, Lector - Echoes of Myth, Religion and Ritual in the Ancient Novel
Pagine223-236
Numero di pagine14
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2013
Pubblicato esternamenteYes

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Monella, P. O. (2013). 'Non humana viscera sed centies sestertium comesse' (Petr. Sat. 141, 7): Philomela and the cannibal heredipetae in the Crotonian section of Petronius' Satyricon. In Intende, Lector - Echoes of Myth, Religion and Ritual in the Ancient Novel (pagg. 223-236)