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Res novae: Die “Cena Trimalchionis" und der Kreislauf der Transgression

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In the “Cena Trimalchionis" Encolpius is continually faced with Trimalchio's oddities (res novae, sat. 27, 2). The paper aims to highlight the occurrence of a ‘scheme of the res novae', a narrative pattern that repeats itself during the “Cena" and in which the only variation is constituted by Encolpius' reactions to Trimalchio's jokes: while the host is never tired of testing his guests' intelligence with (mostly gastronomic) enigmas, Encolpius moves from amazement to skepticism to the desire of competing with Trimalchio in foreseeing his plans. Encolpius' suppositions mainly link Trimalchio's stratagems to the world of the theatre and of the Saturnalia: following his footsteps modern critics often used the same references to explain Trimalchio's eccentric ideas. The present essay will show that the point of view of the narrator, Encolpius, is not to be confused with the strategy of Trimalchio, who takes over the imaginary of the theatre and of the Saturnalia only to overthrow them in search of a totally new and ‘not foreseeable' transgression.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2019

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  • Hermes, founded in 1866 and currently edited by Siegmar Döpp, Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp and Adolf Köhnken, is an international, peer-reviewed journal on Greek and Roman antiquity. It focuses on linguistics, literature as well as history. It features original articles in English, German, French and Italian.
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