Petronius’ Satryicon is a Latin prosimetrum detailing the various mishaps of the unsuspecting protagonist, Encolpius. The Dinner at Trimalchio episode of the Satyricon is the focus of this post and the subject of AES+F’s digitised panorama.
To give you an idea of how the dinner is about to pan out (spoiler alert), it might be worth letting you know that our protagonist has just escaped an orgy and sadomasochistic torture or as Quartilla likes to call it: an ‘exorcism’. Interested now aren’t you?
The dinner scene itself is a burlesqued display of the bourgeoisie living prevalent in Nero’s reign, and most likely an implicit mockery of good ol’ Nutjob Nero himself. My favourite part is the absurd parade of the first course:
If you got bored halfway through that, then just watch this link here
The 2009 work of AES+F is described on their website as such:
On one hand the atmosphere of ‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ can be seen as bringing together the hotel rituals of leisure and pleasure (massage and golf, the pool and surfing). On the other hand the ‘servants’ are more than attentive service-providers. They are participants in an orgy, bringing to life any fantasy of the ‘masters’, from gastronomic to erotic. At times the ‘masters’ unexpectedly end up in the role of ‘servants’. Both become participants in an orgiastic gala reception, a dinner in the style of Roman saturnalia when slaves, dressed as patricians, reclined at table and their masters, dressed in slaves’ tunics, served them.
Every so often the delights of ‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ are spoiled by catastrophes which encroach on the Global Paradise…
I’m pleased to note that they have obviously read the Satyricon before handling the material; the video captures the harsh juxtaposition of the classes beautifully. The unbridled hedonism of Trimalchio’s feast both lures and disgusts the audience.
At the nucleus of the scene is a man desperate to be the perfect host who, in his fervour, loses sight of the needs of his guests culminating in an explosion of the senses, moral confusion and the swift exit of a mentally violated narrator.
I’m always hesitant to read context onto a situation, but I can’t help but see the parallel between Trimalchio and his feast with Britain and the Olympics. The severe pressure to outperform our competitors both athletically and aesthetically and this incessant need to prove ourselves is making me wish we could all just take a leaf out of Ancient Athens’ book and have naked men wrestle it out for alpha male.