Giton's Performance of Status in the Satyrica of Petronius
Clark, Konnor Lee
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The character Giton in Petronius’s Satyrica represents one of the most multifaceted characters in this piece of literature. The thesis of this dissertation is that Giton performs slavery in various ways throughout the novel, and his interactions with others reinforce this claim. Firstly, Giton is represented as performing a variety of tasks and roles typically assigned to enslaved persons: he serves as a bath attendant, he cooks, and he guides. Giton also is sexually objectified by a variety of characters in the novel in ways that are similar to the sexual objectification of slaves. Similarly, the narrator and fellow character Encolpius denies Giton’s subjectivity by objectifying and feminizing the boy. Finally, some of the ways in which Giton performs slavery are emblematic of Roman comedy’s clever slave. This investigation into how Petronius represents Giton’s multifaceted embodiment and enactment of slavery advances our understanding of enslaved persons and their status by analyzing Giton’s actions and interactions as social performances.