The Uncertain Hour
The Last Dinner of Petronius

Jesse Browner

€ 16,00
Publisher: Cairo Editore
Collection: Scrittori stranieri
Pages: 224
ISBN/EAN: 9788860522023

Cuma, 66 a.d. Nero is a demanding and cruel tyrant who wants only the best men in the empire around him. The chosen cannot refuse his favours even though they know that his august benevolence can vanish in the space of a night. Tito Petronius, the court philosopher and “arbiter of elegance” has fallen into disgrace; he is accused of having plotted against the emperor. At dawn, Nero’s killers will arrive to give him a dishonourable death, the death of traitors. But as a sign of respect for his rank, he is allowed to avoid the shame of being assassinated. Petronius chooses the true noble Roman’s death, suicide. But not before spending his last evening celebrating the pleasures of life at a banquet that will never be equalled. He invites his dearest friends to accompany him through the night: his beloved Melissa and the witty poet Martial who worships him. But every so often, the magnificent host disappears for a while motivated by the death ritual he has chosen, his innermost thoughts, his memories and his fears.

Around the well-known historical facts about the author of the Satyricon, Jesse Browner weaves this elegant novel that narrates the last hours of Petronius deftly examining every secret of his soul, every moment of his actions. The story is a real time machine that transports us to the statues of Petronius’ villa just off the gulf of Naples where we sit on his triclinium and taste the most exotic and precious dishes prepared by his famous chef, Lucullus. We listen to the verses of the great masters of Latin poetry and hear about Epicurean happiness, we laugh and are moved by the brazen, stinging words of his friend Martial. The Uncertain Hour, a detailed reconstruction of the pleasures of the refined life of Roman patricians, a touching reflection on life, death and the priceless value of friendship, also contains a surprising little jewel, a passionate love story that vividly comes back to life as Petronius muses in his solitary moments.

The author
Jesse Browner is a writer and translator. He lives in New York with his wife and two daughters

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