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Petronius: A spooky story - comprehension questions
Terms in this set (15)
What is the social status of the narrator of the story?
He was still a slave at the time of the story but now, at Trimalchio's dinner party where he is telling the story, he is a freedman.
What is his name?
Give two facts about Melissa.
She was the wife of an innkeeper named Terentius and a really beautiful little peach.
Either Terentius the innkeeper or Melissa's partner with whom she was living in the country. These two men may be one and the same if Niceros is not drawing the proper distinction between maritus and contubernalis.
How determined was the narrator to visit Melissa?
He was absolutely determined - 'by shield and by greave'
nam in angustiis amici apparent: how can this phrase be taken in two ways?
Melissa might think that as her friend Niceros has arrived to comfort her in her bereavement but Niceros may simply be using the façade of visiting a widow to provide comfort as the chance to make a move on Melissa.
What gave the narrator the opportunity to visit Melissa?
His master had gone to Capua on business
Did he travel there alone?
No. There was a guest staying with them who agreed to travel as far as the fifth milestone.
What are we told about the travelling companion?
He was a soldier and brave as hell itself.
At what time of day do the two men set off?
First thing in the morning at cock crow when the moon was shining brightly.
How is the setting made to seem spooky?
They arrive at tombs which were always outside cities and were the haunts of criminals, prostitutes and other social undesirables. There are woods nearby as well.
Why does the soldier head over to the tombstones?
Probably to go to the toilet - the text does not specify - but there could be other slightly sordid reasons why he might have wanted some privacy.
How does the narrator pass the time?
Singing and counting the tombstones.
How does the scene all of a sudden turn peculiar?
The soldier strips off and lays his clothes by the side of the street, urinates all around them in a circle, turns into a wolf, starts howling, and then runs off into the woods
How did Niceros react to these shenanigans?
His heart was in his mouth, he stood there as if dead, not knowing where he was, and finally went to look at the soldiers clothes, which he discovered had turned to stone. Eventually, terrified half to death, he draws his sword and slashes at shadows all the way until he arrives at Melissa's country place.
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