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Sullivan, J.P. (1961). The Satiricon of Petronius Some Psycho-Analytical Considerations. Am. Imago, 18(4):353-369.

(1961). American Imago, 18(4):353-369

The Satiricon of Petronius Some Psycho-Analytical Considerations

J. P. Sullivan

1. Psycho-analytical studies like those of Freud on Dostoevsky and Jones on Hamlet, have thrown much light on modern works of literature, but except for mythological investigations like those of Otto Rank and Theodor Reik there has been no equivalent work undertaken for classical literature. Even the interest in the Oedipus cycle is predominantly a mythological interest. Yet ancient authors, just as much as modern, were governed in their art by their individual aims, wishes, stresses and unconscious pre-occupa-tions and are therefore amenable to similar investigation; they have also the added attraction of belonging to societies radically different from the society with which psychoanalysis is mainly concerned. The autonomy of art compared with the directed nature of other activities offers the widest scope for the psychology of the individual to show itself, for its manifestations are directed only by internal and, to a lesser extent, literary and cultural forces. Psychoanalytical methods applied even to ancient literary works may provide a key for understanding the societies which produced them, and because of their very remoteness we cannot afford to neglect any means we have to realize the common humanity underlying them. Abraham's analysis in 1912 of Amenhotep IV demonstrated that psycho-analysis could elucidate purely historical problems; it is not impossible that literary problems may be similarly elucidated with the aid of psychoanalytical methods. One such problem is the concern of this paper.


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