The Banquet of Trimalchio
Trimalchio is known for throwing lavish dinner parties, where his numerous servants bring course after course of exotic delicacies, such as live birds sewn up inside a pig, the idea being that what you are looking at does not represent what you are about to eat. Trimalchio is a character in the novel Satyricon by Petronius Trimalchio and his ostentatious and lavish parties are used in the arts to reference over indulgence and excess.
The single elements in this sculpture are found in Dutch still life paintings, another time of excess and ostentation. The plate that the food and finery sit on was inspired by a paragraph in the Illiad when Achilles awards prizes during the games in honour of Patroklos. “the first was a mixing bowl of chased silver…It was the loveliest thing in the world, a master-piece of Sidonian craftsmanship, which had been shipped across misty seas by Phoenician traders…”.
Trimalchio is mentioned in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby as his showy parties and background parallel those of Gatsby.
Trimalchio and his feast are referenced in Octavio Paz’s poem, “I Speak of the City.”
Victor Hugo references Trimalchio in Les Miserables.