This study offers an interpretation of the people as a collective character in Petronius’ novella of the widow of Ephesus. Through discussing the importance of their role within the economy of the story, it becomes clear that the traditional Roman values they praise become progressively opposed to the widow’s behaviour in the second part of the story. This analysis also makes it possible to appreciate fully the impact of the finale on the internal audience, and specifically on Lichas, who empathises both with the crucified husband and with the traditional views of this collective character. Following this interpretation of the people as a collective character, the Appendix presents a new argument to preserve a Vergilian quotation (A. 4.39) that editors generally expunge at Petr. 112.2.
Bibliographical noteProvisional acceptance date added, based on publication information