The Widow of Ephesus by Petronius

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In the story “The Widow of Ephesus” by Petronius, love, loyalty and extreme behavior are translated through the actions of the widow. The widow struggles and endearment allow her to experience an array of emotions. The people view her in the purest of forms in love and chastity, as she mourns the loss of her husband. She deprives herself of all comforts out of grief, and later she is tempted by a suitor only to deny him out of loyalty. Her grief takes her to the extreme of behaviors by fasting, self infliction of pain, and even denying her maid and the soldier simple indulgences as food. Even for a moment she holds on returning the love of a soldier. For “The Widow of Ephesus” by Petronius is a great story that presents the wide range of human emotions and how one may accept and move on.

The Theme of Love is presented by the widow, as she demonstrates a deeper love for her dead husband. She refuses to following the precession with the loose hair, and the beating of the naked breast in front of the crowd. At the beginning of the story, the widow is presented as being devoted. Her actions are described as being overly devoted to her dead husband by the dissatisfaction with the traditional norms of mourning. Petronius writes, “She followed the dead man even to his resting place, and began to watch and weep night and day over the body” (1, paragraph 2) Petronius suggests the widow’s love by her state of mind being lost in her grief, “Even to his resting place”. Another example of the love the widow demonstrates through the story is the sacrifice of her dead husband body to save her new love. The widow reacts to the soldier’s grief, for a crucified man’s body has been taken and he will have to take its place. She shows that even ...

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...hough a drastic change this deed of sacrifice saved her new loves live, and in both example she presents the them of extreme behavior by self inflicting pain and the drastic view of her dead husband’s body.

In conclusion the story, “the widow of Ephesus” by Petronius is that of Love, Loyalty and Extreme behavior. The widow’s demonstrates her love by the mourning and the sacrifice for her new love to live. The loyalty by ignoring all cries to cease her fasting and deny her new suitors advances. All these show an extreme behavior that could result from the loss of a loved one. It is Devotion, Sadness, Chastity and Fidelity that the widow exhibits and why she is esteemed by her all for her virtue.


Petronius, Satyricon, Translated by Michael Heseltine, Loeb Classical Library

(London:William Heinemann; New York: The Mac`millan Company, 1913, ch. 11
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