Petronius (Gaius Petronius Arbiter)
Nero had become emperor in 54 A.D., and his interest in theater and luxury led him to appoint a courtier named Petronius (praenomen probably Titus or possibly Gaius) as his Arbiter elegantiae or judge of elegance. Described as a man who "made luxury a fine art" and "who spent his days sleeping and his nights working and enjoying himself" by Tacitus, Petronius dictated the fashion and art at the Imperial court. There he composed his masterwork, the satirical "The Satyricon", probably in 61 A.D. Nero was capricious, however, and his favor was uncertain; the jealousy of a rival led to Petronius' downfall. Read more... He fled to Cumae before Nero's cronies caught up with him. There he wrote out a full description of the emperor's many debaucheries and crimes, entertained his friends, and broke his signet ring to avoid its being used to endanger others. Petronius then opened his veins and bled to death in 66 A.D., escaping Nero through suicide. His most famous work, "The Satyricon" was not published until 1664.