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Sol Omnibus Lucet

My apologies for a short post this fortnight! My alter ego is back from two back-to-back book signings in Sydney and Melbourne, and my brain is ping-ponging between the million things I have to do... and getting none of them done. But I had a bunch of reference books waiting for me when I got home, so I"m diving into planning and plotting Book 2 any minute now.


*looks at my watch*


Any minute now...


Anyway, while I was in Melbourne, I got a tattoo! My first! I've half-thought about getting one for years, and the time finally seemed right. I was with two friends who are recently-published romance authors, and they got lovely book-related tattoos, so I thought I'd do the same, to commemorate Sub Rosa coming out this year. Here's what I got:




Excuse the flakiness and the way I'm holding my wrist and squishing the text. I still haven't figured out how to take a photo on my phone with just one hand. Coordination? That's for other people.


So, what does it mean? Sol omnibus lucet is a quote from Petronius's The Satyricon, and it means "the sun shines on everyone." As quotes go, it's a good one, right? It just also happily aligns perfectly with the period of Roman history I'm writing about: Petronius was actually killed during one of Nero's purges. Well, he was told to kill himself, which amounted to the same thing. Except instead of doing it quietly, Petronius went out with a party. Tacitus, in his Annals, says


Yet he did not fling away life with precipitate haste, but having made an incision in his veins and then, according to his humour, bound them up, he again opened them, while he conversed with his friends, not in a serious strain or on topics that might win for him the glory of courage. And he listened to them as they repeated, not thoughts on the immortality of the soul or on the theories of philosophers, but light poetry and playful verses. ...Even in his will he did not, as did many in their last moments, flatter Nero or Tigellinus or any other of the men in power. On the contrary, he described fully the prince's shameful excesses, with the names of his male and female companions and their novelties in debauchery, and sent the account under seal to Nero. Then he broke his signet-ring, that it might not be subsequently available for imperilling others.

It's also recorded that Petronius smashed his expensive fluorspar wine-dipper so that Nero couldn't have it when he was dead. If my back is ever against the wall, I aspire to this final level of pettiness and spite.


So yes, while the sun does shine on all of us, and it's a beautiful sentiment, I think it's also important to remember Petronius's final "fuck you" to Nero. Sometimes when I'm writing, stealing people from history and throwing them in my book, it's easy to forget that they're not just characters; whatever my interoperation of them is, these were real people. And while it's all ancient history to us, literally, there's something so universally human about that "fuck you", isn't there? I think Petronius would be happy to know that he's remembered for it.


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I had forgotten about Petronius's fare-thee-well to Nero.


My Classics prof (back in the days when you needed one Classics credit for your BA) quite like the old reprobate though he wouldn't read him aloud in class due to the presence of females. (It was only the fourth year females had been allowed to enroll in that particular college.)


Even holding The Satyricon in your hands was considered to be quite daring (for a female).

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Jennifer
Jennifer
Apr 29, 2023
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I like to think that Petronius knew Nero well enough that the wine dipper thing really stung!

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