Marshall McLuhan once said "The Medium is the Message", oft quoted by people who don't understand what he meant by either.
By "medium", McLuhan meant "technology" and by "message" he meant some kind of social effect, or change in how things are done. One classic example is that the electric light bulb allowed eye surgery or open heart surgery to be performed, a task unsuited to lighting methods that produced too much heat, and/or soot.
Likewise, the "message" of the printing press wasn't so much the pages printed thereon, but the fact that control of what works were copied was no longer in the hands of a class who had ample free time and tons of literate folks. At one point, literacy was such a prized skill that having it would literally get you excused from capital punishment for many crimes - and a main reason for this was that copying works was done by hand. A literate person with a book on one side and a blank one on the other would painstakingly write out, longhand, the work in question. It was a time consuming process and again, one that required a literate hierarchy - and the biggest one going was the Church. So the message of the printing press is that you can get books on evolution. And the works of the Marquis de Sade. And given it was written prior to the printing press, finding folks to preserve what was left just didn't happen.
The Satyricon has a connotation, both from Fellini's pornographic film that had nothing to do with the work in question - and more than one Satanic metal band thinking it a watchword for debauchery and wickedness - of being something to do with the wicked, the evil. The immoral.
On the surface, it's a parody - the Scary Movie to Scream or the Airplane! to Flight into Danger - of the epic poem The Odyssey. Only instead of angering Poseidon, our hero is a literate slave who ends up offending Priapus, and therefore having all kinds of problems in an intimate area. Given that the Classics was one way that literate and cultured people could excuse erotic paintings of nymphs and satyrs - they didn't really approve of a gutter pastiche compete with fart jokes.
But to dismiss the work as merely a smutty romp about a boy-smitten slave, Encolpius - having problems in the leading of the pencil department - would be a mistake. The first few pages has the hero, and by extension the author of the work give a lengthy and cutting critique of the state of academia and rhetoric. The hero reprimands the teachers and lecturers of the death of eloquent speech by complaining that all they're teaching is the Cliffs Notes of set pieces: "Friends, I lost this hand for you in the war!!!" (while waving said hand in the air), that sort of thing. But the rebuttal is even more depressing. Yes we know, but if we don't dumb it down, we won't have students. Nobody wants to learn, they just want the piece of paper, the quick fix, the diploma that promises a good job..
Petronius Arbiter was the advisor on many subjects, especially style and taste - to the Emperor Nero. He died throwing himself a party, (upon hearing that he was on the outs with Nero and therefore probably headed for beheading at best and various other gruesome ends at worst) opening and closing the wounds on his wrists so he died on his schedule, pausing his self-inflicted exsanguination so as to not miss a good conversation with friends before the soldiers got to the gates.
One of the most surviving pieces of the work is "Dinner with Trimalchio" - a sad tale about the two adventurers trying very hard to get in to a society party held by a slave done good... who has taken his low birth and station in life and turned himself not only into a man of extreme wealth but also a major patron of the arts. Encolpius and his philosopher friend (Encolpius is a teacher of rhetoric) bone up on poetry and the other intellectual arts because the evening will be full of heavy hitters. To their horror they find out that their host is a boor of the lowest order, a cross between Dom Deluise's portrayal of Caesar in History of the World Part 1 and Larry the Cable Guy. He greets the assembly by farting loudly and granting everyone else permission to do the same. It just gets worse from there.
But during the party, the narrative of which would have been just fine as it was - a scathing portrait of a money-worshipping culture who will whore out its values for the price of a fancy meal - we hear a joke about a woman nailing her dead husband to a cross to help out the centurion who has sex with her at the gravesite (abandoning his watch of a nearby execution) and a ghost story about a werewolf. Petronius isn't content with simply writing a straight ahead narrative and laces everything with witty dialogue, poetry, anecdotes and philosophy.
Precious little of it remains, which is a tragedy. Not only because the book deals with so much subject matter the other books left out, but because Petronius is a fantastic author and what we have of it is so amazing. It's a portrait of a civilization in decline and fall (even though it actually lasted many centuries more) and the words he wrote are just as valid today as when a character in the baths spits that what we'd call McMansions today are so prevalent that any house that doesn't have three baths and an art gallery is considered a cockroach culvert.