The authorship of the six poems used in this song cycle is generally attributed to Petronius Arbiter (died ca AD66), Nero's Arbiter of Elegance and author of the Satyricon, a comic novel with poems interspersed in the prose narrative.
William Arrowsmith, author of a translation of the Satyricon wrote that '(The Satyricon)was clearly written not to be read silently but to be read aloud by a trained artist with a voice and virtuosity capable of registering the enormous variety of the work.'
It is these considerations which were foremost in Elias' mind whilst writing the work - that they represent a great variety of verse forms and demonstrate a wide range of flexibility and style, and that above all, the Latin itself was very much alive and vibrant. Therefore the tenor part is thoughout the most important aspect of the work even though the orchestra does more than merely accompany.
Each of the songs is different from the others and there are no more direct musical links except between III and IV. The music develops throughtout the work, the sixth song containing distant memories of the first.