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The Satyricon, Complete by Petronius Arbiter

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Produced by David Widger

[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]


Complete and unexpurgated translation by W. C. Firebaugh,
in which are incorporated the forgeries of Nodot and Marchena,
and the readings introduced into the text by De Salas.

Among the difficulties which beset the path of the conscientious
translator, a sense of his own unworthiness must ever take precedence;
but another, scarcely less disconcerting, is the likelihood of
misunderstanding some allusion which was perfectly familiar to the author
and his public, but which, by reason of its purely local significance,
is obscure and subject to the misinterpretation and emendation of a later

A translation worthy of the name is as much the product of a literary
epoch as it is of the brain and labor of a scholar; and Melmouth's
version of the letters of Pliny the Younger, made, as it was, at a
period when the art of English letter writing had attained its highest
excellence, may well be the despair of our twentieth century apostles of
specialization. Who, today, could imbue a translation of the Golden Ass
with the exquisite flavor of William Adlington's unscholarly version of
that masterpiece? Who could rival Arthur Golding's rendering of the
Metamorphoses of Ovid, or Francis Hicke's masterly rendering of Lucian's
True History? But eternal life means endless change and in nothing is
this truth more strikingly manifest than in the growth and decadence of
living languages and in the translation of dead tongues into the ever
changing tissue of the living. Were it not for this, no translation
worthy of the name would ever stand in need of revision, except in
instances where the discovery and collation of fresh manuscripts had
improved the text. In the case of an author whose characters speak in
the argot proper to their surroundings, the necessity for revision is
even more imperative; the change in the cultured speech of a language is
a process that requires years to become pronounced, the evolution of
slang is rapid and its usage ephemeral. For example Stephen Gaselee, in
his bibliography of Petronius, calls attention to Harry Thurston Peck's
rendering of "bell um pomum" by "he's a daisy," and remarks,
appropriately enough, "that this was well enough for 1898; but we would
now be more inclined to render it 'he's a peach.'" Again, Peck renders
"illud erat vivere" by "that was life," but, in the words of our lyric
American jazz, we would be more inclined to render it "that was the
life." "But," as Professor Gaselee has said, "no rendering of this part
of the Satyricon can be final, it must always be in the slang of the

"Some," writes the immortal translator of Rabelais, in his preface,
"have deservedly gained esteem by translating; yet not many condescend
to translate but such as cannot invent; though to do the first well,
requires often as much genius as to do the latter. I wish, reader,
thou mayest be as willing to do the author justice, as I have strove
to do him right."

Many scholars have lamented the failure of Justus Lipsius to comment upon
Petronius or edit an edition of the Satyricon. Had he done so, he might
have gone far toward piercing the veil of darkness which enshrouds the
authorship of the work and the very age in which the composer flourished.
To me, personally, the fact that Laurence Sterne did not undertake a
version, has caused much regret. The master who delineated Tristram
Shandy's father and the intrigue between the Widow Wadman and Uncle Toby
would have drawn Trimalchio and his peers to admiration.

W. C. F.


9 Gladiator obscene
17 Impotence
26 Peepholes in brothels
34 Silver Skeleton
36 Marsyas
40 A pie full of birds
56 Contumelia
116 Life in Rome
116 Legacy hunting
119 Castration
127 Circe's voice
131 Sputum in charms
131 The "infamous finger"
138 The dildo
The Cordax

I Soldiers in love
II Courtesans
III Greek love
IV Pollution
V Virginity
VI Pandars


Of the many masterpieces which classical antiquity has bequeathed to
modern times, few have attained, at intervals, to such popularity; few
have so gripped the interest of scholars and men of letters, as has this
scintillating miscellany known as the Satyricon, ascribed by tradition to
that Petronius who, at the court of Nero, acted as arbiter of elegance
and dictator of fashion. The flashing, wit, the masterly touches which
bring out the characters with all the detail of a fine old copper
etching; the marvelous use of realism by this, its first prophet; the
sure knowledge of the perspective and background best adapted to each
episode; the racy style, so smooth, so elegant, so simple when the
educated are speaking, beguile the reader and blind him, at first, to the
many discrepancies and incoherences with which the text, as we have it,
is marred. The more one concentrates upon this author, the more apparent
these faults become and the more one regrets the lacunae in the text.
Notwithstanding numerous articles which deal with this work, some from
the pens of the most profound scholars, its author is still shrouded in
the mists of uncertainty and conjecture. He is as impersonal as
Shakespeare, as aloof as Flaubert, in the opinion of Charles Whibley,
and, it may be added, as genial as Rabelais; an enigmatic genius whose
secret will never be laid bare with the resources at our present command.
As I am not writing for scholars, I do not intend going very deeply into
the labyrinth of critical controversy which surrounds the author and the
work, but I shall deal with a few of the questions which, if properly
understood, will enhance the value of the Satyricon, and contribute, in
some degree, to a better understanding of the author. For the sake of
convenience the questions discussed in this introduction will be arranged
in the following order:

1. The Satyricon.

2. The Author.
a His Character.
b His Purpose in Writing.
c Time in which the Action is placed.
d Localization of the Principal Episode.

3. Realism.
a Influence of the Satyricon upon the Literature of the World.

4. The Forgeries.


THE SATYRICON. Heinsius and Scaliger derive the word from the Greek,
whence comes our English word satyr, but Casaubon, Dacier and Spanheim
derive it from the Latin 'satura,' a plate filled with different kinds
of food, and they refer to Porphyrion's 'multis et variis rebus hoc
carmen refertum est.'

The text, as we possess it, may be divided into three divisions: the
first and last relate the adventures of Encolpius and his companions, the
second, which is a digression, describes the Dinner of Trimalchio. That
the work was originally divided into books, we had long known from
ancient glossaries, and we learn, from the title of the Traguriensian
manuscript, that the fragments therein contained are excerpts from the
fifteenth and sixteenth books. An interpolation of Fulgentius (Paris
7975) attributes to Book Fourteen the scene related in Chapter 20 of the
work as we have it, and the glossary of St. Benedict Floriacensis cites
the passage 'sed video te totum in illa haerere, quae Troiae halosin
ostendit (Chapter 89), as from Book Fifteen. As there is no reason to
suppose that the chapters intervening between the end of the Cena
(Chapter 79) and Chapter 89 are out of place, it follows that this
passage may have belonged to Book Sixteen, or even Seventeen, but that it
could not have belonged to Book Fifteen. From the interpolation of
Fulgentius we may hazard the opinion that the beginning of the fragments,
as we possess them (Chapters 1 to 26), form part of Book Fourteen. The
Dinner of Trimalchio probably formed a complete book, fifteen, and the
continuation of the adventures of Encolpius down to his meeting with
Eumolpus (end of Chapter 140) Book Sixteen. The discomfiture of Eumolpus
should have closed this book but not the entire work, as the exit of the
two principal characters is not fixed at the time our fragments come to
an end. The original work, then, would probably have exceeded Tom Jones
in length.



a--"Not often," says Studer (Rheinisches Museum, 1843), "has there been
so much dispute about the author, the times, the character and the
purpose of a writing of antiquity as about the fragments of the Satyricon
of Petronius." The discovery and publication of the Trau manuscript
brought about a literary controversy which has had few parallels, and
which has not entirely died out to this day, although the best
authorities ascribe the work to Caius Petronius, the Arbiter Elegantiarum
at the court of Nero. "The question as to the date of the narrative of
the adventures of Encolpius and his boon companions must be regarded as
settled," says Theodor Mommsen (Hermes, 1878); "this narrative is
unsurpassed in originality and mastery of treatment among the writings of
Roman literature. Nor does anyone doubt the identity of its author and
the Arbiter Elegantiarum of Nero, whose end Tacitus relates."

In any case, the author of this work, if it be the work of one brain,
must have been a profound psychologist, a master of realism, a
natural-born story teller, and a gentleman.

b--His principal object in writing the work was to amuse but, in amusing,
he also intended to pillory the aristocracy and his wit is as keen as the
point of a rapier; but, when we bear in mind the fact that he was an
ancient, we will find that his cynicism is not cruel, in him there is
none of the malignity of Aristophanes; there is rather the attitude of
the refined patrician who is always under the necessity of facing those
things which he holds most in contempt, the supreme artist who suffers
from the multitude of bill-boards, so to speak, who lashes the posters
but holds in pitying contempt those who know so little of true art that
they mistake those posters for the genuine article. Niebuhr's estimate
of his character is so just and free from prejudice, and proceeds from
a mind which, in itself, was so pure and wholesome, that I will quote it:

"All great dramatic poets are endowed with the power of creating beings
who seem to act and speak with perfect independence, so that the poet is
nothing more than the relator of what takes place. When Goethe had
conceived Faust and Margarete, Mephistopheles and Wagner, they moved and
had their being without any exercise of his will. But in the peculiar
power which Petronius exercises, in its application to every scene, to
every individual character, in everything, noble or mean, which he
undertakes, I know of but one who is fully equal to the Roman, and that
is Diderot. Trimalchio and Agamemnon might have spoken for Petronius,
and the nephew Rameau and the parson Papin for Diderot, in every
condition and on every occasion inexhaustibly, out of their own nature;
just so the purest and noblest souls, whose kind was, after all, not
entirely extinct in their day.

"Diderot and a contemporary, related to him in spirit, Count Gaspar
Gozzi, are marked with the same cynicism which disfigures the Roman;
their age, like his, had become shameless. But as the two former were in
their heart noble, upright, and benevolent men, and as in the writings of
Diderot genuine virtue and a tenderness unknown to his contemporaries
breathe, so the peculiarity of such a genius can, as it seems, be given
to a noble and elevated being only. The deep contempt for prevailing
immorality which naturally leads to cynicism, and a heart which beats for
everything great and glorious,--virtues which then had no existence,
--speak from the pages of the Roman in a language intelligible to every
susceptible heart."

e--Beck, in his paper, "The Age of Petronius Arbiter," concluded that the
author lived and wrote between the years 6 A.D. and 34 A.D., but he
overlooked the possibility that the author might have lived a few years
later, written of conditions as they were in his own times, and yet laid
the action of his novel a few years before. Mommsen and Haley place the
time under Augustus, Buecheler, about 36-7 A.D., and Friedlaender under

d--La Porte du Theil places the scene at Naples because of the fact the
city in which our heroes met Agamemnon must have been of some
considerable size because neither Encolpius nor Asclytos could find their
way back to their inn, when once they had left it, because both were
tired out from tramping around in search of it and because Giton had been
so impressed with this danger that he took the precaution to mark the
pillars with chalk in order that they might not be lost a second time.
The Gulf of Naples is the only bit of coastline which fits the needs of
the novel, hence the city must be Naples. The fact that neither of the
characters knew the city proves that they had been recent arrivals, and
this furnishes a clue, vague though it is, to what may have gone before.

Haley, "Harvard Studies in Classical Philology," vol. II, makes out a
very strong case for Puteoli, and his theory of the old town and the new
town is as ingenious as it is able. Haley also has Trimalchio in his
favor, as has also La Porte du Theil. "I saw the Sibyl at Cumae," says
Trimalchio. Now if the scene of the dinner is actually at Cumae this
sounds very peculiar; it might even be a gloss added by some copyist
whose knowledge was not equal to his industry. On the other hand,
suppose Trimalchio is speaking of something so commonplace in his
locality that the second term has become a generic, then the difficulty
disappears. We today, even though standing upon the very spot in Melos
where the Venus was unearthed, would still refer to her as the Venus de
Melos. Friedlaender, in bracketing Cumis, has not taken this
sufficiently into consideration. Mommsen, in an excellent paper (Hermes,
1878), has laid the scene at Cumae. His logic is almost unanswerable,
and the consensus of opinion is in favor of the latter town.


REALISM. Realism, as we are concerned with it, may be defined as the
literary effect produced by the marshaling of details in their exactitude
for the purpose of bringing out character. The fact that they may be
ugly and vulgar the reverse, makes not the slightest difference. The
modern realist contemplates the inanimate things which surround us with
peculiar complaisance, and it is right that he should as these things
exert upon us a constant and secret influence. The workings of the human
mind, in complex civilizations, are by no means simple; they are involved
and varied: our thoughts, our feelings, our wills, associate themselves
with an infinite number of sensations and images which play one upon the
other, and which individualize, in some measure, every action we commit,
and stamp it. The merit of our modern realists lies in the fact that
they have studied the things which surround us and our relations to them,
and thus have they been able to make their creations conform to human
experience. The ancients gave little attention to this; the man, with
them, was the important thing; the environment the unimportant. There
are, of course, exceptions; the interview between Ulysses and Nausiskaa
is probably the most striking. From the standpoint of environment,
Petronius, in the greater portion of his work, is an ancient; but one
exception there is, and it is as brilliant as it is important. The
entire episode, in which Trimalchio figures, offers an incredible
abundance of details. The descriptions are exhaustive and minute, but
the author's prime purpose was not description, it was to bring out the
characters, it was to pillory the Roman aristocracy, it was to amuse!
Cicero, in his prosecution of Verres, had shown up this aristocracy in
all its brutality and greed, it remained for the author of the Cena to
hold its absurdity up to the light of day, to lash an extravagance which,
though utterly unbridled, was yet unable to exhaust the looted
accumulations of years of political double dealing and malfeasance in
office. Trimalchio's introduction is a masterstroke, the porter at the
door is another, the effect of the wine upon the women, their jealousy
lest either's husband should seem more liberal, their appraisal of each
other's jewelry, Scintilla's remark anent the finesse of Habinnas'
servant in the mere matter of pandering, the blear-eyed and black-toothed
slave, teasing a little bitch disgustingly fat, offering her pieces of
bread and when, from sheer inability, she refuses to eat, cramming it
down her throat, the effect of the alcohol upon Trimalchio, the little
old lady girded round with a filthy apron, wearing clogs which were not
mates, dragging in a huge dog on a chain, the incomparable humor in the
passage in which Hesus, desperately seasick, sees that which makes him
believe that even worse misfortunes are in store for him: these details
are masterpieces of realism. The description of the night-prowling
shyster lawyer, whose forehead is covered with sebaceous wens, is the
very acme of propriety; our first meeting; with the poet Eumolpus is a
beautiful study in background and perspective. Nineteen centuries have
gone their way since this novel was written, but if we look about us we
will be able to recognize, under the veneer of civilization, the
originals of the Satyricon and we will find that here, in a little corner
of the Roman world, all humanity was held in miniature. Petronius must
be credited with the great merit of having introduced realism into the
novel. By an inspiration of genius, he saw that the framework of
frivolous and licentious novels could be enlarged until it took in
contemporary custom and environment. It is that which assures for him
an eminent place, not in Roman literature alone, but in the literature
of the world.

Petronius are the originals from whom directly, or indirectly, later
authors drew that inspiration which resulted in the great mass of
picaresque fiction; but, great as this is, it is not to this that the
Satyricon owes its powerful influence upon the literature of the world.
It is to the author's recognition of the importance of environment,
of the vital role of inanimate surroundings as a means for bringing out
character and imbuing his episodes and the actions of his characters with
an air of reality and with those impulses and actions which are common to
human experience, that his influence is due. By this, the Roman created
a new style of writing and inaugurated a class of literature which was
without parallel until the time of Apuleius and, in a lesser degree, of
Lucian. This class of literature, though modified essentially from age
to age, in keeping with the dictates of moral purity or bigotry, innocent
or otherwise, has come to be the very stuff of which literary success in
fiction is made. One may write a successful book without a thread of
romance; one cannot write a successful romance without some knowledge of
realism; the more intimate the knowledge the better the book, and it is
frequently to this that the failure of a novel is due, although the
critic might be at a loss to explain it. Petronius lies behind Tristram
Shandy, his influence can be detected in Smollett, and even Fielding paid
tribute to him.



From the very nature of the writings of such an author as Petronius, it
is evident that the gaps in the text would have a marked tendency to
stimulate the curiosity of literary forgers and to tempt their sagacity,
literary or otherwise. The recovery of the Trimalchionian episode, and
the subsequent pamphleteering would by no means eradicate this "cacoethes

When, circa 1650, the library of the unfortunate Nicolas Cippico yielded
up the Trau fragment, the news of this discovery spread far and wide and
about twelve years later, Statileo, in response to the repeated requests
of the Venetian ambassador, Pietro Basadonna, made with his own hand a
copy of the MS., which he sent to Basadonna. The ambassador, in turn,
permitted this MS. to be printed by one Frambotti, a printer endowed with
more industry than critical acumen, and the resultant textual conflation
had much to do with the pamphlet war which followed. Had this Paduan
printer followed the explicit directions which he received, and printed
exactly what was given him much good paper might have been saved and a
very interesting chapter in the history of literary forgery would
probably never have been written. The pamphlet war did not die out until
Bleau, in 1670-71, printed his exact reproduction of the Trau manuscript
and the corrections introduced by that licentiousness of emendation of
which we have spoken.

In October, 1690, Francois Nodot, a French soldier of fortune, a
commissary officer who combined belles lettres and philosophy with his
official duties, wrote to Charpentier, President of the Academy of
France, calling, his attention to a copy of a manuscript which he (Nodot)
possessed, and which came into his hands in the following manner: one
Du Pin, a French officer detailed to service with Austria, had been
present at the sack of Belgrade in 1688. That this Du Pin had, while
there, made the acquaintance of a certain Greek renegade, having, as a
matter of fact, stayed in the house of this renegade. The Greek's
father, a man of some learning, had by some means come into possession of
the MS., and Du Pin, in going through some of the books in the house, had
come across it. He had experienced the utmost difficulty in deciphering
the letters, and finally, driven by curiosity, had retained a copyist and
had it copied out. That this Du Pin had this copy in his house at
Frankfort, and that he had given Nodot to understand that if he (Nodot)
came to Frankfort, he would be permitted to see this copy. Owing to the
exigencies of military service, Nodot had been unable to go in person to
Frankfort, and that he had therefore availed himself of the friendly
interest and services of a certain merchant of Frankfort, who had
volunteered to find an amanuensis, have a copy made, and send it to
Nodot. This was done, and Nodot concludes his letter to Charpentier by
requesting the latter to lay the result before the Academy and ask for
their blessing and approval. These Nodotian Supplements were accepted as
authentic by the Academics of Arles and Nimes, as well as by Charpentier.
In a short time, however, the voices of scholarly skeptics began to be
heard in the land, and accurate and unbiased criticism laid bare the
fraud. The Latinity was attacked and exception taken to Silver Age
prose in which was found a French police regulation which required newly
arrived travellers to register their names in the book of a police
officer of an Italian village of the first century. Although they are
still retained in the text by some editors, this is done to give some
measure of continuity to an otherwise interrupted narrative, but they can
only serve to distort the author and obscure whatever view of him the
reader might otherwise have reached. They are generally printed between
brackets or in different type.

In 1768 another and far abler forger saw the light of day. Jose
Marchena, a Spaniard of Jewish extraction, was destined for an
ecclesiastical career. He received an excellent education which served
to fortify a natural bent toward languages and historical criticism. In
his early youth he showed a marked preference for uncanonical pursuits
and heretical doctrines and before he had reached his thirtieth year
prudence counseled him to prevent the consequences of his heresy and
avoid the too pressing Inquisition by a timely flight into France.
He arrived there in time to throw himself into the fight for liberty,
and in 1800 we find him at Basle attached to the staff of General Moreau.
While there he is said to have amused himself and some of his cronies by
writing notes on what Davenport would have called "Forbidden Subjects,"
and, as a means of publishing his erotic lucubrations, he constructed
this fragment, which brings in those topics on which he had enlarged.
He translated the fragment into French, attached his notes, and issued
the book. There is another story to the effect that he had been
reprimanded by Moreau for having written a loose song and that he
exculpated himself by assuring the general that it was but a new fragment
of Petronius which he had translated. Two days later he had the fragment
ready to prove his contention.

This is the account given by his Spanish biographer. In his preface,
dedicated to the Army of the Rhine, he states that he found the fragment
in a manuscript of the work of St. Gennadius on the Duties of Priests,
probably of the XI Century. A close examination revealed the fact that
it was a palimpsest which, after treatment, permitted the restoration of
this fragment. It is supposed to supply the gap in Chapter 26 after the
word "verberabant."

Its obscenity outrivals that of the preceding text, and the grammar,
style, and curiosa felicitas Petroniana make it an almost perfect
imitation. There is no internal evidence of forgery. If the text is
closely scrutinized it will be seen that it is composed of words and
expressions taken from various parts of the Satyricon, "and that in every
line it has exactly the Petronian turn of phrase."

"Not only is the original edition unprocurable," to quote again from
Mr. Gaselee's invaluable bibliography, "but the reprint at Soleure
(Brussels), 1865, consisted of only 120 copies, and is hard to find.
The most accessible place for English readers is in Bohn's translation,
in which, however, only the Latin text is given; and the notes were a
most important part of the original work."

These notes, humorously and perhaps sarcastically ascribed to Lallemand,
Sanctae Theologiae Doctor, "are six in number (all on various forms of
vice); and show great knowledge, classical and sociological, of unsavory
subjects. Now that the book is too rare to do us any harm, we may admit
that the pastiche was not only highly amusing, but showed a perverse
cleverness amounting almost to genius."

Marchena died at Madrid in great poverty in 1821. A contemporary has
described him as being rather short and heavy set in figure, of great
frontal development, and vain beyond belief. He considered himself
invincible where women were concerned. He had a peculiar predilection
in the choice of animal pets and was an object of fear and curiosity
to the towns people. His forgery might have been completely successful
had he not acknowledged it himself within two or three years after the
publication of his brochure. The fragment will remain a permanent
tribute to the excellence of his scholarship, but it is his Ode to Christ
Crucified which has made him more generally known, and it is one of the
ironies of fate that caused this deformed giant of sarcasm to compose a
poem of such tender and touching piety.

Very little is known about Don Joe Antonio Gonzalez de Salas, whose
connecting passages, with the exception of one which is irrelevant, are
here included.

The learned editors of the Spanish encyclopedia naively preface their
brief sketch with the following assertion: "no tenemos noticias de su
vida." De Salas was born in 1588 and died in 1654. His edition of
Petronius was first issued in 1629 and re-issued in 1643 with a copper
plate of the Editor. The Paris edition, from which he says he supplied
certain deficiencies in the text, is unknown to bibliographers and is
supposed to be fictitious.

To distinguish the spurious passages, as a point of interest, in the
present edition, the forgeries of Nodot are printed within round
brackets, the forgery of Marchena within square brackets, and the
additions of De Salas in italics {In this PG etext in curly brackets}.

The work is also accompanied by a translation of the six notes, the
composition of which led Marchena to forge the fragment which first
appeared in the year 1800. These have never before been translated.

Thanks are due Ralph Straus, Esq., and Professor Stephen Gaselee.


(Forgeries of Nodot)
[Forgeries of Marchena]
{Additions of De Salas}



(It has been so long; since I promised you the story of my adventures,
that I have decided to make good my word today; and, seeing that we have
thus fortunately met, not to discuss scientific matters alone, but also
to enliven our jolly conversation with witty stories. Fabricius Veiento
has already spoken very cleverly on the errors committed in the name of
religion, and shown how priests, animated by an hypocritical mania for
prophecy, boldly expound mysteries which are too often such to
themselves. But) are our rhetoricians tormented by another species of
Furies when they cry, "I received these wounds while fighting for the
public liberty; I lost this eye in your defense: give me a guide who will
lead me to my children, my limbs are hamstrung and will not hold me up!"
Even these heroics could be endured if they made easier the road to
eloquence; but as it is, their sole gain from this ferment of matter and
empty discord of words is, that when they step into the Forum, they think
they have been carried into another world. And it is my conviction that
the schools are responsible for the gross foolishness of our young men,
because, in them, they see or hear nothing at all of the affairs of
every-day life, but only pirates standing in chains upon the shore,
tyrants scribbling edicts in which sons are ordered to behead their own
fathers; responses from oracles, delivered in time of pestilence,
ordering the immolation of three or more virgins; every word a honied
drop, every period sprinkled with poppy-seed and sesame.


Those who are brought up on such a diet can no more attain to wisdom than
a kitchen scullion can attain to a keen sense of smell or avoid stinking
of the grease. With your indulgence, I will speak out: you--teachers
--are chiefly responsible for the decay of oratory. With your well
modulated and empty tones you have so labored for rhetorical effect that
the body of your speech has lost its vigor and died. Young men did not
learn set speeches in the days when Sophocles and Euripides were
searching for words in which to express themselves. In the days when
Pindar and the nine lyric poets feared to attempt Homeric verse there was
no private tutor to stifle budding genius. I need not cite the poets for
evidence, for I do not find that either Plato or Demosthenes was given
to this kind of exercise. A dignified and, if I may say it, a chaste,
style, is neither elaborate nor loaded with ornament; it rises supreme by
its own natural purity. This windy and high-sounding bombast, a recent
immigrant to Athens, from Asia, touched with its breath the aspiring
minds of youth, with the effect of some pestilential planet, and as soon
as the tradition of the past was broken, eloquence halted and was
stricken dumb. Since that, who has attained to the sublimity of
Thucydides, who rivalled the fame of Hyperides? Not a single poem
has glowed with a healthy color, but all of them, as though nourished
on the same diet, lacked the strength to live to old age. Painting
also suffered the same fate when the presumption of the Egyptians
"commercialized" that incomparable art. (I was holding forth along these
lines one day, when Agamemnon came up to us and scanned with a curious
eye a person to whom the audience was listening so closely.)


He would not permit me to declaim longer in the portico than he himself
had sweat in the school, but exclaimed, "Your sentiments do not reflect
the public taste, young man, and you are a lover of common sense, which
is still more unusual. For that reason, I will not deceive you as to the
secrets of my profession. The teachers, who must gibber with lunatics,
are by no means to blame for these exercises. Unless they spoke in
accordance with the dictates of their young pupils, they would, as Cicero
remarks, be left alone in the schools! And, as designing parasites, when
they seek invitations to the tables of the rich, have in mind nothing
except what will, in their opinion, be most acceptable to their audience
--for in no other way can they secure their ends, save by setting snares
for the ears--so it is with the teachers of rhetoric, they might be
compared with the fisherman, who, unless he baits his hook with what he
knows is most appetizing to the little fish, may wait all day upon some
rock, without the hope of a catch."


What, then, is there to do? The parents who are unwilling to permit
their children to undergo a course of training under strict discipline,
are the ones who deserve the reproof. In the first place, everything
they possess, including the children, is devoted to ambition. Then, that
their wishes may the more quickly be realized, they drive these unripe
scholars into the forum, and the profession of eloquence, than which none
is considered nobler, devolves upon boys who are still in the act of
being born! If, however, they would permit a graded course of study to
be prescribed, in order that studious boys might ripen their minds by
diligent reading; balance their judgment by precepts of wisdom, correct
their compositions with an unsparing pen, hear at length what they ought
to imitate, and be convinced that nothing can be sublime when it is
designed to catch the fancy of boys, then the grand style of oratory
would immediately recover the weight and splendor of its majesty. Now
the boys play in the schools, the young men are laughed at in the forum,
and, a worse symptom than either, no one, in his old age, will confess
the errors he was taught in his school days. But that you may not
imagine that I disapprove of a jingle in the Lucilian manner, I will
deliver my opinions in verse,--


"The man who emerges with fame, from the school of stern art,

Whose mind gropes for lofty ideals, to bring them to light,

Must first, under rigid frugality, study his part;

Nor yearn for the courts of proud princes who frown in their might:

Nor scheme with the riff-raf, a client in order to dine,

Nor can he with evil companions his wit drown in wine

Nor sit, as a hireling, applauding an actor's grimace.

But, whether the fortress of arms-bearing Tritonis smile

Upon him, or land which the Spartan colonials grace,

Or home of the sirens, with poetry let him beguile

The years of young manhood, and at the Maeonian spring

His fortunate soul drink its fill: Then, when later, the lore

Of Socrates' school he has mastered, the reins let him fling,

And brandish the weapons that mighty Demosthenes bore.

Then, steeped in the culture and music of Greece, let his taste

Be ripened and mellowed by all the great writers of Rome.

At first, let him haunt not the courts; let his pages be graced

By ringing and rhythmic effusions composed in his home

Next, banquets and wars be his theme, sung in soul-stirring chant,

In eloquent words such as undaunted Cicero chose.

Come! Gird up thy soul! Inspiration will then force a vent

And rush in a flood from a heart that is loved by the muse!"


I was listening so attentively to this speech that I did not notice the
flight of Ascyltos, and while I was pacing the gardens, engulfed in this
flood-tide of rhetoric, a large crowd of students came out upon the
portico, having, it would seem, just listened to an extemporaneous
declamation, of I know not whom, the speaker of which had taken
exceptions to the speech of Agamemnon. While, therefore, the young men
were making fun of the sentiments of this last speaker, and criticizing
the arrangement of the whole speech, I seized the opportunity and went
after Ascyltos, on the run; but, as I neither held strictly to the road,
nor knew where the inn was located, wherever I went, I kept coming back
to the same place, until, worn out with running, and long since dripping
with sweat, I approached a certain little old woman who sold country


"Please, mother," I wheedled, "you don't know where I lodge, do you?"
Delighted with such humorous affability, "What's the reason I don't" she
replied, and getting upon her feet, she commenced to walk ahead of me. I
took her for a prophetess until, when presently we came to a more obscure
quarter, the affable old lady pushed aside a crazy-quilt and remarked,
"Here's where you ought to live," and when I denied that I recognized the
house, I saw some men prowling stealthily between the rows of name-boards
and naked prostitutes. Too late I realized that I had been led into a
brothel. After cursing the wiles of the little old hag, I covered my
head and commenced to run through the middle of the night-house to the
exit opposite, when, lo and behold! whom should I meet on the very
threshold but Ascyltos himself, as tired as I was, and almost dead; you
would have thought that he had been brought by the self-same little old
hag! I smiled at that, greeted him cordially, and asked him what he was
doing in such a scandalous place.


Wiping away the sweat with his hands, he replied, "If you only knew what
I have gone through!" "What was it?" I demanded. "A most respectable
looking person came up to me," he made reply, "while I was wandering all
over the town and could not find where I had left my inn, and very
graciously offered to guide me. He led me through some very dark and
crooked alleys, to this place, pulled out his tool, and commenced to beg
me to comply with his appetite. A whore had already vacated her cell for
an as, and he had laid hands upon me, and, but for the fact that I was
the stronger, I would have been compelled to take my medicine." (While
Ascyltos was telling me of his bad luck, who should come up again but
this same very respectable looking person, in company with a woman not at
all bad looking, and, looking at Ascyltos, he requested him to enter the
house, assuring him that there was nothing to fear, and, since he was
unwilling to take the passive part, he should have the active. The
woman, on her part, urged me very persistently to accompany her, so we
followed the couple, at last, and were conducted between the rows of
name-boards, where we saw, in cells, many persons of each sex amusing
themselves in such a manner) that it seemed to me that every one of them
must have been drinking satyrion. (On catching sight of us, they
attempted to seduce us with paederastic wantonness, and one wretch, with
his clothes girded up, assaulted Ascyltos, and, having thrown him down
upon a couch, attempted to gore him from above. I succored the sufferer
immediately, however,) and having joined forces, we defied the
troublesome wretch. (Ascyltos ran out of the house and took to his
heels, leaving me as the object of their lewd attacks, but the crowd,
finding me the stronger in body and purpose, let me go unharmed.)


(After having tramped nearly all over the city,) I caught sight of Giton,
as though through a fog, standing at the end of the street, (on the very
threshold of the inn,) and I hastened to the same place. When I inquired
whether my "brother" had prepared anything for breakfast, the boy sat
down upon the bed and wiped away the trickling tears with his thumb.
I was greatly disturbed by such conduct on the part of my "brother," and
demanded to be told what had happened. After I had mingled threats with
entreaties, he answered slowly and against his will, "That brother or
comrade of yours rushed into the room a little while ago and commenced to
attempt my virtue by force. When I screamed, he pulled out his tool and
gritted out--If you're a Lucretia, you've found your Tarquin!" When I
heard this, I shook my fists in Ascyltos' face, "What have you to say for
yourself," I snarled, "you rutting pathic harlot, whose very breath is
infected?" Ascyltos pretended to bristle up and, shaking his fists more
boldly still, he roared: "Won't you keep quiet, you filthy gladiator, you
who escaped from the criminal's cage in the amphitheatre to which you
were condemned (for the murder of your host?) Won't you hold your
tongue, you nocturnal assassin, who, even when you swived it bravely,
never entered the lists with a decent woman in your life? Was I not a
'brother' to you in the pleasure-garden, in the same sense as that in
which this boy now is in this lodging-house?" "You sneaked away from the
master's lecture," I objected.

CHAPTER THE TENTH. "What should I have done, you triple fool, when I was
dying of hunger? I suppose I should have listened to opinions as much to
the purpose as the tinkle of broken glass or the interpretation of
dreams. By Hercules, you are much more deserving of censure than I, you
who will flatter a poet so as to get an invitation to dinner!" Then we
laughed ourselves out of a most disgraceful quarrel, and approached more
peaceably whatever remained to be done. But the remembrance of that
injury recurred to my mind and, "Ascyltos," I said, "I know we shall not
be able to agree, so let us divide our little packs of common stock and
try to defeat our poverty by our individual efforts. Both you and I know
letters, but that I may not stand in the way of any undertaking of yours,
I will take up some other profession. Otherwise, a thousand trifles will
bring us into daily collision and furnish cause for gossip through the
whole town." Ascyltos made no objection to this, but merely remarked,
"As we, in our capacity of scholars, have accepted an invitation to
dinner, for this date, let us not lose our night. Since it seems to be
the graceful thing to do, I will look out for another lodging and another
'brother,' tomorrow." "Deferred pleasures are a long time coming,"
I sighed. It was lust that made this separation so hasty, for I had, for
a long time, wished to be rid of a troublesome chaperon, so that I could
resume my old relations with my Giton. (Bearing this affront with
difficulty, Ascyltos rushed from the room, without uttering a word.
Such a headlong outburst augured badly, for I well knew his ungovernable
temper and his unbridled passion. On this account, I followed him out,
desirous of fathoming his designs and of preventing their consequences,
but he hid himself skillfully from my eyes, and all in vain, I searched
for him for a long time.)


After having had the whole town under my eyes, I returned to the little
room and, having claimed the kisses which were mine in good faith, I
encircled the boy in the closest of embraces and enjoyed the effect of
our happy vows to a point that might be envied. Nor had all the
ceremonies been completed, when Ascyltos stole stealthily up to the
outside of the door and, violently wrenching off the bars, burst in upon
me, toying with my "brother." He filled the little room with his
laughter and hand-clapping, pulled away the cloak which covered us, "What
are you up to now, most sanctimonious 'brother'?" he jeered. "What's
going on here, a blanket-wedding?" Nor did he confine himself to words,
but, pulling the strap off his bag, he began to lash me very thoroughly,
interjecting sarcasms the while, "This is the way you would share with
your comrade, is it!" (The unexpectedness of the thing compelled me to
endure the blows in silence and to put up with the abuse, so I smiled at
my calamity, and very prudently, too, as otherwise I should have been put
to the necessity of fighting with a rival. My pretended good humor
soothed his anger, and at last, Ascyltos smiled as well. "See here,
Encolpius," he said, "are you so engrossed with your debaucheries that
you do not realize that our money is gone, and that what we have left is
of no value? In the summer, times are bad in the city. The country is
luckier, let's go and visit our friends." Necessity compelled the
approval of this plan, and the repression of any sense of injury as well,
so, loading Giton with our packs, we left the city and hastened to the
country-seat of Lycurgus, a Roman knight. Inasmuch as Ascyltos has
formerly served him in the capacity of "brother," he received us royally,
and the company there assembled, rendered our stay still more delightful.
In the first place, there was Tryphaena, a most beautiful woman, who had
come in company with Lycas, the master of a vessel and owner of estates
near the seashore. Although Lycurgus kept a frugal table, the pleasures
we enjoyed in this most enchanting spot cannot be described in words.
Of course you know that Venus joined us all up, as quickly as possible.
The lovely Tryphaena pleased my taste, and listened willingly to my vows,
but hardly had I had time to enjoy her favors when Lycas, in a towering
rage because his preserves had been secretly invaded, demanded that I
indemnify him in her stead. She was an old flame of his, so he broached
the subject of a mutual exchange of favors. Burning with lust, he
pressed his suit, but Tryphaena possessed my heart, and I said Lycas nay.
By refusal, however, he was only made more ardent, followed me
everywhere, entered my room at night, and, after his entreaties had met
with contempt, he had recourse to violence against me, at which I yelled
so lustily that I aroused the entire household, and, by the help of
Lycurgus, I was delivered from the troublesome assault and escaped. At
last, perceiving that the house of Lycurgus was not suitable to the
prosecution of his design, he attempted to persuade me to seek his
hospitality, and when his suggestion was refused, he made use of
Tryphaena's influence over me. She besought me to comply with Lycas'
desires, and she did this all the more readily as by that she hoped to
gain more liberty of action. With affairs in this posture, I follow my
love, but Lycurgus, who had renewed his old relations with Ascyltos,
would not permit him to leave, so it was decided that he should remain
with Lycurgus, but that we would accompany Lycas. Nevertheless, we had
it understood among ourselves that whenever the opportunity presented
itself, we would each pilfer whatever we could lay hands upon, for the
betterment of the common stock. Lycas was highly delighted with my
acceptance of his invitation and hastened our departure, so, bidding our
friends good-bye, we arrived at his place on the very same day. Lycas
had so arranged matters that, on the journey, he sat beside me, while
Tryphaena was next to Giton, the reason for this being his knowledge
of the woman's notorious inconstancy; nor was he deceived, for she
immediately fell in love with the boy, and I easily perceived it.
In addition, Lycas took the trouble of calling my attention to the
situation, and laid stress upon the truth of what we saw. On this
account, I received his advances more graciously, at which he was
overjoyed. He was certain that contempt would be engendered from the
inconstancy of my "sister," with the result that, being piqued at
Tryphaena, I would all the more freely receive his advances. Now this
was the state of affairs at the house of Lycas, Tryphaena was desperately
in love with Giton, Giton's whole soul was aflame for her, neither of
them was a pleasing sight to my eyes, and Lycas, studying to please me,
arranged novel entertainments each day, which Doris, his lovely wife,
seconded to the best of her ability, and so gracefully that she soon
expelled Tryphaena from my heart. A wink of the eye acquainted Doris of
my passion, a coquettish glance informed me of the state of her heart,
and this silent language, anticipating the office of the tongue, secretly
expressed that longing of our souls which we had both experienced at the
same instant. The jealousy of Lycas, already well known to me, was the
cause of my silence, but love itself revealed to the wife the designs
which Lycas had upon me. At our first opportunity of exchanging
confidences, she revealed to me what she had discovered and I candidly
confessed, telling her of the coldness with which I had always met his
advances. The far-sighted woman remarked that it would be necessary for
us to use our wits. It turned out that her advice was sound, for I soon
found out that complacency to the one meant possession of the other.
Giton, in the meantime, was recruiting his exhausted strength, and
Tryphaena turned her attention to me, but, meeting with a repulse, she
flounced out in a rage. The next thing this burning harlot did was to
discover my commerce with both husband and wife. As for his wantonness
with me, she flung that aside, as by it she lost nothing, but she fell
upon the secret gratifications of Doris and made them known to Lycas,
who, his jealousy proving stronger than his lust, took steps to get
revenge. Doris, however, forewarned by Tryphaena's maid, looked out
for squalls and held aloof from any secret assignations. When I became
aware of all this, I heartily cursed the perfidy of Tryphaena and the
ungrateful soul of Lycas, and made up my mind to be gone. Fortune
favored me, as it turned out, for a vessel sacred to Isis and laden with
prize-money had, only the day before, run upon the rocks in the vicinity.
After holding a consultation with Giton, at which he gladly gave consent
to my plan, as Tryphaena visibly neglected him after having sapped his
virility, we hastened to the sea-shore early on the following morning,
and boarded the wreck, a thing easy of accomplishment as the watchmen,
who were in the pay of Lycas, knew us well. But they were so attentive
to us that there was no opportunity of stealing a thing until, having
left Giton with them, I craftily slipped out of sight and sneaked aft
where the statue of Isis stood, and despoiled it of a valuable mantle and
a silver sistrum. From the master's cabin, I also pilfered other
valuable trifles and, stealthily sliding down a rope, went ashore. Giton
was the only one who saw me and he evaded the watchmen and slipped away
after me. I showed him the plunder, when he joined me, and we decided
to post with all speed to Ascyltos, but we did not arrive at the home of
Lycurgus until the following day. In a few words I told Ascyltos of the
robbery, when he joined us, and of our unfortunate love-affairs as well.
He was for prepossessing the mind of Lycurgus in our favor, naming the
increasing wantonness of Lycas as the cause of our secret and sudden
change of habitation. When Lycurgus had heard everything, he swore
that he would always be a tower of strength between us and our enemies.
Until Tryphaena and Doris were awake and out of bed, our flight remained
undiscovered, for we paid them the homage of a daily attendance at the
morning toilette. When our unwonted absence was noted, Lycas sent out
runners to comb the sea-shore, for he suspected that we had been to the
wreck, but he was still unaware of the robbery, which was yet unknown
because the stern of the wreck was lying away from the beach, and the
master had not, as yet, gone back aboard. Lycas flew into a towering
rage when our flight was established for certain, and railed bitterly at
Doris, whom he considered as the moving factor in it. Of the hard words
and the beating he gave her I will say nothing, for the particulars are
not known to me, but I will affirm that Tryphaena, who was the sole cause
of the unpleasantness, persuaded Lycas to hunt for his fugitives in the
house of Lycurgus, which was our most probable sanctuary. She
volunteered to accompany him in person, so that she could load us with
the abuse which we deserved at her hands. They set out on the following
day and arrived at the estate of Lycurgus, but we were not there, for he
had taken us to a neighboring town to attend the feast of Hercules, which
was there being celebrated. As soon as they found out about this, they
hastened to take to the road and ran right into us in the portico of the
temple. At sight of them, we were greatly put out, and Lycas held forth
violently to Lycurgus, upon the subject of our flight, but he was met
with raised eyebrows and such a scowling forehead that I plucked up
courage and, in a loud voice, passed judgment upon his lewd and base
attempts and assaults upon me, not in the house of Lycurgus alone, but
even under his own roof: and as for the meddling Tryphaena, she received
her just deserts, for, at great length, I described her moral turpitude
to the crowd, our altercation had caused a mob to collect, and, to give
weight to my argument, I pointed to limber-hamed Giton, drained dry, as
it were, and to myself, reduced almost to skin and bones by the raging
lust of that nymphomaniac harlot. So humiliated were our enemies by the
guffaws of the mob, that in gloomy ill-humor they beat a retreat to plot
revenge. As they perceived that we had prepossessed the mind of Lycurgus
in our favor, they decided to await his return, at his estate, in order
that they might wean him away from his misapprehension. As the
solemnities did not draw to a close until late at night, we could not
reach Lycurgus' country place, so he conducted us to a villa of his,
situated near the halfway point of the journey, and, leaving us to sleep
there until the next day, he set off for his estate for the purpose of
transacting some business. Upon his arrival, he found Lycas and
Tryphaena awaiting him, and they stated their case so diplomatically that
they prevailed upon him to deliver us into their hands. Lycurgus, cruel
by nature and incapable of keeping his word, was by this time striving to
hit upon the best method of betraying us, and to that end, he persuaded
Lycas to go for help, while he himself returned to the villa and had us
put under guard. To the villa he came, and greeted us with a scowl as
black as any Lycas himself had ever achieved, clenching his fists again
and again, he charged us with having lied about Lycas, and, turning
Ascyltos out, he gave orders that we were to be kept confined to the room
in which we had retired to rest. Nor would he hear a word in our
defense, from Ascyltos, but, taking the latter with him, he returned to
his estate, reiterating his orders relative to our confinement, which was
to last until his return. On the way back, Ascyltos vainly essayed to
break down Lycurgus' determination, but neither prayers nor caresses, nor
even tears could move him. Thereupon my "brother" conceived the design
of freeing us from our chains, and, antagonized by the stubbornness of
Lycurgus, he positively refused to sleep with him, and through this he
was in a better position to carry out the plan which he had thought out.
When the entire household was buried in its first sleep, Ascyltos loaded
our little packs upon his back and slipped out through a breach in the
wall, which he had previously noted, arriving at the villa with the dawn.
He gained entrance without opposition and found his way to our room,
which the guards had taken the precaution to bar. It was easy to force
an entrance, as the fastening was made of wood, which same he pried off
with a piece of iron. The fall of the lock roused us, for we were
snoring away, in spite of our unfortunate situation. On account of the
long vigil, the guard was in such a deep sleep that we alone were wakened
by the crashing fall of the lock, and Ascyltos, coming in, told us in a
few words what he had done for us; but as far as that goes, not many were
necessary. We were hurriedly dressing, when I was seized with the notion
of killing the guard and stripping the place. This plan I confided to
Ascyltos, who approved of the looting, but pointed out a more desirable
solution without bloodshed: knowing all the crooks and turns, as he did,
he led us to a store-room which he opened. We gathered up all that was
of value and sallied forth while it was yet early in the morning.
Shunning the public roads; we could not rest until we believed ourselves
safe from pursuit. Ascyltos, when he had caught his breath, gloatingly
exulted of the pleasure which the looting of a villa belonging to
Lycurgus, a superlatively avaricious man, afforded him: he complained,
with justice of his parsimony, affirming that he himself had received no
reward for his k-nightly services, that he had been kept at a dry table
and on a skimpy ration of food. This Lycurgus was so stingy that he
denied himself even the necessities of life, his immense wealth to the
contrary notwithstanding.)

The tortured Tantalus still stands, to parch in his shifting pool,

And starve, when fruit sways just beyond his grasp:

The image of the miser rich, when his avaricious soul

Robs him of food and drink, in Plenty's clasp.

(Ascyltos was for going to Naples that same day, but I protested the
imprudence of going to any place where they would be on the lookout for
us. "Let's absent ourselves, for a while, and travel in the country. We
are well supplied with means." This advice took his fancy and we set out
for a part of the country noted for the beauty of its estates, and where
not a few of our acquaintances were enjoying the sports of the season.
Scarcely had we covered half the distance, however, before it began to
pour down rain by the bucketful, compelling us to run for the nearest
village. Upon entering the inn, we noticed many other wayfarers, who had
put up there to escape the storm. The jam prevented our being watched,
and at the same time made it easier for us to pry about with curious
eyes, on the alert for something to appropriate. Ascyltos, unseen by
anyone, picked up off the ground a little pouch in which he found some
gold pieces. We were overjoyed with this auspicious beginning, but,
fearing that some one would miss the gold, we stealthily slipped out by
the back door. A slave, who was saddling a horse in the courtyard,
suddenly left his work and went into the house, as if he had forgotten
something, and while he was gone I appropriated a superb mantle which was
tied fast to the saddle, by untying the thongs, then, utilizing a row of
outbuildings for cover, we made off into the nearest wood. When we had
reached the depths of the grove, where we were in safety, we thoroughly
discussed the surest method of secreting our gold, so that we would
neither be accused of robbery nor robbed ourselves, and we finally
decided to sew it into the hem of a ragged tunic, which I threw over my
shoulders, after having turned the mantle over to Ascyltos for
safekeeping; we then made ready to start for the city via the
unfrequented roads. We were just about to emerge from the shelter of
the wood when we heard, from somewhere on our left, "They can't get away,
they came into this wood; let's spread out and beat, and they will easily
be caught!" On hearing this, we were thrown into such a terrible fright
that Ascyltos and Giton dashed away city-ward, through the underbrush,
and I retreated in such a hurry that the precious tunic slipped off my
shoulders without my knowing it. At last, completely fagged out, and
unable to take another step, I lay down under a tree, and there I first
became aware of the loss of the tunic. Chagrin restored my strength and
I leaped to my feet to look for the treasure, and for a long time I beat
around in vain. Worn out with work and vexation, I forced my way into
the thickest part of the grove and remained there for four mortal hours,
but at last, bored to extinction by the horrible solitude, I sought a way
out. As I went ahead, I caught sight of a peasant; then I had need of
all my nerve, and it did not fail me. Marching boldly up to him, I asked
my way to the city, complaining that I had been lost in the wood for
several hours. Seeing my condition, he took pity upon me, for I was
covered with mud and paler than death, and asked me whether I had seen
anyone in the place. "Not a soul," I replied, whereupon he kindly
conducted me to the high road, where he met two of his companions, who
informed him that they had beaten along every path in the forest without
having found anything except a tunic, which they showed him. As may be
readily supposed, I did not have the audacity to claim it, though well
aware of its value, and my chagrin became almost insupportable as I
vented many a groaning curse over my lost treasure. The peasants paid
no attention to me, and I was gradually left behind, as my weakness
increased my pace decreased. For this reason, it was late when I reached
the city, and, entering the inn, beheld Ascyltos, stretched out, half
dead, upon a cot. Too far gone to utter a single syllable, I threw
myself upon another. Ascyltos became greatly excited at not seeing the
tunic which he had entrusted to me, demanding it insistently, but I was
so weak that my voice refused its office and I permitted the apathy of my
eyes to answer his demand, then, by and by, regaining my strength little
by little, I related the whole affair to Ascyltos, in every detail. He
thought that I was joking, and although my testimony was fortified by a
copious flood of tears, it could easily be seen that he remained
unconvinced, believing that I wanted to cheat him out of the gold.
Giton, who was standing by during all this, was as downcast as myself,
and the suffering of the lad only served to increase my own vexation, but
the thing which bothered me most of all, was the painstaking search which
was being made for us; I told Ascyltos of this, but he only laughed it
off, as he had so happily extricated himself from the scrape. He was
convinced that, as we were unknown and as no one had seen us, we were
perfectly safe. We decided, nevertheless, to feign sickness, and to keep
to our room as long as possible; but, before we knew it, our money ran
out, and spurred by necessity we were forced to go abroad and sell some
of our plunder.)


Twilight was falling, as we entered the market-place, in which we noticed
a quantity of things for sale, not any of much value, it is true, but
such as could be disposed of to the best advantage when the semi-darkness
would serve to hide their doubtful origin. As we had brought our stolen
mantle, we proceeded to make use of so favorable an opportunity, and, in
a secluded spot, displayed a corner of it, hoping the splendid garment
would attract some purchaser. Nor was it long before a certain peasant,
whose face was familiar to my eyes, came up, accompanied by a young
woman, and began to examine the garment very closely. Ascyltos, in turn,
cast a glance at the shoulders of our rustic customer, and was instantly
struck dumb with astonishment. Nor could I myself look upon this man
without some emotion, for he seemed to be the identical person who had
picked up the ragged tunic in the lonely wood, and, as a matter of fact,
he was! Ascyltos, afraid to believe the evidence of his own eyes for
fear of doing something rash, approached the man, as a prospective buyer,
took the hem of the tunic from the rustic's shoulders, and felt it


Oh wonderful stroke of Fortune! The peasant had not yet laid his
meddling hands upon the seams, but was scornfully offering the thing for
sale, as though it had been the leavings of some beggar. When Ascyltos
had assured himself that the hoard was intact, and had taken note of the
social status of the seller, he led me a little aside from the crowd and
said, "Do you know, 'brother,' that the treasure about which I was so
worked up has come back to us? That is the little tunic, and it seems
that the gold pieces are still untouched. What ought we to do, and how
shall we make good our claim?" I was overjoyed, not so much at seeing
our booty, as I was for the reason that Fortune had released me from a
very ugly suspicion. I was opposed to doing anything by devious methods,
thinking that should he prove unwilling to restore to the proper owner an
article not his own, it ought to come to a civil action and a judgment


Not so Ascyltos, who was afraid of the law, and demurred, "Who knows us
here? Who will place any credence in anything we say? It seems to me
that it would be better to buy, ours though it is, and we know it, and
recover the treasure at small cost, rather than to engage in a doubtful

Of what avail are any laws, where money rules alone,

Where Poverty can never win its cases?

Detractors of the times, who bear the Cynic's scrip, are known

To often sell the truth, and keep their faces!

So Justice is at public auction bought,

The knight gives judgement as Gold says he ought.

But, with the exception of a two-as piece with which we had intended
purchasing peas and lupines, there was nothing to hand; so, for fear our
loot should escape us in the interim, we resolved to appraise the mantle
at less, and, through a small sacrifice, secure a greater profit.
Accordingly, we spread it out, and the young woman of the covered head,
who was standing by the peasant's side, narrowly inspected the markings,
seized the hem with both hands, and screamed "Thieves!" at the top of her
voice. We were greatly disconcerted at this and, for fear that
inactivity on our part should seem to lend color to her charges, we
laid hold of the dirty ragged tunic, in our turn, and shouted with equal
spite, that this was our property which they had in their possession; but
our cases were by no means on an equality, and the hucksters who had
crowded around us at the uproar, laughed at our spiteful claim, and very
naturally, too, since one side laid claim to a very valuable mantle,
while the other demanded a rag which was not worth a good patch.


Ascyltos, when he had secured silence, adroitly put a stop to their
laughter by exclaiming, "We can see that each puts the greater value upon
his own property. Let them return our tunic to us, and take back their
mantle!" This exchange was satisfactory enough to the peasant and the
young woman, but some night-prowling shyster lawyers, who wished to get
possession of the mantle for their own profit, demanded that both
articles be deposited with them, and the judge could look into the case
on the morrow, for it would appear that the ownership of the articles was
not so much to the point as was the suspicion of robbery that attached
to both sides. The question of sequestration arose, and one of the
hucksters, I do not remember which, but he was bald, and his forehead was
covered with sebaceous wens, and he sometimes did odd jobs for the
lawyers, seized the mantle and vowed that HE would see to it that it was
produced at the proper time and place, but it was easily apparent that he
desired nothing but that the garment should be deposited with thieves,
and vanish; thinking that we would be afraid to appear as claimants for
fear of being charged with crime. As far as we were concerned, we were
as willing as he, and Fortune aided the cause of each of us, for the
peasant, infuriated at our demand that his rags be shown in public, threw
the tunic in Ascyltos' face, released us from responsibility, and
demanded that the mantle, which was the only object of litigation, be
sequestered. As we thought we had recovered our treasure, we returned
hurriedly to the inn, and fastening the door, we had a good laugh at the
shrewdness of the hucksters, and not less so at that of our enemies, for
by it they had returned our money to us. (While we were unstitching the
tunic to get at the gold pieces, we overheard some one quizzing the
innkeeper as to what kind of people those were, who had just entered his
house. Alarmed at this inquiry, I went down, when the questioner had
gone, to find out what was the matter, and learned that the praetor's
lictor, whose duty it was to see that the names of strangers were entered
in his rolls, had seen two people come into the inn, whose names were not
yet entered, and that was the reason he had made inquiry as to their
names and means of support. Mine host furnished this information in such
an offhand manner that I became suspicious as to our entire safety in his
house; so, in order to avoid arrest, we decided to go out, and not to
return home until after dark, and we sallied forth, leaving the
management of dinner to Giton. As it suited our purpose to avoid the
public streets, we strolled through the more unfrequented parts of the
city, and just at dusk we met two women in stolas, in a lonely spot, and
they were by no means homely. Walking softly, we followed them to a
temple which they entered, and from which we could hear a curious
humming, which resembled the sound of voices issuing from the depths of a
cavern. Curiosity impelled us also to enter the temple. There we caught
sight of many women, who resembled Bacchantes, each of whom brandished in
her right hand an emblem of Priapus. We were not permitted to see more,
for as their eyes fell upon us, they raised such a hubbub that the vault
of the temple trembled. They attempted to lay hands upon us, but we ran
back to our inn as fast as we could go.)


We had just disposed of the supper prepared by Giton, when there came a
timid rapping at the door. We turned pale. "Who is there?" we asked.
"Open and you will find out," came the answer. While we were speaking,
the bar fell down of its own accord, the doors flew open and admitted our
visitor. She was the selfsame young lady of the covered head who had but
a little while before stood by the peasant's side. "So you thought,"
said she, "that you could make a fool of me, did you? I am Quartilla's
handmaid: Quartilla, whose rites you interrupted in the shrine. She has
come to the inn, in person, and begs permission to speak with you. Don't
be alarmed! She neither blames your mistake nor does she demand
punishment; on the contrary, she wonders what god has brought such
well-bred young gentlemen into her neighborhood!"


We were still holding our tongues and refraining from any expression of
opinion, when the lady herself entered the room, attended by a little
girl. Seating herself upon the bed, she wept for a long time. Not even
then did we interject a single word, but waited, all attention, for what
was to follow these well ordered tears and this show of grief. When the
diplomatic thunderstorm had passed over, she withdrew her haughty head
from her mantle and, ringing her hands until the joints cracked, "What is
the meaning of such audacity?" she demanded; "where did you learn such
tricks? They are worthy of putting to shame the assurance of all the
robbers of the past! I pity you, so help me the God of Truth, I do; for
no one can look with impunity upon that which it is unlawful for him to
see. In our neighborhood, there are so many gods that it is easier to
meet one than it is to find a man! But do not think that I was actuated
by any desire for revenge when I came here: I am more moved by your age
than I am by my own injury, for it is my belief that youthful imprudence
led you into committing a sacrilegious crime. That very night, I tossed
so violently in the throes of a dangerous chill that I was afraid I had
contracted a tertian ague, and in my dreams I prayed for a medicine. I
was ordered to seek you out, and to arrest the progress of the disease by
means of an expedient to be suggested by your wonderful penetration! The
cure does not matter so much, however, for a deeper grief gnaws at my
vitals and drags me down, almost to the very doors of death itself. I am
afraid that, with the careless impulsiveness of youth, you may divulge,
to the common herd, what you witnessed in the shrine of Priapus, and
reveal the rites of the gods to the rabble. On this account, I stretch
out my suppliant hands to your knees, and beg and pray that you do not
make a mockery and a joke of our nocturnal rites, nor lay bare the
secrets of so many years, into which scarcely a thousand persons are


The tears poured forth again, after this appeal, and, shaken by deep
sobs, she buried her whole face and breast in my bed; and I, moved by
pity and by apprehension, begged her to be of good cheer and to make
herself perfectly easy as to both of those issues, for not only would we
not betray any secrets to the rabble, but we would also second divine
providence, at any peril to ourselves, if any god had indicated to her
any cure for her tertian ague. The woman cheered up at this promise, and
smothered me with kisses; from tears she passed to laughter, and fell to
running her fingers through the long hair that hung down about my ears.
"I will declare a truce with you," she said, "and withdraw my complaint.
But had you been unwilling to administer the medicine which I seek, I had
a troop in readiness for the morrow, which would have exacted
satisfaction for my injury and reparation for my dignity!

To be flouted is disgraceful, but to dictate terms, sublime

Pleased am I to choose what course I will,

Even sages will retort an insult at the proper tune.

Victor most is he who does not kill."

Then she suddenly clapped her hands, and broke into such a peal of
laughter that we were alarmed. The maid, who had been the first to
arrive, did likewise, on one side of us, as also did the little girl who
had entered with the madame herself.


The whole place was filled with mocking laughter, and we, who could see
no reason for such a change of front, stared blankly at each other and
then at the women. (Then Quartilla spoke up, finally,) "I gave orders
that no mortal man should be admitted into this inn, this day, so that I
could receive the treatment for my ague without interruption!" Ascyltos
was, for the moment, struck dumb by this admission of Quartilla's, and I
turned colder than a Gallic winter, and could not utter a word; but the
personnel of the company relieved me from the fear that the worst might
be yet to come, for they were only three young women, too weak to attempt
any violence against us, who were of the male sex, at least, even if we
had nothing else of the man about us, and this was an asset. Then, too,
we were girded higher, and I had so arranged matters that if it came to a
fight, I would engage Quartilla myself, Ascyltos the maid, and Giton the
girl. (While I was turning over this plan in my mind, Quartilla came to
close quarters, to receive the treatment for her ague, but having her
hopes disappointed, she flounced out in a rage and, returning in a little
while, she had us overpowered by some unknown vagabonds, and gave orders
for us to be carried away to a splendid palace.) Then our determination
gave place to astonishment, and death, sure and certain, began to obscure
the eyes of suffering.


"Pray; madame," I groaned, "if you have anything worse in store, bring it
on quickly for we have not committed a crime so heinous as to merit death
by torture." The maid, whose name was Psyche, quickly spread a blanket
upon the floor (and) sought to secure an erection by fondling my member,
which was already a thousand times colder than death. Ascyltos, well
aware by now of the danger of dipping into the secrets of others, covered
his head with his mantle. (In the meantime,) the maid took two ribbons
from her bosom and bound our feet with one and our hands with the other.
(Finding myself trussed up in this fashion, I remarked, "You will not be
able to cure your mistress' ague in this manner!" "Granted," the maid
replied, "but I have other and surer remedies at hand," she brought me a
vessel full of satyrion, as she said this, and so cheerfully did she
gossip about its virtues that I drank down nearly all of the liquor, and
because Ascyltos had but a moment before rejected her advances, she
sprinkled the dregs upon his back, without his knowing it.) When this
repartee had drawn to a close, Ascyltos exclaimed, "Don't I deserve a
drink?" Given away by my laughter, the maid clapped her hands and cried,
"I put one by you, young man; did you drink so much all by yourself?"
"What's that you say?", Quartilla chimed in. "Did Encolpius drink all
the satyrion there was in the house?" And she laughed delightfully until
her sides shook. Finally not even Giton himself could resist a smile,
especially when the little girl caught him around the neck and showered
innumerable kisses upon him, and he not at all averse to it.


We would have cried aloud in our misery but there was no one to give us
any help, and whenever I attempted to shout, "Help! all honest
citizens," Psyche would prick my cheeks with her hairpin, and the little
girl would intimidate Ascyltos with a brush dipped in satyrion. Then a
catamite appeared, clad in a myrtle-colored frieze robe, and girded round
with a belt. One minute he nearly gored us to death with his writhing
buttocks, and the next, he befouled us so with his stinking kisses that
Quartilla, with her robe tucked high, held up her whalebone wand and
ordered him to give the unhappy wretches quarter. Both of us then took a
most solemn oath that so dread a secret should perish with us. Several
wrestling instructors appeared and refreshed us, worn out as we were, by
a massage with pure oil, and when our fatigue had abated, we again donned
our dining clothes and were escorted to the next room, in which were
placed three couches, and where all the essentials necessary to a
splendid banquet were laid out in all their richness. We took our
places, as requested, and began with a wonderful first course. We were
all but submerged in Falernian wine. When several other courses had
followed, and we were endeavoring to keep awake Quartilla exclaimed, "How
dare you think of going to sleep when you know that the vigil of Priapus
is to be kept?"


Worn out by all his troubles, Ascyltos commenced to nod, and the maid,
whom he had slighted, and of course insulted, smeared lampblack all over
his face, and painted his lips and shoulders with vermillion, while he
drowsed. Completely exhausted by so many untoward adventures, I, too,
was enjoying the shortest of naps, the whole household, within and
without, was doing the same, some were lying here and there asleep at our
feet, others leaned against the walls, and some even slept head to head
upon the threshold itself; the lamps, failing because of a lack of oil,
shed a feeble and flickering light, when two Syrians, bent upon stealing
an amphora of wine, entered the dining-room. While they were greedily
pawing among the silver, they pulled the amphora in two, upsetting the
table with all the silver plate, and a cup, which had flown pretty high,
cut the head of the maid, who was drowsing upon a couch. She screamed at
that, thereby betraying the thieves and wakening some of the drunkards.
The Syrians, who had come for plunder, seeing that they were about to be
detected, were so quick to throw themselves down besides a couch and
commence to snore as if they had been asleep for a long time, that you
would have thought they belonged there. The butler had gotten up and
poured oil in the flickering lamps by this time, and the boys, having
rubbed their eyes open, had returned to their duty, when in came a female
cymbal player and the crashing brass awoke everybody.


The banquet began all over again, and Quartilla challenged us to a
drinking-bout, the crash of the cymbals lending ardor to her revel.
A catamite appeared, the stalest of all mankind, well worthy of that
house. Heaving a sigh, he wrung his hands until the joints cracked,
and spouted out the following verses,

"Hither, hither quickly gather, pathic companions boon;
Artfully stretch forth your limbs and on with the dance and play!
Twinkling feet and supple thighs and agile buttocks in tune,
Hands well skilled in raising passions, Delian eunuchs gay!"

When he had finished his poetry, he slobbered a most evil-smelling kiss
upon me, and then, climbing upon my couch, he proceeded with all his
might and main to pull all of my clothing off. I resisted to the limit
of my strength. He manipulated my member for a long time, but all in
vain. Gummy streams poured down his sweating forehead, and there was so
much chalk in the wrinkles of his cheeks that you might have mistaken his
face for a roofless wall, from which the plaster was crumbling in a rain.


Driven to the last extremity, I could no longer keep back the tears.
"Madame," I burst out, "is this the night-cap which you ordered served to
me?" Clapping her hands softly she cried out, "Oh you witty rogue, you
are a fountain of repartee, but you never knew before that a catamite was
called a k-night-cap, now did you?" Then, fearing my companion would come
off better than I, "Madame," I said, "I leave it to your sense of
fairness: is Ascyltos to be the only one in this dining-room who keeps
holiday?" "Fair enough," conceded Quartilla, "let Ascyltos have his
k-night-cap too!" On hearing that, the catamite changed mounts, and,
having bestridden my comrade, nearly drove him to distraction with his
buttocks and his kisses. Giton was standing between us and splitting his
sides with laughter when Quartilla noticed him, and actuated by the
liveliest curiosity, she asked whose boy he was, and upon my answering
that he was my "brother," "Why has he not kissed me then?" she
demanded. Calling him to her, she pressed a kiss upon his mouth, then
putting her hand beneath his robe, she took hold of his little member, as
yet so undeveloped. "This," she remarked, "shall serve me very well
tomorrow, as a whet to my appetite, but today I'll take no common fare
after choice fish!"


She was still talking when Psyche, who was giggling, came to her side and
whispered something in her ear. What it was, I did not catch. "By all
means," ejaculated Quartilla, "a brilliant idea! Why shouldn't our
pretty little Pannychis lose her maidenhead when the opportunity is so
favorable?" A little girl, pretty enough, too, was led in at once; she
looked to be not over seven years of age, and she was the same one who
had before accompanied Quartilla to our room. Amidst universal applause,
and in response to the demands of all, they made ready to perform the
nuptial rites. I was completely out of countenance, and insisted that
such a modest boy as Giton was entirely unfitted for such a wanton part,
and moreover, that the child was not of an age at which she could receive
that which a woman must take. "Is that so," Quartilla scoffed, "is she
any younger than I was, when I submitted to my first man? Juno, my
patroness, curse me if I can remember the time when I ever was a virgin,
for I diverted myself with others of my own age, as a child then as the
years passed, I played with bigger boys, until at last I reached my
present age. I suppose that this explains the origin of the proverb,
'Who carried the calf may carry the bull,' as they say." As I feared
that Giton might run greater risk if I were absent, I got up to take
part in the ceremony.


Psyche had already enveloped the child's head in the bridal-veil, the
catamite, holding a torch, led the long procession of drunken women which
followed; they were clapping their hands, having previously decked out
the bridal-bed with a suggestive drapery. Quartilla, spurred on by the
wantonness of the others, seized hold of Giton and drew him into the
bridal-chamber. There was no doubt of the boy's perfect willingness to
go, nor was the girl at all alarmed at the name of marriage. When they
were finally in bed, and the door shut, we seated ourselves outside the
door of the bridal-chamber, and Quartilla applied a curious eye to a
chink, purposely made, watching their childish dalliance with lascivious
attention. She then drew me gently over to her side that I might share
the spectacle with her, and when we both attempted to peep our faces were
pressed against each other; whenever she was not engrossed in the
performance, she screwed up her lips to meet mine, and pecked at me
continually with furtive kisses. [A thunderous hammering was heard at
the door, while all this was going on, and everyone wondered what this
unexpected interruption could mean, when we saw a soldier, one of the
night-watch, enter with a drawn sword in his hand, and surrounded by a
crowd of young rowdies. He glared about him with savage eyes and
blustering mien, and, catching sight of Quartilla, presently, "What's up
now, you shameless woman," he bawled; "what do you mean by making game of
me with lying promises, and cheating me out of the night you promised me?
But you won't get off unpunished You and that lover of yours are going to
find out that I'm a man!" At the soldier's orders, his companion bound
Quartilla and myself together, mouth to mouth, breast to breast, and
thigh to thigh; and not without a great deal of laughter. Then the
catamite, also at the soldier's order, began to beslaver me all over with
the fetid kisses of his stinking mouth, a treatment I could neither fly
from, nor in any other way avoid. Finally, he ravished me, and worked
his entire pleasure upon me. In the meantime, the satyrion which I had
drunk only a little while before spurred every nerve to lust and I began
to gore Quartilla impetuously, and she, burning with the same passion,
reciprocated in the game. The rowdies laughed themselves sick, so moved
were they by that ludicrous scene, for here was I, mounted by the stalest
of catamites, involuntarily and almost unconsciously responding with as
rapid a cadence to him as Quartilla did in her wriggling under me. While
this was going on, Pannychis, unaccustomed at her tender years to the
pastime of Venus, raised an outcry and attracted the attention of the
soldier, by this unexpected howl of consternation, for this slip of a
girl was being ravished, and Giton the victor, had won a not bloodless
victory. Aroused by what he saw, the soldier rushed upon them, seizing
Pannychis, then Giton, then both of them together, in a crushing embrace.
The virgin burst into tears and plead with him to remember her age, but
her prayers availed her nothing, the soldier only being fired the more by
her childish charms. Pannychis covered her head at last, resolved to
endure whatever the Fates had in store for her. At this instant, an old
woman, the very same who had tricked me on that day when I was hunting
for our lodging, came to the aid of Pannychis, as though she had dropped
from the clouds. With loud cries, she rushed into the house, swearing
that a gang of footpads was prowling about the neighborhood and the
people invoked the help of "All honest men," in vain, for the members of
the night-watch were either asleep or intent upon some carouse, as they
were nowhere to be found. Greatly terrified at this, the soldier rushed
headlong from Quartilla's house. His companions followed after him,
freeing Pannychis from impending danger and relieving the rest of us from
our fear.] (I was so weary of Quartilla's lechery that I began to
meditate means of escape. I made my intentions known to Ascyltos, who,
as he wished to rid himself of the importunities of Psyche, was
delighted; had not Giton been shut up in the bridal-chamber, the plan
would have presented no difficulties, but we wished to take him with us,
and out of the way of the viciousness of these prostitutes. We were
anxiously engaged in debating this very point, when Pannychis fell out of
bed, and dragged Giton after her, by her own weight. He was not hurt,
but the girl gave her head a slight bump, and raised such a clamor that
Quartilla, in a terrible fright, rushed headlong into the room, giving us
the opportunity of making off. We did not tarry, but flew back to our
inn where,) throwing ourselves upon the bed, we passed the remainder of
the night without fear. (Sallying forth next day, we came upon two of
our kidnappers, one of whom Ascyltos savagely attacked the moment he set
eyes upon him, and, after having thrashed and seriously wounded him,
he ran to my aid against the other. He defended himself so stoutly,
however, that he wounded us both, slightly, and escaped unscathed.) The
third day had now dawned, the date set for the free dinner (at
Trimalchio's,) but battered as we were, flight seemed more to our taste
than quiet, so (we hastened to our inn and, as our wounds turned out to
be trifling, we dressed them with vinegar and oil, and went to bed. The
ruffian whom we had done for, was still lying upon the ground and we
feared detection.) Affairs were at this pass, and we were framing
melancholy excuses with which to evade the coming revel, when a slave of
Agamemnon's burst in upon our trembling conclave and said, "Don't you
know with whom your engagement is today? The exquisite Trimalchio, who
keeps a clock and a liveried bugler in his dining-room, so that he can
tell, instantly, how much of his life has run out!" Forgetting all our
troubles at that, we dressed hurriedly and ordered Giton, who had very
willingly performed his servile office, to follow us to the bath.


Boys play in the schools, the young men are laughed at
Deferred pleasures are a long time coming
Egyptians "commercialized" that incomparable art
Errors committed in the name of religion
Everything including the children, is devoted to ambition
Laughed ourselves out of a most disgraceful quarrel
No one will confess the errors he was taught in his school days
Priests, animated by an hypocritical mania for prophecy
See or hear nothing at all of the affairs of every-day life
The teachers, who must gibber with lunatics
They secure their ends, save by setting snares for the ears



Having put on our clothes, in the meantime, we commenced to stroll around
and soon, the better to amuse ourselves, approached the circle of
players; all of a sudden we caught sight of a bald-headed old fellow,
rigged out in a russet colored tunic, playing ball with some long haired
boys. It was not so much the boys who attracted our attention, although
they might well have merited it, as it was the spectacle afforded by this
beslippered paterfamilias playing with a green ball. If one but touched
the ground, he never stooped for it to put it back in play; for a slave
stood by with a bagful from which the players were supplied. We noted
other innovations as well, for two eunuchs were stationed at opposite
sides of the ring, one of whom held a silver chamber-pot, the other
counted the balls; not those which bounced back and forth from hand to
hand, in play, but those which fell to the ground. While we were
marveling at this display of refinement, Menelaus rushed up, "He is the
one with whom you will rest upon your elbow," he panted, "what you see
now, is only a prelude to the dinner." Menelaus had scarcely ceased
speaking when Trimalchio snapped his fingers; the eunuch, hearing the
signal, held the chamber-pot for him while he still continued playing.
After relieving his bladder, he called for water to wash his hands,
barely moistened his fingers, and dried them upon a boy's head.


To go into details would take too long. We entered the bath, finally,
and after sweating for a minute or two in the warm room, we passed
through into the cold water. But short as was the time, Trimalchio had
already been sprinkled with perfume and was being rubbed down, not with
linen towels, however, but with cloths made from the finest wool.
Meanwhile, three masseurs were guzzling Falernian under his eyes, and
when they spilled a great deal of it in their brawling, Trimalchio
declared they were pouring a libation to his Genius. He was then wrapped
in a coarse scarlet wrap-rascal, and placed in a litter. Four runners,
whose liveries were decorated with metal plates, preceded him, as also
did a wheel-chair in which rode his favorite, a withered, blear eyed
slave, even more repulsive looking than his master. A singing boy
approached the head of his litter, as he was being carried along, and
played upon small pipes the whole way, just as if he were communicating
some secret to his master's ear. Marveling greatly, we followed, and met
Agamemnon at the outer door, to the post of which was fastened a small
tablet bearing this inscription:


In the vestibule stood the porter, clad in green and girded with a
cherry-colored belt, shelling peas into a silver dish. Above the
threshold was suspended a golden cage, from which a black and white
magpie greeted the visitors.


I almost fell backwards and broke my legs while staring at all this, for
to the left, as we entered, not far from the porter's alcove, an enormous
dog upon a chain was painted upon the wall, and above him this
inscription, in capitals:


My companions laughed, but I plucked up my courage and did not hesitate,
but went on and examined the entire wall. There was a scene in a slave
market, the tablets hanging from the slaves' necks, and Trimalchio
himself, wearing his hair long, holding a caduceus in his hand, entering
Rome, led by the hand of Minerva. Then again the painstaking artist had
depicted him casting up accounts, and still again, being appointed
steward; everything being explained by inscriptions. Where the walls
gave way to the portico, Mercury was shown lifting him up by the chin,
to a tribunal placed on high. Near by stood Fortune with her horn of
plenty, and the three Fates, spinning golden flax. I also took note of a
group of runners, in the portico, taking their exercise under the eye of
an instructor, and in one corner was a large cabinet, in which was a very
small shrine containing silver Lares, a marble Venus, and a golden casket
by no means small, which held, so they told us, the first shavings of
Trimalchio's beard. I asked the hall-porter what pictures were in the
middle hall. "The Iliad and the Odyssey," he replied, "and the
gladiatorial games given under Laenas." There was no time in which to
examine them all.


We had now come to the dining-room, at the entrance to which sat a
factor, receiving accounts, and, what gave me cause for astonishment,
rods and axes were fixed to the door-posts, superimposed, as it were,
upon the bronze beak of a ship, whereon was inscribed:


A double lamp, suspended from the ceiling, hung beneath the inscription,
and a tablet was fixed to each door-post; one, if my memory serves me,
was inscribed,


the other bore a painting of the moon in her phases, and the seven
planets, and the days which were lucky and those which were unlucky,
distinguished by distinctive studs. We had had enough of these novelties
and started to enter the dining-room when a slave, detailed to this duty,
cried out, "Right foot first." Naturally, we were afraid that some of us
might break some rule of conduct and cross the threshold the wrong way;
nevertheless, we started out, stepping off together with the right foot,
when all of a sudden, a slave who had been stripped, threw himself at our
feet, and commenced begging us to save him from punishment, as it was no
serious offense for which he was in jeopardy; the steward's clothing had
been stolen from him in the baths, and the whole value could scarcely
amount to ten sesterces. So we drew back our right feet and intervened
with the steward, who was counting gold pieces in the hall, begging him
to remit the slave's punishment. Putting a haughty face on the matter,
"It's not the loss I mind so much," he said, "as it is the carelessness
of this worthless rascal. He lost my dinner clothes, given me on my
birthday they were, by a certain client, Tyrian purple too, but it had
been washed once already. But what does it amount to? I make you a
present of the scoundrel!"


We felt deeply obligated by his great condescension, and the same
slave for whom we had interceded, rushed up to us as we entered the
dining-room, and to our astonishment, kissed us thick and fast, voicing
his thanks for our kindness. "You'll know in a minute whom you did a
favor for," he confided, "the master's wine is the thanks of a grateful
butler!" At length we reclined, and slave boys from Alexandria poured
water cooled with snow upon our hands, while others following, attended
to our feet and removed the hangnails with wonderful dexterity, nor were
they silent even during this disagreeable operation, but they all kept
singing at their work. I was desirous of finding out whether the whole
household could sing, so I ordered a drink; a boy near at hand instantly
repeated my order in a singsong voice fully as shrill, and whichever one
you accosted did the same. You would not imagine that this was the
dining-room of a private gentleman, but rather that it was an exhibition
of pantomimes. A very inviting relish was brought on, for by now all the
couches were occupied save only that of Trimalchio, for whom, after a new
custom, the chief place was reserved.

On the tray stood a donkey made of Corinthian bronze, bearing panniers
containing olives, white in one and black in the other. Two platters
flanked the figure, on the margins of which were engraved Trimalchio's
name and the weight of the silver in each. Dormice sprinkled with
poppy-seed and honey were served on little bridges soldered fast to the
platter, and hot sausages on a silver gridiron, underneath which were
damson plums and pomegranate seeds.


We Were in the midst of these delicacies when, to the sound of music,
Trimalchio himself was carried in and bolstered up in a nest of small
cushions, which forced a snicker from the less wary. A shaven poll
protruded from a scarlet mantle, and around his neck, already muffled
with heavy clothing, he had tucked a napkin having a broad purple stripe
and a fringe that hung down all around. On the little finger of his left
hand he wore a massive gilt ring, and on the first joint of the next
finger, a smaller one which seemed to me to be of pure gold, but as a
matter of fact it had iron stars soldered on all around it. And then,
for fear all of his finery would not be displayed, he bared his right
arm, adorned with a golden arm-band and an ivory circlet clasped with a
plate of shining metal.


Picking his teeth with a silver quill, "Friends," said he, "it was not
convenient for me to come into the dining-room just yet, but for fear my
absence should cause you any inconvenience, I gave over my own pleasure:
permit me, however, to finish my game." A slave followed with a
terebinth table and crystal dice, and I noted one piece of luxury that
was superlative; for instead of black and white pieces, he used gold and
silver coins. He kept up a continual flow of various coarse expressions.
We were still dallying with the relishes when a tray was brought in, on
which was a basket containing a wooden hen with her wings rounded and
spread out as if she were brooding. Two slaves instantly approached, and
to the accompaniment of music, commenced to feel around in the straw.
They pulled out some pea-hen's eggs, which they distributed among the
diners. Turning his head, Trimalchio saw what was going on. "Friends,"
he remarked. "I ordered pea-hen's eggs set under the hen, but I'm afraid
they're addled, by Hercules I am let's try them anyhow, and see if
they're still fit to suck." We picked up our spoons, each of which
weighed not less than half a pound, and punctured the shells, which were
made of flour and dough, and as a matter of fact, I very nearly threw
mine away for it seemed to me that a chick had formed already, but upon
hearing an old experienced guest vow, "There must be something good
here," I broke open the shell with my hand and discovered a fine fat
fig-pecker, imbedded in a yolk seasoned with pepper.


Having finished his game, Trimalchio was served with a helping of
everything and was announcing in a loud voice his willingness to join
anyone in a second cup of honied wine, when, to a flourish of music, the
relishes were suddenly whisked away by a singing chorus, but a small dish
happened to fall to the floor, in the scurry, and a slave picked it up.
Seeing this, Trimalchio ordered that the boy be punished by a box on the
ear, and made him throw it down again; a janitor followed with his broom
and swept the silver dish away among the litter. Next followed two
long-haired Ethiopians, carrying small leather bottles, such as are
commonly seen in the hands of those who sprinkle sand in the arena, and
poured wine upon our hands, for no one offered us water. When
complimented upon these elegant extras, the host cried out, "Mars loves
a fair fight: and so I ordered each one a separate table: that way these
stinking slaves won't make us so hot with their crowding." Some glass
bottles carefully sealed with gypsum were brought in at that instant; a
label bearing this inscription was fastened to the neck of each one:


While we were studying the labels, Trimalchio clapped his hands and
cried, "Ah me! To think that wine lives longer than poor little man.
Let's fill 'em up! There's life in wine and this is the real Opimian,
you can take my word for that. I offered no such vintage yesterday,
though my guests were far more respectable." We were tippling away and
extolling all these elegant devices, when a slave brought in a silver
skeleton, so contrived that the joints and movable vertebra could be
turned in any direction. He threw it down upon the table a time or two,
and its mobile articulation caused it to assume grotesque attitudes,
whereupon Trimalchio chimed in:

"Poor man is nothing in the scheme of things
And Orcus grips us and to Hades flings
Our bones! This skeleton before us here
Is as important as we ever were!
Let's live then while we may and life is dear."


The applause was followed by a course which, by its oddity, drew every
eye, but it did not come up to our expectations. There was a circular
tray around which were displayed the signs of the zodiac, and upon each
sign the caterer had placed the food best in keeping with it. Ram's
vetches on Aries, a piece of beef on Taurus, kidneys and lamb's fry on
Gemini, a crown on Cancer, the womb of an unfarrowed sow on Virgo, an
African fig on Leo, on Libra a balance, one pan of which held a tart and
the other a cake, a small seafish on Scorpio, a bull's eye on
Sagittarius, a sea lobster on Capricornus, a goose on Aquarius and two
mullets on Pisces. In the middle lay a piece of cut sod upon which
rested a honeycomb with the grass arranged around it. An Egyptian slave
passed bread around from a silver oven and in a most discordant voice
twisted out a song in the manner of the mime in the musical farce called
Laserpitium. Seeing that we were rather depressed at the prospect of
busying ourselves with such vile fare, Trimalchio urged us to fall to:
"Let us fall to, gentlemen, I beg of you, this is only the sauce!"


While he was speaking, four dancers ran in to the time of the music,
and removed the upper part of the tray. Beneath, on what seemed to be
another tray, we caught sight of stuffed capons and sows' bellies, and in
the middle, a hare equipped with wings to resemble Pegasus. At the
corners of the tray we also noted four figures of Marsyas and from their
bladders spouted a highly spiced sauce upon fish which were swimming
about as if in a tide-race. All of us echoed the applause which was
started by the servants, and fell to upon these exquisite delicacies,
with a laugh. "Carver," cried Trimalchio, no less delighted with the
artifice practised upon us, and the carver appeared immediately. Timing
his strokes to the beat of the music he cut up the meat in such a fashion
as to lead you to think that a gladiator was fighting from a chariot to
the accompaniment of a water-organ. Every now and then Trimalchio would
repeat "Carver, Carver," in a low voice, until I finally came to the
conclusion that some joke was meant in repeating a word so frequently, so
I did not scruple to question him who reclined above me. As he had often
experienced byplay of this sort he explained, "You see that fellow who is
carving the meat, don't you? Well, his name is Carver. Whenever
Trimalchio says Carver, carve her, by the same word, he both calls and


I could eat no more, so I turned to my whilom informant to learn as much
as I could and sought to draw him out with far-fetched gossip. I
inquired who that woman could be who was scurrying about hither and yon
in such a fashion. "She's called Fortunata," he replied. "She's the
wife of Trimalchio, and she measures her money by the peck. And only a
little while ago, what was she! May your genius pardon me, but you would
not have been willing to take a crust of bread from her hand. Now,
without rhyme or reason, she's in the seventh heaven and is Trimalchio's
factotum, so much so that he would believe her if she told him it was
dark when it was broad daylight! As for him, he don't know how rich he
is, but this harlot keeps an eye on everything and where you least expect
to find her, you're sure to run into her. She's temperate, sober, full
of good advice, and has many good qualities, but she has a scolding
tongue, a very magpie on a sofa, those she likes, she likes, but those
she dislikes, she dislikes! Trimalchio himself has estates as broad as
the flight of a kite is long, and piles of money. There's more silver
plate lying in his steward's office than other men have in their whole
fortunes! And as for slaves, damn me if I believe a tenth of them knows
the master by sight. The truth is, that these stand-a-gapes are so much
in awe of him that any one of them would step into a fresh dunghill
without ever knowing it, at a mere nod from him!"


"And don't you get the idea that he buys anything; everything is produced
at home, wool, pitch, pepper, if you asked for hen's milk you would get
it. Because he wanted his wool to rival other things in quality, he
bought rams at Tarentum and sent 'em into his flocks with a slap on the
arse. He had bees brought from Attica, so he could produce Attic honey
at home, and, as a side issue, so he could improve the native bees by
crossing with the Greek. He even wrote to India for mushroom seed one
day, and he hasn't a single mule that wasn't sired by a wild ass. Do you
see all those cushions? Not a single one but what is stuffed with either
purple or scarlet wool! He hasn't anything to worry about! Look out how
you criticise those other fellow-freedmen-friends of his, they're all
well heeled. See the fellow reclining at the bottom of the end couch?
He's worth his 800,000 any day, and he rose from nothing. Only a short
while ago he had to carry faggots on his own back. I don't know how true
it is, but they say that he snatched off an Incubo's hat and found a
treasure! For my part, I don't envy any man anything that was given him
by a god. He still carries the marks of his box on the ear, and he isn't
wishing himself any bad luck! He posted this notice, only the other day:


"What do you think of the fellow in the freedman's place? He has a good
front, too, hasn't he? And he has a right to. He saw his fortune
multiplied tenfold, but he lost heavily through speculation at the last.
I don't think he can call his very hair his own, and it is no fault of
his either, by Hercules, it isn't. There's no better fellow anywhere his
rascally freedmen cheated him out of everything. You know very well how
it is; everybody's business is nobody's business, and once let business
affairs start to go wrong, your friends will stand from under! Look at
the fix he's in, and think what a fine trade he had! He used to be an

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