§ 1 Are our rhetoricians tormented by a new tribe of Furies when they cry: 'These scars I earned in the struggle for popular rights; I sacrificed this eye for you: where is a guiding hand to lead me to my children? My knees are hamstrung, and cannot support my body'? Though indeed even these speeches might be endured if they smoothed the path of aspirants to oratory. But as it is, the sole result of this bombastic matter and these loud empty phrases is that a pupil who steps into a court thinks that he has been carried into another world. I believe that college makes complete fools of our young men, because they see and hear nothing of ordinary life there. It is pirates standing in chains on the beach, tyrants pen in hand ordering sons to cut off their fathers' heads, oracles in time of pestilence demanding the blood of three virgins or more, honey-balls of phrases, every word and act besprinkled with poppy-seed and sesame.
§ 2 People who are fed on this diet can no more be sensible than people who live in the kitchen can be savoury. With your permission I must tell you the truth, that you teachers more than anyone have been the ruin of true eloquence. Your tripping, empty tones stimulate certain absurd effects into being, with the result that the substance of your speech languishes and dies. In the age: when Sophocles or Euripides found the inevitable word for their verse, young men were not yet being confined to set speeches. When Pindar and the nine lyric poets were too modest to use Homer's lines, no cloistered pedant had yet ruined young men's brains. I need not go to the poets for evidence. I certainly do not find that Plato or Demosthenes took any course of training of this kind. Great style, which, if I may say so, is also modest style, is never blotchy and bloated. It rises supreme by virtue of its natural beauty. Your flatulent and formless flow of words is a modern immigrant from Asia to Athens. Its breath fell upon the mind of ambitious youth like the influence of a baleful planet, and when the old tradition was once broken, eloquence halted and grew dumb. In a word, who after this came to equal the splendour of Thucydides or Hyperides? Even poetry did not glow with the colour of health, but the whole of art, nourished on one universal diet, lacked the vigour to reach the grey hairs of old age. The decadence in painting was the same, as soon as Egyptian charlatans had found a short cut to this high calling.
§ 3 Agamemnon would not allow me to stand declaiming out in the colonnade longer than he had spent sweating inside the school. “Your talk has an uncommon flavour, young man, he said, and what is most unusual, you appreciate good sense. I will not therefore deceive you by making a mystery of my art. The fact is that the teachers are not to blame for these exhibitions. They are in a madhouse, and they must gibber. Unless they speak to the taste of their young masters they will be left alone in the colleges, as Cicero remarks. Like the toadies [of Comedy] cadging after the rich man's dinners, they think first about what is calculated to please their audience. They will never gain their object unless they lay traps for the ear. A master of oratory is like a fisherman; he must put the particular bait on his hook which he knows will tempt the little fish, or he may sit waiting on his rock with no hope of a catch.
§ 4 Then what is to be done? It is the parents who should be attacked for refusing to allow their children to profit by stern discipline. To begin with they consecrate even their young hopefuls, like everything else, to ambition. Then if they are in; a hurry for the fulfilment of their vows, they drive the unripe schoolboy into the law courts, and thrust eloquence, the noblest of callings, upon children who are still struggling into the world. If they would allow work to go on step by step, so that bookish boys were steeped in diligent reading, their minds formed by wise sayings, their pens relentless in tracking down the right word, their ears giving a long hearing to pieces they wished to imitate, and if they would convince themselves that what took a boy's fancy was never fine; then the grand old style of oratory would have its full force and splendour. As it is, the boy wastes his time at school, and the young man is a laughing-stock in the courts. Worse than that, they will not admit when they are old the errors they have once imbibed at school. But pray do not think that I impugn Lucilius's rhyme about modesty. I will myself put my own views in a poem:
§ 5 If any man seeks for success in stern art and applies his mind to great tasks, let him first perfect his character by the rigid law of frugality. Nor must he care for the lofty frown of the tyrant's palace, or scheme for suppers with prodigals like a client, or drown the fires of his wit with wine in the company of the wicked, or sit before the stage applauding an actor's grimaces for a price.
But whether the fortress of armoured Tritonis smiles upon him, or the land where the Spartan farmer lives, or the home of the Sirens, let him give the years of youth to poetry, and let his fortunate soul drink of the Maeonian fount. Later, when he is full of the learning of the Socratic school, let him loose the reins, and shake the weapons of mighty Demosthenes like a free man. Then let the company of Roman writers pour about him, and, newly unburdened from the music of Greece, steep his soul and transform his taste. Meanwhile, let him withdraw from the courts and suffer his pages to run free, and in secret make ringing strains in swift rhythm; then let him proudly tell tales of feasts, and wars recorded in fierce chant, and lofty words such as undaunted Cicero uttered. Gird up thy soul for these noble ends; so shalt thou be fully inspired, and shalt pour out words in swelling torrent from a heart the Muses love.
§ 6 I was listening to him so carefully that I did not notice Ascyltos slipping away. I was pacing the gardens in the heat of our conversation, when a great crowd of students came out into the porch, apparently from some master whose extemporary harangue had followed Agamemnon's discourse. So while the young men were laughing at his epigrams, and denouncing the tendency of his style as a whole, I took occasion to steal away and began hurriedly to look for Ascyltos. But I did not remember the road accurately, and I did not know where our lodgings were. So wherever I went, I kept coming back to the same spot, till I was tired out with walking, and dripping with sweat.
§ 7 At last I went up to an old woman who was selling country vegetables and said,Please, mother, do you happen to know where I live? She was charmed with such a polite fool.Of course I do, she said, and got up and began to lead the way. I thought her a prophetess, but when we had got into an obscure quarter the obliging old lady pushed back a patchwork curtain and said,This should be your house. I was saying that I did not remember it, when I noticed some men and naked women walking cautiously about among placards of price. Too late, too late I realized that I had been taken into a bawdy-house. I cursed the cunning old woman, and covered my head, and began to run through the brothel to another part, when just at the entrance Ascyltos met me, as tired as I was, and half-dead. It looked as though the same old lady had brought him there. I hailed him with a laugh, and asked him what he was doing in such an unpleasant spot.
§ 8 He mopped himself with his hands and said, If you only knew what has happened to me. What is it? I said. Well, he said, on the point of fainting, I was wandering all over the town without finding where I had left my lodgings, when a respectable person came up to me and very kindly offered to direct me. He took me round a number of dark turnings and brought me out here, and then began to offer me money and solicit me. A woman got threepence out of me for a room, and he had already seized me. The worst would have happened if I had not been stronger than he. While Ascyltos was thus recounting his adventures, up came his respectable friend again, accompanied by a woman of considerable personal attractions, and addressing himself to Ascyltos, besought him to enter, assuring him he had nothing to fear, and that as he would not consent to play the passive, he should do the active part. The woman on her side was very anxious I should go with her. Accordingly we followed the pair, who led us among the name-boards, where we saw in the chambers persons of both sexes behaving in such fashion I concluded they must every one have been drinking satyrion. On seeing us, they endeavored to allure us to sodomy with enticing gestures; and suddenly one fellow with his clothes well tucked up assails Ascyltos, and throwing him down on a bed, tries to get to work a-top of him. I spring to the sufferer's rescue, and uniting our efforts, we make short work of the ruffian.
§ 8 Ascyltos bolts out of the house, and away, leaving me to escape their beastly advances as best I might; but discovering I was too strong for them and in no mood for trifling, they left me alone.
§ 9 After running about almost over the city, I dimly saw Giton standing on the kerb of the road in the dark, and hurried towards him. . . . I was asking my favorite whether he had got ready anything for us to eat, when the boy sat down at the head of the bed, and began to cry and rub away the tears with his thumb. My favorite's looks made me uneasy, and I asked what had happened. The boy was unwilling to tell, but I added threats to entreaties, and at last he said, That brother or friend of yours ran into our lodgings a little while ago and began to offer me violence. I shouted out, and he drew his sword and said, 'If you are a Lucretia, you have found your Tarquin.'
When I heard this I shook my fist in Ascyltos's face. What have you to say? I cried, You dirty catamite whose very breath is unclean? Ascyltos first pretended to be shocked, and then made a great show of fight, and roared out much more loudly: Hold your tongue, you filthy prizefighter. You were kicked out of the ring in disgrace. Be quiet, Jack Stab-inthe-dark. You never could face a clean woman in your best days. I was the same kind of brother to you in the garden, as this boy is now in the lodgings.
§ 10 You sneaked away from the master's talk, I said.Well, you fool, what do you expect? I was perishing of hunger. Was I to go on listening to his views, all broken bottles and interpretation of dreams? By God, you are far worse than I am, flattering a poet to get asked out to dinner.
Then our sordid quarrelling ended in a shout of laughter, and we retired afterwards more peaceably for what remained to be done. . . .
But his insult came into my head again. Ascyltos, I said, I am sure we cannot agree. We will divide our luggage, and try to defeat our poverty by our own earnings. You are a scholar, and so am I. Besides, I will promise not to stand in the way of your success. Otherwise twenty things a day will bring us into opposition, and spread scandal about us all over the town. Ascyltos acquiesced, and said, But as we are engaged to supper to-night like a couple of students, do not let us waste the evening. I shall be pleased to look out for new lodgings and a new brother to-morrow? Waiting for one's pleasures is weary work, I replied.
It was really my naughty passions that urged me to so speedy a parting; indeed I had been long wishing to be rid of his jealous observation, in order to renew my old relations with my sweet Giton. Ascyltos, mortally offended at my remark, rushed out of the room without another word. So sudden a departure boded ill; for I knew his ungovernable temper and the strength of his passions. So I went after him, to keep an eye on his doings and guard against their consequences; but he slipped adroitly out of my sight, and I wasted a long time in a fruitless search for the rascal.
§ 11 I went sight-seeing all over the town and then came back to the little room. At last I could ask for kisses openly. I hugged the boy close in my arms and had my fill of a happiness that might be envied. All was not over when Ascyltos came sneaking up to the door, shook back the bars by force, and found me at play with my brother. He filled the room with laughter and applause, pulled me out of the cloak I had over me, and said, What are you at, my pureminded brother, you that would break up our partnership? Not content with gibing, he pulled the strap off his bag, and began to give me a regular flogging, saying sarcastically as he did so: Don't make this kind of bargain with your brother. . . .
§ 12 It was already dusk when we came into the market. We saw a quantity of things for sale, of no great value, though the twilight very easily cast a veil over their shaky reputations. So for our part we stole a cloak and carried it off, and seized the opportunity of displaying the extreme edge of it in one corner of the market, hoping that the bright colour might attract a purchaser. In a little while a countryman, whom I knew by sight, came up with a girl, and began to examine the cloak narrowly. Ascyltos in turn cast a glance at the shoulders of our country customer, and was suddenly struck dumb with astonishment. I could not look upon the man myself without a stir, for he was the person, I thought, who had found the shirt in the lonely spot where we lost it. He was certainly the very man. But as Ascyltos was afraid to trust his eyes for fear of doing something rash, he first came up close as if he were a purchaser, and pulled the shirt off the countryman's shoulders, and then felt it carefully.
§ 13 By a wonderful stroke of luck the countryman had never laid his meddling hands on the seam, and he was offering the thing for sale with a condescending air as a beggar's leavings. When Ascyltos saw that our savings were untouched, and what a poor creature the seller was, he took me a little aside from the crowd, and said, Do you know, brother, the treasure I was grumbling at losing has come back to us. That is the shirt, and I believe it is still full of gold pieces: they have never been touched. What shall we do? How shall we assert our legal rights?
I was delighted, not only because I saw a chance of profit, but because fortune had relieved me of a very disagreeable suspicion. I was against any roundabout methods. I thought we should proceed openly by civil process, and obtain a decision in the courts if they refused to give up other people's property to the rightful owners.
§ 14 But Ascyltos was afraid of the law: Nobody knows us in this place, he said, and nobody will believe what we say, I should certainly like to buy the thing, although it is ours and we know it. It is better to get back our savings cheaply than to embark upon the perils of a lawsuit:
Of what avail are laws where money rules alone, and the poor suitor can never succeed? The very men who mock at the times by carrying the Cynic's scrip have sometimes been known to betray the truth for a price. So a lawsuit is nothing more than a public auction, and the knightly juror who sits listening to the case gives his vote as he is paid.
But we had nothing in hand except one sixpence, with which we had meant to buy pease and lupines. And so for fear our prize should escape us, we decided to sell the cloak cheaper than we had intended, and so to incur a slight loss for a greater gain. We had just unrolled our piece, when a veiled woman, who was standing by the countryman, looked carefully at the marks, and then seized the cloak with both hands, shouting at the top of her voice, Thieves! We were terrified, but rather than do nothing, we began to tug at the dirty torn shirt, and cried out with equal bitterness that these people had taken some spoil that was ours. But the dispute was in no way even, and the dealers who were attracted by the noise of course laughed at our indignation, since one side was laying claim to an expensive cloak, the other to a set of rags which would not serve to make a decent patchwork.
§ 15 Ascyltos now cleverly stopped their laughter by calling for silence and saying, Well, you see, every one has an affection for his own things. If they will give us our shirt, they shall have their cloak. The countryman and the woman were satisfied with this exchange, but by this time some policemen had been called in to punish us; they wanted to make a profit out of the cloak, and tried to persuade us to leave the disputed property with them and let a judge look into our complaints the next day. They urged that besides the counter-claims to these garments, a far graver question arose, since each party must lie under suspicion of thieving. It was suggested that trustees should be appointed, and one of the traders, a bald man with a spotty forehead, who used sometimes to do law work, laid hands on the cloak and declared that he would produce it to-morrow. But clearly the object was that the cloak should be deposited with a pack of thieves and be seen no more, in the hope that we should not keep our appointment, for fear of being charged.
It was obvious that our wishes coincided with his, and chance came to support the wishes of both sides. The countryman lost his temper when we said his rags must be shown in public, threw the shirt in Ascyltos's face, and asked us, now that we had no grievance, to give up the cloak which had raised the whole quarrel. . . .
We thought we had got back our savings. We hurried away to the inn and shut the door, and then had a laugh at the wits of our false accusers and at the dealers too, whose mighty sharpness had returned our money to us. I never want to grasp what I desire at once, nor do easy victories delight me.
§ 16 Thanks to Giton, we found supper ready, and we were making a hearty meal, when a timid knock sounded at the door.
We turned pale and asked who it was. Open the door, said a voice, and you will see. While we were speaking, the bar slipped and fell of its own accord, the door suddenly swung open, and let in our visitor. It was the veiled woman who had stood with the countryman a little while before. Did you think you had deceived me? she said. I am Quartilla's maid. You intruded upon her devotions before her secret chapel. Now she has come to your lodgings, and begs for the favour of a word with you. Do not be uneasy; she will not be angry, or punish you for a mistake. On the contrary, she wonders how Heaven conveyed such polite young men to her quarter. We still said nothing,
§ 17 and showed no approval one way or the other. Then Quartilla herself came in with one girl by her, sat down on my bed, and cried for a long while. We did not put in a word even then, but sat waiting in amazement for the end of this carefully arranged exhibition of grief. When this very designing rain had ceased, she drew her proud head out of her cloak and wrung her hands together till the joints cracked. You bold creatures, she said,where did you learn to outrival the robbers of romance? Heaven knows I pity you. A man cannot look upon forbidden things and go free. Indeed the gods walk abroad so commonly in our streets that it is easier to meet a god than a man. Do not suppose that I have come here to avenge myself. I am more sorry for your tender years than for my own wrongs. For I still believe that heedless youth has led you into deadly sin. I lay tormenting myself that night and shivering with such a dreadful chill that I even fear an attack of tertian ague. So I asked for a remedy in my dreams, and was told to find you out and allay the raging of my disease by the clever plan you would show me. But I am not so greatly concerned about a cure; deep in my heart burns a greater grief, which drags me down to inevitable death. I am afraid that youthful indiscretion will lead you to publish abroad what you saw in the chapel of Priapus, and reveal our holy rites to the mob. So I kneel with folded hands before you, and beg and pray you not to make a laughing-stock of our nocturnal worship, not to deride the immemorial mystery to which less than a thousand souls hold the key.
§ 18 She finished her prayer, and again cried bitterly, and buried her face and bosom in my bed, shaken all over with deep sobs. I was distracted with pity and terror together. I reassured her, telling her not to trouble herself about either point. No one would betray her devotions, and we would risk our lives to assist the will of Heaven, if the gods had showed her any further cure for her tertian ague. At this promise the woman grew more cheerful, kissed me again and again and gently stroked the long hair that fell about my ears, having passed from crying to laughter. I will sign a peace with you, she said, and withdraw the suit I have entered against you. But if you had not promised me the cure I want, there was a whole regiment ready for tomorrow to wipe out my wrongs and uphold my honour:
To be flouted is disgraceful, but to impose terms is glorious: I rejoice that I can follow what course I please. For surely even a wise man will take up a quarrel when he is flouted, while the man who sheds no blood commonly comes off victorious. . . .
Then she clapped her hands and suddenly burst out laughing so loud that we were frightened. The maid who had come in first did the same on one side of us, and also the little girl who had come in with Quartilla.
§ 19 The whole place rang with farcical laughter, while we kept looking first at each other and then at the women, not understanding how they could have changed their tune so quickly. . . .
I forbade any mortal man to enter this inn to-day, just so that I might get you to cure me of my tertian ague without interruptions. When Quartilla said this, Ascyltos was struck dumb for a moment, while I turned colder than a Swiss winter, and could not utter a syllable. But the presence of my friends saved me from my worst fears. They were three weak women, if they wanted to make any attack on us. We had at least our manhood in our favour, if nothing else. And certainly our dress was more fit for action. Indeed I had already matched our forces in pairs. If it came to a real fight, I was to face Quartilla, Ascyltos her maid, Giton the girl. . .
But then all our resolution yielded to astonishment, and the darkness of certain death began to fall on our unhappy eyes. . . .
§ 20 If you have anything worse in store, madam, I said, be quick with it. We are not such desperate criminals that we deserve to die by torture.. . .
The maid, whose name was Psyche, carefully spread a blanket on the floor and endeavored to rouse my member into activity, but it lay cold as a thousand deaths could make it. Ascyltos had buried his head in his cloak. I suppose he had warning that it is dangerous to pry into other people's secrets. . . .
The maid brought two straps out of her dress and tied our feet with one and our hands with the other. . . .
The thread of our talk was broken. Come, said Ascyltos, do not I deserve a drink? The maid was given away by my laughter at this. She clapped her hands and said, I put one by you, young man. Did you drink the whole of the medicine yourself? Did he really? said Quartilla, did Encolpius drink up the whole of our loving-cup? Her sides shook with delightful laughter. . . . Even Giton had to laugh at last, I mean when the little girl took him by the neck and showered countless kisses on his unresisting lips. . . .
§ 21 We wanted to cry out for pain, but there was no one to come to the rescue, and when I tried to cry, Help, all honest citizens! Psyche pricked my cheek with a hair-pin, while the girl threatened Ascyltos with a wet sponge which she had soaked in an aphrodisiac. . . .
Finally there entered a catamite, tricked out in a coat of chestnut frieze, and wearing a sash, who would alternately writhe his buttocks and bump against us, and beslaver us with the most evil-smelling kisses, until Quartilla, holding a whalebone wand in her hand and with skirts tucked up, ordered him to give the poor fellows quarter. . .
We both of us took a solemn oath that the dreadful secret should die with us. . . .
A number of attendants came in, rubbed us down With pure oil, and refreshed us. Our fatigue vanished, we put on evening dress again, and were shown into the next room, where three couches were laid and a whole rich dinner-service was finely spread out. We were asked to sit down, and after beginning with some wonderful hors d'oeuvres we swam in wine, and that too Falernian. We followed this with more courses, and were dropping off to sleep, when Quartilla said, Well, how can you think of going to sleep, when you know that is your duty to devote the whole night to the genius of Priapus? . . .
§ 22 Ascyltos was heavy-eyed with all his troubles, and was falling asleep, when the maid who had been driven away so rudely rubbed his face over with soot, and coloured his lips and his neck with vermilion while he drowsed. By this time I was tired out with adventures too, and had just taken the tiniest taste of sleep. All the servants, indoors and out, had done the same. Some lay anyhow by the feet of the guests, some leaned against the walls, some even stayed in the doorway with their heads together. The oil in the lamps had run out, and they gave a thin dying light. All at once two Syrians came in to rob the dining-room, and in quarrelling greedily over the plate pulled a large jug in two and broke it. The table fell over with the plate, and a cup which happened to fly some distance hit the head of the maid, who was lolling over a seat. The knock made her scream, and this showed up the thieves and woke some of the drunken party. The Syrians who had come to steal dropped side by side on a sofa, when they realized that they were being noticed, with the most convincing naturalness, and began to snore like old-established sleepers.
By this time the butler had got up and refilled the flickering lamps. The boys rubbed their eyes for a few minutes, and then came back to wait. Then a girl with cymbals came in, and the crash of the brass aroused everybody.
§ 23 Our evening began afresh, and Quartilla called us back again to our cups. The girl with the cymbals gave her fresh spirits for the revel. . .The next to appear is a catamite, the silliest of mankind and quite worthy of the house, who beat his hands together, gave a groan, and then spouted the following delightful effusion:
Who hath a pathic lust,
With Delian vice accurst;
Who loves the pliant thigh,
Quick hand and wanton sigh;
Come hither, come hither, come hither,
Here shall he see
Gross beasts as he,
Lechers of every feather!
Then, his poetry exhausted, he spat a most stinking kiss in my face; before long he mounted on the couch where I lay and exposed me by force in spite of my resistance. He labored hard and long to bring up my member, but in vain.
§ 24 Streams of gummy paint and sweat poured from his heated brow, and such a lot of chalk filled the wrinkles of his cheeks, you might have thought his face was an old dilapidated wall with the plaster crumbling away in the rain. I could no longer restrain my tears, but driven to the last extremity of disgust, I ask you, lady, I cried, is this the 'night-cap' (ambasicoetas) you promised me? At this she clapped her hands daintily, exclaiming, Oh you clever boy! what a pretty wit you have! Of course you didn't know 'night-cap' is another name for a catamite? Then, that my comrade might not miss his share too, I asked her, Now, on your conscience, is Ascyltos to be the only guest in the room to keep holiday! So? she cried, why! let Ascyltos have his 'night-cap' too! In obedience to her order, the catamite now changed his mount, and transferring his attentions to my friend, set to grinding him under his buttocks and smothering him with lecherous kisses. All this while Giton had been standing by, laughing as if his sides would split. Now Quartilla, catching sight of him, asked with eager curiosity, whose lad he was. When I told her he was my little favorite, Why hasn't he kissed me then? she cried, and calling him to her glued her lips to his. Next minute she slipped her hand under his clothes, and pulling out his unpractised tool, she observed, This will be a very pretty whet tomorrow to our naughty appetite. For today, — 'After such a dainty dish, I will taste no common fish!'
§ 25 Just as she was saying this, Psyche approached her mistress laughingly and whispered something in her ear. Yes! yes! exclaimed Quartilla, a capital idea! why should not our little Pannychis lose her maidenhood! 'tis an excellent opportunity, indeed. Immediately they brought in a pretty enough little girl, and who did not appear to be more than seven years old the same child who had accompanied Quartilla on her first visit to our room at the inn. So amid general applause and indeed at the special request of the company, they began the bridal preparations. I was horrified, and declared that, while on the one hand Giton, who was a very modest boy, was quite unequal to such naughtiness, on the other Pannychis was far too young to endure the treatment a woman must expect. Why! said Quartilla, is the girl any younger than I was when I first submitted to a man? May Juno, my patroness, desert me, if I can mind the time when I was a maid. As a child I was naughty with little boys of my own age, and presently as the years rolled by, with bigger lads, till I reached my present time of life. Hence I suppose the proverb that says: 'Who carried the calf, may well carry the bull.' Fearing my favorite might get into greater troubles if I were not there, I got up to assist at the wedding ceremony.
§ 26 By this time Psyche had thrown the bridal veil over the child's head; our pathic friend was marching in front with a torch; a long procession of drunken women followed, clapping their hands, having previously decked the marriage bed with a splendid coverlet. Then Quartilla, fired by the wanton pleasantry, likewise rose from table, and seizing Giton drew him into the chamber. The lad was not at all loath to go, and even the child manifested very little fear or reluctance at the name of matrimony. In due course when they were in bed and the door shut, we sat down on the threshold of the nuptial chamber, and first of all Quartilla applied an inquisitive eye to a crack in the door contrived for some such naughty purpose, and watched their childish dalliance with lecherous intentness. She drew me gently to her side to enjoy the same spectacle, and our faces being close together as we looked, she would, at every interval in the performance, twist her lips sideways to meet mine, and kept continually pecking at me with a sort of furtive kisses.. . . .
We threw ourselves into bed and spent the rest of the night without terrors. . . .
The third day had come. A good dinner was promised. But we were bruised and sore. Escape was better even than rest. We were making some melancholy plans for avoiding the coming storm, when one of Agamemnon's servants came up as we stood hesitating, and said, Do you not know at whose house it is today? Trimalchio, a very rich man, who has a clock and a uniformed trumpeter in his dining-room, to keep telling him how much of his life is lost and gone. We forgot our troubles and hurried into our clothes, and told Giton, who till now had been waiting on us very willingly, to follow us to the baths.
§ 27 We began to take a stroll in evening dress to pass the time, or rather to joke and mix with the groups of players, when all at once we saw a bald old man in a reddish shirt playing at ball with some long-haired boys. It was not the boys that attracted our notice, though they deserved it, but the old gentleman, who was in his house-shoes, busily engaged with a green ball. He never picked it up if it touched the ground. A slave stood by with a bagful and supplied them to the players. We also observed a new feature in the game. Two eunuchs were standing at different points in the group. One held a silver jordan, one counted the balls, not as they flew from hand to hand in the rigour of the game, but when they dropped to the ground. We were amazed at such a display, and then Menelaus ran up and said, This is the man who will give you places at his table: indeed what you see is the overture to his dinner. Menelaus had just finished when Trimalchio cracked his fingers. One eunuch came up at this signal and held the jordan for him as he played. He relieved himself and called for a basin, dipped in his hands and wiped them on a boy's head.
§ 28 I cannot linger over details. We went into the bath. We stayed till we ran with sweat, and then at once passed through into the cold water. Trimalchio was now anointed all over and rubbed down, not with towels, but with blankets of the softest wool. Three masseurs sat there drinking Falernian wine under his eyes. They quarrelled and spilt a quantity. Trimalchio said they were drinking his health. Then he was rolled up in a scarlet woollen coat and put in a litter. Four runners decked with medals went before him, and a hand-cart on which his favourite rode. This was a wrinkled blear-eyed boy uglier than his master Trimalchio. As he was being driven off, a musician with a tiny pair of pipes arrived, and played the whole way as though he were whispering secrets in his ear.
We followed, lost in wonder, and came with Agamemnon to the door. A notice was fastened on the doorpost: NO SLAVE TO GO OUT OF DOORS EXCEPT BY THE MASTER'SORDERS. PENALTY, ONE HUNDRED STRIPES. Just at the entrance stood a porter in green clothes, with a cherry-coloured belt, shelling peas in a silver dish. A golden cage hung in the doorway, and a spotted magpie in it greeted visitors.
§ 29 I was gazing at all this, when I nearly fell backwards and broke my leg. For on the left hand as you went in, not far from the porter's office, a great dog on a chain was painted on the wall, and over him was written in large lettersBEWARE OF THE DOG. My friends laughed at me, but I plucked up courage and went on to examine the whole wall. It had a picture of a slave-market on it, with the persons' names. Trimalchio was there with long hair, holding a Mercury's staff. Minerva had him by the hand and was leading him into Rome. Then the painstaking artist had given a faithful picture of his whole career with explanations: how he had learned to keep accounts, and how at last he had been made steward. At the point where the wall-space gave out, Mercury had taken him by the chin, and was whirling him up to his high official throne. Fortune stood by with her flowing horn of plenty, and the three Fates spinning their golden threads. I also observed a company of runners practising in the gallery under a trainer, and in a corner I saw a large cupboard containing a tiny shrine, wherein were silver house-gods, and a marble image of Venus, and a large golden box, where they told me Trimalchio's first beard was laid up.
I began to ask the porter what pictures they had in the hall. The Iliad and the Odyssey, he said,and the gladiator's show given by Laenas. I could not take them all in at once. . . . .
§ 30 We now went through to the dining-room. At the entrance the steward sat receiving accounts. I was particularly astonished to see rods and axes fixed on the door posts of the dining-room, and one part of them finished off with a kind of ship's beak, inscribed:
PRESENTED BY CINNAMUS THE STEWARD TO CAIUS POMPEIUS TRIMALCHIO, PRIEST OF THE COLLEGE OF AUGUSTUS. Under this inscription a double lamp hung from the ceiling, and two calendars were fixed on either doorpost, one having this entry, if I remember right: Our master C. is out to supper on December the 30th and 31st,the other being painted with the moon in her course, and the likenesses of the seven stars. Lucky and unlucky days were marked too with distinctive knobs.
Fed full of these delights, we tried to get into the dining-room, when one of the slaves, who was entrusted with this duty, cried, Right foot first! For a moment we were naturally nervous, for fear any of us had broken the rule in crossing the threshold. But just as we were all taking a step with the right foot together, a slave stripped for flogging fell at our feet, and began to implore us to save him from punishment. It was no great sin which had put him in such peril; he had lost the steward's clothes in the bath, and the whole lot were scarcely worth ten sesterces. So we drew back our right feet, and begged the steward, who sat counting gold pieces in the hall, to let the slave off. He looked up haughtily, and said,It is not the loss I mind so much as the villain's carelessness. He lost my dinner dress, which one of my clients gave me on my birthday. It was Tyrian dye, of course, but it had been washed once already. Well, well, I make you a present of the fellow.
§ 31 We were obliged by his august kindness, and when we were in the dining-room, the slave for whom we had pleaded ran up, and to our astonishment rained kisses on us, and thanked us for our mercy. One word, he said, you will know in a minute who owes you a debt of gratitude: 'The master's wine is in the butler's gift.' . . . .
At last then we sat down, and boys from Alexandria poured water cooled with snow over our hands. Others followed and knelt down at our feet, and proceeded with great skill to pare our hangnails. Even this unpleasant duty did not silence them, but they kept singing at their work. I wanted to find out whether the whole household could sing, so I asked for a drink. A ready slave repeated my order in a chant not less shrill. They all did the same if they were asked to hand anything. It was more like an actor's dance than a gentleman's dining-room. But some rich and tasty whets for the appetite were brought on; for every one had now sat down except Trimalchio, who had the first place kept for him in the new style. A donkey in Corinthian bronze stood on the side-board, with panniers holding olives, white in one side, black in the other. Two dishes hid the donkey; Trimalchio's name and their weight in silver was engraved on their edges. There were also dormice rolled in honey and poppy-seed, and supported on little bridges soldered to the plate. Then there were hot sausages laid on a silver grill, and under the grill damsons and seeds of pomegranate.
§ 32 While we were engaged with these delicacies, Trimalchio was conducted in to the sound of music, propped on the tiniest of pillows. A laugh escaped the unwary. His head was shaven and peered out of a scarlet cloak, and over the heavy clothes on his neck he had put on a napkin with a broad stripe and fringes hanging from it all round. On the little finger of his left hand he had an enormous gilt ring, and on the top joint of the next finger a smaller ring which appeared to me to be entirely gold, but was really set all round with iron cut out in little stars. Not content with this display of wealth, he bared his right arm, where a golden bracelet shone, and an ivory bangle clasped with a plate of bright metal.
§ 33 Then he said, as he picked his teeth with a silver quill, It was not convenient for me to come to dinner yet, my friends, but I gave up all my own pleasure; I did not like to stay away any longer and keep you waiting. But you will not mind if I finish my game? A boy followed him with a table of terebinth wood and crystal pieces, and I noticed the prettiest thing possible. Instead of black and white counters they used gold and silver coins. Trimalchio kept passing every kind of remark as he played, and we were still busy with the hors d'oeuvres, when a tray was brought in with a basket on it, in which there was a hen made of wood, spreading out her wings as they do when they are sitting. The music grew loud: two slaves at once came up and began to hunt in the straw. Peahen's eggs were pulled out and handed to the guests. Trimalchio turned his head to look, and said,I gave orders, my friends, that peahen's eggs should be put under a common hen. And upon my oath I am afraid they are hard-set by now. But we will try whether they are still fresh enough to suck. We took our spoons, half-a-pound in weight at least, and hammered at the eggs, which were balls of fine meal. I was on the point of throwing away my portion. I thought a peachick had already formed. But hearing a practised diner say, What treasure have we here? I poked through the shell with my finger, and found a fat becafico rolled up in spiced yolk of egg.
§ 34 Trimalchio had now stopped his game, and asked for all the same dishes, and in a loud voice invited any of us, who wished, to take a second glass of mead. Suddenly the music gave the sign, and the light dishes were swept away by a troop of singing servants. An entrée-dish happened to fall in the rush, and a boy picked it up from the ground. Trimalchio saw him, and directed that he should be punished by a box on the ear, and made to throw down the dish again. A chairman followed and began to sweep out the silver with a broom among the other rubbish. Then two long-haired Ethiopians with little wineskins, just like the men who scatter sand in an amphitheatre, came in and gave us wine to wash our hands in, for no one offered us water.
We complimented our host on his arrangements.Mars loves a fair field, said he, and so I gave orders that every one should have a separate table. In that way these filthy slaves will not make us so hot by crowding past us.
Just then some glass jars carefully fastened with gypsum were brought on, with labels tied to their necks, inscribed, Falernian of Opimius's vintage, 100 years in bottle. As we were poring over the labels Trimalchio clapped his hands and cried, Ah me, so wine lives longer than miserable man. So let us be merry. Wine is life. I put on real wine of Opimius's year. I produced some inferior stuff yesterday, and there was a much finer set of people to dinner. As we drank and admired each luxury in detail, a slave brought in a silver skeleton, made so that its limbs and spine could be moved and bent in every direction. He put it down once or twice on the table so that the supple joints showed several attitudes, and Trimalchio said appropriately: Alas for us poor mortals, all that poor man is is nothing. So we shall all be, after the world below takes us away. Let us live then while it goes well with us.
§ 35 After we had praised this outburst a dish followed, not at all of the size we expected; but its novelty drew every eye to it There was a round plate with the twelve signs of the Zodiac set in order, and on each one the artist had laid some food fit and proper to the symbol; over the Ram ram's-head pease, a piece of beef on the Bull, kidneys over the Twins, over the Crab a crown, an African fig over the Lion, a barren sow's paunch over Virgo, over Libra a pair of scales with a muffin on one side and a cake on the other, over Scorpio a small sea-fish, over Sagittarius a bull's-eye, over Capricornus a lobster, over Aquarius a goose, over Pisces two mullets. In the middle lay a honeycomb on a sod of turf with the green grass on it. An Egyptian boy took bread round in a silver chafing-dish. . . .
Trimalchio himself too ground out a tune from the musical comedy Assafoetida in a most hideous voice.
§ 36 We came to such an evil entertainment rather depressed. Now, said Trimalchio, let us have dinner. This is sauce for the dinner. As he spoke, four dancers ran up in time with the music and took off the top part of the dish. Then we saw in the well of it fat fowls and sow's bellies, and in the middle a hare got up with wings to look like Pegasus. Four figures of Marsyas at the corners of the dish also caught the eye; they let a spiced sauce run from their wine-skins over the fishes, which swam about in a kind of tide-race. We all took up the clapping which the slaves started, and attacked these delicacies with hearty laughter. Trimalchio was delighted with the trick he had played us, and said, Now, Carver. The man came up at once, and making flourishes in time with the music pulled the dish to pieces; you would have said that a gladiator in a chariot was fighting to the accompaniment of a water-organ. Still Trimalchio kept on in a soft voice, Oh, Carver, Carver. I thought this word over and over again must be part of a joke, and I made bold to ask the man who sat next me this very question. He had seen performances of this kind more often. You see the fellow who is carving his way through the meat? Well, his name is Carver. So whenever Trimalchio says the word, you have his name, and he has his orders.
§ 37 I was now unable to eat any more, so I turned to my neighbour to get as much news as possible. I began to seek for far-fetched stories, and to inquire who the woman was who kept running about everywhere. She is Trimalchio's wife Fortunata, he said, and she counts her money by the bushel. And what was she a little while ago? You will pardon me if I say that you would not have taken a piece of bread from her hand. Now without why or wherefore she is queen of Heaven, and Trimalchio's all in all. In fact, if she tells him that it is dark at high noon, he will believe it. He is so enormously rich that he does not know himself what he has; but this lynx-eyed woman has a plan for everything, even where you would not think it. She is temperate, sober, and prudent, but she has a nasty tongue, and henpecks him on his own sofa. Whom she likes, she likes; whom she dislikes, she dislikes. Trimalchio has estates wherever a kite can fly in a day, is millionaire of millionaires. There is more plate lying in his steward's room than other people have in their whole fortunes. And his slaves! My word! I really don't believe that one out of ten of them knows his master by sight. Why, he can knock any of these young louts into a nettle-bed if he chooses.
§ 38 You must not suppose either that he buys anything. Everything is home-grown: wool, citrons, pepper; you can have cock's milk for the asking. Why, his wool was not growing of fine enough quality. He bought rams from Tarentum and sent them into his flocks with a smack behind. He had bees brought from Athens to give him Attic honey on the premises; the Roman-born bees incidentally will be improved by the Greeks. Within the last few days, I may say, he has written for a cargo of mushroom spawn from India. And he has not got a single mule which is not the child of a wild ass. You see all the cushions here: every one has purple or scarlet stuffing. So high is his felicity. But do not look down on the other freedmen who are his friends. They are very juicy people. That one you see lying at the bottom of the end sofa has his eight hundred thousand. He was quite a nobody. A little time ago he was carrying loads of wood on his back. People do say—I know nothing, but I have heard—that he pulled off a goblin's cap and found a fairy hoard. If God makes presents I am jealous of nobody. Still, he shows the marks of his master's fingers, and has a fine opinion of himself. So he has just put up a notice on his hovel: 'This attic, the property of Caius Pompeii's Diogenes, to let from the 1st of July, the owner having purchased a house.' That person there too who is lying in the freedman's place is well pleased with himself. I do not blame him. He had his million in his hands, but he has had a bad shaking. I believe he cannot call his hair his own. No fault of his I am sure; there is no better fellow alive; but it is the damned freedmen who have pocketed everything. You know how it is: the company's pot goes off the boil, and the moment business takes a bad turn your friends desert you. You see him in this state: and what a fine trade he drove! He was an undertaker. He used to dine like a prince: boars cooked in a cloth, wonderful sweet things, game, chefs and confectioners! There used to be more wine spilt under the table than many a man has in his cellars. He was a fairy prince, not a mortal. When his business was failing, and he was afraid his creditors might guess that he was going bankrupt, he advertised a sale in this fashion: Caius Julius Proculus will offer for sale some articles for which he has no further use.
§ 39 Trimalchio interrupted these delightful tales; the meat had now been removed, and the cheerful company began to turn their attention to the wine, and to general conversation. He lay back on his couch and said: Now you must make this wine go down pleasantly. A fish must have something to swim in. But I say, did you suppose I would put up with the dinner you saw on the top part of that round dish—Is this the old Ulysses whom ye knew?25—well, well, one must not forget one's culture even at dinner. God rest the bones of my patron; he wanted me to be a man among men. No one can bring me anything new, as that last dish proved. The firmament where the twelve gods inhabit turns into as many figures, and at one time becomes a ram. So anyone who is born under that sign has plenty of flocks and wool, a hard head and a brazen forehead and sharp horns. Very many pedants and young rams are born under this sign. We applauded the elegance of his astrology, and so he went on: Then the whole sky changes into a young bull. So men who are free with their heels are born now, and oxherds and people who have to find their own food. Under the Twins tandems are born, and oxen, and debauchees, and those who sit on both sides of the fence. I was born under the Crab. So I have many legs to stand on, and many possessions by sea and land; for either one or the other suits your crab. And that was why just now I put nothing on top of the Crab, for fear of weighing down the house of my birth. Under the Lion gluttons and masterful men are born; under Virgo women, and runaway slaves, and chained gangs; under Libra butchers, and perfumers, and generally people who put things to rights; poisoners and assassins under Scorpio; under Sagittarius cross-eyed men, who take the bacon while they look at the vegetables; under Capricornus the poor folk whose troubles make horns sprout on them; under Aquarius innkeepers and men with water on the brain; under Pisces chefs and rhetoricians. So the world turns like a mill, and always brings some evil to pass, causing the birth of men or their death. You saw the green turf in the middle of the dish, and the honeycomb on the turf; I do nothing without a reason. Mother Earth lies in the world's midst rounded like an egg, and in her all blessings are contained as in a honeycomb.
§ 40 Bravo! we all cried, swearing with our hands lifted to the ceiling that Hipparchus and Aratus Were not to be compared with him, until the servants came and spread over the couches coverlets painted with nets, and men lying in wait with hunting spears, and all the instruments of the chase. We were still wondering where to turn our expectations, when a great shout was raised outside the dining-room, and in came some Spartan hounds too, and began running round the table. A tray was brought in after them with a wild boar of the largest size upon it, wearing a cap of freedom, with two little baskets woven of palm-twigs hanging from his tusks, one full of dry dates and the other of fresh. Round it lay suckingpigs made of simnel cake with their mouths to the teats, thereby showing that we had a sow before us. These sucking-pigs were for the guests to take away. Carver, who had mangled the fowls, did not come to divide the boar, but a big bearded man with bands wound round his legs, and a spangled hunting-coat of damasked silk, who drew a hunting-knife and plunged it hard into the boar's side. A number of thrushes flew out at the blow. As they fluttered round the dining-room there were fowlers ready with limed twigs who caught them in a moment. Trimalchio ordered everybody to be given his own portion, and added: Now you see what fine acorns the woodland boar has been eating. Then boys came and took the baskets which hung from her jaws and distributed fresh and dry dates to the guests.
§ 41 Meantime I had got a quiet corner to myself, and had gone off on a long train of speculation,—why the pig had come in with a cap of freedom on. After turning the problem over every way I ventured to put the question which was troubling me to my old informant.Your humble servant can explain that too; he said,there is no riddle, the thing is quite plain. Yesterday when this animal appeared as pièce de résistance at dinner, the guests dismissed him; and so to-day he comes back to dinner as a freedman. I cursed my dullness and asked no more questions, for fear of showing that I had never dined among decent people.
As we were speaking, a beautiful boy with vineleaves and ivy in his hair brought round grapes in a little basket, impersonating Bacchus in ecstasy, Bacchus full of wine, Bacchus dreaming, and rendering his master's verses in a most shrill voice. Trimalchio turned round at the noise and said, Dionysus, rise and be free. The boy took the cap of freedom off the boar, and put it on his head. Then Trimalchio went on:I am sure you will agree that the god of liberation is my father. We applauded Trimalchio's phrase, and kissed the boy heartily as he went round.
After this dish Trimalchio got up and retired. With the tyrant away we had our freedom, and we began to draw the conversation of our neighbours. Dama began after calling for bumpers: Day is nothing. Night is on you before you can turn round. Then there is no better plan than going straight out of bed to dinner. It is precious cold. I could scarcely get warm in a bath. But a hot drink is as good as an overcoat. I have taken some deep drinks and I am quite soaked. The wine has gone to my head.
§ 42 Seleucus took up the tale and said: I do not wash every day; the bathman pulls you to pieces like a fuller, the water bites, and the heart of man melts away daily. But when I have put down some draughts of mead I let the cold go to the devil. Besides, I could not wash; I was at a funeral to-day A fine fellow, the excellent Chrysanthus, has breathed his last. It was but the other day he greeted me. I feel as if I were speaking with him now. Dear, dear, how we bladders of wind strut about. We are meaner than flies; flies have their virtues, we are nothing but bubbles. And what would have happened if he had not tried the fasting cure? No water touched his lips for five days, not a morsel of bread. Yet he went over to the majority. The doctors killed him—no, it was his unhappy destiny; a doctor is nothing but a sop to conscience. Still, he was carried out in fine style on a bier covered with a good pall. The mourning was very good too—he had freed a number of slaves—even though his own wife was very grudging over her tears. I daresay he did not treat her particularly kindly. But women one and all are a set of vultures. It is no use doing anyone a kindness; it is all the same as if you put your kindness in a well. But an old love pinches like a crab.
§ 43 He was a bore, and Phileros shouted out: Oh, let us remember the living. He has got his deserts; he lived decently and died decently. What has he got to grumble at? He started with twopence, and he was always ready to pick a halfpenny out of the dirt with his teeth. So he grew and grew like a honeycomb. Upon my word, I believe he left a clear hundred thousand, and all in hard cash. Still, I have eaten the dog's tongue, I must speak the truth. He had a rough mouth, and talked continually, and was more of a discord than a man. His brother was a fine fellow, stood by his friends, open-handed and kept a good table. To begin with, he caught a Tartar: but his first vintage set him on his feet: he used to get any price he asked for his wine. And what made him hold up his head was that he came into an estate out of which he got more than had been left to him. And that blockhead, in a fit of passion with his brother, left the family property away to some nobody or other. He that flies from his own family has far to travel. But he had some eaves-dropping slaves who did for him. A man who is always ready to believe what is told him will never do well, especially a business man. Still no doubt he enjoyed himself every day of his life. Blessed is he who gets the gift, not he for whom it is meant. He was a real Fortune's darling, lead turned gold in his hands. Yes, it is easy when everything goes fair and square. And how many years do you think he had on his shoulders? Seventy and more. But he was a tough old thing, carried his age well, as black as a crow. I had known him world without end, and he was still merry. I really do not think he spared a single creature in his house. No, he was still a gay one, ready for anything. Well, I do not blame him: it is only his past pleasures he can take with him.
§ 44 So said Phileros, but Ganymede broke in: You go talking about things which are neither in heaven nor earth, and none of you care all the time how the price of food pinches. I swear I cannot get hold of a mouthful of bread to-day. And how the drought goes on. There has been a famine for a whole year now. Damn the magistrates, who play 'Scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours,' in league with the bakers. So the little people come off badly; for the jaws of the upper classes are always keeping carnival. I do wish we had the bucks I found here when I first came out of Asia. That was life. If the flour was any but the finest, they beat those vampires into a jelly, until they put the fear of God into them. I remember Safinius: he used to live then by the old arch when I was a boy. He was more of a mustard-pot than a man: used to scorch the ground wherever he trod. Still he was straight; you could trust him, a true friend: you would not be afraid to play at morra with him in the dark. How he used to dress them down in the senatehouse, every one of them, never using roundabout phrases, making a straightforward attack. And when he was pleading in the courts, his voice used to swell like a trumpet. Never any sweating or spitting: I imagine he had a touch of the Asiatic style. And how kindly he returned one's greeting, calling every one by name quite like one of ourselves. So at that time food was dirt-cheap. You could buy a larger loaf for twopence than you and your better half together could get through. One sees a bun bigger now. Lord, things are worse every day. This town goes downhill like the calfs tail. But why do we put up with a magistrate not worth three pepper-corns, who cares more about putting twopence in his purse than keeping us alive? He sits grinning at home, and pockets more money a day than other people have for a fortune. I happen to know where he came by a thousand in gold. If we had any spunk in us he would not be so pleased with himself. Nowadays people are lions in their own houses, and foxes out of doors. I have already eaten my rags, and if these prices keep up, I shall have to sell my cottages. Whatever is to happen if neither the gods nor man will take pity on this town? As I hope to have joy of my children, I believe all these things come from Heaven. For no one now believes that the gods are gods. There is no fasting done, no one cares a button for religion: they all shut their eyes and count their own goods. In old days the mothers in their best robes used to climb the hill with bare feet and loose hair, pure in spirit, and pray Jupiter to send rain. Then it used promptly to rain by the bucket: it was now or never: and they all came home, wet as drowned rats. As it is, the gods are gouty in the feet because we are sceptics. So our fields lie baking—
§ 45 Oh, don't be so gloomy, said Echion, the old clothes dealer. 'There's ups and there's downs,' as the country bumpkin said when he lost his spotted pig. What is not to-day, will be to-morrow: so we trudge through life. I engage you could not name a better country to call one's own, if only the men in it had sense. It has its troubles now like others. We must not be too particular when there is a sky above us all. If you were anywhere else, you would say that roast pork walked in the streets here. Just think, we are soon to be given a superb spectacle lasting three days; not simply a troupe of professional gladiators, but a large number of them freedmen. And our good Titus has a big imagination and is hot-blooded: it will be one thing or another, something real anyway. I know him very well, and he is all against half-measures. He will give you the finest blades, no running away, butchery done in the middle, where the whole audience can see it. And he has the wherewithal; he came into thirty million when his father came to grief. If he spends four hundred thousand, his estate will never feel it, and his name will live for ever. He has already collected some clowns, and a woman to fight from a chariot, and Glyco's steward, who was caught amusing Glyco's wife. You will see the crowd quarrel, jealous husbands against gallants. A twopenny halfpenny fellow like Glyco goes throwing his steward to the beasts. He only gives himself away. It is not the slave's fault; he had to do as he was told. That filthy wife of his rather deserved to be tossed by the bull. But a man who cannot beat his donkey, beats the saddle. How did Glyco suppose that a sprig of Hermogenes's sowing would ever come to a good end? He was one for paring the claws of a kite on the wing, and you do not gather figs from thistles. Glyco? why, Glyco has given away his own flesh and blood. He will be branded as long as he lives, and nothing but death will wipe it out. But a man must have his faults. My nose prophesies a good meal from Mammaea, twopence each for me and mine. If he does, he will put Norbanus quite in the shade. You know he will beat him hands down. After all, what has Norbanus ever done for us? He produced some decayed twopenny-halfpenny gladiators, who would have fallen flat if you breathed on them; I have seen better ruffians turned in to fight the wild beasts. He shed the blood of some mounted infantry that might have come off a lamp; dunghill cocks you would have called them: one a spavined mule, the other bandylegged, and the holder of the bye, just one corpse instead of another, and hamstrung. One man, a Thracian, had some stuffing, but he too fought according to the rule of the schools. In short, they were all flogged afterwards. How the great crowd roared at them, Lay it on'! They were mere runaways, to be sure. 'Still, says Norbanus, I did give you a treat.' Yes, and I clap my hands at you. Reckon it up, and I give you more than I got. One good turn deserves another.
§ 46 Now, Agamemnon, you look as if you were saying, 'What is this bore chattering for?' Only because you have the gift of tongues and do not speak. You do not come off our shelf, and so you make fun of the way we poor men talk. We know you are mad with much learning. But I tell you what; can I persuade you to come down to my place some day and see my little property? We shall find something to eat, a chicken and eggs: it will be delightful, even though the weather this year has made everything grow at the wrong time: we shall find something to fill ourselves up with. My little boy is growing into a follower of yours already. He can do simple division now; if he lives, you will have a little servant at your heels. Whenever he has any spare time, he never lifts his nose from the slate. He is clever, and comes of a good stock, even though he is too fond of birds. I killed three of his goldfinches just lately, and said a weasel had eaten them. But he has found some other hobby, and has taken to painting with great pleasure. He has made a hole in his Greek now, and begins to relish Latin finely, even though his master is conceited and will not stick to one thing at a time. The boy comes asking me to give him some writing to do, though he does not want to work. I have another boy who is no scholar, but very inquiring, and can teach you more than he knows himself. So on holidays he generally comes home, and is quite pleased whatever you give him. I bought the child some books with red-letter headings in them a little time ago. I want him to have a smack of law in order to manage the property. Law has bread and butter in it. He has dipped quite deep enough into literature. If he is restless, I mean to have him learn a trade, a barber or an auctioneer, or at least a barrister, something that he can carry to the grave with him. So I drum it into him every day: Mark my words, Primigenius, whatever you learn, you learn for your own good. Look at Phileros, the barrister: if he had not worked, he would not be keeping the wolf from the door today. It is not so long since he used to carry things round on his back and sell them, and now he makes a brave show even against Norbanus. Yes, education is a treasure, and culture never dies.'
§ 47 Gossip of this kind was in the air, when Trimalchio came in mopping his brow, and washed his hands in scent. After a short pause, he said, You will excuse me, gentlemen? My bowels have not been working for several days. All the doctors are puzzled. Still, I found pomegranate rind useful, and pinewood boiled in vinegar. I hope now my stomach will learn to observe its old decencies. Besides, I have such rumblings inside me you would think there was a bull there. So if any of you gentlemen wishes to retire there is no need to be shy about it. We were none of us born quite solid. I cannot imagine any torture like holding oneself in. The one thing Jupiter himself cannot forbid is that we should have relief. Why do you laugh, Fortunata; it is you who are always keeping me awake all night. Of course, as far as I am concerned, anyone may relieve himself in the dining-room. The doctors forbid retention. But if the matter is serious, everything is ready outside: water, towels, and all the other little comforts. Take my word for it, vapours go to the brain and make a disturbance throughout the body. I know many people have died this way, by refusing to admit the truth to themselves. We thanked him for his generosity and kindness, and then tried to suppress our laughter by drinking hard and fast. We did not yet realize that we had only got halfway through the delicacies, and still had an uphill task before us, as they say. The tables were cleared to the sound of music, and three white pigs, adorned with muzzles and bells, were led into the dining-room. One was two years old, the keeper said, the second three, and the other as much as six. I thought some ropewalkers had come in, and that the pigs would perform some wonderful tricks, as they do for crowds in the streets. Trimalchio ended our suspense by saying, Now, which of them would you like turned into a dinner this minute? Any country hand can turn out a fowl or a Pentheus hash, or trifles of that kind. My cooks are quite used to serving whole calves done in a cauldron. Then he told them to fetch a cook at once, and without waiting for our opinion ordered the eldest pig to be killed, and said in a loud voice, Which division of the household do you belong to? The man said he came from the fortieth. Were you purchased or born on the estate? Neither; I was left to you under Pansa's will. Well then, said Trimalchio, mind you serve this carefully, or I will have you degraded to the messengers' division.
§ 48 So the cook was reminded of his master's power, and the dish that was to be carried him off to the kitchen. Trimalchio turned to us with a mild expression and said,I will change the wine if you do not like it. You will have to give it its virtues. Under God's providence, I do not have to buy it. Anything here which makes your mouths water is grown on a country estate of mine which I know nothing about as yet. I believe it is on the boundary of Terracina and Tarentum. Just now I want to join up all Sicily with properties of mine, so that if I take a fancy to go to Africa I shall travel through my own land. But do tell me, Agamemnon, what declamation did you deliver in school to-day? Of course, I do not practise in court myself, but I learned literature for domestic purposes. And do not imagine that I despise learning. I have got two libraries, one Greek and one Latin. So give me an outline of your speech, if you love me. Then Agamemnon said: A poor man and a rich man were once at enmity. But what is a poor man? Trimalchio replied. Very clever, said Agamemnon, and went on expounding some problem or other. Trimalchio at once retorted: If the thing really happened, there is no problem; if it never happened, it is all nonsense. We followed up this and other sallies with the most extravagant admiration.Tell me, dear Agamemnon, said Trimalchio, do you know anything of the twelve labours of Hercules, or the story of Ulysses and how the Cyclops twisted his thumb with the tongs? I used to read these things in Homer when I was a boy. Yes, and I myself with my own eyes saw the Sibyl hanging in a cage; and when the boys cried at her: Sibyl, Sibyl, what do you want?' 'I would that I were dead,' she used to answer.
§ 49 He had still more talk to puff out, when the table was filled by a dish holding an enormous pig. We began to express astonishment at such speed, and took our oath that not even a fowl could have been properly cooked in the time, especially as the pig seemed to us to be much bigger than the boar had been a little while earlier. Trimalchio looked at it more and more closely and then said, What, what, has not this pig been gutted? I swear it has not. The cook, send the cook up here to us. The poor cook came and stood by the table and said that he had forgotten to gut it. What? Forgotten? shouted rrimalchio. You would think the fellow had only forgotten to season it with pepper and cummin. Off with his shirt! In a moment the cook was stripped and stood dolefully between two executioners. Then we all began to beg him off and say: These things will happen; do let him go; if he does it again none of us will say a word for him. I was as stiff and stern as could be; I could not restrain myself, but leaned over and said in Agamemnon's ear: This must be a most wretched servant; how could anyone forget to gut a pig? On my oath I would not forgive him if he had let a fish go like that. But Trimalchio's face softened into smiles. Well, he said, if your memory is so bad, clean him here in front of us. The cook put on his shirt, seized a knife, and carved the pig's belly in various places with a shaking hand. At once the slits widened under the pressure from within, and sausages and black puddings tumbled out.
§ 50 At this the slaves burst into spontaneous applause and shouted, God bless Gaius! The cook too was rewarded with a drink and a silver crown, and was handed the cup on a Corinthian dish. Agamemnon began to peer at the dish rather closely, and Trimalchio said, I am the sole owner of genuine Corinthian plate. I thought he would declare with his usual effrontery that he had cups imported direct from Corinth. But he went one better: You may perhaps inquire, said he, how I come to be alone in having genuine Corinthian stuff: the obvious reason is that the name of the dealer I buy it from is Corinthus. But what is real Corinthian, unless a man has Corinthus at his back? Do not imagine that I am an ignoramus. I know perfectly well how Corinthian plate was first brought into the world. At the fall of Ilium, Hannibal, a trickster and a great knave, collected all the sculptures, bronze, gold, and silver, into a single pile, and set light to them. They all melted into one amalgam of bronze. The workmen took bits out of this lump and made plates and entree dishes and statuettes. That is how Corinthian metal was born, from all sorts lumped together, neither one kind nor the other. You will forgive me if I say that personally I prefer glass; glass at least does not smell. If it were not so breakable I should prefer it to gold; as it is, it is so cheap.
§ 51 But there was once a workman who made a glass cup that was unbreakable. So he was given an audience of the Emperor with his invention; he made Caesar give it back to him and then threw it on the floor. Caesar was as frightened as could be. But the man picked up his cup from the ground: it was dinted like a bronze bowl; then he took a little hammer out of his pocket and made the cup quite sound again without any trouble. After doing this he thought he had himself seated on the throne of Jupiter, especially when Caesar said to him: 'Does anyone else know how to blow glass like this?' Just see what happened. He said not, and then Caesar had him beheaded. Why? Because if his invention were generally known we should treat gold like dirt. Myself I have a great passion for silver.
§ 52 I own about a hundred four-gallon cups engraved with Cassandra killing her children, and they lying there dead in the most lifelike way. I have a thousand jugs which Mummius left to my patron, and on them you see Daedalus shutting Niobe into the Trojan Horse. And I have got the fights between Hereros and Petraites on my cups, and every cup is a heavy one; for I do not sell my connoisseurship for any money.
As he was speaking, a boy dropped a cup. Trimalchio looked at him and said, Quick, off with your own head, since you are so stupid. The boy's lip fell and he began to petition. Why do you ask me? said Trimalchio, as if I should be hard on you! I advise you to prevail upon yourself not to be stupid. In the end we induced him to let the boy off. As soon as he was forgiven the boy ran round the table . . . .
Then Trimalchio shouted, Out with water! In with wine! . . . We took up the joke, especially Agamemnon, who knew how to earn a second invitation to dinner. Trimalchio warmed to his drinking under our flattery, and was almost drunk when he said:None of you ask dear Fortunata to dance. I tell you no one can dance the cancan better. He then lifted his hands above his head and gave us the actor Syrus, while all the slaves sang in chorus:
And Trimalchio would have come out into the middle of the room if Fortunata had not whispered in his ear. I suppose she told him that such low fooling was beneath his dignity. But never was anything so variable; at one moment he was afraid of Fortunata, and then he would return to his natural self.
§ 53 But a clerk quite interrupted his passion for the dance by reading as though from the gazette: July the 26th. Thirty boys and forty girls were born on Trimalchio's estate at Cumae. Five hundred thousand pecks of wheat were taken up from the threshing-floor into the barn. Five hundred oxen were broken in. On the same date: the slave Mithridates was led to crucifixion for having damned the soul of our lord Gaius. On the same date: ten million sesterces which could not be invested were returned to the reserve. On the same day: there was a fire in our gardens at Pompeii, which broke out in the house of Nasta the bailiff. Stop, said Trimalchio, When did I buy any gardens at Pompeii? Last year, said the clerk, so that they are not entered in your accounts yet. Trimalchio glowed with passion, and said, I will not have any property which is bought in my name entered in my accounts unless I hear of it within six months. We now had a further recitation of police notices, and some foresters' wills, in which Trimalchio was cut out in a codicil; then the names of bailiffs, and of a freed-woman who had been caught with a bathman and divorced by her husband, a night watchman; the name of a porter who had been banished to Baiae; the name of a steward who was being prosecuted, and details of an action between some valets.
But at last the acrobats came in. A very dull fool stood there with a ladder and made a boy dance from rung to rung and on the very top to the music of popular airs, and then made him hop through burning hoops, and pick up a wine jar with his teeth. No one was excited by this but Trimalchio, who kept saying that it was a thankless profession. There were only two things in the world that he could watch with real pleasure, acrobats and trumpeters; all other shows were silly nonsense. Why, said he, I once bought a Greek comedy company, but I preferred them to do Atellane plays, and I told my flute-player to have Latin songs.
§ 54 Just as Trimalchio was speaking the boy slipped and fell [against his arm]. The slaves raised a cry, and so did the guests, not over a disgusting creature whose neck they would have been glad to see broken, but because it would have been a gloomy finish to the dinner to have to shed tears over the death of a perfect stranger. Trimalchio groaned aloud, and nursed his arm as if it was hurt. Doctors rushed up, and among the first Fortunata, with her hair down, and a cup in her hand, calling out what a poor unhappy woman she was. The creature who had fallen down was crawling round at our feet by this time, and begging for mercy. I was very much afraid that his petition was leading up to some comic surprise. The cook who had forgotten to gut the pig had not yet faded from my recollection. So I began looking all round the dining-room, in case any clockwork toy should jump out of the wall, especially after they had begun to beat a servant for dressing the bruise on his master's arm with white wool instead of purple. And my suspicions were not far out. Instead of punishment there came Trimalchio's decree that he should be made a free man, for fear anyone might be able to say that our hero had been wounded by a slave.
§ 55 We applauded his action, and made small talk in different phrases about the uncertainty of man's affairs.Ah, said Trimalchio, then we should not let this occasion slip without a record. And he called at once for paper, and after very brief reflection declaimed these halting verses:
What men do not look for turns about and comes to pass. And high over us Fortune directs our affairs. Wherefore, slave, hand us Falernian wine.
A discussion of poetry arose out of this epigram, and for a long time it was maintained that Mopsus of Thrace held the crown of song in his hand, until Trimalchio said, Now, I ask you as a scholar, how would you compare Cicero and Publilius? In my opinion the first has more eloquence, the second more beauty. For what could be better written than these lines?
'The high walls of Mars crumble beneath the gaping jaws of luxury. To please thy palate the peacock in his Babylonian vesture of gilded feathers is prisoned and fed, for thee the guinea-fowl, and for thee the capon. Even our beloved foreign guest the stork, type of parental love, with thin legs and sounding rattle, the bird exiled by winter, the harbinger of the warm weather, has now built a nest in thine abhorred cooking-pot. What are pearls of price, the fruits of India, to thee? For thy wife to be adorned with seaspoils when she lies unchecked on a strange man's bed? For what end dost thou require the green emerald, the precious crystal, or the fire that lies in the jewels of Carthage, save that honesty should shine forth from amid the carbuncles? Thy bride might as well clothe herself with a garment of the wind as stand forth publicly naked under her clouds of muslin.'
§ 56 And now, said he, what do we think is the hardest profession after writing? I think a doctor's or a money-changer's. The doctor's, because he knows what poor men have in their insides, and when a fever will come—though I detest them specially, because they so often order me to live on duck. The moneychanger's, because he sees the copper under the silver. Just so among the dumb animals, oxen and sheep are the hardest workers: the oxen, because thanks to the oxen we have bread to eat; the sheep, because their wool clothes us in splendour. It is a gross outrage when people eat lamb and wear shirts. Yes, and I hold the bees to be the most divine insects. They vomit honey, although people do say they bring it from Jupiter: and they have stings, because wherever you have a sweet thing there you will find something bitter too.
He was just throwing the philosophers out of work, when tickets were carried round in a cup, and a boy who was entrusted with this duty read aloud the names of the presents for the guests. Tainted metal; a ham was brought in with a vinegar bottle on top of it. Something soft for the neck; a scrap of neck-end was put on. Repenting at leisure and obstinate badness; we were given biscuits made with must, and a thick stick with an apple. Leeks and peaches; he took a scourge and a dagger. Sparrows and fly-paper; he picked up some dried grapes and a honey-pot. Evening-dress and outdoor clothes; he handled a piece of meat and some note-books. Canal and foot-measure; a hare and a slipper were introduced. The muræna and a letter; he took a mouse and a frog tied together, and a bundle of beetroot. We laughed loud and long: there were any number of these jokes, which have now escaped my memory.
§ 57 Ascyltos let himself go completely, threw up his hands and made fun of everything, and laughed till he cried. This annoyed one of Trimalchio's fellowfreedmen, the man who was sitting next above me.What are you laughing at, sheep's head? he said.Are our host's good things not good enough for you? I suppose you are richer and used to better living? As I hope to have the spirits of this place on my side, if I had been sitting next him I should have put a stopper on his bleating by now. A nice young shaver to laugh at other people! Some vagabond flyby-night not worth his salt. In fact, when I've done with him he won't know where to take refuge. Upon my word, I am not easily annoyed as a rule, but in rotten flesh worms will breed. He laughs. What has he got to laugh about? Did his father pay solid gold for him when he was a baby? A Roman knight, are you? Well, I am a king's son. 'Then why have you been a slave?' Because I went into service to please myself, and preferred being a Roman citizen to going on paying taxes as a provincial. And now I hope I live such a life that no one can jeer at me. I am a man among men; I walk about bare-headed; I owe nobody a brass farthing; I have never been in the Courts; no one has ever said to me in public, 'Pay me what you owe me.' I have bought a few acres and collected a little capital; I have to feed twenty bellies and a dog: I ransomed my fellow slave to preserve her from indignities; I paid a thousand silver pennies formy own freedom; I was made a priest of Augustus and excused the fees; I hope to die so that I need not blush in my grave. But are you so full of business that you have no time to look behind you? You can see the lice on others, but not the bugs on yourself. No one finds us comic but you: there is your schoolmaster, older and wiser than you: he likes us. You are a child just weaned, you cannot squeak out mu or ma, you are a clay-pot, a wash-leather in water, softer, not superior. If you are richer, then have two breakfasts and two dinners a day. I prefer my reputation to any riches. One word more. Who ever had to speak to me twice? I was a slave for forty years, and nobody knew whether I was a slave or free. I was a boy with long curls when I came to this place; they had not built the town-hall then. But I tried to please my master, a fine dignified gentleman whose little finger was worth more than your whole body. And there were people in the house who put out a foot to trip me up here and there. But still—God bless my master!—I struggled through. These are real victories: being born free is as easy as saying, Come here.' But why do you stare at me now like a goat in a field of vetch?
§ 58 At this remark Giton, who was standing by my feet, burst out with an unseemly laugh, which he had now been holding in for a long while. Ascyltos's enemy noticed him, and turned his abuse on to the boy. What, he said, are you laughing too, you curly-headed onion? A merry Saturnalia indeed: what, have we December here? When did you pay five per cent on your freedom? He doesn't know what to do, the gallows-bird, the crows'-meat. I will call down the wrath of Jupiter at once on you and the fellow who cannot keep you in order. As sure as I get my bellyfull, I would have given you what you deserve now on the spot, but for my respect for my fellow-freedman. We are getting on splendidly, but those fellows are fools, who don't keep you in hand. Yes, like master, like man. I can scarcely hold myself in, and I am not naturally hot-tempered, but when I once begin I do not care twopence for my own mother. Depend upon it, I shall meet you somewhere in public, you rat, you puff-ball. I will not grow an inch up or down until I have put your master's head in a nettle-bed, and I shall have no mercy on you, I can tell you, however much you may call upon Jupiter in Olympus. Those pretty eight-inch curls and that twopenny master of yours will be no use to you. Depend upon it, you will come under the harrow; if I know my own name you will not laugh any more, though you may have a gold beard like a god. I will bring down the wrath of Athena on you and the man who first made a minion of you.
No, I never learned geometry, and criticism, and suchlike nonsense. But I know my tall letters, and I can do any sum into pounds, shillings, and pence. In fact, if you like, you and I will have a little bet. Come on, I put down the metal. Now I will show you that your father wasted the fees, even though you are a scholar in rhetoric. Look here:
'What part of us am I? I come far, I come wide.
Now find me.'
I can tell you what part of us runs and does not move from its place; what grows out of us and grows smaller. Ah! you run about and look scared and hustled, like a mouse in a pot. So keep your mouth shut, or do not worry your betters who are unaware of your existence; unless you think I have any respect for the boxwood rings you stole from your young woman. May the God of grab be on my side! Let us go on 'Change and borrow money: then you will see that my iron ring commands credit. My word, a draggled fox is a fine creature! I hope I may never get rich and make a good end, and have the people swearing by my death, if I do not put on the black cap and hunt you down everywhere. It was a fine fellow who taught you to behave like this, too; a chattering ape, not a master. We had some real schooling, for the master used to say, ' Are all your belongings safe? Go straight home, and don't stop to look round you; and mind you do not abuse your elders. Count up all the wastrels, if you like; not one of them is worth twopence in the end.' Yes, I thank God for education; it made me what I am.
§ 59 Ascyltos was preparing a retort to his abuse, but Trimalchio was delighted with his fellow-freedman's readiness, and said, Come now, stop all this wrangling. It is nicer to go on pleasantly, please do not be hard on the young man, Hermeros. Young blood is hot in him; you must be indulgent. A man who admits defeat in this kind of quarrel is always the winner. And you, too, when you were a young cockerel cried Cock-a-doodle-doo! and hadn't any sense in your head. So let us do better, and start the fun over again, and have a look at these reciters of Homer. A troop came in at once and clashed spear on shield. Trimalchio sat up on his cushion, and when the reciters talked to each other in Greek verse, as their conceited wayis, he intoned Latin from a book. Soon there was silence, and then he said, You know the story they are doing? Diomede and Ganymede were two brothers. Helen was their sister. Agamemnon carried her off and took in Diana by sacrificing a deer to her instead. So Homer is now telling the tale of the war between Troy and Parentium. Of course he won and married his daughter Iphigenia to Achilles. That drove Ajax mad, and he will show you the story in a minute. As he spoke the heroes raised a shout, and the slaves stood back to let a boiled calf on a presentation dish be brought in. There was a helmet on its head. Ajax followed and attacked it with his sword drawn as if he were mad; and after making passes with the edge and the flat he collected slices on the point, and divided the calf among the astonished company.
§ 60 We were not given long to admire these eleganttours de force; suddenly there came a noise from the ceiling, and the whole dining-room trembled. I rose from my place in a panic: I was afraid some acrobat would come down through the roof. All the other guests too looked up astonished, wondering what the new portent from heaven was announced. The whole ceiling parted asunder, and an enormous hoop, apparently knocked out of a giant cask, was let down. All round it were hung golden crowns and alabaster boxes of perfumes. We were asked to take these presents for ourselves, when I looked back at the table. . . . A dish with some cakes on it had now been put there, a Priapus made by the confectioner standing in the middle, holding up every kind of fruit and grapes in his wide apron in the conventional style. We reached greedily after his treasures, and a sudden fresh turn of humour renewed our merriment. All the cakes and all the fruits, however lightly they were touched, began to spurt out saffron, and the nasty juice flew even into our mouths. We thought it must be a sacred dish that was anointed with such holy appointments, and we all stood straight up and cried, The gods bless Augustus, the father of his country. But as some people even after this solemnity snatched at the fruit, we filled our napkins too, myself especially, for I thought that I could never fill Giton's lap with a large enough present. Meanwhile three boys came in with their white tunics well tucked up, and two of them put images of the Lares with lockets round their necks on the table, while one carried round a bowl of wine and cried, God be gracious unto us.
Trimalchio said that one of the images was called Gain, another Luck, and the third Profit. And as everybody else kissed Trimalchio's true portrait we were ashamed to pass it by.
§ 61 So after they had all wished themselves good sense and good health, Trimalchio looked at Niceros and said, You used to be better company at a dinner; I do not know why you are dumb now, and do not utter a sound. Do please, to make me happy, tell us of your adventure. Niceros was delighted by his friend's amiability and said, May I never turn another penny if I am not ready to burst with joy at seeing you in such a good humour. Well, it shall be pure fun then, though I am afraid your clever friends will laugh at me. Still, let them; I will tell my story; what harm does a man's laugh do me? Being laughed at is more satisfactory than being sneered at. So spake the hero, and began the following story:
'While I was still a slave, we were living in a narrow street; the house now belongs to Gavilla. There it was God's will that I should fall in love with the wife of Terentius the inn-keeper; you remember her, Melissa of Tarentum, a pretty round thing. But I swear it was no base passion; I did not care about her in that way, but rather because she had a beautiful nature. If I asked her for anything it was never refused me; if she made twopence I had a penny; whatever I had I put into her pocket, and I was never taken in. Now one day her husband died on the estate. So I buckled on my shield and greaves, and schemed how to come at her: and as you know, one's friends turn up in tight places. My master happened to have gone to Capua to look after some silly business or other.
§ 62 I seized my opportunity, and persuaded a guest in our house to come with me as far as the fifth milestone. He was a soldier, and as brave as Hell. So we trotted off about cockcrow; the moon shone like high noon. We got among the tombstones: my man went aside to look at the epitaphs, I sat down with my heart full of song and began to count the graves. Then when I looked round at my friend, he stripped himself and put all his clothes by the roadside. My heart was in my mouth, but I stood like a dead man. He made a ring of water round his clothes and suddenly turned into a wolf. Please do not think I am joking; I would not lie about this for any fortune in the world. But as I was saying, after he had turned into a wolf, he began to howl, and ran off into the woods. At first I hardly knew where I was, then I went up to take his clothes; but they had all turned into stone. No one could be nearer dead with terror than I was. But I drew my sword and went slaying shadows all the way till I came to my love's house. I went in like a corpse, and nearly gave up the ghost, the sweat ran down my legs, my eyes were dull, I could hardly be revived. My dear Melissa was surprised at my being out so late, and said, 'If you had come earlier you might at least have helped us; a wolf got into the house and worried all our sheep, and let their blood like a butcher. But he did not make fools of us, even though he got off; for our slave made a hole in his neck with a spear.' When I heard this, I could not keep my eyes shut any longer, but at break of day I rushed back to my master Gaius's house like a defrauded publican, and when I came to the place where the clothes were turned into stone, I found nothing but a pool of blood. But when I reached home, my soldier was lying in bed like an ox, with a doctor looking after his neck. I realized that he was a werewolf, and I never could sit down to a meal with him afterwards, not if you had killed me first. Other people may think what they like about this; but may all your guardian angels punish me if I am lying.
§ 63 We were all dumb with astonishment, but Trimalchio said, I pick no holes in your story; by the soul of truth, how my hair stood on end! For I know that Niceros never talks nonsense: he is very dependable, and not at all a chatterbox. Now I want to tell you a tale of horror myself: but I'm a donkey on the tiles compared with him. While I still had hair down my back, for I lived delicately from my youth up, my master's favourite died. Oh! he was a pearl, one in a thousand, and a mirror of perfection! So while his poor mother was bewailing him, and several of us were sharing her sorrow, suddenly the witches began to screech; you would have thought there was a dog pursuing a hare. We had a Cappadocian in the house at the time, a tall fellow, mighty brave and a man of muscle; he could lift an angry bull off the ground. He rushed boldly out of doors with a naked sword, having carefully wrapped up his left hand, and ran the woman through the middle, just about here—may the spot my finger is on be safe! We heard a groan, but to tell the honest truth we did not see the witches themselves. But our big fellow came back and threw himself on a bed: and his whole body was blue as if he had been flogged, of course because the witch's hand had touched him. We shut the door and returned to our observances, but when the mother put her arms round the body of her son, she felt it and saw that it was a little bundle of straw. It had no heart, no inside or anything: of course the witches had carried off the boy and put a straw changeling in his place. Ah! yes, I would beg you to believe there are wise women, and night-riders, who can turn the whole world upside down. Well, the tall slave never came back to his proper colour after this affair, and died raving mad in a few days.
§ 64 We were full of wonder and faith, and we kissed the table and prayed the Night-riders to stay at home as we returned from dinner.
By this time, I own, the lamps were multiplying before my eyes, and the whole dining-room was altering; then Trimalchio said, Come you, Plocamus, have you got no story? Will you not entertain us? You used to be more pleasant company, and recite blank verse very prettily, and put in songs too. Dear, dear, all the sweet green figs are fallen! Ah, yes, the man replied, my galloping days are over since I was taken with the gout. In the days when I was a young fellow I nearly got consumption with singing. How I could dance and recite and imitate the talk in a barber's shop! Was there ever my equal, except the one and only Apelles? And he put his hand to his mouth and whistled out some offensive stuff I did not catch: he declared afterwards it was Greek.
Then Trimalchio, after imitating a man with a trumpet, looked round for his favourite, whom he called Croesus. The creature had blear eyes and very bad teeth, and was tying up an unnaturally obese black puppy in a green handkerchief, and then putting a broken piece of bread on a chair, and cramming it down the throat of the dog, who did not want it and was sick. This reminded Trimalchio of his duties, and he ordered them to bring in Scylax, the guardian of the house and the slaves. An enormous dog on a chain was at once led in, and on receiving a kick from the porter as a hint to lie down, he curled up in front of the table. Then Trimalchio threw him a bit of white bread and said,No one in the house loves me better than Scylax. The favourite took offence at his lavish praise of the dog, and put down the puppy, and encouraged him to attack Scylax. Scylax, after the manner of dogs, filled the dining-room with a most hideous barking, and nearly tore Croesus's little Pearl to pieces. And the uproar did not end with a dog-fight, for a lamp upset over the table, and broke all the glass to pieces, and sprinkled some of the guests with hot oil. Trimalchio did not want to seem hurt at his loss, so he kissed his favourite, and told him to jump on his back. He mounted his horse at once and went on smacking Trimalchio's shoulders with his open hand, saying, How many are we, blind man's cheek? After some time Trimalchio calmed himself, and ordered a great bowl of wine to be mixed, and drinks to be served round to all the slaves, who were sitting at our feet, adding this provision: If anyone refuses to take it, pour it over his head; business in the daytime and pleasure at night.
§ 65 After this display of kindness, some savouries were brought in, the memory of which, as sure as I tell you this story, still makes me shudder. For instead of a thrush a fat chicken was brought round to each of us, and goose-eggs in caps, which Trimalchio kept asking us to eat with the utmost insistence, saying that they were chickens without the bones. Meanwhile a priest's attendant knocked at the diningroom door, and a man dressed in white for some festivity came in with a number of others. I was frightened by his solemn looks, and thought the mayor had arrived. So I tried to get up and plant my bare feet on the ground. Agamemnon laughed at my anxiety and said, Control yourself, you silly fool! It is Habinnas of the priests' college, a monumental mason with a reputation for making first-class tombstones. I was relieved by this news, and lay down in my place again, and watched Habinnas' entrance with great astonishment. He was quite drunk, and had put his hands on his wife's shoulders; he had several wreaths on, and ointment was running down his forehead into his eyes. He sat down in the chief magistrate's place, and at once called for wine and hot water. Trimalchio was delighted at his good humour, and demanded a larger cup for himself, and asked him how he had been received. We had everything there except you, was the reply, for my eyes were here with you. Yes, it was really splendid. Scissa was having a funeral feast on the ninth day for her poor dear slave, whom she set free on his deathbed. And I believe she will have an enormous sum to pay the tax-collector, for they reckon that the dead man was worth fifty thousand. But anyhow it was a pleasant affair, even if we did have to pour half our drinks over his lamented bones.
§ 66 Ah, said Trimalchio, but what did you have for dinner? I will tell you if I can, he said, but my memory is in such a fine way that I often forget my own name. Well, first we had a pig crowned with a wine-cup, garnished with honey cakes, and liver very well done, and beetroot of course, and pure wholemeal bread, which I prefer to white myself; it puts strength into you, and is good for the bowels. The next dish was a cold tart, with excellent Spanish wine poured over warm honey. Indeed I ate a lot of the tart, and gave myself such a soaking of honey. Pease and lupines were handed, a choice of nuts and an apple each. I took two myself, and I have got them here tied up in my napkin: for if I do not bring some present back for my pet slave-boy there will be trouble. Oh! yes, my wife reminds me. There was a piece of bear on a side dish. Scintilla was rash enough to taste it, and nearly brought up her own inside. I ate over a pound myself, for it tasted like proper wild boar. What I say is this, since bears eat up us poor men, how much better right has a poor man to eat up a bear? To finish up with we had cheese mellowed in new wine, and snails all round, and pieces of tripe, and liver in little dishes, and eggs in caps, and turnip, and mustard, and a dish of forcemeat. But hold hard, Palamedes. Pickled olives were brought round in a dish too, and some greedy creatures took three handfuls. For we had let the ham go.
§ 67 But tell me, Gaius, why is Fortunata not at dinner? Do you not know her better? said Trimalchio.Until she has collected the silver, and divided the remains among the slaves, she will not let a drop of water pass her lips. Oh, replied Habinnas, but unless she is here I shall take myself off, and he was just getting up, when at a given signal all the slaves called Fortunata four times and more. So she came in with a high yellow waist-band on, which allowed a cherry-red bodice to appear under it, and twisted anklets, and white shoes embroidered with gold. She wiped her hands on a cloth which she had round her neck, took her place on the sofa, where Scintilla, Habinnas's wife, was lying, kissed her as she was clapping her hands, and said, Is it really you, dear?
Fortunata then went so far as to take the bracelets off her fat arms to exhibit them to Scintilla's admiring gaze. At last she even took off her anklets and her hair-net, which she said was eighteen carat. Trimalchio saw her, and ordered the whole lot to be brought to him. There, he said, are a woman's fetters; that is how we poor fools are plundered. She must have six pounds and a half of gold on her. I have got a bracelet myself, made out of the percentage which I owe to Mercury, that weighs not an ounce under ten pounds. At last, for fear we should think he was lying, he ordered the scales to be brought, and had the weight carried round and tested. Scintilla was just as bad. She took off a little gold box from her neck, which she called her lucky box. Then she brought out two earrings, and gave them to Fortunata to look at in her turn, and said, Thanks to my husband's kindness, nobody has finer ones. What? said Habinnas, you bullied me to buy you a glass bean. I declare if I had a daughter I would cut off her ears. If there were no women, we should never trouble about anything: as it is, we sweat for them and get cold thanks.
Meanwhile the tipsy wives laughed together, and gave each other drunken kisses, one prating of her prudence as a housewife, the other of the favourites of her husband and his inattention to her. While they were hobnobbing, Habinnas got up quietly, took Fortunata by the legs, and threw her over on the sofa. She shouted out, Oh! goodness! and her dress flew up over her knees. She took refuge in Scintilla's arms, and buried her burning red face in a napkin.
§ 68 After an interval, Trimalchio ordered fresh relays of food to be brought in. The slaves took away all the tables, brought in others, and sprinkled about sawdust coloured with saffron and vermilion, and, what I had never seen before, powdered talc. Trimalchio at once said, I might really be satisfied with this course; for you have got your fresh relays. But if there is anything nice, put it on.
Meanwhile a boy from Alexandria, who was handing hot water, began to imitate a nightingale, and made Trimalchio shout, Oh! change the tune. Then there was another joke. A slave, who was sitting at the feet of Habinnas, began, by his master's orders I suppose, suddenly to cry in a loud voice:
Now with his fleet Aeneas held the main.
No sharper sound ever pierced my ears; for besides his making barbarous mistakes in raising or lowering his voice, he mixed up Atellane verses with it, so that Virgil jarred on me for the first time in my life. All the same, Habinnas supplied applause when he had at last left off, and said, He never went to school, but I educated him by sending him round the hawkers in the market. So he has no equal when he wants to imitate mule-drivers or hawkers. He is terribly clever; he is a cobbler too, a cook, a confectioner, a slave of all the talents. He has only two faults, and if he were rid of them he would be simply perfect. He is a Jew and he snores. For I do not mind his being cross-eyed; he has a look like Venus. So that is why he cannot keep silent, and scarcely ever shuts his eyes. I bought him for three hundred denarii. Scintilla interrupted his story by saying,
§ 69 To be sure you have forgotten some of the tricks of the vile slave. He is a Don Juan; but I will see to it that he is branded. Trimalchio laughed and said, Oh! I perceive he is a Cappadocian; he does not deny himself, and, upon my word, I admire him; for no one can send a dead man any fun. And please do not be jealous, Scintilla. Take my word for it, we know you women too. By my hope of salvation, I used to amuse my own mistress, until even the master became suspicious; and so he banished me to a country stewardship. But peace, my tongue, and you shall have some bread. The worthless slave took a clay lamp out of his dress, as if he had been complimented, and imitated trumpeters for more than half an hour, Habinnas singing with him and pulling his lower lip down. Finally, he came right into the middle of the room, and shook a pipe of reeds in imitation of flute-players, or gave us the mule-driver's life, with a cloak and a whip, till Habinnas called him and gave him a kiss, and offered him a drink, saying, Better than ever, Massa. I will give you a pair of boots.
There would have been no end to our troubles if a last course had not been brought in, thrushes made of fine meal and stuffed with raisins and nuts. There followed also quinces, stuck all over with thorns to look like sea-urchins. We could have borne this, if a far more fantastic dish had not driven us even to prefer death by starvation. What we took to be a fat goose, with fish and all kinds of birds round it, was put on, and then Trimalchio said, My friends, whatever you see here on the table is made out of one body. With my usual intelligence, I knew at once what it was; I looked at Agamemnon and said, I shall be surprised if the whole thing is not made out of filth, or at any rate clay. I have seen sham dinners of this kind served in Rome at the Saturnalia. I had not finished speaking when Trimalchio said,
§ 70 As I hope to grow in gains and not in girth, my cook made the whole thing out of a pig. There could not be a more valuable fellow. If you want it, he will make you a fish out of a sow's belly, a woodpigeon out of bacon, a turtledove out of a ham, and a chicken out of a knuckle of pork. That gave me the idea of putting a very pretty name on him; he is called Daedalus. And because he is so intelligent, I brought him back from Rome some knives, made of steel of Noricum, as a present. He had these knives brought in at once, and contemplated them with admiration. He even allowed us to try the edge on our cheeks.
Suddenly two slaves came in who had apparently been fighting at a water-tank; at least they still had waterpots on their necks. Trimalchio sat in judgment on the dispute, but neither of them accepted his decision, and they smashed each other's waterpots With sticks. We were amazed at their drunken folly, and stared at them fighting, and then we saw oysters and cockles fall out of the pots, and a boy picked them up and brought them round on a dish. The clever cook was a match for this exhibition; he offered us snails on a silver gridiron, and sang in an extremely ugly quavering voice.
I am ashamed to tell you what followed: in defiance of all convention, some long-haired boys brought ointment in a silver basin, and anointed our feet as we lay, after winding little garlands round our feet and ankles. A quantity of the same ointment was then poured into the mixing-bowl and the lamp.
Fortunata had now grown anxious to dance; Scintilla clapped her hands more often than she spoke, when Trimalchio said, Philargyrus, you and Cario, though you are a damned wearer of the green, may sit down and tell your good woman, Menophila, to do the same. I need hardly say that we were nearly pushed off the sofas with the slaves crowding into every seat. Anyhow, I noticed that the cook, who had made a goose out of the pig, sat stinking of pickle and sauces just above me. Not satisfied with having a seat, he at once began to imitate the tragedian Ephesus, and then invited his own master to make a bet on the green being first in the next games.
§ 71 Trimalchio cheered up at this dispute and said,Ah, my friends, a slave is a man and drank his mother's milk like ourselves, even if cruel fate has trodden him down. Yes, and if I live they shall soon taste the water of freedom. In fact I am setting them all free in my will. I am leaving a property and his good woman to Philargyrus as well, and to Cario a block of buildings, and his manumission fees, and a bed and bedding. I am making Fortunata my heir, and I recommend her to all my friends. I am making all this known so that my slaves may love me now as it I were dead. They all began to thank their master for his kindness, when he turned serious, and had a copy of the will brought in, which he read aloud from beginning to end, while the slaves moaned and groaned. Then he looked at Habinnas and said, Now tell me, my dear friend: you will erect a monument as I have directed? I beg you earnestly to put up round the feet of my statue my little dog, and some wreaths, and bottles of perfume, and all the fights of Petraites, so that your kindness may bring me a life after death; and I want the monument to have a frontage of one hundred feet and to be two hundred feet in depth. For I should like to have all kinds of fruit growing round my ashes, and plenty of vines. It is quite wrong for a man to decorate his house while he is alive, and not to trouble about the house where he must make a longer stay. So above all things I want added to the inscription, 'This monument is not to descend to my heir.' I shall certainly take care to provide in my will against any injury being done to me when I am dead. I am appointing one of the freedmen to be caretaker of the tomb and prevent the common people from running up and defiling it. I beg you to put ships in full sail on the monument, and me sitting in official robes on my official seat, wearing five gold rings and distributing coin publicly out of a bag; you remember that I gave a free dinner worth two denarii a head. I should like a dining-room table put in too, if you can arrange it. And let me have the whole people there enjoying themselves. On my right hand put a statue of dear Fortunata holding a dove, and let her be leading a little dog with a waistband on; and my dear little boy, and big jars sealed with gypsum, so that the wine may not run out. And have a broken urn carved with a boy weeping over it. And a sundial in the middle, so that anyone who looks at the time will read my name whether he likes it or not. And again, please think carefully whether this in scription seems to you quite appropriate: 'Here lieth Caius Pompeius Trimalchio, freedman of Maecenas. The degree of Priest of Augustus was conferred upon him in his absence. He might have been attendant on any magistrate in Rome, but refused it. God-fearing, gallant, constant, he started with very little and left thirty millions. He never listened to a philosopher. Fare thee well, Trimalchio: and thou too, passer-by. '
§ 72 After saying this, Trimalchio began to weep floods of tears. Fortunata wept, Habinnas wept, and then all the slaves began as if they had been invited to his funeral, and filled the dining-room with lamentation. I had even begun to lift up my voice myself, when Trimalchio said, Well, well, if we know we must die, why should we not live? As I hope for your happiness, let us jump into a bath. My life on it, you will never regret it. It is as hot as a furnace. Very true, very true, said Habinnas, making two days out of one is my chief delight. And he got up with bare feet and began to follow Trimalchio, who was clapping his hands.
I looked at Ascyltos and said, What do you think? I shall die on the spot at the very sight of a bath. Oh! let us say yes, he replied, and we will slip away in the crowd while they are looking for the bath. This was agreed, and Giton led us through the gallery to the door, where the dog on the chain welcomed us with such a noise that Ascyltos fell straight into the fish-pond. As I, who had been terrified even of a painted dog, was drunk too, I fell into the same abyss while I was helping him in his struggles to swim. But the porter saved us by intervening to pacify the dog, and pulled us shivering on to dry land. Giton had ransomed himself from the dog some time before by a very cunning plan; when it barked he threw it all the pieces we had given him at dinner, and food distracted the beast from his anger. But when, chilled to the bone, we asked the porter at least to let us out of the door, he replied, You are wrong if you suppose you can go out at the door you came in by. None of the guests are ever let out by the same door; they come in at one and go out by another.
§ 73 There was nothing to be done, we were victims enwound in a new labyrinth, and the idea of washing had begun to grow pleasant, so we asked him instead to show us the bath, and after throwing off our clothes, which Giton began to dry in the front hall, we went in. It was a tiny place like a cold-water cistern, and Trimalchio was standing upright in it. We were not allowed to escape his filthy bragging even there; he declared that there was nothing nicer than washing out of a crowd, and told us that there had once been a bakery on that very spot. He then became tired and sat down, and the echoes of the bathroom encouraged him to open his tipsy jaws to the ceiling and begin to murder Menecrates's songs, as I was told by those who could under stand what he said. Other guests joined hands and ran round the edge of the bath, roaring with obstreperous laughter at the top of their voices. Some again had their hands tied behind their backs and tried to pick up rings from the floor, or knelt down and bent their heads backwards and tried to touch the tips of their toes. While the others were amusing themselves, we went down into a deep bath which was being heated for Trimalchio.
Then, having got rid of the effects of our liquor, we were led into another dining-room, where Fortunata had laid out her treasures, so that over the lamps I saw . . . . little bronze fishermen, and tables of solid silver, and china cups with gold settings, and wine being strained through a cloth before our eyes. Then Trimalchio said, Gentlemen, a slave of mine is celebrating his first shave to-day: an honest, cheeseparing fellow, in a good hour be it spoken. So let us drink deep and keep up dinner till dawn.
§ 74 Just as he was speaking, a cock crew. The noise upset Trimalchio, and he had wine poured under the table, and even the lamp sprinkled with pure wine. Further, he changed a ring on to his right hand, and said, That trumpeter does not give his signal without a reason. Either there must be a fire, or some one close by is just going to give up the ghost. Lord, save us! So anyone who catches the informer shall have a reward. He had scarcely spoken, when the cock was brought in from somewhere near. Trimalchio ordered him to be killed and cooked in a saucepan. So he was cut up by the learned cook who had made birds and fishes out of a pig a little while before, and thrown into a cooking-pot. And while Daedalus took a long drink very hot, Fortunata ground up pepper in a boxwood mill.
After the good things were done, Trimalchio looked at the slaves and said, Why have you not had dinner yet? Be off, and let some others come and wait. So another brigade appeared, and the old lot shouted,Gaius, good-bye, and the new ones, Hail! Gaius. After this, our jollity received its first shock; a rather comely boy came in among the fresh waiters, and Trimalchio took him and began to kiss him warmly. So Fortunata, to assert her rights at law, began to abuse Trimalchio, and called him a dirty disgrace for not behaving himself. At last she even added, You hound. Her cursing annoyed Trimalchio, and he let fly a cup in her face. She shrieked as if her eye had been put out, and lifted her trembling hands to her face. Scintilla was frightened too, and shielded her quivering friend with her arms. While an officious slave held a cool little jar to her cheek, Fortunata leaned over it and began to groan and cry. But Trimalchio said, What is it all about? This chorus-girl has no memory, yet I took her off the sale-platform and made her one of ourselves. But she puffs herself up like a frog, and will not spit for luck; a log she is, not a woman. But if you were born in a slum you cannot sleep in a palace. Damn my soul if I do not properly tame this shameless Cassandra. And I might have married ten million, wretched fool that I was! You know I am speaking the truth. Agatho, the perfumer of the rich woman next door, took me aside and said, 'I entreat you not to let your family die out.' But I, being a good chap, didn't wish to seem fickle, and so I have stuck the axe into my own leg. Very well, I will make you want to dig me up with your finger-nails. But you shall understand what you have done for yourself straight away. Habinnas, do not put any statue of her on my tomb, or I shall have nagging even when I am dead. And to show that I can do her a bad turn, I will not have her kiss me even when I am laid out.
§ 75 After this flash of lightning Habinnas began to implore him to moderate his wrath. We all have our faults, he said, we are men, not angels. Scintilla cried and said the same, called him Gaius and besought him by his guardian angel to unbend. Trimalchio no longer restrained his tears, and said, Habinnas, please, as you hope to enjoy your money, spit in my face if I have done anything wrong. I kissed that excellent boy not because he is beautiful, but because he is excellent: he can do division and read books at sight, he has bought a suit of Thracian armour out of his day's wages, purchased a round-backed chair with his own money, and two ladles. Does he not deserve to be treated well by me? But Fortunata will not have it. Is that your feeling, my high-heeled hussy? I advise you to chew what you have bitten off, you vulture, and not make me show my teeth, my little dear: otherwise you shall know what my anger is. Mark my words: when once my mind is made up, the thing is fixed with a ten-inch nail. But we will think of the living. Please make yourselves comfortable, gentlemen. I was once just what you are, but by my own merits I have come to this. A bit of sound sense is what makes men; the rest is all rubbish. 'I buy well and sell well': some people will tell you differently. I am bursting with happiness. What, you snorer in bed, are you still whining? I will take care that you have something to whine over. Well, as I was just saying, self-denial has brought me into this fortune. When I came from Asia I was about as tall as this candle-stick. In fact I used to measure myself by it every day, and grease my lips from the lamp to grow a moustache the quicker. Still, I was my master's favourite for fourteen years. No disgrace in obeying your master's orders. Well, I used to amuse my mistress too. You know what I mean; I say no more, I am not a conceited man.
§ 76 Then, as the Gods willed, I became the real master of the house, and simply had his brains in my pocket. I need only add that I was joint residuary legatee with Caesar, and came into an estate fit for a senator. But no one is satisfied with nothing. I conceived a passion for business. I will not keep you a moment— I built five ships, got a cargo of wine—which was worth its weight in gold at the time—and sent them to Rome. You may think it was a put-up job; every one was wrecked, truth and no fairy-tales. Neptune gulped down thirty million in one day. Do you think I lost heart? Lord! no, I no more tasted my loss than if nothing had happened. I built some more, bigger, better and more expensive, so that no one could say I was not a brave man. You know, a huge ship has a certain security about her. I got another cargo of wine, bacon, beans, perfumes, and slaves. Fortunata did a noble thing at that time; she sold all her jewellery and all her clothes, and put a hundred gold pieces into my hand. They were the leaven of my fortune. What God wishes soon happens. I made a clear ten million on one voyage. I at once bought up all the estates which had belonged to my patron. I built a house, and bought slaves and cattle; whatever I touched grew like a honey-comb. When I came to have more than the whole revenues of my own country, I threw up the game: I retired from active work and began to finance freedmen. I was quite unwilling to go on with my work when I was encouraged by an astrologer who happened to come to our town, a little Greek called Serapa, who knew the secrets of the Gods. He told me things that I had forgotten myself; explained everything from needle and thread upwards; knew my own inside, and only fell short of telling me what I had had for dinner the day before.
§ 77 You would have thought he had always lived with me. You remember, Habinnas?—I believe you were there?— 'You fetched your wife from you know where. You are not lucky in your friends. No one is ever as grateful to you as you deserve. You are a man of property. You are nourishing a viper in your bosom,' and, though I must not tell you this, that even now I had thirty years four months and two days left to live. Moreover I shall soon come into an estate. My oracle tells me so. If I could only extend my boundaries to Apulia I should have gone far enough for my lifetime. Meanwhile I built this house while Mercury watched over me. As you know, it was a tiny place; now it is a palace. It has four dining-rooms, twenty bedrooms, two marble colonnades, an upstairs diningroom, a bedroom where I sleep myself, this viper's boudoir, an excellent room for the porter; there is plenty of spare room for guests. In fact when Scaurus came he preferred staying here to anywhere else, and he has a family place by the sea. There are plenty of other things which I will show you in a minute. Take my word for it; if you have a penny, that is what you are worth; by what a man hath shall he be reckoned. So your friend who was once a worm is now a king. Meanwhile, Stichus, bring me the graveclothes in which I mean to be carried out. And some ointment, and a mouthful out of that jar which has to be poured over my bones.
§ 78 In a moment Stichus had fetched a white windingsheet and dress into the dining-room and . . . [Trimalchio] asked us to feel whether they were made of good wool. Then he gave a little laugh and said, Mind neither mouse nor moth corrupts them, Stichus; otherwise I will burn you alive. I want to be carried out in splendour, so that the whole crowd calls down blessings on me. He immediately opened a flask and anointed us all and said, I hope I shall like this as well in the grave as I do on earth. Besides this he ordered wine to be poured into a bowl, and said,Now you must imagine you have been asked to my funeral.
The thing was becoming perfectly sickening, when Trimalchio, now deep in the most vile drunkenness, had a new set of performers, some trumpeters, brought into the dining-room, propped himself on a heap of cushions, and stretched himself on his death-bed, saying, Imagine that I am dead. Play something pretty. The trumpeters broke into a loud funeral march. One man especially, a slave of the undertaker who was the most decent man in the party, blew such a mighty blast that the whole neighbourhood was roused. The watch, who were patrolling the streets close by, thought Trimalchio's house was alight, and suddenly burst in the door and began with water and axes to do their duty in creating a disturbance. My friends and I seized this most welcome opportunity, outwitted Agamemnon, and took to our heels as quickly as if there were a real fire.
§ 79 There was no guiding torch to show us the way as we wandered; it was now midnight, and the silence gave us no prospect of meeting anyone with a light. Moreover we were drunk, and our ignorance of the quarter would have puzzled us even in the daytime. So after dragging our bleeding feet nearly a whole hour over the flints and broken pots which layout in the road, we were at last put straight by Giton's cleverness. The careful child had been afraid of losing his way even in broad daylight, and had marked all the posts and columns with chalk; these lines shone through the blackest night, and their brilliant whiteness directed our lost footsteps. But even when we reached our lodgings our agitation was not relieved. For our friend the old woman had had a long night swilling with her lodgers, and would not have noticed if you had set a light to her. We might have had to sleep on the doorstep if Trimalchio's courier had not come up in state with ten carts. After making a noise for a little while he broke down the house-door and let us in by it. . .
Ah! gods and goddesses, what a night that was, how soft was the bed. We lay in a warm embrace and with kisses everywhere made exchange of our wandering spirits. Farewell, all earthly troubles. So began my destruction.
I blessed my luck too soon. I was overcome with drink and let my shaking hands fall, and then Ascyltos, that fountain of all wickedness, took my little friend away and carried him off to his own bed; and there rolling about in wanton excess with another man's minion, the latter either not noticing the fraud or pretending not to, he went off to sleep, enfolded in an embrace he had no sort of right to, utterly regardless of all human justice. So when I awoke, and feeling the bed over, found it robbed of delight, I declare, by all that lovers hold sacred, I had half a mind to run them both through with my sword where they lay, and make their sleep eternal. But presently adopting safer counsels, I thumped Giton awake, and turning a stern countenance on Ascyltos, said, As you have wickedly broken our agreement and the friendship between us, collect your things at once, and find some other place to corrupt.
§ 80 He did not resist, but after we had divided our spoils with scrupulous honesty he said, And now we must divide the boy too. I thought this was a parting joke. But he drew his sword murderously, and said,You shall not enjoy this treasure that you brood over all alone. I am rejected, but I must carve off my share too, even with this sword.
So I did the same on my side; wrapped my cloak round my arm and put myself in position for a fight. As we raved in folly, the poor boy touched our knees, and humbly besought us with tears not to let that quiet lodging-house be the scene of a Theban duel, or stain the sanctity of a beautiful friendship with each other's blood. But if you must commit your crime, he cried, look here, here is my throat. Turn your hands this way and imbrue your blades. I deserve to die for breaking the oath of friendship. We put up our swords at his prayers, and Ascyltos spoke first, I will put an end to this quarrel. Let the boy follow the one he prefers, so that he at any rate may have a free choice of brothers.
I had no fears, imagining that long-standing familiarity had passed into a tie of blood, and I accepted the arrangement in hot haste, and referred the dispute to the judge. He did not even pretend to take time to consider, but got up at once as I finished speaking, and chose Ascyltos for his brother. I was thunderstruck at his choice, and fell down on the bed just as I was, without my sword; I should have committed suicide at the sentence if I had not grudged my enemy this triumph. Ascyltos went stalking out with his winnings, and left his comrade, whom he had loved a little while before, and whose fortunes had been so like his own, in despair in a strange place.
The name of friendship endures so long as there is profit in it: the counter on the board plays a changeable game. While my luck holds you give me your smiles, my friends; when it is out, you turn your faces away in shameful flight.
A company acts a farce on the stage: one is called the father, one the son, and one is labelled the Rich Man. Soon the comic parts are shut in a book, the men's real faces come back, and the make-up disappears.
§ 81 But still I did not spend much time in weeping. I was afraid that Menelaus the tutor might increase my troubles by finding me alone in the lodgings, so I got together my bundles and took a room in a remote place right on the beach. I shut myself up there for three days; I was haunted by the thought that I was deserted and despised; I beat my breast, already worn with blows, groaned deeply and even cried aloud many times, Could not the earth have opened and swallowed me, or the sea that shows her anger even against the innocent? I fled from justice, I cheated the ring, I killed my host, and with all these badges of courage I am left forsaken in lodgings in a Greek town, a beggar and an exile. And who condemned me to loneliness? A young man tainted by excess of every kind, deserving banishment even by his own admission, a free, yes, a free-born debauchee; his youth was wasted in gambling, and even those who supposed him to be a man treated him like a girl. And his friend? A boy who went into skirts instead of trousers, whose mother persuaded him never to grow up, who was the common sport of the slaves' quarters, who after going bankrupt, and changing the tune of his vices, has broken the ties of an old friendship, and shamelessly sold everything in a single night's work like a common woman. Now the lovers lie all night long in each other's arms, and very likely laugh at my loneliness when they are tired out. But they shall suffer for it. I am no man, and no free citizen, if I do not avenge my wrongs with their hateful blood.
§ 82 With these words I put on my sword, and recruited my strength with a square meal to prevent my losing the battle through weakness. I rushed out of doors at once, and went round all the arcades like a madman. My face was as of one dumb foundered with fury, I thought of nothing but blood and slaughter, and kept putting my hand to the sword-hilt which I had consecrated to the work. Then a soldier, who may have been a swindler or a footpad, noticed me, and said, Hullo, comrade, what regiment and company do you belong to? I lied stoutly about my captain and my regiment, and he said, Well, do soldiers in your force walk about in white shoes? My expression and my trembling showed that I had lied, and he ordered me to hand over my arms and look out for myself. So I was not only robbed, but my revenge was nipped in the bud. I went back to the inn, and by degrees my courage cooled, and I began to bless the footpad's effrontery. . . .
Poor Tantalus stands in water and never drinks, nor plucks the fruit above his head: his own desires torment him. So must a rich great man look when, with everything before his eyes, he fears starvation, and digests hunger dry-mouthed. . . .
It is not much use depending upon calculation when Fate has methods of her own. . . .
§ 83 I came into a gallery hung with a wonderful collection of various pictures. I saw the works of Zeuxis not yet overcome by the defacement of time, and I studied with a certain terrified wonder the rough drawings of Protogenes, which rivalled the truth of Nature herself. But when I came to the work of Apelles the Greek which is called the One-legged, I positively worshipped it. For the outlines of his figures were defined with such subtle accuracy, that you would have declared that he had painted their souls as well. In one the eagle was carrying the Shepherd of Ida on high to heaven, and in another fair Hylas resisted a tormenting Naiad. Apollo passed judgement on his accursed hands, and adorned his unstrung lyre with the newborn flower. I cried out as if I were in a desert, among these faces of mere painted lovers, So even the gods feel love. Jupiter in his heavenly home could find no object for his passion, and came down on earth to sin, yet did no one any harm. The Nymph who ravished Hylas would have restrained her passion had she believed that Hercules would come to dispute her claim. Apollo recalled the ghost of a boy into a flower, and all the stories tell of love's embraces without a rival. But I have taken for my comrade a friend more cruel than Lycurgus himself.
Suddenly, as I strove thus with the empty air, a white-haired old man came into the gallery. His face was troubled, but there seemed to be the promise of some great thing about him; though he was shabby in appearance, so that it was quite plain by this characteristic that he was a man of letters, of the kind that rich men hate. He came and stood by my side. . . .
I am a poet, he said, and one, I hope, of no mean imagination, if one can reckon at all by crowns of honour, which gratitude can set even on unworthy heads. 'Why are you so badly dressed, then?' you ask. For that very reason. The worship of genius never made a man rich.
The man who trusts the sea consoles himself with high profits; the man who follows war and the camp is girded with gold; the base flatterer lies drunk on a couch of purple dye; the man who tempts young wives gets money for his sin; eloquence alone shivers in rags and cold, and calls upon a neglected art with unprofitable tongue.
§ 84 Yes, that is certainly true: if a man dislikes all vices, and begins to tread a straight path in life, he is hated first of all because his character is superior; for who is able to like what differs from himself? Further, those who only trouble about heaping up riches, do not want anything to be considered better than what is in their own hands. So they persecute men with a passion for learning in every possible way, to make them also look an inferior article to money. . . .
Somehow or other poverty is own sister to good sense . . .
I wish he that hates me for my virtue were so guiltless that he might be mollified. As it is he is a past master of robbery, and more clever than any pimp.
§ 85 When I went to Asia, he began, as a paid officer in the Quaestor's suite, I lodged with a family at Pergamus. I found my quarters very pleasant, first on account of the convenience and elegance of the apartments, and still more so because of the beauty of my host's son. I devised the following method to prevent the master of the house entertaining any suspicions of me as a seducer. Whenever the conversation at table turned on the abuse of handsome boys, I showed such extreme indignation and protested with such an air of austerity and offended dignity against the violence done to my ears by filthy talk of the sort, that I came to be regarded, especially by the mother, as one of the greatest of moralists and philosophers. Before long I was allowed to take the lad to the gymnasium; it was I that directed his studies, I that guided his conduct, and guarded against any possible debaucher of his person being admitted to the house. It happened on one occasion that we were sleeping in the dining-hall, the school having closed early as it was a holiday, and our amusements having rendered us too lazy to retire to our sleeping-chambers. Somewhere about midnight I noticed that the lad was awake; so whispering soft and low, I murmured a timid prayer in these words,
'Lady Venus, if I may kiss this boy, so that he know it not, tomorrow I will present him with a pair of doves.' Hearing the price offered for the gratification, the boy set up a snore. So approaching him, where he lay still making pretense to be asleep, I stole two or three flying kisses. Satisfied with this beginning, I rose betimes next morning, and discharged my vow by bringing the eager lad a choice and costly pair of doves.
§ 86 The following night, the same opportunity occurring, I changed my petition, 'If I may pass a naughty hand over this boy, and he not feel it, I will present him for his complaisance with a brace of the best fighting cocks ever seen.' At this promise the child came nestling up to me of his own accord and was actually afraid, I think, lest I might drop asleep again. I soon quieted his uneasiness on this point, and amply satisfied my longings, short of the supreme bliss, on every part of his beautiful body. Then when daylight came, I made him happy with the gift I had promised him. As soon as the third night left me free to try again, I rose as before, and creeping up to the rascal, who was lying awake expecting me, whispered at his ear, 'If only, ye Immortal Gods, I may win of this sleeping darling full and happy satisfaction of my love, for such bliss I will tomorrow present the lad with an Asturian of the Macedonian strain, the best to be had for money, but always on the condition he shall not feel my violence.' Never did the stripling sleep more sound. So first I handled his plump and snowy bosoms, then kissed him on the mouth, and finally concentrated all my ardors in one supreme delight. Next morning he sat still in his room, expecting my present as usual. Well! you know as well as I do, it is a much easier matter to buy doves and fighting cocks than an Asturian; besides which, I was afraid so valuable a present might rouse suspicion as to the real motives of my liberality. After walking about for an hour or so, I returned to the house, and gave the boy a kiss — and nothing else. He looked about inquiringly, then threw his arms round my neck, and 'Please, sir!' he said, 'where is my Asturian?'
§ 87 Although by this breach of faith I had closed against myself the door of access so carefully contrived, I returned once more to the attack. For, after allowing a few days to elapse, one night when similar circumstances had created just another opportunity for us as before, I began, the moment I heard the father snoring, to beg and pray the boy to be friends with me again, — that is, to let me give him pleasure for pleasure, adding all the arguments my burning concupiscence could suggest. But he was positively angry and refused to say one word beyond, 'Go to sleep, or I will tell my father.' But there is never an obstacle so difficult audacity will not vanquish it. He was still repeating, 'I will wake my father,' when I slipped into his bed and took my pleasure of him in spite of his half-hearted resistance. However, he found a certain pleasure in my naughty ways, for after a long string of complaints about my having cheated and cajoled him and made him the laughing-stock of his school-fellows, to whom he had boasted of his rich friend, he whispered, 'Still I won't be so unkind as you; if you like, do it again.' So forgetting all our differences, I was reconciled to the dear lad once more, and after utilizing his kind permission, I slipped off to sleep in his arms. But the stripling was not satisfied with only one repetition, all ripe for love as he was and just at the time of life for passive enjoyment. So he woke me up from my slumbers, and, 'Anything you'd like, eh?' said he. Nor was I, so far, indisposed to accept his offer. So working him the best ever I could, to the accompaniment of much panting and perspiration, I gave him what he wanted, and then dropped asleep again, worn out with pleasure. Less than an hour had passed before he started pinching me and asking, 'Eh! why are we not at work?' Hereupon, sick to death of being so often disturbed, I flew into a regular rage, and retorted his own words upon him; 'Go to sleep,' I cried, 'or I'll tell your father!'
§ 88 Encouraged by his conversation, I began to draw on his knowledge about the age of the pictures, and about some of the stories which puzzled me, and at the same time to discuss the decadence of the age, since the fine arts had died, and painting, for instance, had left no trace of its existence behind. Love of money began this revolution, he replied. In former ages virtue was still loved for her own sake, the noble arts flourished, and there were the keenest struggles among mankind to prevent anything being long undiscovered which might benefit posterity. So Democritus extracted the juice of every plant on earth, and spent his whole life in experiments to discover the virtues of stones and twigs. Eudoxos grew old on the top of a high mountain in order to trace the movements of the stars and the sky, and Chrysippus three times cleared his wits with hellebore to improve his powers of invention. If you turn to sculptors, Lysippus died of starvation as he brooded over the lines of a single statue, and Myron, who almost caught the very soul of men and beasts in bronze, left no heir behind him. But we are besotted with wine and women, and cannot rise to understand even the arts that are developed; we slander the past, and learn and teach nothing but vices. Where is dialectic now, or astronomy? Where is the exquisite way of wisdom? Who has ever been to a temple and made an offering in order to attain to eloquence, or to drink of the waters of philosophy? They do not even ask for good sense or good health, but before they even touch the threshold of the Capitol, one promises an offering if he may bury his rich neighbour, another if he may dig up a hid treasure, another if he may make thirty millions in safety. Even the Senate, the teachers of what is right and good, often promise a thousand pounds in gold to the Capitol, and decorate even Jupiter with pelf, that no one need be ashamed of praying for money. So there is nothing surprising in the decadence of painting, when all the gods and men think an ingot of gold more beautiful than anything those poor crazy Greeks, Apelles and Phidias, ever did.
§ 89 But I see your whole attention is riveted on that picture, which represents the fall of Troy. Well, I will try and explain the situation in verse:
'It was now the tenth harvest of the siege of the Trojans, who were worn with anxious fear, and the honour of Calchas the prophet stood wavering in dark dread, when at Apollo's bidding the wooded peaks of Ida were felled and dragged down, and the sawn planks fitted to a shape that resembled a war-horse. Within it a great hollow was opened, and a hidden cave that could shelter a host. In this the warriors who chafed at a war ten years long were packed away; the baleful Greeks fill every corner, and lie waiting in their own votive offering. Ah! my country! we thought the thousand ships were beaten off, and the land released from strife. The inscription carved on the horse, and Sinon's crafty bearing, and his mind ever powerful for evil, all strengthened our hope.
Now a crowd hurries from the gate to worship, careless and free of the war. Their cheeks are wet with tears, and the joy of their trembling souls brings to their eyes tears that terror had banished. Laocoon, priest of Neptune, with hair unbound, stirs the whole assembly to cry aloud. He drew back his spear arid the belly of the horse, but fate stayed his hand, spear leaped back, and won us to trust the fraud. But he nerved his feeble hand a second time, and sounded the deep sides of the horse with an axe. The young soldiers shut within breathed loud, and while the sound lasted the wooden mass gasped with a terror that was not its own. The prisoned warriors went forward to make Troy prisoner, and waged all the war by a new subtlety.
'There followed further portents; where the steep ridge of Tenedos breaks the sea, the billows rise and swell, and the shattered wave leaps back hollowing the calm, sounding like the noise of oars borne far through the silent night, when ships bear down the ocean, and the calm is stirred and splashes under the burden of the keel. We look back: the tide carries two coiling snakes towards the rocks, their swollen breasts like tall ships throwing the foam from their sides. Their tails crash through the sea, their crests move free over the open water, fierce as their eyes; a brilliant beam kindles the waves, and the waters resound with their hissing. Our heartbeats stopped. The priests stood wreathed for sacrifice with the two sons of Laocoon in Phrygian raiment. Suddenly the gleaming snakes twine their bodies round them. The boys throw up their little hands to their faces, neither helping himself, but each his brother: such was the exchange of love, and death himself slew both poor children by their unselfish fear. Then before our eyes the father, a feeble helper, laid his own body down upon his children's. The snakes, now gorged with death, attacked the man and dragged his limbsto the ground. The priest lies a victim before his altars and beats the earth. Thus the doomed city of Troy first lost her gods by profaning their worship.
'Now Phoebe at the full lifted up her white beam, and led forth the smaller stars with her glowing torch, and the Greeks unbarred the horse, and poured out their warriors among Priam's sons drowned in darkness and wine. The leaders try their strength in arms, as a steed untied from the Thessalian yoke will toss his head and lofty mane as he rushes forth. They draw their swords, brandish their shields, and begin the fight. One slays Trojans heavy with drink, and prolongs their sleep to death that endeth all, another lights torches from the altars, and calls on the holy places of Troy to fight against the Trojans.' . . .
§ 90 Some of the people who were walking in the galleries threw stones at Eumolpus as he recited. He recognized this tribute to his genius, covered his head, and fled out of the temple. I was afraid that he would call me a poet. So I followed him in his flight, and came to the beach, and as soon as we were out of range and could stop, I said, Tell me, cannot you get rid of your disease? You have been in my company less than two hours, and you have talked more often like a poet than like a man. I am not surprised that the crowd pursue you with stones. I shall load my pockets with stones too, and whenever you begin to forget yourself I shall let blood from your head. His expression altered, and he said, My dear young friend, I have been blessed like this before to-day. Whenever I go into the theatre to recite anything, the people's way is to welcome me with this kind of present. But I do not want to have anything to quarrel with you about, so I will keep off this food for a whole day. Well; said I, if you forswear your madness for to-day, we will dine together. . . .
I gave the house-porter orders about our supper. . . .
§ 91 I saw Giton, with some towels and scrapers, hugging the wall in sad embarrassment. You could see he was not a willing slave. So to enable me to catch his eye he turned round, his face softened with pleasure, and he said, Forgive me, brother. As there are no deadly weapons here, I speak freely. Take me away from this bloody robber and punish me as cruelly as you like, your penitent judge. It will be quite enough consolation for my misery to die because you wish it. I told him to stop his lamentation, for fear anyone should overhear our plans. We left Eumolpus behind—he was reciting a poem in the bathroom—and I took Giton out by a dark, dirty exit, and flew with all speed to my lodgings. Then I shut the door and warmly embraced him, and rubbed my face against his cheek, which was wet with tears. For a time neither of us could utter a sound the boy's fair body shook with continuous sobs. It is a shame and a wonder! I cried, You left me, and yet I love you, and no scar is left over my heart, where the wound was so deep. Have you any excuse for yielding your love to a stranger? Did I deserve this blow? As soon as he felt that I loved him, he began to hold his head up. . . .
I laid our love's cause before no other judge. But I make no complaint, I will forget all, if you will prove your penitence by keeping your word. I poured out my words with groans and tears, but Giton wiped his face on his cloak, and said, Now, Encolpius, I ask you, I appeal to your honest memory; did I leave you, or did you betray me? I admit, I confess it openly, that when I saw two armed men before me, I hurried to the side of the stronger. I pressed my lips to his dear wise heart, and put my arms round his neck, and hugged him close to me, to make it quite plain that I was in amity with him again, and that our friendship lived afresh in perfect confidence.
§ 92 It was now quite dark, and the woman had seen to our orders for supper, when Eumolpus knocked at the door. I asked, How many of you are there? and began as I spoke to look carefully through a chink in the door to see whether Ascyltos had come with him. When I saw that he was the only visitor, I let him in at once. He threw himself on a bed, and when he saw Giton before his eyes waiting at table, he wagged his head and said, I like your Ganymede. To-day should be a fine time for us. I was not pleased at this inquisitive opening; I was afraid I had let Ascyltos's double into the lodgings. Eumolpus persisted, and, when the boy brought him a drink, said,I like you better than the whole bathful. He greedily drank the cup dry, and said he had never taken anything with a sharper tang in it. Why, I was nearly flogged while I was washing, he cried, because I tried to go round the bath and recite poetry to the people sitting in it, and when I was thrown out of the bathroom as if it were a theatre, I began to look round all the corners, and shouted for Encolpius in a loud voice. In another part of the place a naked young man who had lost his clothes kept clamouring for Giton with equally noisy indignation. The boys laughed at me with saucy mimicry as if I were crazy, but a large crowd surrounded him, clapping their hands and humbly admiring. The fact is, he possessed virile parts of such enormous mass and weight, the man really seemed only an appendage of his own member. Oh! an indefatigable worker! I warrant, the sort to begin yesterday, and finish tomorrow! So he found an ally at once: some Roman knight or other, a low fellow, they said, put his own clothes on him as he strayed round, and took him off home, I suppose, to have the sole enjoyment of so rich a windfall. I should never have got my own clothes back from the troublesome attendant if I had not produced a voucher. So much better does it profit a man to polish his member than his mind! As Eumolpus told me all this, my expression kept changing, for of course I laughed at my enemy's straits and frowned on his fortune. But anyhow I kept quiet as if I did not know what the story was about, and set forth our bill of fare. . .
§ 93 What we may have we do not care about; our minds are bent on folly and love what is troublesome.
The bird won from Colchis where Phasis flows, and fowls from Africa, are sweet to taste because they are not easy to win; but the white goose and the duck with bright new feathers have a common savour. The wrasse drawn from far-off shores, and the yield of wrinkled Syrtis is praised if first it wrecks a boat: the mullet by now is a weariness. The mistress eclipses the wife, the rose bows down to the cinnamon. What men must seek after seems ever best.
What about your promise, that you would not make a single verse to-day? I said. On your honour, spare us at least: we have never stoned you. If a single one of the people who are drinking in the same tenement with us scents the name of a poet, he will rouse the whole neighbourhood and ruin us all for the same reason. Spare us then, and remember the picture-gallery or the baths. Giton, the gentle boy, reproved me when I spoke thus, and said that I was wrong to rebuke my elders, and forget my duty so far as to spoil with my insults the dinner I had ordered out of kindness, with much more tolerant and modest advice which well became his beautiful self. . .
§ 94 Happy was the mother who bore such a son as you, he said, be good and prosper. Beauty and wisdom make a rare conjunction. And do not think that all your words have been wasted. In me you have found a lover. I will do justice to your worth in verse. I will teach and protect you, and follow you even where you do not bid me. I do Encolpius no wrong; he loves another.
That soldier who took away my sword did Eumolpus a good turn too; otherwise I would have appeased the wrath raised in me against Ascyltos with the blood of Eumolpus. Giton was not blind to this. So he went out of the room on a pretence of fetching water, and quenched my wrath by his tactful departure. Then, as my fury cooled a little, I said, I would prefer even that you should talk poetry now, Eumolpus, rather than harbour such hopes. I am choleric, and you are lecherous: you understand that these dispositions do not suit each other. Well, regard me as a maniac, yield to my infirmity, in short, get out quick. Eumolpus was staggered by this attack, and never asked why I was angry, but went out of the room at once and suddenly banged the door, taking me completely by surprise and shutting me in. He pulled out the key in a moment and ran off to look for Giton.
I was locked in. I made up my mind to hang myself and die. I had just tied a belt to the frame of a bed which stood by the wall, and was pushing my neck into the noose, when the door was unlocked, Eumolpus came in with Giton, and called me back to light from the very bourne of death. Nay, Giton passed from grief to raving madness, and raised a shout, pushed me with both hands and threw me on the bed, and cried,Encolpius, you are wrong if you suppose you could possibly die before me. I thought of suicide first; I looked for a sword in Ascyltos's lodgings. If I had not found you I would have hurled myself to death over a precipice. I will show you that death stands close by those who seek him: behold in your turn the scene you wished me to behold.
With these words he snatched a razor from Eumolpus's servant, drew it once, twice across his throat, and tumbled down at our feet. I gave a cry of horror, rushed to him as he fell, and sought the road of death with the same steel. But Giton was not marked with any trace of a wound, and I did not feel the least pain. The razor was untempered, and specially blunted in order to give boy pupils the courage of a barber: and so it had grown a sheath. So the servant had not been alarmed when the steel was snatched from him, and Eumolpus did not interrupt our death-scene.
§ 95 While this lover's play was being performed, an inmate of the house came in with part of our little dinner, and after looking at us rolling in disarray on the ground he said, Are you drunk, please, or runaway slaves, or both? Who turned the bed up there, and what do all these sneaking contrivances mean? I declare you meant to run off in the dark into the public street rather than pay for your room. But you shall pay for it. I will teach you that these lodgings do not belong to a poor widow, but to Marcus Mannicius. What? shouted Eumolpus, you dare threaten us.' And as he spoke he struck the man in the face with all the force of his outstretched hand. The man hurled a little earthenware pot, which was empty, all the guests having drunk from it, at Eumolpus's head, broke the skin of his forehead in the midst of his clamour, and rushed out of the room. Eumolpus would not brook an insult; he seized a wooden candlestick and followed the lodger out, and avenged his bloody forehead with a rain of blows. All the household ran up, and a crowd of drunken lodgers. I had a chance of punishing Eumolpus, and I shut him out, and so got even with the bully, and of course had the room and my sleep to myself without a rival.
Meanwhile cooks and lodgers be laboured him now that he was locked out, and one thrust a spit full of hissing meat into his eyes, another took a fork from a dresser and struck a fighting attitude. Above all, a blear-eyed old woman with a very dirty linen wrap round her. balancing herself on an uneven pair of clogs, took the lead, brought up a dog of enormous size on a chain, and set him on to Eumolpus. But the candlestick was enough to protect him from all danger.
§ 96 We saw everything through a hole in the folding doors, which had been made by the handle of the door being broken a short time before; and I was delighted to see him thrashed. But Giton clung to compassion, and said we ought to open the door and go and rescue him from peril. My indignation was still awake; I did not hold my hand, I rapped his compassionate head with my sharp clenched knuckles. He cried and sat down on the bed. I put my eyes to the chink by turns, and gorged myself on the miseries of Eumolpus like a dainty dish, and approved their prolongation. Then Bargates, the man in charge of the lodging-house, was disturbed at his dinner, and two chairmen carried him right into the brawl; for he had gouty feet. In a furious vulgar voice he made a long oration against drunkards and escaped slaves, and then he looked at Eumolpus and said, What, most learned bard, was it you? Getaway quick, you damned slaves, and keep your hands from quarrelling.. .
My mistress despises me. So curse her for me in rhyme, if you love me, and put shame into her. . .
§ 97 While Eumolpus was talking privately to Bargates, a crier came into the house with a municipal slave and quite a small crowd of other people, shook a torch which gave out more smoke than light, and made this proclamation: Lost recently in the public baths, a boy aged about sixteen, hair curly, low habits, of attractive appearance, answers to the name of Giton. A reward of a thousand pieces will be paid to any person willing to bring him back or indicate his whereabouts. Ascyltos stood close by the crier in clothes of many colours, holding out the reward on a silver dish to prove his honesty. I told Giton to get under the bed at once, and hook his feet and hands into the webbing which held up the mattress on the frame, so that he might evade the grasp of searchers by staying stretched out under the bed, just as Ulysses of old clung on to the ram of the Cyclops. Giton obeyed orders at once, and in a second had slipped his hands into the webbing, and surpassed even Ulysses at his own tricks. I did not want to leave any room for suspicion, so I stuffed the bed with clothes, and arranged them in the shape of a man about my own height sleeping by himself.
Meanwhile Ascyltos went round all the rooms with a constable, and when he came to mine, his hopes swelled within him at finding the door bolted with especial care. The municipal slave put an axe into the joints, and loosened the bolts from their place. I fell at Ascyltos's feet, and besought him, by the memory of our friendship and the miseries we had shared, at least to show me my brother. Further to win belief in my sham prayers, I said, I know you have come to kill me, Ascyltos. Else why have you brought an axe with you? Well, satisfy your rage. Here is my neck, shed my blood, the real object of your pretended legal search. Ascyltos threw off his resentment, and declared that he wanted nothing but his own runaway slave, that he did not desire the death of any man or any suppliant, much less of one whom he loved very dearly now that their deadly dispute was over.
§ 98 But the constable was not so deficient in energy. He took a cane from the inn-keeper, and pushed it under the bed, and poked into everything, even the cracks in the walls. Giton twisted away from the stick, drew in his breath very gently, and pressed his lips close against the bugs in the bedding. . . The broken door of the room could not keep anyone out, and Eumolpus rushed in in a fury, and cried, I have found a thousand pieces; for I mean to follow the crier as he goes away, and betray you as you richly deserve, and tell him that Giton is in your hands. He persisted, I fell at his feet, besought him not to kill a dying man, and said, You might well be excited if you could show him the lost one. As it is, the boy has run away in the crowd, and I have not the least idea where he has gone. As you love me, Eumolpus, get the boy back, and give him to Ascyltos if you like. I was just inducing him to believe me, when Giton burst with holding his breath, and all at once sneezed three times so that he shook the bed. Eumolpus turned round at the noise, and said Good day, Giton. He pulled off the mattress, and saw an Ulysses whom even a hungry Cyclops might have spared. Then he turned on me, Now, you thief; you did not dare to tell me the truth even when you were caught. In fact, unless the God who controls man's destiny had wrung a sign from this boy as he hung there, I should now be wandering round the pot-houses like a fool. . . .
Giton was far more at ease than I. He first stanched a cut which had been made on Eumolpus's forehead with spider's webs soaked in oil. He then took off his torn clothes, and in exchange gave him a short cloak of his own, then put his arms round him, for he was now softening, poulticed him with kisses, and said, Dearest father, we are in your hands, yours entirely. If you love your Giton, make up your mind to save him. I wish the cruel fire might engulf me alone, or the wintry sea assail me. I am the object of all his transgressions, I am the cause. If I were gone, you two might patch up your quarrel. . .
§ 99 At all times and in all places I have lived such a life that I spent each passing day as though that light would never return.. .
I burst into tears, and begged and prayed him to be friends again with me too: a true lover was incapable of mad jealousy. At the same time I would take care to do nothing more in word or deed by which he could possibly be hurt. Only he must remove all irritation from his mind like a man of true culture and leave no scar. On the wild rough uplands the snow lies late, but when the earth is beautiful under the mastery of the plough, the light frost passes while you speak. Thus anger dwells in our hearts; it takes root in the savage, and glides over the man of learning. There, said Eumolpus, you see what you say is true. Behold, I banish my anger with a kiss. So good luck go with us. Get ready your luggage and follow me, or lead the way if you like. He was still talking, when a knock sounded on the door, and a sailor with a straggly beard stood at the entrance and said, You hang about, Eumolpus, as if you did not know a Blue Peter by sight. We all got up in a hurry, and Eumolpus ordered his slave, who had now been asleep for some time, to come out with his baggage. Giton and I put together all we had for a journey; I asked a blessing of the stars, and went aboard.
§ 100 I am annoyed because the boy takes a stranger's fancy. But are not all the finest works of nature common property? The sun shines upon all men. The moon with countless troops of stars in her train leads even the beasts to their food. Can we imagine anything more lovely than water? yet it flows for all the world. Then shall love alone be stolen rather than enjoyed? The truth is that I do not care for possessions unless the common herd are jealous of them. One rival, and he too an old man, will not be troublesome; even if he wants to gain an advantage, his shortness of breath will give him away. When I had made these points without any confidence, deceiving my protesting spirit, I covered my head in my cloak and pretended to be asleep.
But suddenly, as though fate were in arms against my resolution, a voice on the ship's deck said with a groan, like this: So he deceived me, then? These manly tones were somehow familiar to my ear, and my heart beat fast as they struck me. But then a woman torn by the same indignation broke out yet more vehemently: Ah, if the gods would deliver Giton into my hands, what a fine welcome I would give the runaway. The shock of these unexpected sounds drove all the blood out of both of us. I felt as if I were being hunted round in some troubled dream; I was a long while finding my voice, and then pulled Eumolpus's clothes with a shaking hand, just as he was falling into a deep sleep, and said, Tell me the truth, father; can you say who owns this ship, or who is on board? He was annoyed at being disturbed, and replied, Was this why you chose a quiet corner on deck, on purpose to prevent us from getting any rest? What on earth is the use of my telling you that Lichas of Tarentum is the master of this boat, and is carrying Tryphaena to Tarentum under a sentence of banishment?
§ 101 I was thunderstruck at this blow. I bared my throat, and cried, Ah, Fate, at last you have smitten me hip and thigh. For Giton, who was sprawling over me, had already fainted. Then the sweat broke out on us and called us both back to life. I took Eumolpus by the knees, and cried, Mercy on us! We are dead men. Help us, I implore you by our fellowship in learning; death is upon us, and we may come to welcome death, unless you prevent us from doing so.
Eumolpus was overwhelmed by this attack, and swore by gods and goddesses that he did not understand what had happened, and had no sinister intentions in his mind, but had taken us to share the voyage with him in perfect honesty and absolute good faith; he had been meaning to sail himself some time before. Is there any trap here? he said, and who is the Hannibal we have on board? Lichas of Tarentum is a respectable person. He is not only owner and captain of this ship, but has several estates and some slaves in business. He is carrying a cargo consigned to a market. This is the ogre and pirate king to whom we owe our passage; and besides, there is Tryphaena, loveliest of women, who sails from one place to another in search of pleasure. But it is these two we are running away from, said Giton, and poured out the story of our feud, and explained our imminent danger, till Eumolpus shook. He became muddled and helpless, and asked us each to put forward our views. I would have you imagine that we have entered the ogre's den, he said. We must find some way out, unless we run the ship aground and tree ourselves from all danger. No, said Giton,persuade the helmsman to run the boat into some harbour. Pay him well, of course, and tell him your brother cannot stand the sea, and is at his last gasp. You will be able to hide your deception by the confused look and the tears on your face. You will touch the helmsman's heart, and he will do you a favour. Eumolpus declared that this was impossible: These large boats only steer into landlocked harbours, and it is incredible that our brother should collapse so soon. Besides, Lichas may perhaps ask to see the sick man as a matter of kindness. You realize what a fine turn we should do ourselves by leading the master up to his runaways with our own hands. But supposing the ship could be turned aside from her long passage, and Lichas did not after all go round the patient's beds; how could we leave the ship without being seen by every one? Cover our heads, or bare them? Cover them, and every one will want to lend his arm to the poor sick man! Bare them, that is nothing more or less than proscribing ourselves.
§ 102 No, I said, I should prefer to take refuge in boldness, slip down a rope into the boat, cut the painter, and leave the rest to luck. I do not invite Eumolpus to share the risk. It is not fair to load an innocent person with another's troubles. I am satisfied if chance will help us to get down. It is a clever plan, said Eumolpus, if there were any way of starting it. But every one will see you going: especially the helmsman, who watches all night long, and keeps guard even over the motions of the stars. Of course you might elude his unsleeping watchfulness, if you wanted to escape off another part of the ship; but as it is, you want to slip off the stern close to the helm itself, where the rope which holds the boat safe hangs just by, Again, I am surprised that it did not occur to you, Encolpius, that one sailor is always on duty night and day lying in the boat, and you cannot turn this sentry out except by killing him, or throw him out except by force. You must ask your own bold heart whether that can be done. As far as my coming with you goes, I do not shirk any danger which offers a chance of safety. But I suppose that even you do not wish to squander your lives like a vain trifle without any reason. Now see whether you approve of this. I will roll you in two bales, tie you up, and put you among my clothes as luggage, of course leaving the ends a bit open, so that you can get your breath and your food. Then I will raise the cry that my slaves have jumped overboard in the dark, being afraid of some heavier punishment. Then after we have arrived in harbour, I will carry you out like baggage without arousing any suspicion.
What, I cried, tie us up like wholly solid people whose stomachs never make them unhappy? Like people who never sneeze nor snore? Just because this kind of trick on one occasion turned out a success? But even supposing we could endure one day tied up: what if we were detained longer by a calm or by rough weather? What should we do? Even clothes that are tied up too long get creased and spoilt, and papers in bundles lose their shape. Are we young fellows who never worked in our lives to put up with bondage in dirty cloths as if we were statues?. . . No, we still have to find some way of salvation. Look at what I thought of. Eumolpus, as a man of learning, is sure to have some ink. We will use this medicine to dye ourselves, hair, nails, everything. Then we will stand by you with pleasure like Aethiopian slaves, without undergoing any tortures, and our change of colour will take in our enemies. Oh! yes, said Giton, and please circumcise us too, so that we look like Jews, and bore our ears to imitate Arabians, and chalk our faces till Gaul takes us for her own sons; as if this colour alone could alter our shapes, when it takes a number of points in unison to make a good lie. Suppose the stain of dye on the face could last for some time; imagine that never a drop of water could make any mark on our skins, nor our clothes stick to the ink, which often clings to us without the use of any cement: but, tell me, can we make our lips swell to a hideous thickness? Or transform our hair with curling-tongs? Or plough up our foreheads with scars? Or walk bow-legged? Or bend our ankles over to the ground? Or trim our beards in a foreign cut? Artificial colours dirty one's body without altering it. Listen, I have thought of this in desperation. Let us tie our heads in our clothes, and plunge into the deep.
§ 103 God and man forbid, cried Eumolpus, that you should make such a vile conclusion of your lives. No, better take my advice. My slave, as you learned by his razor, is a barber. Let him shave the head of each of you this minute, and your eyebrows as well. Then I will come and mark your foreheads with some neat inscription, so that you look like slaves punished by branding. These letters will divert inquisitive people's suspicions, and at the same time conceal your faces with the shadow of punishment. We tried the trick at once, and walked cautiously to the side of the ship, and yielded up our heads and eyebrows to the barber to be shorn. Eumolpus covered both our foreheads with enormous letters, and scrawled the usual mark of runaway slaves all over our faces with a generous hand. But one of the passengers, who was extremely seasick, happened to be leaning over the side of the ship to relieve his stomach, and observed the barber in the moonlight busy with his ill-timed work. The man cursed this for an omen, because it looked like the last offering of a doomed crew, and then threw himself back into his bunk. We pretended not to hear his puking curses, and went on with the gloomy business, and then lay down in silence and passed the remaining hours of the night in uneasy sleep. . .
§ 104 I thought I heard Priapus say in my dream: 'I tell you, Encolpius whom you seek has been led by me on board your ship. ' Tryphaena gave a scream and said, You would think we had slept together; I dreamed that a picture of Neptune, which I noticed in a gallery at Baiae, said to me: 'You will find Giton on board Lichas's ship. ' This shows you, said Eumolpus, that Epicurus was a superhuman creature; he condemns jokes of this kind in a very witty fashion.. . However, Lichas first prayed that Tryphaena's dream might mean no harm, and then said, There is no objection to searching the ship to show that we do not despise the workings of Providence. Then the man who had caught us at our wretched tricks the night before, whose name was Hesus, suddenly shouted, Then who are those fellows who were being shaved in the dark by moonlight? A mighty bad precedent, I swear. I am told that no man alive ought to shed a nail or a hair on board ship, unless winds and waves are raging.
§ 105 At this speech Lichas fired up in alarm, and said, What, has anyone cut his hair on board my ship, and at dead of night too? Quick, bring the villains out here. I want to know who is to be punished to give us a clear voyage. Oh, said Eumolpus, I gave those orders. I was not doing anything unlucky, considering that I had to share the voyage myself. It was because these ruffians had long, dirty hair. I did not want to turn the ship into a prison, so I ordered the filth to be cleared off the brutes. Besides, I did not want the marks of branding to be screened and covered by their hair. They ought to show at full length for every one to read. Furthermore, they squandered my money on a certain lady friend of ours; I pulled them away from her the night before, reeking with wine and scent. In fact, they still stink of the shreds of my inheritance.
So it was decided that forty stripes should be inflicted on each of us to appease the guardian angel of the ship. Not a moment was lost; the angry sailors advanced upon us with ropes-ends, and tried to soften their guardian angel's heart with our miserable blood. For my part I bore three full blows with Spartan pride. But Giton cried out so lustily the moment he was touched, that his familiar voice filled Tryphaena's ears. Not only was the lady in a flutter, but all her maids were drawn by the well-known tones, and came running to the victim. Giton's loveliness had already disarmed the sailors; even without speaking he appealed to his tormentors. Then all the maids screamed out together: It is Giton, it is; stop beating him, you monsters. Help, ma'am, Giton is here. Tryphaena had already convinced herself, and inclined her ear to them, and flew on wings to the boy. Lichas, who knew me intimately, ran up as though he had heard my voice too, and did not glance at my hands or face, but instantly lowering his eyes to my middle, politely laid his hands on those parts, and greeted me by my name. No one need be surprised that Ulysses's nurse discovered the scar which revealed his identity after twenty years, when a clever man hit upon the one test of a runaway so brilliantly, though every feature of his face and body was disguised. Tryphaena, thinking that the marks on our foreheads were real prisoners' brands, cried bitterly over our supposed punishment, and began to inquire more gently what prison had stayed us in our wanderings, and what hand had been so ruthless as to inflict such marks upon us. But, of course, she said, runaway slaves who come to hate their own happiness, do deserve some chastisement.
§ 106 Lichas leaped forward in a transport of rage and cried, You silly woman, as if these letters were made by the scars of the branding-iron. I only wish they had defiled their foreheads with this inscription: we should have some consolation left. As it is, we are being assailed by an actor's tricks, and befooled by a sham inscription.
Tryphaena besought him to have pity, because she had not lost all her desire for Giton, but the seduction of his wife and the insults offered to him in the Porch of Hercules were still in Lichas's mind, and he cried out with a look of still more profound agitation, Tryphaena, I believe you admit that the Gods in Heaven take some trouble about men's affairs. They brought these sinners on board my boat without their knowledge, and told us what they had done by a coincidence in dreams. Then do consider; how can we possibly pardon people whom a God himself has handed over to us for punishment? I am not a bloodthirsty man, but personally I am afraid that if I let them off anything it will fall on me. Tryphaena veered round at this appeal to superstition, declined to interfere with the punishment, and declared that she approved of this most proper vengeance. She had been just as gravely wronged as Lichas, considering that her reputation for chastity had been publicly impugned. . .
§ 107 I believe I am a man of some reputation, and they have chosen me for this duty, and begged me to make it up between them and their old friends. I suppose you do not imagine that these young men have fallen into the snare by chance, when the first care of every one who goes a voyage is to find a trustworthy person to depend on. So unbend the sternness which has been softened by revenge, and let the men go free without hindrance to their destination. Even a harsh and unforgiving master reins in his cruelty if his runaways are at last led back by penitence, and we all spare an enemy who surrenders. What do you want or wish for more? These free and respectable young men lie prostrate before your eyes, and what is more important, they were once bound to you by close friendship I take my oath that if they had embezzled your money, or hurt you by betraying your confidence, you might still be satisfied with the punishment you have seen inflicted. Look, you see slavery on their foreheads, and their free faces branded under a selfimposed sentence of punishment. Lichas interrupted this plea for mercy, saying, Do not go confusing the issue, but let each single point have its place. And first of all, if they came of their own accord, why have they stripped all the hair off their heads? A man who disguises himself wants to play a trick, not to make amends. Again, if they were contriving some act of grace through a mediator, why did you do everything in your power to hide your protégés away? All this makes it clear that the ruffians fell into the net by accident, and that you hunted for some device to avoid the force of our displeasure. When you try to prejudice us by calling them free and respectable, mind you do not spoil your case by impudence. What should an injured party do, when the guilty run into punishment? Oh! you say, they were once our friends! Then they deserve the harsher treatment. A person who injures a stranger is called a robber, but a man who hurts his friends is practically a parricide. Eumolpus put an end to this unfair harangue by saying, I know that nothing is more against the poor young men than their cutting their hair at night. This looks like a proof that they came by chance upon the ship and did not come on purpose. Now I want the plain truth to come to your ears just as simply as it happened. They wanted to relieve their heads of the troublesome and useless weight before they came aboard, but the wind got up and postponed their scheme of treatment. They never thought that it made any difference where they began what they had decided to do; they were quite ignorant of sailors' omens and sea-law. But why should they shave themselves to excite pity? said Lichas, Unless of course bald people are naturally more pitiable. But what is the use of trying to discover the truth through a third person? Now speak up, you ruffian! Who was the salamander that singed off your eyebrows? What God had the promise of your hair? Answer me, gallows-bird!
§ 108 I was dumb with terror of being punished, and too upset to find a word to say, for the case was only too clear. . . .We were in no position to speak, or do anything, for to say nothing of the disgrace of our shaven heads, our eyebrows were as bald as our pates. But when a wet sponge was wiped down my doleful countenance, and the ink ran over all my face and of course blotted out every feature in a cloud of smut, anger passed into loathing. Eumolpus cried out that he would not allow anyone to disfigure free young men without right or reason, and cut short the angry sailors' threats not only by argument but by force. His slave stood by him in his protest, and one or two of the most feeble passengers, who rather consoled him for having to fight than increased his strength. For my part I shirked nothing. I shook my fist in Tryphaena's face, and declared in a loud open voice that I would use violence to her if she did not leave off hurting Giton, for she was a wicked woman and the only person on the ship who deserved flogging. Lichas's wrath blazed hotter at my daring, and he taunted me with throwing up my own case and only shouting for somebody else. Tryphaena was equally hot and angry and abusive, and divided the whole ship's company into factions. On our side, the slave barber handed out his blades to us, and kept one for himself, on the other side Tryphaena's slaves were ready with bare fists, and even the cries of women were not unheard on the field. The helmsman alone swore that he would give up minding the ship if this madness, which had been stirred up to suit a pack of scoundrels, did not stop. None the less, the fury of the combatants persisted, the enemy fighting for revenge and we for dear life. Many fell on both sides without fatal results, still more got bloody wounds and retired in the style of a real battle, and still we all raged implacably. Then the gallant Giton turned a razor on himself and threatened to put an end to our troubles by self-mutilation, and Tryphaena averted the horrible disaster by a fair promise of freedom. I lifted a barber's knife to my throat several times, no more meaning to kill myself than Giton meant to do what he threatened. Still he filled the tragic part more recklessly, because he knew that he was holding the very razor with which he had already made a cut on his throat. Both sides were drawn up in battle array, and it was plain that the fight would be no ordinary affair, when the helmsman with difficulty induced Tryphaena to conclude a treaty like a true diplomat. So the usual formal undertakings were exchanged, and she waved an olive branch which she took from the ship's figure-head, and ventured to come up and talk to us: What madness, she cried, is turning peace into war? What have our hands done to deserve it? No Trojan hero carries the bride of the cuckold son of Atreus in this fleet, nor does frenzied Medea fight her foe by slaying her brother. But love despised is powerful. Ah! who courts destruction among these waves by drawing the sword? Who does not find a single death enough? Do not strive to outdo the sea and heap fresh waves upon its savage floods.
§ 109 The woman poured out these words in a loud excited voice, the fighting died away for a little while, our hands were recalled to the way of peace, and dropped the war. Our leader Eumolpus seized the occasion of their relenting, and after making a warm attack on Lichas, signed the treaty, which ran as follows: Agreed on your part, Tryphaena, that you will not complain of any wrong done to you by Giton, and if any has been done to you before this date will not bring it up against him or punish him or take steps to follow it up in any other way whatsoever; that you will give the boy no orders which he dislikes, for a hug, a kiss, or a lover's close embrace, without paying a hundred pieces for it cash down. Furthermore, it is agreed on your part, Lichas, that you will not pursue Encolpius with insulting words or grimaces, nor inquire where he sleeps at night, or if you do inquire will pay two hundred pieces cash down for every injurious act done to him. Peace was made on these terms, and we laid down our arms, and for fear any vestige of anger should be left in our minds, even after taking the oath, we decided to wipe out the past with a kiss. There was applause all round, our hatred died down, and a feast which had been brought for the fight cemented our agreement with joviality. Then the whole ship rang with songs; and a sudden calm having stayed us in our course, one man pursued the leaping fish with a spear, another pulled in his struggling prey on alluring hooks. Besides all this, some sea-birds settled on one of the yards, and a clever sportsman took them in with jointed rod of rushes; they were snared by these limed twigs and brought down into our hands. The breeze caught their feathers as they flew, and the light foam lashed their wings as they skimmed the sea.
Lichas was just beginning to be friendly with me again, Tryphaena was just pouring the dregs of a drink over Giton, when Eumolpus, who was unsteady with drink himself, tried to aim some satire at bald persons and branded criminals, and after exhausting his chilly wit, went back to his poetry and began to declaim a little dirge on Hair:
The hair that is the whole glory of the body is fallen, dull winter has carried away the bright locks of spring. Now the temples are bare of their shade and are downcast, and the wide naked space on my old head shines where the hair is worn away. Ye Gods that love to cheat us; ye rob us first of the first joys ye gave to our youth.
Poor wretch, a moment ago thy hair shone bright and more beautiful than Phœbus and the sister of Phoebus. Now thou art smoother than bronze or the round garden mushroom that is born in rain, and turnest in dread from a girl's mockery. To teach thee how quickly death shall come, know that a part of thine head hath died already.
§ 110 He wanted to produce some more lines even more silly than the last, I believe, when Tryphaena's maid took Giton below decks, and ornamented the boy's head with some of her mistress's artificial curls. Further, she also took some eyebrows out of a box, and by cunningly following the lines where he was defaced she restored his proper beauty complete. Tryphaena recognized the true Giton, there was a storm of tears, and she then for the first time gave the boy a kiss with real affection. Of course, I was glad to see him clothed again in his former loveliness, but still I kept hiding my own face continually, for I realized that I was marked with no common ugliness, since not even Lichas considered me fit to speak to. But the same maid came and rescued me from gloom, called me aside, and decked me with equally becoming curls. Indeed, my face shone with a greater glory. My curls were golden . . .
Then Eumolpus, our spokesman in peril and the begetter of our present peace, to save our jollity from falling dumb for want of good stories, began to hurl many taunts at the fickleness of women; how easily they fell in love, how quickly they forgot even their own sons, how no woman was so chaste that she could not be led away into utter madness by a passion for a stranger. He was not thinking of old tragedies or names notorious in history, but of an affair which happened in his lifetime. He would tell it us if we liked to listen. So all eyes and ears were turned upon him, and he began as follows:
§ 111 There was a married woman in Ephesus of such famous virtue that she drew women even from the neighbouring states to gaze upon her. So when she had buried her husband, the common fashion of following the procession with loose hair, and beating the naked breast in front of the crowd, did not satisfy her. She followed the dead man even to his resting-place, and began to watch and weep night and day over the body, which was laid in an underground vault in the Greek fashion. Neither her parents nor her relations could divert her from thus torturing herself, and courting death by starvation; the officials were at last rebuffed and left her; every one mourned for her as a woman of unique character, and she was now passing her fifth day without food. A devoted maid sat by the failing woman, shed tears in sympathy with her woes, and at the same time filled up the lamp, which was placed in the tomb, whenever it sank. There was but one opinion throughout the city, every class of person admitting this was the one true and brilliant example of chastity and love. At this moment the governor of the province gave orders that some robbers should be crucified near the small building where the lady was bewailing her recent loss. So on the next night, when the soldier who was watching the crosses, to prevent anyone taking down a body for burial, observed a light shining plainly among the tombs, and heard a mourner's groans, a very human weakness made him curious to know who it was and what he was doing. So he went down into the vault, and on seeing a very beautiful woman, at first halted in confusion, as if he had seen a portent or some ghost from the world beneath. But afterwards noticing the dead man lying there, and watching the woman's tears and the marks of her nails on her face, he came to the correct conclusion, that she found her regret for the lost one unendurable. He therefore brought his supper into the tomb, and began to urge the mourner not to persist in useless grief, and break her heart with unprofitable sobs: for all men made the same end and found the same resting-place, and so on with the other platitudes which restore wounded spirits to health. But she took no notice of his sympathy, struck and tore her breast more violently than ever, pulled out her hair, and laid it on the dead body. Still the soldier did not retire, but tried to give the poor woman food with similar encouragements, until the maid, who was no doubt seduced by the smell of his wine, first gave in herself, and put out her hand at his kindly invitation, and then, refreshed with food and drink, began to assail her mistress's obstinacy, and say, 'What will you gain by all this, if you faint away with hunger, if you bury yourself alive, if you breathe out your undoomed soul before Fate calls for it?' 'Believest thou that the ashes or the spirit of the buried dead can feel thy woe? Will you not begin life afresh? Will you not shake off this womanish failing, and enjoy the blessings of the light so long as you are allowed? Your poor dead husband's body here ought to persuade you to keep alive.' People are always ready to listen when they are urged to take a meal or to keep alive. So the lady, being thirsty after several days' abstinence, allowed her resolution to be broken down, and filled herself with food as greedily as the maid, who had been the first to yield.
§ 112 Well, you know which temptation generally assails a man on a full stomach. The soldier used the same insinuating phrases which had persuaded the lady to consent to live, to conduct an assault upon her virtue. Her modest eye saw in him a young man, handsome and eloquent. The maid begged her to be gracious, and then said, 'Wilt thou fight love even when love pleases thee? Or dost thou never remember in whose lands thou art resting?' I need hide the fact no longer. The lady ceased to hold out, and the conquering hero won her over entire. So they passed not only their wedding night together, but the next and a third, of course shutting the door of the vault, so that any friend or stranger who came to the tomb would imagine that this most virtuous lady had breathed her last over her husband's body. Well, the soldier was delighted with the woman's beauty, and his stolen pleasure; he bought up all the fine things his means permitted, and carried them to the tomb the moment darkness fell. So the parents of one of the crucified, seeing that the watch was illkept, took their man down in the dark and administered the last rite to him. The soldier was eluded while he was off duty, and next day, seeing one of the crosses without its corpse, he was in terror of punishment, and explained to the lady what had happened. He declared that he would not wait for a court-martial, but would punish his own neglect with a thrust of his sword. So she had better get ready a place for a dying man, and let the gloomy vault enclose both her husband and her lover. The lady's heart was tender as well as pure. 'Heaven forbid,' she replied, 'that I should look at the same moment on the dead bodies of two men whom I love. No, I would rather make a dead man useful, than send a live man to death.' After this speech she ordered her husband's body to be taken out of the coffin and fixed up on the empty cross. The soldier availed himself of this far-seeing woman's device, and the people wondered the next day by what means the dead man had ascended the cross.
§ 113 The sailors received this tale with a roar; Tryphaena blushed deeply, and laid her face caressingly on Giton's neck. But there was no laugh from Lichas; he shook his head angrily and said: If the governor of the province had been a just man, he should have put the dead husband back in the tomb, and hung the woman on the cross.
No doubt he was thinking once more of Hedyle and how his ship had been pillaged on her passionate elopement. But the terms of our treaty forbade us to bear grudges, and the joy which had filled our souls left no room for wrath. Tryphaena was now lying in Giton's lap, covering him with kisses one moment, and sometimes patting his shaven head. I was gloomy and uneasy about our new terms, and did not touch food or drink, but kept shooting angry looks askance at them both. Every kiss was a wound to me, every pleasing wile that the wanton woman conjured up. I was not yet sure whether I was more angry with the boy for taking away my mistress, or with my mistress for leading the boy astray: both of them were hateful to my sight and more depressing than the bondage I had escaped. And besides all this, Tryphaena did not address me like a friend whom she was once pleased to have for a lover, and Giton did not think fit to drink my health in the ordinary way, and would not even so much as include me in general conversation. I suppose he was afraid of reopening a tender scar just as friendly feeling began to draw it together. My unhappiness moved me till tears overflowed my heart, and the groan I hid with a sigh almost stole my life away. . .
He tried to gain admission to share their joys, not wearing the proud look of a master, but begging him to yield as a friend. . .
If you have one drop of good blood in your veins, you will treat her as no better than a strumpet; as you are a man, don't go with that female catamite.
Nothing troubled me more than the fear that Eumolpus might have got some idea of what was going on, and might employ his powers of speech in attacking me in verse. . .
Eumolpus swore an oath in most formal language. . .
§ 114 While we talked over this matter and others, the sea rose, clouds gathered from every quarter, and overwhelmed the day in darkness. The sailors ran to their posts in terror, and furled the sails before the storm. But the wind did not drive the waves in any one direction, and the helmsman was at a loss which way to steer. One moment the wind set towards Sicily, very often the north wind blew off the Italian coast, mastered the ship and twisted her in every direction; and what was more dangerous than any squall, such thick darkness had suddenly blotted out the light that the steersman could not even see the whole prow. Then for a wonder, as the hostile fury of the storm gathered, Lichas trembled and stretched out his hands to me imploringly, and said, Help us in our peril, Encolpius; let the ship have the goddess's robe again and her holy rattle. Be merciful, I implore you, as your way is.
But even as he shouted the wind blew him into the water, a squall whirled him round and round repeatedly in a fierce whirlpool, and sucked him down. Tryphaena's faithful slaves carried her off almost by force, put her in a boat with most of her luggage, and so rescued her from certain death. . .
I embraced Giton, and wept and cried aloud: Did we deserve this from the gods, that they should unite us only when they slay? But cruel Fate does not grant us even this. Look! even now the waves will upset the boat; even now the angry sea will sunder a lover's embrace. So if you ever really loved Encolpius, kiss him while you may, and snatch this last joy as Fate swoops down upon you. As I spoke Giton took off his clothes, and I covered him with my shirt as he put up his head to be kissed. And that no envious wave should pull us apart as we clung to each other, he put his belt round us both and tied it tight, saying, Whatever happens to us, at least we shall be locked together a long while as the sea carries us, and if the sea has pity and will cast us up on the same shore, some one may come by and put stones over us out of ordinary human kindness, or the last work of the waves even in their wrath will be to cover us with the unconscious sand. I let him bind me for the last time, and then waited, like a man dressed for his death-bed, for an end that had lost its bitterness. Meanwhile by Fate's decree the storm rose to its height, and took by violence all that was left of the ship. No mast, no helm, no rope or oar remained on her. She drifted on the waves like a rough and unshapen lump of wood. . . .
Some fishermen in handy little boats put out to seize their prey. When they saw some men alive and ready to fight for their belongings, they altered their savage plans and came to the rescue. . .
§ 115 We heard a strange noise, and a groaning like a wild beast, coming from under the master's cabin. So we followed the noise, and found Eumolpus sitting there inscribing verses on a great parchment. We were surprised at his having time to write poetry with death close at hand, and we pulled him out, though he protested, and implored him to be sensible. But he was furious at our interruption, and cried: Let me complete my design; the poem halts at the close. I laid hands on the maniac, and told Giton to help me to drag the bellowing bard ashore. . .
When this business was at last completed, we came sadly to a fisherman's cottage, refreshed our selves more or less with food spoilt by sea-water, and passed a very miserable night. Next morning, as we were trying to decide into what part of the country we should venture, I suddenly saw a man's body caught in a gentle eddy and carried ashore. I stopped gloomily, and, with moist eyes, began to reflect upon the treachery of the sea. Maybe, I cried, there is a wife waiting cheerfully at home for this man in a far-off land, or a son or a father, maybe, who know nothing of this storm; he is sure to have left some one behind whom he kissed before he went. So much for mortal men's plans, and the prayers of high ambition. Look how the man floats. I was still crying over him as a perfect stranger, when a wave turned his face towards the shore without a mark upon it, and I recognized Lichas, but a while ago so fierce and so relentless, now thrown almost under my feet. Then I could restrain my tears no longer; I beat my breast again and again, and cried, Where is your temper and your hot head now? Behold! you are a prey for fish and savage beasts. An hour ago you boasted the strength of your command, and you have not one plank of your great ship to save you. Now let mortal men fill their hearts with proud imaginations if they will. Let misers lay out the gains they win by fraud for a thousand years. Lo! this man but yesterday looked into the accounts of his family property, and even settled in his own mind the very day when he would come home again. Lord, Lord, how far he lies from his consummation! But it is not the waves of the sea alone that thus keep faith with mortal men. The warrior's weapons fail him; another pays his vows to Heaven, and his own house falls and buries him in the act. Another slips from his coach and dashes out his eager soul: the glutton chokes at dinner, the sparing man dies of wait. Make a fair reckoning, and you find shipwreck everywhere. You tell me that for those the waters whelm there is no burial. As if it mattered how our perishable flesh comes to its end, by fire or water or the lapse of time! Whatever you may do, all these things achieve the same goal. But beasts will tear the body, you say, as though fire would give it a more kindly welcome! When we are angry with our slaves, we consider burning their heaviest punishment. Then what madness to take such trouble to prevent the grave from leaving aught of us behind!. . .
So Lichas was burned on a pyre built by his enemy's hands. Eumolpus proceeded to compose an epitaph on the dead man, and looked about in search of some far-fetched ideas. . .
§ 116 We gladly performed this last office, and then took up our proposed way, and in a short while came sweating to a mountain top, from which we saw, not far off, a town set on a high peak. We had lost ourselves, and did not know what it was, until we learned from a farm-bailiff that it was Croton, a town of great age, and once the first city in Italy. When we went on to inquire particularly what men lived on such honoured soil, and what kind of business pleased them best, now that their wealth had been brought low by so many wars, the man replied, My friends, if you are business men, change your plans and look for some other safe way of life. But if you profess to be men of a superior stamp and thorough-paced liars, you are on the direct road to wealth. In this city the pursuit of learning is not esteemed, eloquence has no place, economy and a pure life do not win their reward in honour: know that the whole of the men you see in this city are divided into two classes. They are either the prey of legacy-hunting or legacy-hunters themselves. In this city no one brings up children, because anyone who has heirs of his own stock is never invited to dinner or the theatre; he is deprived of all advantages, and lies in obscurity among the base-born. But those who have never married, and have no near relations, reach the highest positions; they alone, that is, are considered soldierly, gallant, or even good. Yes, he went on, you will go into a town that is like a plague-stricken plain, where there is nothing but carcasses to be devoured, and crows to devour them. . .
§ 117 Eumolpus was more cautious, and directed his attention to the novelty of the case, declaring that this kind of prophecy did not make him uneasy. I thought the old man was joking with the light heart of a poet, but then he said, I only wish I had a more ample background, I mean a more gentlemanly dress, and finer ornaments, to lend colour to my strange tale; I declare I would not put off the business, I would bring you into great wealth in a moment. Anyhow, I promise to do whatever my fellow-robber demands, so long as my clothes are satisfactory, and whatever we may find in Lycurgus's house when we break in. I am sure that our mother goddess for her honour's sake will pay up some coin to us for present needs.. . .Well then, said Eumolpus, Why shouldn't we make up a farce? Now appoint me your master, if you like the business. No one dared to grumble at this harmless device. So to keep the lie safe among us all, we took an oath to obey Eumolpus; to endure burning, bondage, flogging, death by the sword, or anything else that Eumolpus ordered. We pledged our bodies and souls to our master most solemnly, like regular gladiators. When the oath was over, we posed like slaves and saluted our master, and learned all together that Eumolpus had lost a son, a young man of great eloquence and promise, and that the poor old man had left his own country for this reason, to escape seeing his son's dependents and friends, or the tomb which was the source of his daily tears. His grief had been increased by a recent shipwreck, in which he lost over two million sesterces: it was not the loss that troubled him, but with no servant to wait upon him he could not recognize his own importance. Besides, he had thirty millions invested in Africa in estates and bonds; such a horde of his slaves was scattered over the fields of Numidia that he could positively have sacked Carthage. Under this scheme we ordered Eumolpus to cough frequently, sometimes to be bilious, and to find fault openly with all his food; he must talk of gold and silver and his disappointing farms and the obstinate barrenness of the soil; further, he must sit over his accounts daily, and revise the sheets of his will every month. To make the setting quite complete, he was to use the wrong names whenever he tried to call one of us, so that it would clearly look as though our master had also in his mind some servants who were not present. This was all arranged; we offered a prayer to Heaven for a prosperous and happy issue, and started on our journey. But Giton was not used to a burden and could not bear it, and the slave Corax, a shirker of work, kept putting down his bundle and cursing our hurry, and declaring that he would either throw the baggage away or run off with his load. You seem to think I am a beast of burden or a ship for carrying stones, he cried. You paid for the services of a man, not a horse. I am just as free as you are, although my father did leave me a poor man. Not satisfied with curses, he kept lifting his leg up and filling the whole road with a disgusting noise and smell. Giton laughed at his impudence and matched every noise he made. . . .
§ 118 Yes, my young friends, said Eumolpus, poetry has led many astray. As soon as a man has shaped his verse in feet and woven into it a more delicate meaning with an ingenious circumlocution, he thinks that forthwith he has scaled Helicon. In this fashion people who are tired out with forensic oratory often take refuge in the calm of poetry as in some happier haven, supposing that a poem is easier to construct than a declamation adorned with quivering epigrams. But nobler souls do not love such coxcombry, and the mind cannot conceive or bring forth its fruit unless it is steeped in the vast flood of literature. One must flee away from all diction that is, so to speak, cheap, and choose words divorced from popular use, putting into practice, I hate the common herd and hold it afar. Besides, one must take care that the epigrams do not stand out from the body of the speech: they must shine with a brilliancy that is woven into the material. Homer proves this, and the lyric poets, and Roman Virgil, and the studied felicity of Horace. The others either did not see the path that leads to poetry, or saw it and were afraid to walk in it For instance, anyone who attempts the vast theme of the Civil War will sink under the burden unless he is full of literature. It is not a question of recording -real events in verse; historians can do that far better. The free spirit of genius must plunge headlong into allusions and divine interpositions, and rack itself for epigrams coloured by mythology, so that what results seems rather the prophecies of an inspired seer than the exactitude of a statement made on oath before witnesses: the following effusion will show what I mean, if it take your fancy, though it has not yet received my final touches. . . .
§ 119 The conquering Roman now held the whole world, sea and land and the course of sun and moon. But he was not satisfied. Now the waters were stirred and troubled by his loaded ships; if there were any hidden bay beyond, or any land that promised a yield of yellow gold, that place was Rome's enemy, fate stood ready for the sorrows of war, and the quest for wealth went on. There was no happiness in familiar joys, or in pleasures dulled by the common man's use. The soldier out at sea would praise the bronze of Corinth; bright colours dug from earth rivalled the purple; here the African curses Rome, here the Chinaman plunders his marvellous silks, and the Arabian hordes have stripped their own fields bare.
Yet again more destruction, and peace hurt and bleeding. The wild beast is searched out in the woods at a great price, and men trouble Hammon deep in Africa to supply the beast whose teeth make him precious for slaying men; strange ravening creatures freight the fleets, and the padding tiger is wheeled in a gilded palace to drink the blood of men while the crowd applauds.
I shrink from speaking plain and betraying our destiny of ruin; boys whose childhood is hardly begun are kidnapped in the Persian way, and the powers the knife has shorn are forced to the service of lust, and in order that the passing of man's finest age may be hedged round with delay and hold back the hurrying years, Nature seeks for herself, and finds herself not. So all take their pleasure in harlotry, and the halting steps of a feeble body, and in flowing hair and numberless clothes of new names, everything that ensnares mankind.
Tables of citron-wood are dug out of the soil of Africa and set up, the spots on them resembling gold which is cheaper than they, their polish reflecting hordes of slaves and purple clothes, to lure the senses. Round this barren and low-born wood there gathers a crowd drowned in drink, and the soldier of fortune gorges the whole spoils of the world while his weapons rust.
Gluttony is a fine art. The wrasse is brought alive to table in sea-water from Sicily, and the oysters torn from the banks of the Lucrine lake make a dinner famous, in order to renew men's hunger by their extravagance. All the birds are now gone from the waters of Phasis; the shore is quiet; only the empty air breathes on the lonely boughs.
The same madness is in public life, the true-born Roman is bought, and changes his vote for plunder and the cry of gain. The people are corrupt, the house of senators is corrupt, their support hangs on a price. The freedom and virtue of the old men had decayed, their power was swayed by largesse, even their dignity was stained by money and trodden in the dust.
Cato is beaten and driven out by the mob; his conqueror is more unhappy than he, and is ashamed to have torn the rods of office from Cato. For the shame of the nation and the fall of their character lay in this, that here was not only one man's defeat. In his person the power and glory of Rome was humbled. So Rome in her deep disgrace was herself both price and prize, and despoiled herself without an avenger. Moreover filthy usury and the handling of money had caught the common people in a double whirlpool, and destroyed them. Not a house is safe, not a man but is mortgaged; the madness spreads through their limbs, and trouble bays and hounds them down like some disease sown in the dumb flesh. In despair they turn to violence, and bloodshed restores the good things lost by luxury. A beggar can risk everything in safety. Could the spell of healthful reason stir Rome from the filth where she rolled in heavy sleep, or only madness and war and the lust wakened by the sword?
§ 120 Fortune brought forth three generals, and the goddess of War and Death buried them all, each beneath a pile of arms. The Parthian has Crassus in keeping, Pompey the Great lies by the Libyan water, Julius stained ungrateful Rome with his blood; and as though the earth could not endure the burden of so many graves, she has separated their ashes. These are the wages paid by fame.
Between Parthenope and the fields of the great town of Dicearchia there lies a spot plunged deep in a cloven chasm, wet with the water of Cocytus: for the air that rushes furiously outward is laden with that baleful spray. The ground here is never green in autumn, the field does not prosper or nurture herbage on its turf, the soft thickets never ring nor are loud in springtime with the songs of rival birds, but chaos is there, and gloomy rocks of black pumice-stone lie happy in the gloom of the cypresses that mound them about. From this place the father of Dis lifted his head, lit with funeral flames and flecked with white ashes, and provoked winged Fortune with these words:
'Disposer of life in earth and heaven, Chance, always angry against power too firmly seated, everlasting lover of change and quick forsaker of thy conquests, dost not thou feel thy spirit crushed under the weight of Rome, and that thou canst not further raise up the mass that is doomed to fall? The youth of Rome contemns its own strength, and groans under the wealth its own hands have heaped up. See, everywhere they squander their spoils, and the mad use of wealth brings their destruction. They have buildings of gold and thrones raised to the stars, they drive out the waters with their piers, the sea springs forth amid the fields: rebellious man turns creation's order upside down. Aye, they grasp even at my kingdom. The earth is hewn through for their madmen's foundations and gapes wide, now the mountains are hollowed out until the caves groan, and while men turn precious stones to their empty purposes, the ghosts of hell declare their hopes of winning heaven. Arise, then, Chance, change thy looks of peace to war, harry the Roman, and let my kingdom have the dead. It is long now since my lips were wet with blood, and never has my loved Tisiphone bathed her thirsty limbs since the sword of Sulla drank deep, and the earth stood thick with corn fattened on blood and thrust up to the sun.'
§ 121 He spoke and ended, and strained to take her hand in his, till he broke and clove the earth asunder. Then Fortune poured forth words from her fickle heart: 'Father, whom the inmost places of Cocytus obey, thy prayer shall prosper, if at least I may foretell the truth without fear; for the anger that rises in my heart is stern as thine, and the flame that burns deep in my bones as fierce. I hate all the gifts I have made to towering Rome, and am angry at my own blessings. The god that raised up those high palaces shall destroy them too. It will be my delight also to burn the men and feed my lust with blood. Lo, already I see Philippi's field strewn with the dead of two battles, and the blazing pyres of Thessaly and the burial of the people of Iberia. Already the crash of arms rings in my trembling ears. And in Libya I see the barriers of the Nile groan, and the people in terror at the gulf of Actium and the army loved by Apollo. Open, then, the thirsty realms of thy dominion, and summon fresh souls. The old sailor, the Ferryman, will scarcely have strength to carry over the ghosts of the men in his boat; a whole fleet is needed. And thou, pale Tisiphone, take thy fill of wide destruction, and tear the bleeding wounds; the whole world is rent in pieces and drawn down to the Stygian shades.'
§ 122 She had scarcely ceased to speak when a cloud shook and was riven by a gleam of lightning, and flashed forth a moment's burst of flame. The father of darkness sank down, closed the chasm in earth's bosom, and grew white with terror at the stroke of his brother. Straightway the slaughter of men and the destruction to come were made plain by omens from on high. For Titan was disfigured and dabbled in blood, and veiled his face in darkness: thou hadst thought that even then he gazed on civil strife. In another quarter Cynthia darkened her full face, and denied her light to the crime. The mountain-tops slid down and the peaks broke in thunder, the wandering streams were dying, and no more ranged abroad between their familiar banks. The sky is loud with the clash of arms, the trumpet shakes to the stars and rouses the War God, and at once Aetna is the prey of unaccustomed fires, and casts her lightnings high into the air. The faces of the dead are seen visible among the tombs and the unburied bones, gibbering in dreadful menace. A blazing light girt with unknown stars leads the way for the flames of cities, and the sky rains down fresh showers of blood. In a little while God made these portents plain. For now Caesar shook off all his lingering, and, spurred by the passion of revenge, threw down his arms against Gaul and took them up against Rome.
In the high Alps, where the rocks trodden by a Greek god slope downward and allow men to approach them, there is a place sacred to the altars of Hercules: the winter seals it with frozen snow, and heaves it up on its white top to the sky. It seems as though the sky had fallen away from there: the beams of the full sun do not soften the place, nor the breezes of the springtime, but the soil stands stiff with ice and winter's frost: its frowning shoulders could support the whole globe. When Caesar with his exultant army trod these heights and chose a place, he looked far over the fields of Hesperia from the high mountaintop, and lifted his voice and both hands to the stars and said: 'Jupiter, Lord of all, and thou land of Saturn, once proud of my victories and loaded with my triumphs, I call you to witness that I do not willingly summon the War God to these hosts, and that my hand is not raised willingly to strike. But I am driven on by wounds, by banishment from my own city, while I dye the Rhine with blood and cut off the Gauls from the Alps on their second march to our Capitol. Victory makes my exile doubly sure. My rout of the Germans and my sixty triumphs were the beginning of my offences. Yet who is it that fears my fame, who are the men that watch me fight? Base hirelings bought at a price, to whom my native Rome is a stepmother. But I think that no coward shall bind my strong arm unhurt without a blow in return. Come, men, to victory while anger is hot, come, my comrades, and plead our cause with the sword. For we are all summoned under one charge, and the same doom hangs over us all. My thanks are your due, my victory is not mine alone. Wherefore, since punishment threatens our trophies, and disgrace is the meed of conquest, let Chance decide how our lot shall fall. Raise the standard and prove your strength. My pleading at least is accomplished; armed amid so many warriors I cannot know defeat.' As he spoke these words aloud, the Delphic bird in the sky gave a happy omen, and beat the air as it flew. And from the left quarter of a gloomy grove strange voices sounded and fire flashed thereafter. Even Phoebus glowed with orb brighter than his wont, and set a burning halo of gold about his face.
§ 123 Heartened by these omens, Caesar advanced the standards of war, and marched first to open this strange tale of daring. At first indeed the ice and the ground fettered with white frost did not fight against them, and lay quiet in the kindly cold. But then the regiments broke the close-bound clouds, the trembling horses shattered the frozen bonds of the waters, and the snows melted. Soon new-born rivers rolled from the mountain heights, but they, too, stood still as if by some command, and the waves stopped short with ruining floods enchained, and the water that ran a moment before now halted, hard enough to cut. But then, treacherous before, it mocked their steps and failed their footing; horses and men and arms together fell heaped in misery and ruin. Lo! too, the clouds were shaken by a strong wind, and let fall their burden, and round the army were gusts of whirlwind and a sky broken by swollen hail. Now the clouds themselves burst and fell on the armed men, and a mass of ice showered upon them like a wave of the sea. Earth was overwhelmed in the deep snow, and the stars of heaven, and the rivers that clung to their banks. But Caesar was not yet overwhelmed; he leaned on his tall spear and crushed the rough ground with fearless tread, like the son of Amphitryon hastening down from a high peak of Caucasus, or the fierce countenance of Jupiter, when he descended from the heights of great Olympus and scattered the arms of the doomed Giants.
While Caesar treads down the swelling peaks in his wrath, Rumour flies swift in terror with beating wings, and seeks out the lofty top of the tall Palatine. Then she strikes all the images of the gods with her message of Roman thunder: how ships are now sweeping the sea, and the horsemen red with German blood pouring hotly over the range of the Alps. Battle, blood, slaughter, fire, and the whole picture of war flits before their eyes. Their hearts shake in confusion, and are fearfully divided between two counsels. One man chooses flight by land, another trusts rather to the water, and the open sea now safer than his own country. Some prefer to attempt a fight and turn Fate's decree to account. As deep as a man's fear is, so far he flies. In the turmoil the people themselves, a woeful sight, are led swiftly out of the deserted city, whither their stricken heart drives them. Rome is glad to flee, her true sons are cowed by war, and at a rumour's breath leave their houses to mourn. One holds his children with a shaking hand, one hides his household gods in his bosom, and weeping, leaves his door and calls down death on the unseen enemy. Some clasp their wives to them in tears, youths carry their aged sires, and, unused to burdens, take with them only what they dread to lose. The fool drags all his goods after him, and marches laden with booty to the battle: and all now is as when on high the rush of a strong south wind tumbles and drives the waters, and neither rigging nor helm avail the crews, and one girds together the heavy planks of pine, another heads for quiet inlets and a waveless shore: a third sets sail and flees, and trusts all to Chance. But why sorrow for these petty ills? Pompey the Great, who made Pontus tremble and explored fierce Hydaspes, the rock that broke the pirates, who of late, in his third triumph, shook the heart of Jupiter, to whom the troubled waters of Pontus and the conquered Sea of Bosporus bowed, flees shamefully with the two consuls and lets his imperial title drop, that fickle Chance might see the back of great Pompey himself turned in flight.
§ 124 So great a calamity broke the power of the gods also, and dread in heaven swelled the rout. A host of gentle deities throughout the world abandon the frenzied earth in loathing, and turn aside from the doomed army of mankind.
Peace first of all, with her snow-white arms bruised, hides her vanquished head beneath her helmet, and leaves the world and turns in flight to the inexorable realm of Dis. At her side goes humble Faith and Justice with loosened hair, and Concord weeping with her cloak rent in pieces. But where the hall of Erebus is open and gapes wide, the dreadful company of Dis ranges forth, the grim Fury, and threatening Bellona, Megaera whirling her torches, and Destruction, and Treachery, and the pale presence of Death. And among them Madness, like a steed loosed when the reins snap, flings up her bloody head and shields her face, scarred by a thousand wounds, with a bloodstained helm; her left hand grips her worn martial shield, heavy with countless spear-points, her right waves a blazing brand and carries fire through the world.
Earth felt that the gods were there, the stars were shaken, and swung seeking their former poise; for the whole palace of the sky broke and tumbled to ruin, And first Dione champions the deeds of Caesar, and Pallas joins her side, and the child of Mars, who brandishes his tall spear. The sister of Phoebus and the son of Cyllene and the hero of Tiryns, like to him in all his deeds, receive Pompey the Great.
The trumpets shook, and Discord with dishevelled hair raised her Stygian head to the upper sky. Blood had dried on her face, tears ran from her bruised eyes, her teeth were mailed with a scurf of rust, her tongue was dripping with foulness and her face beset with snakes, her clothes were torn before her writhen breasts, and she waved a red torch in her quivering hand. When she had left behind the darkness of Cocytus and Tartarus, she strode forward to the high ridges of proud Apennine, to gaze down thence upon all the earth and all its shores, and the armies streaming over the whole globe; then these words were wrung from her angry soul: 'To arms now, ye peoples, while your spirit is hot, to arms, and set your torches to the heart of cities. He that would hide him shall be lost: let no women halt, nor children, nor the old who are now wasted with age; let the earth herself quake, and the shattered houses join the fight. Thou Marcellus, hold fast the law. Thou, Curio, make the rabble quail. Thou, Lentulus, give brave Mars no check. And thou, divine Caesar, why art thou a laggard with thine arms? Crash down the gates, strip towns of their walls and seize their treasure. So Magnus knows not how to hold the hills of Rome? Let him take the bulwarks of Epidamnus and dye the bays of Thessaly with the blood of men.' Then all the commands of Discord were fulfilled upon the earth.
Eumolpus poured out these lines with immense fluency, and at last we came into Croton. There we refreshed ourselves in a little inn, but on the next day we went to look for a house of greater pretensions, and fell in with a crowd of fortune-hunters, who inquired what kind of men we were, and where we had come from. Then, as arranged by our common council, a torrent of ready words burst from us, and they gave easy credence to our account of ourselves and our country. They at once quarrelled fiercely in their eagerness to heap their own riches on Eumolpus.
The fortune-hunters all competed to win Eumolpus's favour with presents. . . .
§ 125 This went on for a long while in Croton,. . . . Eumolpus was flushed with success, and so far forgot the former state of his fortunes as to boast to his intimates that no one there could cross his good pleasure, and that his own dependants would escape unpunished by the kindness of his friends if they committed any crime in that city. But though I had lined my belly well every day with the ever-growing supply of good things, and believed that Fortune had turned away her face from keeping a watch on me, still I often thought over my old life and my history, and kept saying to myself, Supposing some cunning legacy-hunter sends a spy over to Africa and finds out our lies? Or supposing the servant grows weary of his present luck and gives his friends a hint, or betrays us out of spite, and exposes the whole plot? Of course we shall have to run away again; we must start afresh as beggars, and call back the poverty we have now at last driven out. Ah! gods and goddesses! the outlaw has a hard life; he is always waiting to get what he deserves.. .
§ 126 Because you know your beauty you are haughty, and do not bestow your embraces, but sell them. What is the object of your nicely combed hair, your face plastered with dyes, and the soft fondness even in your glance, and your walk arranged by art so that lever a footstep strays from its place? It means of course that you offer your comeliness freely for sale. Look at me; I know nothing of omens, and I never attend to the astrologer's sky, but I read character in a man's face, and when I see him walk I know his thoughts. So if you will sell us what I want, there is a buyer ready: if you will be more gracious and bestow it upon us, let us be indebted to you for a favour. For when you admit that you are a slave of low degree, you fan the passion of a lady who burns for you. Some women kindle for vile fellows, and cannot rouse any desire unless they have a slave or a servant in short garments in their eye. Some burn for a gladiator, or a muleteer smothered in dust, or an actor disgraced by exhibiting himself on the stage. My mistress is of this class; she skips fourteen rows away from the orchestra, and hunts for a lover among the low people at the back.
With my ears full of her winning words I then said,It is not you, I suppose, who love me so? The girl laughed loudly at such a clumsy turn of speech, and said, Pray do not be so conceited. I never yielded to a slave yet, and God forbid that I should throw my arms round a gallows-bird. The married women may see to that, and kiss the scars of a flogging; I may be only a lady's maid, for all that I never sit down in any seats but the knights'. I began to marvel at their contrary passions, and to count them as portents, the maid having the pride of a married lady, and the married lady the low tastes of a wench.
Then as our jokes proceeded further, I asked the maid to bring her mistress into the grove of planetrees. The plan pleased the girl. So she gathered her skirts up higher, and turned into the laurel grove which grew close to our path. She was not long away before she led the lady out of her hidingplace, and brought her to my side. The woman was more perfect than any artist's dream. There are no words that can include all her beauty, and whatever I write must fall short of her. Her hair grew in natural waves and flowed all over her shoulders, her forehead was small, and the roots of her hair brushed back from it, her brows ran to the edge of her cheekbones and almost met again close beside her eyes, and those eyes were brighter than stars far from the moon, and her nose had a little curve, and her mouth was the kind that Praxiteles dreamed Diana had. And her chin and her neck, and her hands, and the gleam of her foot under a light band of gold! She had turned the marble of Paros dull. So then at last I put my old passion for Doris to despite. . . .
What is come to pass, Jupiter, that thou hast cast away thine armour, and now art silent in heaven and become an idle tale? Now were a time for thee to let the horns sprout on thy lowering forehead, or hide thy white hair under a swan's feathers. This is the true Danae. Dare only to touch her body, and all thy limbs shall be loosened with fiery heat. . . .
§ 127 She was happy, and smiled so sweetly that I thought the full moon had shown me her face from behind a cloud. Then she said, letting the words escape through her fingers, If you do not despise a rich woman who has known a man first this very year, dear youth, I will give you a new sister. True, you have a brother, too, for I made bold to inquire, but why should you not take to yourself a sister as well? I will come as the same kind of relation. Deign only to recognize my kiss also when it is your good pleasure.
I should rather implore you by your beauty, I replied, not to scorn to enrol a stranger among your worshippers. You will find me a true votary, if you allow me to kneel before you. And do not think that I would enter this shrine of Love without an offering; I will give you my own brother.
What, she said, you give me the one without whom you cannot live, on whose lips you hang, whom you love as I would have you love me? Even as she spoke grace made her words so attractive, the sweet noise fell so softly upon the listening air, that you seemed to have the harmony of the Sirens ringing in the breeze. So as I marvelled, and all the light of the sky somehow fell brighter upon me, I was moved to ask my goddess her name. Then my maid did not tell you that I am called Circe? she said. I am not the Sun-child indeed, and my mother has never stayed the moving world in its course while she will. But I shall have a debt to pay to Heaven if fate brings you and me together. Surely now, the Gods with their quiet thoughts have some plan in the making. Circe does not love Polyaenus without good reason; when these two names meet, a great fire is always set ablaze. Then take me in your embrace if you like. You need have no fear of any spy; your brother is far away from here.
Circe was silent, folded me in two arms softer than a bird's wing, and drew me to the ground on a carpet of coloured flowers.
Such flowers as Earth, our mother, spread on Ida's top when Jupiter embraced her and she yielded her love, and all his heart was kindled with fire: roses glowed there, and violets, and the tender flowering rush; and white lilies laughed from the green grass: such a soil summoned Venus to the soft grasses, and the day grew brighter and looked kindly on their hidden pleasure.
We lay together there among the flowers and exchanged a thousand light kisses, but we looked for sterner play. . . .
§ 128 Tell me, she cried, do you find no joy in my lips? Nor in the breath that faints with hunger? Nor in my body wet with heat? If it is none of these, are you afraid of Giton? I crimsoned with blushes under her eyes, and lost any strength I might have had before, and cried as though there were no whole part in my body, Dear lady, have mercy, do not mock my grief. Some poison has infected me..
Speak to me, Chrysis, tell me true: am I ugly or untidy? Is there some natural blemish that darkens my beauty? Do not deceive your own mistress. I know not how, but I have sinned. She then snatched a glass from the silent girl, and after trying every look that raises a smile to most lovers' lips, she shook out the cloak the earth had stained, and hurried into the temple of Venus. But I was lost and horror-stricken as if I had seen a ghost, and began to inquire of my heart whether I was cheated of my true delight.
As when dreams deceive our wandering eyes in the heavy slumber of night, and under the spade the earth yields gold to the light of day: our greedy hands finger the spoil and snatch at the treasure, sweat too runs down our face, and a deep fear grips our heart that maybe some one will shake out our laden bosom, where he knows the gold is hid: soon, when these pleasures flee from the brain they mocked, and the true shape of things comes back, our mind is eager for what is lost, and moves with all its force among the shadows of the past . .
So in his name I give you thanks for loving me as true as Socrates. Alcibiades never lay so unspotted in his master's bed. . .
§ 129 I tell you, brother, I do not realize that I am a man, I do not feel it. That part of my body where I was once an Achilles is dead and buried. . . .
The boy was afraid that he might give an opening for scandal if he were caught in a quiet place with me, and tore himself away and fled into an inner part of the house. . . .
Chrysis came into my room and gave me a letter from her mistress, who wrote as follows: Circe greets Polyaenus. If I were a passionate woman, I should feel betrayed and hurt: as it is I can be thankful even for your coldness. I have amused myself too long with the shadow of pleasure. But I should like to know how you are, and whether your feet carried you safely home; the doctors say that people who have lost their sinews cannot walk. I tell you what, young man, you must beware of paralysis. I have never seen a sick person in such grave danger; I declare you are as good as dead. If the same mortal chill attacks your knees and hands, you may send for the funeral trumpeters. And what about me? Well even if I have been deeply wounded, I do not grudge a poor man a cure. If you want to get well, ask Giton. I think you will recover your sinews if you sleep for three days without your brother. So far as I am concerned, I am not afraid of finding anyone who dislikes me more. My looking-glass and my reputation do not lie. Keep as well as you can.
When Chrysis saw that I had read through the whole of this complaint, she said: These things often happen, especially in this town, where the women can even draw down the moon from the sky, and so attention will be paid to this matter also. Only do write back more gently to my mistress, and restore her spirits by your frank kindness. For I must tell you the truth: she has never been herself from the moment you insulted her.
§ 130 I obeyed the girl with pleasure and wrote on a tablet as follows: Polyaenus greets Circe. Dear lady, I admit my many failings; for I am human, and still young. But never before this day have I committed deadly sin. The culprit confesses to you; I have deserved whatever you may order. I have been a traitor, I have destroyed a man, and profaned a temple: demand my punishment for these crimes. If you decide on execution, I will come with my sword; if you let me off with a flogging, I will run naked to my lady. Remember one thing only, 'twas not myself, but my tools that failed me. The soldier was ready but he had no arms. Who upset me so I know not. Perhaps my will ran on while my body lagged behind, perhaps I wasted all my pleasure in delay by desiring too much. I cannot discover what I did. But you tell me to beware of paralysis: as if the disease could grow worse, which has taken away from me the means of making you my own. But my apology amounts to this—I will do your pleasure if you allow me to mend my fault. . . .
Chrysis was sent off with this promise, and I paid great attention to my offending body, and after leaving my bath anointed myself in moderation, and then fed on strong foods, onions, I mean, and snails' heads without sauce, and drank sparingly of wine. I then settled myself with a gentle walk before bed, and went into my room without Giton. I was so anxious to please her that I was afraid my brother might take away my strength.
§ 131 Next day I got up sound in mind and body, and went down to the same grove of planetrees, though I was rather afraid of the unlucky place, and began to wait among the trees for Chrysis to lead me on my way.
After walking up and down a short while, I sat where I had been the day before, and Chrysis came under the trees, bringing an old woman with her. When she had greeted me, she said, Well, disdainful lover, have you begun to come to your senses? Then the old woman took a twist of threads of different colours out of her dress, and tied it round my neck. Then she mixed some dust with spittle, and took it on her middle finger, and made a mark on my forehead despite my protest.
Never despair! Priapus I invoke,
To help the parts that make his altars smoke.
The incantation ended, she bade me spit out thrice, and thrice toss pebbles into my bosom, which she had wrapped up in purple after pronouncing a charm over them. Then putting her hands to my privates, she began to try my virile condition. Quicker than thought the nerves obeyed her summons, and filled the old lady's hand with a huge erection. Then jumping for joy, Look, Chrysis, look, she cried, how I've started the hare for other folk to course. This accomplished, the old woman handed me back to Chrysis, who was overjoyed at the recovery of her mistress's treasure; with all haste she led me straight to the latter, whom we found in a most delightful spot, adorned with everything that fairest Nature can show to charm the eyes.
The stately plane-tree, and Daphne decked with berries, and the quivering cypresses, and the swaying tops of the shorn pines, cast asummer shade. Among them played the straying waters of a foamy river, lashing the pebbles with its chattering flow. The place was proper to love; so the nightingale of the woods bore witness, and Procne from the town, as they hovered about the grasses and the tender violets, and pursued their stolen loves with a song.
She was stretched out there with her marble neck pressed on a golden bed, brushing her placid face with a spray of myrtle in flower. So when she saw me she blushed a little, of course remembering my rudeness the day before; then, when they had all left us, she asked me to sit by her, and I did; she laid the sprig of myrtle over my eyes, and then growing bolder, as if she had put a wall between us, Well, poor paralytic, she said, have you come here to-day a whole man? Do not ask me, I replied, try me. I threw myself eagerly into her arms, and enjoyed her kisses unchecked by any magic.
§ 132 The loveliness of her body called to me and drew us together. There was the sound of a rain of kisses as our lips met, our hands were clasped and discovered all the ways of love, then our bodies were held and bound by our embrace until even our souls were made as one soul yet in the very height of these delicious preliminaries, lo! my nerves once more betrayed me, and I failed utterly to reach the supreme moment of our bliss.
My open affronts stung the lady, and at last she ran to avenge herself, and called her chamber grooms, and ordered me to be hoisted for flogging. Not content with this black insult, the woman called up all her low spinsters, and the very dregs of her slaves, and invited them to spit upon me. I put my hands to my eyes and never poured forth any appeal, for I knew my deserts, and was beaten and spat upon and thrown out of doors. Proselenos was thrown out too, Chrysis was flogged, and all the slaves muttered gloomily to themselves, and asked who had upset their mistress's spirits. . . . So after considering my position I took courage, and carefully hid the marks of the lash for fear Eumolpus should exult or Giton be depressed at my disgrace. The only thing I could do to save my dignity was to pretend to be ill; this I did, and creeping into bed, turned the whole fire of my wrath against the vile cause of all my calamities:
With dreadful steel the part I would have lopped;
Thrice from my trembling hand the razor dropped.
Now, what I might before, I could not do;
For, cold as ice, the shuddering thing withdrew,
And shrank behind a wrinkled canopy.
Hiding its head from my revenge and me.
Thus by its fear I'm balked of my intent,
And in mere mouthing words my anger vent.
So raising myself on my elbow, I address the recreant in some such terms as these, What have you to say for yourself, abomination of gods and men? For indeed your very name must not be mentioned by self-respecting folks. Did I merit such treatment from you, — to be dragged down from heaven's bliss to hell's torments, to have the prime and vigor of my years maligned and to be reduced to the imbecility of dotage? Give me, I beseech you, give me a proof you are yet good for something. In words such as these I vented my irritation.
But with averted eyes, unmoved he mourned
Nor to my fond reproach one look returned;
Like bended osiers trembling o'er a brook,
Or wounded poppies by no zephyr shook.
Nevertheless, on reaching the end of this undignified expostulation, I began to be ashamed of what I had been saying, and to blush furtively at having so far forgotten my self-respect as to bandy words with a part of my person men of graver sort do not so much as deign to notice.
Then, after rubbing my forehead for a long while, I said, But what harm have I done if I have relieved my sorrow with some free abuse? And then there is the fact that of our bodily members we often damn our guts, our throats, even our heads, when they give us much trouble. Did not Ulysses argue with his own heart, while some tragedians curse their eyes as if they could hear? Gouty people damn their feet, people with chalk-stones their hands, blear-eyed people their eyes, and men who have often hurt their toes put down all their ills to their poor feet:
Why do ye, Cato's disciples, look at me with wrinkled foreheads, and condemn a work of fresh simplicity? A cheerful kindness laughs through my pure speech, and my clean mouth reports whatever the people do. All men born know of mating and the joys of love; all men are free to let their limbs glow in a warm bed. Epicurus, the true father of truth, bade wise men be lovers, and said that therein lay the crown of life. There is nothing more insincere than people's silly convictions, or more silly than their sham morality. . . .
§ 133 When my speech was over, I called Giton, and said, Now tell me, brother, on your honour. That night when Ascyltos took you away from me, did he keep awake until he had wronged you, or was he satisfied with spending the night decently alone? The boy touched his eyes and swore a most precise oath that Ascyltos had used no force to him. I queried him no further for the truth is, I was so crushed by my misfortunes I was not master of myself, and did not rightly know what I was saying. Let bygones be bygones, I murmured to myself, especially when nothing but pain can come from recalling them. Eventually I directed all my attention to the task of recovering my lost vigor. I was determined even to consecrate myself to the gods; accordingly I started out implore the help of Priapus. To make the best of things, I feigned a cheerful countenance, I kneeled down on the threshold and entreated the favour of the gods in these lines:
Comrade of the Nymphs and Bacchus, whom lovely Dione set as god over the wide forests, whom famous Lesbos and green Thasos obey, whom the Lydian worships in perpetual celebration, whose temple he has set in his own city of Hypaepa: come hither, guardian of Bacchus and the Dryads' delight, and hear my humble prayer. I come not to thee stained with dark blood, I have not laid hands on a temple like a wicked enemy, but when I was poor and worn with want I sinned, yet not with my whole body. There is less guilt in a poor man's sin. This is my prayer; take the load from my mind, forgive a light offence; and whenever fortune's season smiles upon me, I will not leave thy glory without worship. A goat shall walk to thine altars, most holy one, a horned goat that is father of the flock, and the young of a grunting sow, atender sacrifice. The new wine of the year shall foam in the bowls, and the young men full of wine shall trace their joyous steps three times round thy sanctuary.
As I was doing this and making clever plans to guard my trust, an old woman in ugly black clothes, with her hair down, came into the shrine, laid hands on me, and drew me out through the porch. . . .
§ 134 What screech-owl has eaten your nerve away, what foul thing or corpse have you trodden on at a cross-road in the dark? Never even in boyhood could you hold your own, but you were weakly, feeble, tired, and like a cab-horse on a hill you wasted your efforts and your sweat. And not content with failing yourself, you have roused the gods to wrath against me and I mean to make you smart for it.
And she took me unresisting into the priestess's room again, and pushed me over the bed, and took a cane off the door and beat me again when I remained unresponsive. And if the cane had not broken at the first stroke and lessened the force of the blow, I daresay she would have broken my head and my arm outright. Anyhow I groaned at her dirty tricks, and wept abundantly, and covered my head with my right arm, and leaned against the pillow. She was upset, and cried too, and sat on another piece of the bed, and began to curse the delays of old age in a quavering voice, when the priestess came in.
Why have you come into my room as if you were visiting a fresh-made grave? she said. Especially on a holiday, when even mourners smile. Ah, Oenothea, said the woman, this young man was born under a bad planet; he cannot sell his treasure to boys or girls either. You never beheld such an unlucky creature: he is a piece of wash-leather, not a real man. Just to show you, what do you think of a man who can come away from Circe without a spark of pleasure? When Oenothea heard this she sat down between us, shook her head for some time, and then said, I am the only woman alive who knows how to cure that disease. And that you may not think I'm doing at random, I require the young fellow to sleep one night with me, and see if I don't make it stiff as horn!
Whatever thou seest in the world is obedient to me. The flowery earth, when I will, faints and withers as its juices dry, and, when I will, pours forth its riches, while rocks and rough crags spurt waters wide as the Nile. The great sea lays its waves lifeless before me, and the winds lower their blasts in silence at my feet. The rivers obey me, and Hyrcanian tigers, and serpents, whom I bid stand still. But I will not tell you of small things; the shape of the moon is drawn down to me by my spells, and Phoebus trembles and must turn his fiery steeds as I compel him back in his course. So great is the power of words. The flaming spirit of bulls is quenched and calmed by a maiden's rites, and Circe, the child of Phoebus, transfigured Ulysses's crew with magic songs, and Proteus can take what form he will. And I, who am cunning in these arts, can plant the bushes of Mount Ida in the sea, or set rivers back on lofty peaks.
§ 135 I shrank in horror from her promised miracles, and began to look at the old woman more carefully. Now, cried Oenothea, obey my orders! and she wiped her hands carefully, leaned over the bed, and kissed me once, twice. Oenothea put up an old table in the middle of the altar, and covered it with live coals, and repaired a wine-cup that had cracked from age with warm pitch. Then she drove in once more on the smoky wall a nail which had come away with the wooden winecup when she took it down. Then she put on a square cloak, and laid an enormous cooking-poton the hearth, and at the same time took off the meat-hooks with a fork a bag which had in it some beans put by for use, and some very mouldy pieces of a brain smashed into a thousand fragments. After unfastening the bag she poured out some of the beans on the table, and told me to shell them carefully. I obeyed orders, and my careful fingers parted the kernels from their dirty covering of shell. But she reproved me for laziness, snatched them up in a hurry, tore off the shells with her teeth in a moment, and spat them on to the ground like the empty husks of flies. . .
I marvelled at the resources of poverty, and the art displayed in each particular. 'No Indian ivory set in gold shone here, the earth did not gleam with marble now trodden upon and mocked for the gifts she gave, but the grove of Ceres on her holiday was set round with hurdles of willow twigs and fresh cups of clay shaped by a quick turn of the lowly wheel. There was a vessel for soft honey, and wicker-work plates of pliant bark, and a jar dyed with the blood of Bacchus. And the wall round was covered with light chaff and spattered mud; on it hung rows of rude nails and slim stalks of green rushes. Besides this, the little cottage roofed with smoky beams preserved their goods, the soft service-berries hung entwined in fragrant wreaths, and dried savory and bunches of raisins; such a hostess was here as was once on Athenian soil, worthy of the worship of Hecate, of whom the Muse testified for all ages to adore her, in the years when the poet of Cyrene sang.'
§ 136 While she was having a small mouthful of meat as well,. . . and was replacing the brain, which must have been born on her own birthday, on the jack with her fork, the rotten stool which she was using to increase her height broke, and the old woman's weight sent her down on to the hearth. So the neck of the pot broke and put out the fire, which was just getting up. A glowing brand touched her elbow, and her whole face was covered with the ashes she scattered. I jumped up in confusion and put the old woman straight, not without a laugh. This accomplished, she ran off to her neighbours to see to reviving the fire, to prevent anything keeping the ceremony back. . . . So I went to the door of the house, when all at once three sacred geese, who I suppose generally demanded their daily food from the old woman at mid-day, made a rush at me, and stood round me while I trembled, cackling horribly like mad things. One tore my clothes, another untied the strings of my sandals and tugged them off; the third, the ringleader and chief of the brutes, lost no time in attacking my leg with his jagged bill. It was no laughing matter: I wrenched off a leg of the table and began to hammer the ferocious creature with this weapon in my hand. One simple blow did not content me. I avenged my honour by the death of the goose.
'Even so I suppose the birds of Stymphalus fled into the sky when the power of Hercules compelled them, and the Harpies whose reeking wings made the tantalizing food of Phineus run with poison. The air above trembled and shook with unwonted lamentation, and the palace of heaven was in an uproar.'. .
The remaining geese had now picked up the beans, which were spilt and scattered all over the floor, and having lost their leader had gone back, I think, to the temple. Then I came in, proud of my prize and my victory, threw the dead goose behind the bed, and bathed the wound on my leg, which was not deep, with vinegar. Then, being afraid of a scolding, I made a plan for getting away, put my things together, and started to leave the house. I had not yet got outside the room, when I saw Oenothea coming with a jar full of live coals. So I drew back and threw off my coat, and stood in the entrance as if I were waiting for her return. She made up a fire which she raised out of some broken reeds, and after heaping on a quantity of wood, began to apologize for her delay, saying that her friend would not let her go until the customary three glasses had been emptied. What did you do while I was away? she went on, and where are the beans? Thinking that I had done something which deserved a word of praise, I described the whole of my fight in detail, and to put an end to her depression I produced the goose as a set-off to her losses. When the old woman saw the bird, she raised such a great shriek that you would have thought that the geese had come back into the room again.
§ 137 I was astonished and shocked to find so strange a crime at my door, and I asked her why she had flared up, and why she should be more sorry for the goose than for me. But she beat her hands together and said, You villain, you dare to speak. Do you not know what a dreadful sin you have committed? You have killed the darling of Priapus, the goose beloved of all married women. And do not suppose that it is not serious; if any magistrate finds out, on the cross you go. My house was spotless until to-day, and you have defiled it with blood, and you have given any enemy of mine who likes the power to turn me out of my priesthood.
Not such a noise, please, I said; I will give you an ostrich to replace the goose.
I was amazed, and the woman sat on the bed and wept over the death of the goose, until Proselenos came in with materials for the sacrifice, and seeing the dead bird, inquired why we were so depressed. When she found out she began to weep loudly, too, and to compassionate me as if I had killed my own father instead of a common goose. I grew tired and disgusted, and said, Please let me cleanse my hands by paying; it would be another thing if I had insulted you or done a murder. Look, I will put down two gold pieces. You can buy both gods and geese for that. When Oenothea saw the money, she said,Forgive me, young man, I am troubled on your account. I am showing my love and not my ill-will. So we will do our best to keep the secret. But pray the gods to pardon what you have done.
Whoever has money sails in a fair wind, and directs his fortune at his own pleasure. Let him take Danae to wife, and he can tell Acrisius to believe what he told Danae. Let him write poetry, make speeches, snap his fingers at the world, win his cases and outdo Cato. A lawyer, let him have his 'Proven' and his Not proven,' and be all that Servius and Labeo were. I have said enough: with money about you, wish for what you like and it will come. Your safe has Jupiter shut up in it. . . .
She stood a jar of wine under my hands, and made me stretch all my fingers out, and rubbed them with leeks and parsley, and threw filberts into the wine with a prayer. She drew her conclusions from them according as they rose to the top or sank. I noticed that the nuts which were empty and had no kernel, but were filled with air, stayed on the surface, while the heavy ones, which were ripe and full, were carried to the bottom. . . .
She cut the goose open, drew out a very fat liver, and foretold the future to me from it. Further, to remove all traces of my crime, she ran the goose right through with a spit, and made quite a fine meal for me, though I had been at death's door a moment ago, as she told me.
Cups of neat wine went swiftly round with it, and the old woman merrily gobbled up the goose they had been mourning over so sadly just before. When it was all gone, the Priestess, now half drunk, turned to me and said, We must complete the mysteries, to recover you of your impotency.
§ 138 So saying, Oenothea brought out a leathern godemiche, which she smeared with oil and ground pepper and pounded nettle seed, and then proceeded to insert it little by little up my back. Next the cruel old dame anoints my two thighs with the same concoction. Then mixing nasturtium juice with southern-wood, she bathes my genitals with the stuff, and grasping a bundle of stinging nettles, begins slowly and methodically to lash my belly with them all over below the navel. The nettles burn sharply, and I suddenly take to my heels, the old woman after me in hot haste. Though the poor old things were silly with drink and passion they tried to take the same road, and pursued me through several streets, crying Stop thief! But I escaped, with all my toes running blood in my headlong flight
As soon as ever I could get home, I went to bed, utterly worn out with fatigue; but I was unable to sleep a wink. My various disasters kept on running through my head, and quite convinced I was the most unfortunate wretch alive, I ejaculated, Fortune has ever been my bitterest foe; it only needed Love's torments as well to make me utterly miserable. Doomed wretch! Fortune and Love now join their forces to conspire my ruin. Cruel Cupid has never spared me; whether lover or loved, I am perpetually on the rack! There is Chrysis now! she loves me madly and never ceases to tease me. Chrysis who looked down on me, when she was acting as her mistress's go-between, and scorned me as a slave, because I wore slave's clothes; she, I say, Chrysis, who despised your lot before, means to follow you now even at peril of her life.
She swore she would never leave me alone, that time she declared the vehemence of her passion for me. But Circe has my whole heart; all other women I despise. Indeed who so fair as she?
Ariadne and Leda had no beauty like hers. Helen and Venus would be nothing beside her. And Paris himself, who decided the quarrel of the goddesses, would have made over Helen and the goddesses too to her, if his eager gaze had seen her to compare with them. If only I were allowed a kiss, or could put my arms round the body that is heaven's own self; maybe my body would come back to its strength, and the part of me that is drowsed with poison, I believe, might be itself again. No insult turns me back; I forget my floggings, and I think it fine sport to be flung out of doors. Only let her be kind to me again.
§ 139 I moved uneasily over the bed again and again, as if I sought for the ghost of my love that I disordered my bed with the repeated efforts of a sort of imaginary voluptuousness. But all my struggles remained unavailing. At last continual disappointment wore my patience out, and I cursed the evil enchantment that oppressed me. Presently however, recovering my self-control, and drawing what consolation I might from remembering how many heroes of antiquity had been persecuted by the anger of the gods, I broke out into these lines:
'I am not the only one whom God and an inexorable doom pursues. Before me the son of Tiryns was driven from the Inachian shore and bore the burden of heaven, and Laomedon before me satisfied the ominous wrath of two gods. Pelias felt Juno's power, Telephus fought in ignorance, and Ulysses was in awe of Neptune's kingdom. And me too the heavy wrath of Hellespontine Priapus follows over the earth and over the waters of hoary Nereus.'
Tortured by these anxieties, I tossed about wakefully the whole night long. At peep of day Giton, informed of the fact of my having slept at home, entered my room, and after chiding me severely for my licentious way of life, told me the whole household were complaining bitterly of my goings on, how I paid scarcely any attention to business, and was like a ruin myself over the fatal intrigue I was now engaged in. I gathered from all this he was well posted in my affairs, and guessed some one had been to the house to inquire for me. I began to inquire of Giton whether anyone had asked for me. No one to-day, he said, but yesterday a rather pretty woman came in at the door, and talked to me for a long while, till I was tired of her forced conversation, and then began to say that you deserved to be hurt and would have the tortures of a slave, if your adversary persisted with his complaint. This news tormented me extremely, and I launched out into fresh recriminations against Fortune.
I had not finished grumbling, when Chrysis came in, ran up and warmly embraced me, and said, Now I have you as I hoped; you are my desire, my pleasure, you will never put out this flame unless you quench it in my blood. I was not a little disconcerted by this amorous display on her part, and resorted to a string of flattering speeches to get rid of her, fearing the madwoman's cries might reach Eumolpus's ears, who in the arrogance of success had now adopted the domineering ways of a real master. So I used every means to calm her excitement, — feigning love, whispering soft nothings; in a word, so cleverly did I play the fond adorer she thought me genuinely smitten with her charms. I explained what peril we should both be in, if she were caught with me in my bedroom, Eumolpus being only too ready to punish the smallest indiscretion. Hearing this, she left me hurriedly, all the more so as she saw Giton coming back, who had quitted the room shortly before she joined me.
One of the new slaves suddenly ran up and said that my master was furious with me because I had now been away from work two days. The best thing I could do would be to get ready some suitable excuse. It was hardly possible that his savage wrath would abate without a flogging for me Giton seeing me so vexed and disheartened, did not say one word to me about the woman; he merely spoke of Eumolpus, recommending me to treat the matter jocularly with him, rather than look gloomy about it. I was glad enough to take his advice, and approached the old man with so gay an air that, instead of showing severity, he received me banteringly, rallying me about my success in love and complimenting me on my grace and elegance, which made me such a favorite with all the ladies. It is no news to me, he went on, that a most beautiful woman is dying of love for you; now this may very likely be useful to us on occasion, Encolpius. Well then! play the fond lover, you; I will keep up the same role I have been acting all along.
§ 140 He was still speaking when a matron entered, a lady of the highest distinction, Philomela by name, who in earlier days had won many a fat legacy by the charms of her youth; but who being old now and past her prime, used to put her son and daughter in the way of childless old men, and so continued to extend her old trade by the efforts of these successors. Well! this woman came to Eumolpus and proceeded to commend her children to his judicious guardianship, and confide herself and her hopes to his kindly good nature, asseverating he was the only man in all the world to train young people by the daily inculcation of healthy precepts; in fine, that she was leaving her children under Eumolpus's roof, that they might hear his words of wisdom, the only heritage worth having that could be bestowed on youth. And she was as good as her word; for leaving behind her a very attractive looking girl along with her brother, a stripling, in the old man's chamber, she left the house under pretext of visiting the Temple to say her prayers. Eumolpus, who was so careful a soul he was ready to take even me at my age for a minion, was not long in inviting the girl to sacrifice to the rearward Venus. But then he had informed everybody he was gouty and crippled in the loins, and if he failed to keep up the pretense, he ran considerable risk of spoiling the whole play. So, to maintain the imposture intact, he begged the girl to take a seat on that kindly good nature her mother had appealed to, ordering Corax at the same time to slip under the bed he lay on himself, and resting his hands on the floor, to hoist him up and down with his back. The servant obeyed, and gently seconded the child's artful movements with a corresponding, rhythmical seesaw. Then when the crisis was coming, Eumolpus shouted out loud and clear to Corax to work faster. Thus the old fellow, suspended between his servant and his mistress, enjoyed himself as if in a swing. This exercise he repeated more than once, to the accompaniment of peals of laughter, in which he himself joined. Nor was I idle; but fearing my hand might get out of practise from disuse, I assailed the brother, where he stood admiring his sister's gymnastics through the keyhole, to see if he were amenable to outrage. He made no bones about accepting my caresses; but once more, alas! I found the god unpropitious to my efforts.
However I was not so much cast down by failure this time as I had been on previous occasions; for very soon afterwards my vigor came back to me, and suddenly feeling myself in better condition, I exclaimed, The great gods of higher heaven it is have made me a man again! Mercury, who conveys and reconveys the souls of men, has of his loving kindness given me back what an unfriendly hand had docked me of, to show you I am really more graciously endowed than ever was Protesilaus or any of the mighty men of yore. So saying, I lifted my tunic, and offered Eumolpus a view of all my glories. For an instant he stood panic-stricken; then, to make assurance doubly sure, he put out both hands and felt the good gift the gods had given me.
This great boon restoring our cheerfulness, we made merry over Philomela's artfulness and her children's proficiency, little likely to profit them much with us however; for it was solely and entirely in hopes of a legacy she had abandoned the boy and girl to our tender mercies. So reflecting on this sordid fashion of getting round childless old men, I was led on to think of the present state of our own fortunes, and took occasion to warn Eumolpus that this game of biting might easily end in biters being bit.
Socrates, the friend of God and man, used to boast that he had never peeped into a shop, or allowed his eyes to rest on any large crowd. So nothing is more blessed than always to converse with wisdom.
All that is very true, I said, and no one deserves to fall into misery sooner than the covetous. But how would cheats or pickpockets live, if they did not expose little boxes or purses jingling with money, like hooks, to collect a crowd? Just as dumb creatures are snared by food, human beings would not be caught unless they had a nibble of hope.
§ 141 The ship from Africa with your money and slaves that you promised does not arrive. The fortunehunters are tired out, and their generosity is shrinking. So that unless I am mistaken, our usual luck is on its way back to punish you.
I have thought out a scheme, Eumolpus replied, that will mightily embarrass our fortune-hunting friends, and drawing his tablets from his wallet, he read out his last wishes as follows: All those who come into money under my will, except my own children, will get what I have left them on one condition, that they cut my body in pieces and eat it up in sight of the crowd. They need not be over and above shocked, I tell them. We know that in some countries a law is still observed, that dead people shall be eaten by their relations, and the result is that sick people are often blamed for spoiling their own flesh. So I warn my friends not to disobey my orders, but to eat my body as heartily as they damned my soul.
Just as he was reading the initial clauses, several of Eumolpus's most intimate friends came into his room, and seeing the document in his hand, begged him eagerly to let them hear its contents. He consented instantly, and read it out from beginning to end. On hearing the extraordinary stipulation about being obliged to eat his corpse, they were very much cast down. His great reputation for wealth dulled the eyes and brains of the fools and stifled their consciences, making mere cringing cowards of them in his presence, that they durst enter no protest against the enormity. Gorgias was ready to manage the funeral, , provided he had not too long to wait.
At this Eumolpus continued, turning to Gorgias, I am not at all afraid of your stomach turning. You will get it under control if you promise to repay it for one unpleasant hour with heaps of good things. Just shut your eyes and dream you are eating up a solid million instead of human flesh. Besides, we shall find some kind of sauce which will take the taste away. No flesh at all is pleasant in itself, it has to be artificially disguised and reconciled to the unwilling digestion. But if you wish the plan to be supported by precedents, the people of Saguntum, when Hannibal besieged them, ate human flesh without any legacy in prospect. The people of Petelia did likewise in the extremities of famine, and gained nothing by the diet, except of course that they were no longer hungry. And when Numantia was stormed by Scipio, some women were found with the half-eaten bodies of their children hidden in their bosoms.