The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Satyricon, Complete, by Petronius Arbiter

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Title: The Satyricon, Complete

Author: Petronius Arbiter

Release Date: October 31, 2006 [EBook #5225]
[Last updated: February 18, 2021]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by David Widger


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

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

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

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

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

W. C. F.









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


Army of the Rhine
I. Soldiers in love
II. Courtesans
III. Greek love
IV. Pollution
V. Virginity
VI. Pandars



The Witches [Frontpiece]
An Extemporary Declamation
An Old Herb Woman
Hurrying to the Inn
Making Off
The Holy Mysteries
The Catamite
The Debauch
The Drunkards
Quartilla and Giton
The Chink in the Door
The Procession
The Guilty Slave
The Rope Dancers
The Homerists
The Entry of Habinnas
Fortunata and Habinnas
Fortunata Dancing
The Bath
The Disturbance
The Tell-tale Shoes
Eumolpus Stoned
The Inn-Keeper
The Fight at the Inn
The Embarkation
The Fight
Eumolpus Reciting
The Ephesian Matron
The Rescue of Tryphena
Circe and Encolpius
Circe Enraged
The Priestess’ Revenge
Encolpius Beaten
Encolpius and Chrysis
On the Road


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

     1. The Satyricon.

     2. The Author.

               a His Character.

               b His Purpose in Writing.

               c Time in which the Action is placed.

               d Localization of the Principal Episode.

     3. Realism.

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

     4. The Forgeries.



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




(Forgeries of Nodot)

[Forgeries of Marchena]

{Additions of De Salas}





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


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


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

p006.jpg (84K)


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


“The man who emerges with fame, from the school of stern art,
Whose mind gropes for lofty ideals, to bring them to light,
Must first, under rigid frugality, study his part;
Nor yearn for the courts of proud princes who frown in their might:
Nor scheme with the riff-raf, a client in order to dine,
Nor can he with evil companions his wit drown in wine
Nor sit, as a hireling, applauding an actor’s grimace.
But, whether the fortress of arms-bearing Tritonis smile
Upon him, or land which the Spartan colonials grace,
Or home of the sirens, with poetry let him beguile
The years of young manhood, and at the Maeonian spring
His fortunate soul drink its fill: Then, when later, the lore
Of Socrates’ school he has mastered, the reins let him fling,
And brandish the weapons that mighty Demosthenes bore.
Then, steeped in the culture and music of Greece, let his taste
Be ripened and mellowed by all the great writers of Rome.
At first, let him haunt not the courts; let his pages be graced
By ringing and rhythmic effusions composed in his home
Next, banquets and wars be his theme, sung in soul-stirring chant,
In eloquent words such as undaunted Cicero chose.
Come! Gird up thy soul! Inspiration will then force a vent
And rush in a flood from a heart that is loved by the muse!”


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

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


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

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


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

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After having had the whole town under my eyes, I returned to the little room and, having claimed the kisses which were mine in good faith, I encircled the boy in the closest of embraces and enjoyed the effect of our happy vows to a point that might be envied. Nor had all the ceremonies been completed, when Ascyltos stole stealthily up to the outside of the door and, violently wrenching off the bars, burst in upon me, toying with my “brother.” He filled the little room with his laughter and hand-clapping, pulled away the cloak which covered us, “What are you up to now, most sanctimonious ‘brother’?” he jeered. “What’s going on here, a blanket-wedding?” Nor did he confine himself to words, but, pulling the strap off his bag, he began to lash me very thoroughly, interjecting sarcasms the while, “This is the way you would share with your comrade, is it!” (The unexpectedness of the thing compelled me to endure the blows in silence and to put up with the abuse, so I smiled at my calamity, and very prudently, too, as otherwise I should have been put to the necessity of fighting with a rival. My pretended good humor soothed his anger, and at last, Ascyltos smiled as well. “See here, Encolpius,” he said, “are you so engrossed with your debaucheries that you do not realize that our money is gone, and that what we have left is of no value? In the summer, times are bad in the city. The country is luckier, let’s go and visit our friends.” Necessity compelled the approval of this plan, and the repression of any sense of injury as well, so, loading Giton with our packs, we left the city and hastened to the country-seat of Lycurgus, a Roman knight. Inasmuch as Ascyltos has formerly served him in the capacity of “brother,” he received us royally, and the company there assembled, rendered our stay still more delightful. In the first place, there was Tryphaena, a most beautiful woman, who had come in company with Lycas, the master of a vessel and owner of estates near the seashore. Although Lycurgus kept a frugal table, the pleasures we enjoyed in this most enchanting spot cannot be described in words. Of course you know that Venus joined us all up, as quickly as possible.

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

The tortured Tantalus still stands, to parch in his shifting pool,
And starve, when fruit sways just beyond his grasp:
The image of the miser rich, when his avaricious soul
Robs him of food and drink, in Plenty’s clasp.

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


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


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


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

Of what avail are any laws, where money rules alone,
Where Poverty can never win its cases?
Detractors of the times, who bear the Cynic’s scrip, are known
To often sell the truth, and keep their faces!
So Justice is at public auction bought,
The knight gives judgement as Gold says he ought.

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


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

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


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

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

To be flouted is disgraceful, but to dictate terms, sublime
Pleased am I to choose what course I will,
Even sages will retort an insult at the proper time.
Victor most is he who does not kill.”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Psyche had already enveloped the child’s head in the bridal-veil, the catamite, holding a torch, led the long procession of drunken women which followed; they were clapping their hands, having previously decked out the bridal-bed with a suggestive drapery. Quartilla, spurred on by the wantonness of the others, seized hold of Giton and drew him into the bridal-chamber. There was no doubt of the boy’s perfect willingness to go, nor was the girl at all alarmed at the name of marriage. When they were finally in bed, and the door shut, we seated ourselves outside the door of the bridal-chamber, and Quartilla applied a curious eye to a chink, purposely made, watching their childish dalliance with lascivious attention. She then drew me gently over to her side that I might share the spectacle with her, and when we both attempted to peep our faces were pressed against each other; whenever she was not engrossed in the performance, she screwed up her lips to meet mine, and pecked at me continually with furtive kisses. [A thunderous hammering was heard at the door, while all this was going on, and everyone wondered what this unexpected interruption could mean, when we saw a soldier, one of the night-watch, enter with a drawn sword in his hand, and surrounded by a crowd of young rowdies. He glared about him with savage eyes and blustering mien, and, catching sight of Quartilla, presently, “What’s up now, you shameless woman,” he bawled; “what do you mean by making game of me with lying promises, and cheating me out of the night you promised me? But you won’t get off unpunished! You and that lover of yours are going to find out that I’m a man!” At the soldier’s orders, his companion bound Quartilla and myself together, mouth to mouth, breast to breast, and thigh to thigh; and not without a great deal of laughter. Then the catamite, also at the soldier’s order, began to beslaver me all over with the fetid kisses of his stinking mouth, a treatment I could neither fly from, nor in any other way avoid. Finally, he ravished me, and worked his entire pleasure upon me. In the meantime, the satyrion which I had drunk only a little while before spurred every nerve to lust and I began to gore Quartilla impetuously, and she, burning with the same passion, reciprocated in the game. The rowdies laughed themselves sick, so moved were they by that ludicrous scene, for here was I, mounted by the stalest of catamites, involuntarily and almost unconsciously responding with as rapid a cadence to him as Quartilla did in her wriggling under me. While this was going on, Pannychis, unaccustomed at her tender years to the pastime of Venus, raised an outcry and attracted the attention of the soldier, by this unexpected howl of consternation, for this slip of a girl was being ravished, and Giton the victor, had won a not bloodless victory. Aroused by what he saw, the soldier rushed upon them, seizing Pannychis, then Giton, then both of them together, in a crushing embrace. The virgin burst into tears and plead with him to remember her age, but her prayers availed her nothing, the soldier only being fired the more by her childish charms.

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Pannychis covered her head at last, resolved to endure whatever the Fates had in store for her. At this instant, an old woman, the very same who had tricked me on that day when I was hunting for our lodging, came to the aid of Pannychis, as though she had dropped from the clouds. With loud cries, she rushed into the house, swearing that a gang of footpads was prowling about the neighborhood and the people invoked the help of “All honest men,” in vain, for the members of the night-watch were either asleep or intent upon some carouse, as they were nowhere to be found. Greatly terrified at this, the soldier rushed headlong from Quartilla’s house. His companions followed after him, freeing Pannychis from impending danger and relieving the rest of us from our fear.] (I was so weary of Quartilla’s lechery that I began to meditate means of escape. I made my intentions known to Ascyltos, who, as he wished to rid himself of the importunities of Psyche, was delighted; had not Giton been shut up in the bridal-chamber, the plan would have presented no difficulties, but we wished to take him with us, and out of the way of the viciousness of these prostitutes. We were anxiously engaged in debating this very point, when Pannychis fell out of bed, and dragged Giton after her, by her own weight. He was not hurt, but the girl gave her head a slight bump, and raised such a clamor that Quartilla, in a terrible fright, rushed headlong into the room, giving us the opportunity of making off. We did not tarry, but flew back to our inn where,) throwing ourselves upon the bed, we passed the remainder of the night without fear. (Sallying forth next day, we came upon two of our kidnappers, one of whom Ascyltos savagely attacked the moment he set eyes upon him, and, after having thrashed and seriously wounded him, he ran to my aid against the other. He defended himself so stoutly, however, that he wounded us both, slightly, and escaped unscathed.) The third day had now dawned, the date set for the free dinner (at Trimalchio’s,) but battered as we were, flight seemed more to our taste than quiet, so (we hastened to our inn and, as our wounds turned out to be trifling, we dressed them with vinegar and oil, and went to bed. The ruffian whom we had done for, was still lying upon the ground and we feared detection.) Affairs were at this pass, and we were framing melancholy excuses with which to evade the coming revel, when a slave of Agamemnon’s burst in upon our trembling conclave and said, “Don’t you know with whom your engagement is today? The exquisite Trimalchio, who keeps a clock and a liveried bugler in his dining-room, so that he can tell, instantly, how much of his life has run out!” Forgetting all our troubles at that, we dressed hurriedly and ordered Giton, who had very willingly performed his servile office, to follow us to the bath.




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

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




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


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


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


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





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





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

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

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


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


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


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



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

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


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


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

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


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





“What do you think of the fellow in the freedman’s place? He has a good front, too, hasn’t he? And he has a right to. He saw his fortune multiplied tenfold, but he lost heavily through speculation at the last. I don’t think he can call his very hair his own, and it is no fault of his either, by Hercules, it isn’t. There’s no better fellow anywhere; his rascally freedmen cheated him out of everything. You know very well how it is; everybody’s business is nobody’s business, and once let business affairs start to go wrong, your friends will stand from under! Look at the fix he’s in, and think what a fine trade he had! He used to be an undertaker. He dined like a king, boars roasted whole in their shaggy Bides, bakers’ pastries, birds, cooks and bakers! More wine was spilled under his table than another has in his wine cellar. His life was like a pipe dream, not like an ordinary mortal’s. When his affairs commenced to go wrong, and he was afraid his creditors would guess that he was bankrupt, he advertised an auction and this was his placard:





Trimalchio broke in upon this entertaining gossip, for the course had been removed and the guests, happy with wine, had started a general conversation: lying back upon his couch, “You ought to make this wine go down pleasantly,” he said, “the fish must have something to swim in. But I say, you didn’t think I’d be satisfied with any such dinner as you saw on the top of that tray? ‘Is Ulysses no better known?’ Well, well, we shouldn’t forget our culture, even at dinner. May the bones of my patron rest in peace, he wanted me to become a man among men. No one can show me anything new, and that little tray has proved it. This heaven where the gods live, turns into as many different signs, and sometimes into the Ram: therefore, whoever is born under that sign will own many flocks and much wool, a hard head, a shameless brow, and a sharp horn. A great many school-teachers and rambunctious butters-in are born under that sign.” We applauded the wonderful penetration of our astrologer and he ran on, “Then the whole heaven turns into a bull-calf and the kickers and herdsmen and those who see to it that their own bellies are full, come into the world. Teams of horses and oxen are born under the Twins, and well-hung wenchers and those who bedung both sides of the wall. I was born under the Crab and therefore stand on many legs and own much property on land and sea, for the crab is as much at home on one as he is in the other. For that reason, I put nothing on that sign for fear of weighing down my own destiny. Bulldozers and gluttons are born under the Lion, and women and fugitives and chain-gangs are born under the Virgin. Butchers and perfumers are born under the Balance, and all who think that it is their business to straighten things out. Poisoners and assassins are born under the Scorpion. Cross-eyed people who look at the vegetables and sneak away with the bacon, are born under the Archer. Horny-handed sons of toil are born under Capricorn. Bartenders and pumpkin-heads are born under the Water-Carrier. Caterers and rhetoricians are born under the Fishes: and so the world turns round, just like a mill, and something bad always comes to the top, and men are either being born or else they’re dying. As to the sod and the honeycomb in the middle, for I never do anything without a reason, Mother Earth is in the centre, round as an egg, and all that is good is found in her, just like it is in a honeycomb.”


“Bravo!” we yelled, and, with hands uplifted to the ceiling, we swore that such fellows as Hipparchus and Aratus were not to be compared with him. At length some slaves came in who spread upon the couches some coverlets upon which were embroidered nets and hunters stalking their game with boar-spears, and all the paraphernalia of the chase. We knew not what to look for next, until a hideous uproar commenced, just outside the dining-room door, and some Spartan hounds commenced to run around the table all of a sudden. A tray followed them, upon which was served a wild boar of immense size, wearing a liberty cap upon its head, and from its tusks hung two little baskets of woven palm fibre, one of which contained Syrian dates, the other, Theban. Around it hung little suckling pigs made from pastry, signifying that this was a brood-sow with her pigs at suck. It turned out that these were souvenirs intended to be taken home. When it came to carving the boar, our old friend Carver, who had carved the capons, did not appear, but in his place a great bearded giant, with bands around his legs, and wearing a short hunting cape in which a design was woven. Drawing his hunting- knife, he plunged it fiercely into the boar’s side, and some thrushes flew out of the gash. fowlers, ready with their rods, caught them in a moment, as they fluttered around the room and Trimalchio ordered one to each guest, remarking, “Notice what fine acorns this forest-bred boar fed on,” and as he spoke, some slaves removed the little baskets from the tusks and divided the Syrian and Theban dates equally among the diners.

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Getting a moment to myself, in the meantime, I began to speculate as to why the boar had come with a liberty cap upon his head. After exhausting my invention with a thousand foolish guesses, I made bold to put the riddle which teased me to my old informant. “Why, sure,” he replied, “even your slave could explain that; there’s no riddle, everything’s as plain as day! This boar made his first bow as the last course of yesterday’s dinner and was dismissed by the guests, so today he comes back as a freedman!” I damned my stupidity and refrained from asking any more questions for fear I might leave the impression that I had never dined among decent people before. While we were speaking, a handsome boy, crowned with vine leaves and ivy, passed grapes around, in a little basket, and impersonated Bacchus-happy, Bacchus-drunk, and Bacchus-dreaming, reciting, in the meantime, his master’s verses, in a shrill voice. Trimalchio turned to him and said, “Dionisus, be thou Liber,” whereupon the boy immediately snatched the cap from the boar’s head, and put it upon his own. At that Trimalchio added, “You can’t deny that my father’s middle name was Liber!” We applauded Trimalchio’s conceit heartily, and kissed the boy as he went around. Trimalchio retired to the close-stool, after this course, and we, having freedom of action with the tyrant away, began to draw the other guests out. After calling for a bowl of wine, Dama spoke up, “A day’s nothing at all: it’s night before you can turn around, so you can’t do better than to go right to the dining-room from your bed. It’s been so cold that I can hardly get warm in a bath, but a hot drink’s as good as an overcoat: I’ve had some long pegs, and between you and me, I’m a bit groggy; the booze has gone to my head.”


Here Seleucus took up the tale. “I don’t bathe every day,” he confided, “a bath uses you up like a fuller: water’s got teeth and your strength wastes away a little every day; but when I’ve downed a pot of mead, I tell the cold to suck my cock! I couldn’t bathe today anyway, because I was at a funeral; dandy fellow, he was too, good old Chrysanthus slipped his wind! Why, only the other day he said good morning’ to me, and I almost think I’m talking to him now! Gawd’s truth, we’re only blown-up bladders strutting around, we’re less than flies, for they have some good in them, but we’re only bubbles. And supposing he had not kept to such a low diet! Why, not a drop of water or a crumb of bread so much as passed his lips for five days; and yet he joined the majority! Too many doctors did away with him, or rather, his time had come, for a doctor’s not good for anything except for a consolation to your mind! He was well carried out, anyhow, in the very bed he slept in during his lifetime. And he was covered with a splendid pall: the mourning was tastefully managed; he had freed some slaves; even though his wife was sparing with her tears: and what if he hadn’t treated her so well! But when you come to women, women all belong to the kite species: no one ought to waste a good turn upon one of them; it’s just like throwing it down a well! An old love’s like a cancer!”


He was becoming very tiresome, and Phileros cried out, “Let’s think about the living! He has what was coming to him, he lived respectably, and respectably he died. What’s he got to kick about’? He made his pile from an as, and would pick a quadrans out of a dunghill with his teeth, any old time. And he grew richer and richer, of course: just like a honeycomb. I expect that he left all of a hundred thousand, by Hercules, I do! All in cold cash, too; but I’ve eaten dog’s tongue and must speak the truth: he was foul-mouthed, had a ready tongue, he was a trouble maker and no man. Now his brother was a good fellow, a friend to his friend, free-handed, and he kept a liberal table. He picked a loser at the start, but his first vintage set him upon his legs, for he sold his wine at the figure he demanded, and, what made him hold his head higher still, he came into a legacy from which he stole more than had been left to him. Then that fool friend of yours, in a fit of anger at his brother, willed his property away to some son-of-a-bitch or other, who he was, I don’t know, but when a man runs away from his own kin, he has a long way to go! And what’s more, he had some slaves who were ear-specialists at the keyhole, and they did him a lot of harm, for a man won’t prosper when he believes, on the spot, every tale that he hears; a man in business, especially. Still, he had a good time as long as he lived: for happy’s the fellow who gets the gift, not the one it was meant for. He sure was Fortune’s son! Lead turned to gold in his hands. It’s easy enough when everything squares up and runs on schedule. How old would you think he was? Seventy and over, but he was as tough as horn, carried his age well, and was as black as a crow. I knew the fellow for years and years, and he was a lecher to the very last. I don’t believe that even the dog in his house escaped his attentions, by Hercules, I don’t; and what a boy-lover he was! Saw a virgin in every one he met! Not that I blame him though, for it’s all he could take with him.”


Phileros had his say and Ganymedes exclaimed, “You gabble away about things that don’t concern heaven or earth: and none of you cares how the price of grain pinches. I couldn’t even get a mouthful of bread today, by Hercules, I couldn’t. How the drought does hang on! We’ve had famine for a year. If the damned AEdiles would only get what’s coming to them. They graft with the bakers, scratch-my-arse-and-I’ll-scratch-yours! That’s the way it always is, the poor devils are out of luck, but the jaws of the capitalists are always keeping the Saturnalia. If only we had such lion-hearted sports as we had when I first came from Asia! That was the life! If the flour was not the very best, they would beat up those belly-robbing grafters till they looked like Jupiter had been at them. How well I remember Safinius; he lived near the old arch, when I was a boy. For a man, he was one hot proposition! Wherever he went, the ground smoked! But he was square, dependable, a friend to a friend, you could safely play mora with him, in the dark. But how he did peel them in the town hall: he spoke no parables, not he! He did everything straight from the shoulder and his voice roared like a trumpet in the forum. He never sweat nor spat. I don’t know, but I think he had a strain of the Asiatic in him. And how civil and friendly-like he was, in returning everyone’s greeting; called us all by name, just like he was one of us! And so provisions were cheap as dirt in those days. The loaf you got for an as, you couldn’t eat, not even if someone helped you, but you see them no bigger than a bull’s eye now, and the hell of it is that things are getting worse every day; this colony grows backwards like a calf’s tall! Why do we have to put up with an AEdile here, who’s not worth three Caunian figs and who thinks more of an as than of our lives? He has a good time at home, and his daily income’s more than another man’s fortune. I happen to know where he got a thousand gold pieces. If we had any nuts, he’d not be so damned well pleased with himself! Nowadays, men are lions at home and foxes abroad. What gets me is, that I’ve already eaten my old clothes, and if this high cost of living keeps on, I’ll have to sell my cottages! What’s going to happen to this town, if neither gods nor men take pity on it? May I never have any luck if I don’t believe all this comes from the gods! For no one believes that heaven is heaven, no one keeps a fast, no one cares a hang about Jupiter: they all shut their eyes and count up their own profits. In the old days, the married women, in their stolas, climbed the hill in their bare feet, pure in heart, and with their hair unbound, and prayed to Jupiter for rain! And it would pour down in bucketfuls then or never, and they’d all come home, wet as drowned rats. But the gods all have the gout now, because we are not religious; and so our fields are burning up!”


“Don’t be so down in the mouth,” chimed in Echion, the ragman; “if it wasn’t that it’d be something else, as the farmer said, when he lost his spotted pig. If a thing don’t happen today, it may tomorrow. That’s the way life jogs along. You couldn’t name a better country, by Hercules, you couldn’t, if only the men had any brains. She’s in hot water right now, but she ain’t the only one. We oughtn’t to be so particular; heaven’s as far away everywhere else. If you were somewhere else, you’d swear that pigs walked around here already roasted. Think of what’s coming! We’ll soon have a fine gladiator show to last for three days, no training-school pupils; most of them will be freedmen. Our Titus has a hot head and plenty of guts and it will go to a finish. I’m well acquainted with him, and he’ll not stand for any frame-ups. It will be cold steel in the best style, no running away, the shambles will be in the middle of the amphitheatre where all the crowd can see. And what’s more, he has the coin, for he came into thirty million when his father had the bad luck to die. He could blow in four hundred thousand and his fortune never feel it, but his name would live forever. He has some dwarfs already, and a woman to fight from a chariot. Then, there’s Glyco’s steward; he was caught screwing Glyco’s wife. You’ll see some battle between jealous husbands and favored lovers. Anyhow, that cheap screw of a Glyco condemned his steward to the beasts and only published his own shame. How could the slave go wrong when he only obeyed orders? It would have been better if that she-piss- pot, for that’s all she’s fit for, had been tossed by the bull, but a fellow has to beat the saddle when he can’t beat the jackass. How could Glyco ever imagine that a sprig of Hermogenes’ planting could turn out well? Why, Hermogenes could trim the claws of a flying hawk, and no snake ever hatched out a rope yet! And look at Glyco! He’s smoked himself out in fine shape, and as long as he lives, he’ll carry that stain! No one but the devil himself can wipe that out, but chickens always come home to roost. My nose tells me that Mammaea will set out a spread: two bits apiece for me and mine! And he’ll nick Norbanus out of his political pull if he does; you all know that it’s to his interest to hump himself to get the best of him. And honestly, what did that fellow ever do for us? He exhibited some two cent gladiators that were so near dead they’d have fallen flat if you blew your breath at them. I’ve seen better thugs sent against wild beasts! And the cavalry he killed looked about as much like the real thing as the horsemen on the lamps; you would have taken them for dunghill cocks! One plug had about as much action as a jackass with a pack-saddle; another was club-footed; and a third who had to take the place of one that was killed, was as good as dead, and hamstrung into the bargain. There was only one that had any pep, and he was a Thracian, but he only fought when we egged him on. The whole crowd was flogged afterwards. How the mob did yell ‘Lay it on!’ They were nothing but runaways. And at that he had the nerve to say, ‘I’ve given you a show.’ ‘And I’ve applauded,’ I answered; ‘count it up and you’ll find that I gave more than I got! One hand washes the other.’”


“Agamemnon, your looks seem to say, What’s this boresome nut trying to hand us?’ Well, I’m talking because you, who can talk book-foolishness, won’t. You don’t belong to our bunch, so you laugh in your sleeve at the way us poor people talk, but we know that you’re only a fool with a lot of learning. Well, what of it? Some day I’ll get you to come to my country place and take a look at my little estate. We’ll have fresh eggs and spring chicken to chew on when we get there; it will be all right even if the weather has kept things back this year. We’ll find enough to satisfy us, and my kid will soon grow up to be a pupil of yours; he can divide up to four, now, and you’ll have a little servant at your side, if he lives. When he has a minute to himself, he never takes his eyes from his tablets; he’s smart too, and has the right kind of stuff in him, even if he is crazy about birds. I’ve had to kill three of his linnets already. I told him that a weasel had gotten them, but he’s found another hobby, now he paints all the time. He’s left the marks of his heels on his Greek already, and is doing pretty well with his Latin, although his master’s too easy with him; won’t make him stick to one thing. He comes to me to get me to give him something to write when his master don’t want to work. Then there’s another tutor, too, no scholar, but very painstaking, though; he can teach you more than he knows himself. He comes to the house on holidays and is always satisfied with whatever you pay him. Some little time ago, I bought the kid some law books; I want him to have a smattering of the law for home use. There’s bread in that! As for literature, he’s got enough of that in him already; if he begins to kick, I’ve concluded that I’ll make him learn some trade; the barber’s, say, or the auctioneer’s, or even the lawyer’s. That’s one thing no one but the devil can do him out of! ‘Believe what your daddy says, Primigenius,’ I din into his ears every day, ‘whenever you learn a thing, it’s yours. Look at Phileros the attorney; he’d not be keeping the wolf from the door now if he hadn’t studied. It’s not long since he had to carry his wares on his back and peddle them, but he can put up a front with Norbanus himself now! Learning’s a fine thing, and a trade won’t starve.’”


Twaddle of this sort was being bandied about when Trimalchio came in; mopping his forehead and washing his hands in perfume, he said, after a short pause, “Pardon me, gentlemen, but my stomach’s been on strike for the past few days and the doctors disagreed about the cause. But pomegranate rind and pitch steeped in vinegar have helped me, and I hope that my belly will get on its good behavior, for sometimes there’s such a rumbling in my guts that you’d think a bellowing bull was in there. So if anyone wants to do his business, there’s no call to be bashful about it. None of us was born solid! I don’t know of any worse torment than having to hold it in, it’s the one thing Jupiter himself can’t hold in. So you’re laughing, are you, Fortunata? Why, you’re always keeping me awake at night yourself. I never objected yet to anyone in my dining-room relieving himself when he wanted to, and the doctors forbid our holding it in. Everything’s ready outside, if the call’s more serious, water, close-stool, and anything else you’ll need. Believe me, when this rising vapor gets to the brain, it puts the whole body on the burn. Many a one I’ve known to kick in just because he wouldn’t own up to the truth.” We thanked him for his kindness and consideration, and hid our laughter by drinking more and oftener. We had not realized that, as yet, we were only in the middle of the entertainment, with a hill still ahead, as the saying goes. The tables were cleared off to the beat of music, and three white hogs, muzzled, and wearing bells, were brought into the dining-room. The announcer informed us that one was a two-year-old, another three, and the third just turned six. I had an idea that some rope-dancers had come in and that the hogs would perform tricks, just as they do for the crowd on the streets, but Trimalchio dispelled this illusion by asking, “Which one will you have served up immediately, for dinner? Any country cook can manage a dunghill cock, a pentheus hash, or little things like that, but my cooks are well used to serving up calves boiled whole, in their cauldrons!” Then he ordered a cook to be called in at once, and without awaiting our pleasure, he directed that the oldest be butchered, and demanded in a loud voice, “What division do you belong too?” When the fellow made answer that he was from the fortieth, “Were you bought, or born upon my estates?” Trimalchio continued. “Neither,” replied the cook, “I was left to you by Pansa’s will.” “See to it that this is properly done,” Trimalchio warned, “or I’ll have you transferred to the division of messengers!” and the cook, bearing his master’s warning in mind, departed for the kitchen with the next course in tow.


Trimalchio’s threatening face relaxed and he turned to us, “If the wine don’t please you,” he said, “I’ll change it; you ought to do justice to it by drinking it. I don’t have to buy it, thanks to the gods. Everything here that makes your mouths water, was produced on one of my country places which I’ve never yet seen, but they tell me it’s down Terracina and Tarentum way. I’ve got a notion to add Sicily to my other little holdings, so in case I want to go to Africa, I’ll be able to sail along my own coasts. But tell me the subject of your speech today, Agamemnon, for, though I don’t plead cases myself, I studied literature for home use, and for fear you should think I don’t care about learning, let me inform you that I have three libraries, one Greek and the others Latin. Give me the outline of your speech if you like me.”

“A poor man and a rich man were enemies,” Agamemmon began, when: “What’s a poor man?” Trimalchio broke in. “Well put,” Agamemnon conceded and went into details upon some problem or other, what it was I do not know. Trimalchio instantly rendered the following verdict, “If that’s the case, there’s nothing to dispute about; if it’s not the case, it don’t amount to anything anyhow.” These flashes of wit, and others equally scintillating, we loudly applauded, and he went on: “Tell me, my dearest Agamemnon, do you remember the twelve labors of Hercules or the story of Ulysses, how the Cyclops threw his thumb out of joint with a pig-headed crowbar? When I was a boy, I used to read those stories in Homer. And then, there’s the Sibyl: with my own eyes I saw her, at Cumae, hanging up in a jar; and whenever the boys would say to her ‘Sibyl, Sibyl, what would you?’ she would answer, ‘I would die.’”


Before he had run out of wind, a tray upon which was an enormous hog was placed upon the table, almost filling it up. We began to wonder at the dispatch with which it had been prepared and swore that no cock could have been served up in so short a time; moreover, this hog seemed to us far bigger than the boar had been. Trimalchio scrutinized it closely and “What the hell,” he suddenly bawled out, “this hog hain’t been gutted, has it? No, it hain’t, by Hercules, it hain’t! Call that cook! Call that cook in here immediately!” When the crestfallen cook stood at the table and owned up that he had forgotten to bowel him, “So you forgot, did you?” Trimalchio shouted, “You’d think he’d only left out a bit of pepper and cummin, wouldn’t you? Off with his clothes!” The cook was stripped without delay, and stood with hanging head, between two torturers. We all began to make excuses for him at this, saying, “Little things like that are bound to happen once in a while, let us prevail upon you to let him off; if he ever does such a thing again, not a one of us will have a word to say in his behalf.” But for my part, I was mercilessly angry and could not help leaning over towards Agamemnon and whispering in his ear, “It is easily seen that this fellow is criminally careless, is it not? How could anyone forget to draw a hog? If he had served me a fish in that fashion I wouldn’t overlook it, by Hercules, I wouldn’t.” But that was not Trimalchio’s way: his face relaxed into good humor and he said, “Since your memory’s so short, you can gut him right here before our eyes!” The cook put on his tunic, snatched up a carving knife, with a trembling hand, and slashed the hog’s belly in several places. Sausages and meat- puddings, widening the apertures, by their own weight, immediately tumbled out.


The whole household burst into unanimous applause at this; “Hurrah for Gaius,” they shouted. As for the cook, he was given a drink and a silver crown and a cup on a salver of Corinthian bronze. Seeing that Agamemnon was eyeing the platter closely, Trimalchio remarked, “I’m the only one that can show the real Corinthian!” I thought that, in his usual purse-proud manner, he was going to boast that his bronzes were all imported from Corinth, but he did even better by saying, “Wouldn’t you like to know how it is that I’m the only one that can show the real Corinthian? Well, it’s because the bronze worker I patronize is named Corinthus, and what’s Corinthian unless it’s what a Corinthus makes? And, so you won’t think I’m a blockhead, I’m going to show you that I’m well acquainted with how Corinthian first came into the world. When Troy was taken, Hannibal, who was a very foxy fellow and a great rascal into the bargain, piled all the gold and silver and bronze statues in one pile and set ‘em afire, melting these different metals into one: then the metal workers took their pick and made bowls and dessert dishes and statuettes as well. That’s how Corinthian was born; neither one nor the other, but an amalgam of all. But I prefer glass, if you don’t mind my saying so; it don’t stink, and if it didn’t break, I’d rather have it than gold, but it’s cheap and common now.”


“But there was an artisan, once upon a time, who made a glass vial that couldn’t be broken. On that account he was admitted to Caesar with his gift; then he dashed it upon the floor, when Caesar handed it back to him. The Emperor was greatly startled, but the artisan picked the vial up off the pavement, and it was dented, just like a brass bowl would have been! He took a little hammer out of his tunic and beat out the dent without any trouble. When he had done that, he thought he would soon be in Jupiter’s heaven, and more especially when Caesar said to him, ‘Is there anyone else who knows how to make this malleable glass? Think now!’ And when he denied that anyone else knew the secret, Caesar ordered his head chopped off, because if this should get out, we would think no more of gold than we would of dirt.”


“And when it comes to silver, I’m a connoisseur; I have goblets as big as wine-jars, a hundred of ‘em more or less, with engraving that shows how Cassandra killed her sons, and the dead boys are lying so naturally that you’d think ‘em alive. I own a thousand bowls which Mummius left to my patron, where Daedalus is shown shutting Niobe up in the Trojan horse, and I also have cups engraved with the gladiatorial contests of Hermeros and Petraites: they’re all heavy, too. I wouldn’t sell my taste in these matters for any money!” A slave dropped a cup while he was running on in this fashion. Glaring at him, Trimalchio said, “Go hang yourself, since you’re so careless.” The boy’s lip quivered and he immediately commenced to beg for mercy. “Why do you pray to me?” Trimalchio demanded, at this: “I don’t intend to be harsh with you, I’m only warning you against being so awkward.” Finally, however, we got him to give the boy a pardon and no sooner had this been done than the slave started running around the room crying, “Out with the water and in with the wine!” We all paid tribute to this joke, but Agamemnon in particular, for he well knew what strings to pull in order to secure another invitation to dinner. Tickled by our flattery, and mellowed by the wine, Trimalchio was just about drunk. “Why hasn’t one of you asked my Fortunata to dance?” he demanded, “There’s no one can do a better cancan, believe me,” and he himself raised his arms above his head and favored us with an impersonation of Syrus the actor; the whole household chanting:

Oh bravo

Oh bravissimo

in chorus, and he would have danced out into the middle of the room before us all, had not Fortunata whispered in his ear, telling him, I suppose, that such low buffoonery was not in keeping with his dignity. But nothing could be so changeable as his humor, for one minute he stood in awe of Fortunata, but his natural propensities would break out the next.

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But his passion for dancing was interrupted at this stage by a stenographer who read aloud, as if he were reading the public records, “On the seventh of the Kalends of July, on Trimalchio’s estates near Cumae, were born thirty boys and forty girls: five hundred pecks of wheat were taken from the threshing floors and stored in the granaries: five hundred oxen were put to yoke: the slave Mithridates was crucified on the same date for cursing the genius of our master, Gaius: on said date ten million sesterces were returned to the vaults as no sound investment could be found: on said date, a fire broke out in the gardens at Pompeii, said fire originating in the house of Nasta, the bailiff.” “What’s that?” demanded Trimalchio. “When were the gardens at Pompeii bought for me?” “Why, last year,” answered the stenographer, “for that reason the item has not appeared in the accounts.” Trimalchio flew into a rage at this. “If I’m not told within six months of any real estate that’s bought for me,” he shouted, “I forbid it’s being carried to my account at all!” Next, the edicts of his aediles were read aloud, and the wills of some of his foresters in which Trimalchio was disinherited by a codicil, then the names of his bailiffs, and that of a freedwoman who had been repudiated by a night watchman, after she had been caught in bed with a bath attendant, that of a porter banished to Baioe, a steward who was standing trial, and lastly the report of a decision rendered in the matter of a lawsuit, between some valets. When this was over with, some rope dancers came in and a very boresome fool stood holding a ladder, ordering his boy to dance from rung to rung, and finally at the top, all this to the music of popular airs; then the boy was compelled to jump through blazing hoops while grasping a huge wine jar with his teeth. Trimalchio was the only one who was much impressed by these tricks, remarking that it was a thankless calling and adding that in all the world there were just two things which could give him acute pleasure, rope-dancers and horn blowers; all other entertainments were nothing but nonsense. “I bought a company of comedians,” he went on, “but I preferred for them to put on Atellane farces, and I ordered my flute-player to play Latin airs only.”


While our noble Gaius was still talking away, the boy slipped and fell, alighting upon Trimalchio’s arm. The whole household cried out, as did also the guests, not that they bore such a coarse fellow any good will, as they would gladly have seen his neck broken, but because such an unlucky ending to the dinner might make it necessary for them to go into mourning over a total stranger. As for Trimalchio, he groaned heavily and bent over his arm as though it had been injured: doctors flocked around him, and Fortunata was among the very first, her hair was streaming and she held a cup in her hand and screamed out her grief and unhappiness. As for the boy who had fallen, he was crawling at our feet, imploring pardon. I was uneasy for fear his prayers would lead up to some ridiculous theatrical climax, for I had not yet been able to forget that cook who had forgotten to bowel that hog, and so, for this reason, I began to scan the whole dining-room very closely, to see if an automaton would come out through the wall; and all the more so as a slave was beaten for having bound up his master’s bruised arm in white wool instead of purple. Nor was my suspicion unjustified, for in place of punishment, Trimalchio ordered that the boy be freed, so that no one could say that so exalted a personage had been injured by a slave.


We applauded his action and engaged in a discussion upon the instability of human affairs, which many took sides. “A good reason,” declared Trimalchio, “why such an occasion shouldn’t slip by without an epigram.” He called for his tablets at once, and after racking his brains for a little while, he got off the following:

The unexpected will turn up;
Our whole lives Fortune bungles up.
Falernian, boy, hand round the cup.

This epigram led up to a discussion of the poets, and for a long time, the greatest praise was bestowed upon Mopsus the Thracian, until Trimalchio broke in with: “Professor, I wish you’d tell me how you’d compare Cicero and Publilius. I’m of the opinion that the first was the more eloquent, but that the last moralizes more beautifully, for what can excel these lines?

Insatiable luxury crumbles the walls of war;
To satiate gluttony, peacocks in coops are brought
Arrayed in gold plumage like Babylon tapestry rich.
Numidian guinea-fowls, capons, all perish for thee:
And even the wandering stork, welcome guest that he is,
The emblem of sacred maternity, slender of leg
And gloctoring exile from winter, herald of spring,
Still, finds his last nest in the--cauldron of gluttony base.
India surrenders her pearls; and what mean they to thee?
That thy wife decked with sea-spoils adorning her breast and her head
On the couch of a stranger lies lifting adulterous legs?
The emerald green, the glass bauble, what mean they to thee?
Or the fire of the ruby? Except that pure chastity shine
From the depth of the jewels: in garments of woven wind clad
Our brides might as well take their stand, their game naked to stalk,
As seek it in gossamer tissue transparent as air.”


“What should we say was the hardest calling, after literature?” he asked. “That of the doctor or that of the money-changer, I would say: the doctor, because he has to know what poor devils have got in their insides, and when the fever’s due: but I hate them like the devil, for my part, because they’re always ordering me on a diet of duck soup: and the money-changer’s, because he’s got to be able to see the silver through the copper plating. When we come to the dumb beasts, the oxen and sheep are the hardest worked, the oxen, thanks to whose labor we have bread to chew on, the sheep, because their wool tricks us out so fine. It’s the greatest outrage under the sun for people to eat mutton and then wear a tunic. Then there’s the bee: in my opinion, they’re divine insects because they puke honey, though there are folks that claim that they bring it from Jupiter, and that’s the reason they sting, too, for wherever you find a sweet, you’ll find a bitter too.” He was just putting the philosophers out of business when lottery tickets were passed around in a cup. A slave boy assigned to that duty read aloud the names of the souvenirs: “Silver s--ham,” a ham was brought in with some silver vinegar cruets on top of it; “cervical"--something soft for the neck--a piece of the cervix--neck--of a sheep was brought in; “serisapia"--after wit--“and contumelia"--insult--we were given must wafers and an apple-melon--and a phallus--contus--; “porri"--leeks--“and persica,” he picked up a whip and a knife; “passeres"--sparrows” and a fly--trap,” the answer was raisins--uva passa--and Attic honey; “cenatoria"--a dinner toga--“and forensia"--business dress--he handed out a piece of meat--suggestive of dinner--and a note-book--suggestive of business--; “canale"--chased by a dog--“and pedale"--pertaining to the foot--, a hare and a slipper were brought out; “lamphrey"--murena--“and a letter,” he held up a mouse--mus--and a frog--rana--tied together, and a bundle of beet--beta--the Greek letter beta--. We laughed long and loud, there were a thousand of these jokes, more or less, which have now escaped my memory.


But Ascyltos threw off all restraint and ridiculed everything; throwing up his hands, he laughed until the tears ran down his cheeks. At last, one of Trimalchio’s fellow-freedmen, the one who had the place next to me, flew into a rage, “What’s the joke, sheep’s-head,” he bawled, “Don’t our host’s swell entertainment suit you? You’re richer than he is, I suppose, and used to dining better! As I hope the guardian spirit of this house will be on my side, I’d have stopped his bleating long ago if I’d been sitting next to him. He’s a peach, he is, laughing at others; some vagabond or other from who-knows-where, some night-pad who’s not worth his own piss: just let me piss a ring around him and he wouldn’t know where to run to! I ain’t easy riled, no, by Hercules, I ain’t, but worms breed in tender flesh. Look at him laugh! What the hell’s he got to laugh at? Is his family so damned fine-haired? So you’re a Roman knight! Well, I’m a king’s son! How’s it come that you’ve been a slave, you’ll ask because I put myself into service because I’d rather be a Roman citizen than a tax-paying provincial. And now I hope that my life will be such that no one can jeer at me. I’m a man among men! I take my stroll bareheaded and owe no man a copper cent. I never had a summons in my life and no one ever said to me, in the forum, pay me what you owe me. I’ve bought a few acres and saved up a few dollars and I feed twenty bellies and a dog. I ransomed my bedfellow so no one could wipe his hands on her bosom; a thousand dinars it cost me, too. I was chosen priest of Augustus without paying the fee, and I hope that I won’t need to blush in my grave after I’m dead. But you’re so busy that you can’t look behind you; you can spot a louse on someone else, all right, but you can’t see the tick on yourself. You’re the only one that thinks we’re so funny; look at your professor, he’s older than you are, and we’re good enough for him, but you’re only a brat with the milk still in your nose and all you can prattle is ‘ma’ or ‘mu,’ you’re only a clay pot, a piece of leather soaked in water, softer and slipperier, but none the better for that. You’ve got more coin than we have, have you? Then eat two breakfasts and two dinners a day. I’d rather have my reputation than riches, for my part, and before I make an end of this--who ever dunned me twice? In all the forty years I was in service, no one could tell whether I was free or a slave. I was only a long-haired boy when I came to this colony and the town house was not built then. I did my best to please my master and he was a digniferous and majestical gentleman whose nail-parings were worth more than your whole carcass. I had enemies in his house, too, who would have been glad to trip me up, but I swam the flood, thanks to his kindness. Those are the things that try your mettle, for it’s as easy to be born a gentleman as to say, ‘Come here.’ Well, what are you gaping at now, like a billy-goat in a vetch-field?”


Giton, who had been standing at my feet, and who had for some time been holding in his laughter, burst into an uproarious guffaw, at this last figure of speech, and when Ascyltos’ adversary heard it, he turned his abuse upon the boy. “What’s so funny, you curly-headed onion,” he bellowed, “are the Saturnalia here, I’d like to know? Is it December now?

“When did you pay your twentieth? What’s this to you, you gallows-bird, you crow’s meat? I’ll call the anger of Jupiter down on you and that master of yours, who don’t keep you in better order. If I didn’t respect my fellow-freedmen, I’d give you what is coming to you right here on the spot, as I hope to get my belly full of bread, I would. We’ll get along well enough, but those that can’t control you are fools; like master like man’s a true saying. I can hardly hold myself in and I’m not hot-headed by nature, but once let me get a start and I don’t care two cents for my own mother. All right, I’ll catch you in the street, you rat, you toadstool. May I never grow an inch up or down if I don’t push your master into a dunghill, and I’ll give you the same medicine, I will, by Hercules, I will, no matter if you call down Olympian Jupiter himself! I’ll take care of your eight inch ringlets and your two cent master into the bargain. I’ll have my teeth into you, either you’ll cut out the laughing, or I don’t know myself. Yes, even if you had a golden beard. I’ll bring the wrath of Minerva down on you and on the fellow that first made a come-here out of you. No, I never learned geometry or criticism or other foolishness like that, but I know my capital letters and I can divide any figure by a hundred, be it in asses, pounds or sesterces. Let’s have a show-down, you and I will make a little bet, here’s my coin; you’ll soon find out that your father’s money was wasted on your education, even if you do know a little rhetoric. How’s this--what part of us am I? I come far, I come wide, now guess me! I’ll give you another. What part of us runs but never moves from its place? What part of us grows but always grows less? But you scurry around and are as flustered and fidgeted as a mouse in a piss-pot. Shut up and don’t annoy your betters, who don’t even know that you’ve been born. Don’t think that I’m impressed by those boxwood armlets that you did your mistress out of. Occupo will back me! Let’s go into the forum and borrow money, then you’ll see whether this iron ring means credit! Bah! A draggled fox is a fine sight, ain’t it’? I hope I never get rich and die decently so that the people will swear by my death, if I don’t hound you everywhere with my toga turned inside out. And the fellow that taught you such manners did a good job too, a chattering ape, all right, no schoolmaster. We were better taught. ‘Is everything in its place?’ the master would ask; go straight home and don’t stop and stare at everything and don’t be impudent to your elders. Don’t loiter along looking in at the shops. No second raters came out of that school. I’m what you see me and I thank the gods it’s all due to my own cleverness.”

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Ascyltos was just starting in to answer this indictment when Trimalchio, who was delighted with his fellow-freedman’s tirade, broke in, “Cut out the bickering and let’s have things pleasant here. Let up on the young fellow, Hermeros, he’s hot-blooded, so you ought to be more reasonable. The loser’s always the winner in arguments of this kind. And as for you, even when you were a young punk you used to go ‘Co-co co-co,’ like a hen after a rooster, but you had no pep. Let’s get to better business and start the fun all over again and watch the Homerists.” A troupe filed in, immediately, and clashed spears against shields. Trimalchio sat himself up on his cushion and intoned in Latin, from a book, while the actors, in accordance with their conceited custom, recited their parts in the Greek language. There came a pause, presently, and “You don’t any of you know the plot of the skit they’re putting on, do you?” he asked, “Diomedes and Ganymede were two brothers, and Helen was their sister; Agamemnon ran away with her and palmed off a doe on Diana, in her place, so Homer tells how the Trojans and Parentines fought among themselves. Of course Agamemnon was victorious, and gave his daughter Iphigenia, to Achilles, for a wife: This caused Ajax to go mad, and he’ll soon make the whole thing plain to you.” The Homerists raised a shout, as soon as Trimalchio had done speaking, and, as the whole familia stepped back, a boiled calf with a helmet on its head was brought in on an enormous platter. Ajax followed and rushed upon it with drawn sword, as if he were insane, he made passes with the flat, and again with the edge, and then, collecting the slices, he skewered them, and, much to our astonishment, presented them to us on the point of his sword.


But we were not given long in which to admire the elegance of such service, for all of a sudden the ceiling commenced to creak and then the whole dining-room shook. I leaped to my feet in consternation, for fear some rope-walker would fall down, and the rest of the company raised their faces, wondering as much as I what new prodigy was to be announced from on high. Then lo and behold! the ceiling panels parted and an enormous hoop, which appeared to have been knocked off a huge cask, was lowered from the dome above; its perimeter was hung with golden chaplets and jars of alabaster filled with perfume. We were asked to accept these articles as souvenirs. When my glance returned to the table, I noticed that a dish containing cakes had been placed upon it, and in the middle an image of Priapus, made by the baker, and he held apples of all varieties and bunches of grapes against his breast, in the conventional manner. We applied ourselves wholeheartedly to this dessert and our joviality was suddenly revived by a fresh diversion, for, at the slightest pressure, all the cakes and fruits would squirt a saffron sauce upon us, and even spurted unpleasantly into our faces. Being convinced that these perfumed dainties had some religious significance, we arose in a body and shouted, “Hurrah for the Emperor, the father of his country!” However, as we perceived that even after this act of veneration, the others continued helping themselves, we filled our napkins with the apples. I was especially keen on this, for I thought I could never put enough good things into Giton’s lap. Three slaves entered, in the meantime, dressed in white tunics well tucked up, and two of them placed Lares with amulets hanging from their necks, upon the table, while the third carried round a bowl of wine and cried, “May the gods be propitious!” One was called Cerdo--business--, Trimalchio informed us, the other Lucrio--luck--and the third Felicio--profit--and, when all the rest had kissed a true likeness of Trimalchio, we were ashamed to pass it by.


After they had all wished each other sound minds and good health, Trimalchio turned to Niceros. “You used to be better company at dinner,” he remarked, “and I don’t know why you should be dumb today, with never a word to say. If you wish to make me happy, tell about that experience you had, I beg of you.” Delighted at the affability of his friend, “I hope I lose all my luck if I’m not tickled to death at the humor I see you in,” Niceros replied. “All right, let’s go the limit for a good time, though I’m afraid these scholars’ll laugh at me, but I’ll tell my tale and they can go as far as they like. What t’hell do I care who laughs? It’s better to be laughed at than laughed down.” These words spake the hero, and began the following tale: “We lived in a narrow street in the house Gavilla now owns, when I was a slave. There, by the will of the gods, I fell in love with the wife of Terentius, the innkeeper; you knew Melissa of Tarentum, that pretty round-checked little wench. It was no carnal passion, so hear me, Hercules, it wasn’t; I was not in love with her physical charms. No, it was because she was such a good sport. I never asked her for a thing and had her deny me; if she had an as, I had half. I trusted her with everything I had and never was done out of anything. Her husband up and died on the place, one day, so I tried every way I could to get to her, for you know friends ought to show up when anyone’s in a pinch.


“It so happened that our master had gone to Capua to attend to some odds and ends of business and I seized the opportunity, and persuaded a guest of the house to accompany me as far as the fifth mile-stone. He was a soldier, and as brave as the very devil. We set out about cock-crow, the moon was shining as bright as midday, and came to where the tombstones are. My man stepped aside amongst them, but I sat down, singing, and commenced to count them up. When I looked around for my companion, he had stripped himself and piled his clothes by the side of the road. My heart was in my mouth, and I sat there while he pissed a ring around them and was suddenly turned into a wolf! Now don’t think I’m joking, I wouldn’t lie for any amount of money, but as I was saying, he commenced to howl after he was turned into a wolf, and ran away into the forest. I didn’t know where I was for a minute or two, then I went to his clothes, to pick them up, and damned if they hadn’t turned to stone! Was ever anyone nearer dead from fright than me? Then I whipped out my sword and cut every shadow along the road to bits, till I came to the house of my mistress. I looked like a ghost when I went in, and I nearly slipped my wind. The sweat was pouring down my crotch, my eyes were staring, and I could hardly be brought around. My Melissa wondered why I was out so late. “Oh, if you’d only come sooner,” she said, “you could have helped us: a wolf broke into the folds and attacked the sheep, bleeding them like a butcher. But he didn’t get the laugh on me, even if he did get away, for one of the slaves ran his neck through with a spear!” I couldn’t keep my eyes shut any longer when I heard that, and as soon as it grew light, I rushed back to our Gaius’ house like an innkeeper beaten out of his bill, and when I came to the place where the clothes had been turned into stone, there was nothing but a pool of blood! And moreover, when I got home, my soldier was lying in bed, like an ox, and a doctor was dressing his neck! I knew then that he was a werewolf, and after that, I couldn’t have eaten a crumb of bread with him, no, not if you had killed me. Others can think what they please about this, but as for me, I hope your geniuses will all get after me if I lie.”


We were all dumb with astonishment, when “I take your story for granted,” said Trimalchio, “and if you’ll believe me, my hair stood on end, and all the more, because I know that Niceros never talks nonsense: he’s always level-headed, not a bit gossipy. And now I’ll tell you a hair-raiser myself, though I’m like a jackass on a slippery pavement compared to him. When I was a long-haired boy, for I lived a Chian life from my youth up, my master’s minion died. He was a jewel, so hear me Hercules, he was, perfect in every facet. While his sorrow-stricken mother was bewailing his loss, and the rest of us were lamenting with her, the witches suddenly commenced to screech so loud that you would have thought a hare was being run down by the hounds! At that time, we had a Cappadocian slave, tall, very bold, and he had muscle too; he could hold a mad bull in the air! He wrapped a mantle around his left arm, boldly rushed out of doors with drawn sword, and ran a woman through the middle about here, no harm to what I touch. We heard a scream, but as a matter of fact, for I won’t lie to you, we didn’t catch sight of the witches themselves. Our simpleton came back presently, and threw himself upon the bed. His whole body was black and blue, as if he had been flogged with whips, and of course the reason of that was she had touched him with her evil hand! We shut the door and returned to our business, but when the mother put her arms around the body of her son, it turned out that it was only a straw bolster, no heart, no guts, nothing! Of course the witches had swooped down upon the lad and put the straw changeling in his place! Believe me or not, suit yourselves, but I say that there are women that know too much, and night-hags, too, and they turn everything upside down! And as for the long-haired booby, he never got back his own natural color and he died, raving mad, a few days later.”


Though we wondered greatly, we believed none the less implicitly and, kissing the table, we besought the night-hags to attend to their own affairs while we were returning home from dinner. As far as I was concerned, the lamps already seemed to burn double and the whole dining-room was going round, when “See here, Plocamus,” Trimalchio spoke up, “haven’t you anything to tell us? You haven’t entertained us at all, have you? And you used to be fine company, always ready to oblige with a recitation or a song. The gods bless us, how the green figs have fallen!” “True for you,” the fellow answered, “since I’ve got the gout my sporting days are over; but in the good old times when I was a young spark, I nearly sang myself into a consumption. How I used to dance! And take my part in a farce, or hold up my end in the barber shops! Who could hold a candle to me except, of course, the one and only Apelles?” He then put his hand to his mouth and hissed out some foul gibberish or other, and said afterwards that it was Greek. Trimalchio himself then favored us with an impersonation of a man blowing a trumpet, and when he had finished, he looked around for his minion, whom he called Croesus, a blear-eyed slave whose teeth were very disagreeably discolored. He was playing with a little black bitch, disgustingly fat, wrapping her up in a leek-green scarf and teasing her with a half-loaf of bread which he had put on the couch; and when from sheer nausea, she refused it, he crammed it down her throat. This sight put Trimalchio in mind of his own dog and he ordered Scylax, “the guardian of his house and home,” to be brought in. An enormous dog was immediately led in upon a chain and, obeying a kick from the porter, it lay down beside the table. Thereupon Trimalchio remarked, as he threw it a piece of white bread, “No one in all my house loves me better than Scylax.” Enraged at Trimalchio’s praising Scylax so warmly, the slave put the bitch down upon the floor and sicked her on to fight. Scylax, as might have been expected from such a dog, made the whole room ring with his hideous barking and nearly shook the life out of the little bitch which the slave called Pearl. Nor did the uproar end in a dog fight, a candelabrum was upset upon the table, breaking the glasses and spattering some of the guests with hot oil. As Trimalchio did not wish to seem concerned at the loss, he kissed the boy and ordered him to climb upon his own back. The slave did not hesitate but, mounting his rocking-horse, he beat Trimalchio’s shoulders with his open palms, yelling with laughter, “Buck! Buck! How many fingers do I hold up!” When Trimalchio had, in a measure, regained his composure, which took but a little while, he ordered that a huge vessel be filled with mixed wine, and that drinks be served to all the slaves sitting around our feet, adding as an afterthought, “If anyone refuses to drink, pour it on his head: business is business, but now’s the time for fun.”

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The dainties that followed this display of affability were of such a nature that, if any reliance is to be placed in my word, the very mention of them makes me sick at the stomach. Instead of thrushes, fattened chickens were served, one to each of us, and goose eggs with pastry caps on them, which same Trimalchio earnestly entreated us to eat, informing us that the chickens had all been boned. Just at that instant, however, a lictor knocked at the dining-room door, and a reveler, clad in white vestments, entered, followed by a large retinue. Startled at such pomp, I thought that the Praetor had arrived, so I put my bare feet upon the floor and started to get up, but Agamemnon laughed at my anxiety and said, “Keep your seat, you idiot, it’s only Habinnas the sevir; he’s a stone mason, and if report speaks true, he makes the finest tombstones imaginable.” Reassured by this information, I lay back upon my couch and watched Habinnas’ entrance with great curiosity. Already drunk and wearing several wreaths, his forehead smeared with perfume which ran down into his eyes, he advanced with his hands upon his wife’s shoulders, and, seating himself in the Praetor’s place, he called for wine and hot water. Delighted with his good humor, Trimalchio called for a larger goblet for himself, and asked him, at the same time, how he had been entertained. “We had everything except yourself, for my heart and soul were here, but it was fine, it was, by Hercules. Scissa was giving a Novendial feast for her slave, whom she freed on his death-bed, and it’s my opinion she’ll have a large sum to split with the tax gatherers, for the dead man was rated at 50,000, but everything went off well, even if we did have to pour half our wine on the bones of the late lamented.”


“But,” demanded Trimalchio, “what did you have for dinner’?” “I’ll tell you if I can,” answered he, “for my memory’s so good that I often forget my own name. Let’s see, for the first course, we had a hog, crowned with a wine cup and garnished with cheese cakes and chicken livers cooked well done, beets, of course, and whole-wheat bread, which I’d rather have than white, because it puts strength into you, and when I take a crap afterwards, I don’t have to yell. Following this, came a course of tarts, served cold, with excellent Spanish wine poured over warm honey; I ate several of the tarts and got the honey all over myself. Then there were chick-peas and lupines, all the smooth-shelled nuts you wanted, and an apple apiece, but I got away with two, and here they are, tied up in my napkin; for I’ll have a row on my hands if I don’t bring some kind of a present home to my favorite slave. Oh yes, my wife has just reminded me, there was a haunch of bear-meat as a side dish, Scintilla ate some of it without knowing what it was, and she nearly puked up her guts when she found out. But as for me, I ate more than a pound of it, for it tasted exactly like wild boar and, says I, if a bear eats a man, shouldn’t that be all the more reason for a man to eat a bear? The last course was soft cheese, new wine boiled thick, a snail apiece, a helping of tripe, liver pate, capped eggs, turnips and mustard. But that’s enough. Pickled olives were handed around in a wooden bowl, and some of the party greedily snatched three handfuls, we had ham, too, but we sent it back.”


“But why isn’t Fortunata at the table, Gaius? Tell me.” “What’s that,” Trimalchio replied; “don’t you know her better than that? She wouldn’t touch even a drop of water till after the silver was put away and the leftovers divided among the slaves.” “I’m going to beat it if she don’t take her place,” Habinnas threatened, and started to get up; and then, at a signal, the slaves all called out together “Fortunata,” four times or more.

She appeared, girded round with a sash of greenish yellow, below which a cherry-colored tunic could be seen, and she had on twisted anklets and sandals worked in gold. Then, wiping her hands upon a handkerchief which she wore around her neck, she seated herself upon the couch, beside Scintilla, Habinnas’ wife, and clapping her hands and kissing her, “My dear,” she gushed, “is it really you?” Fortunata then removed the bracelets from her pudgy arms and held them out to the admiring Scintilla, and by and by she took off her anklets and even her yellow hair-net, which was twenty-four carats fine, she would have us know! Trimalchio, who was on the watch, ordered every trinket to be brought to him. “You see these things, don’t you?” he demanded; “they’re what women fetter us with. That’s the way us poor suckers are done! These ought to weigh six pounds and a half. I have an arm-band myself, that don’t weigh a grain under ten pounds; I bought it out of Mercury’s thousandths, too.” Finally, for fear he would seem to be lying, he ordered the scales to be brought in and carried around to prove the weights. And Scintilla was no better. She took off a small golden vanity case which she wore around her neck, and which she called her Lucky Box, and took from it two eardrops, which, in her turn, she handed to Fortunata to be inspected. “Thanks to the generosity of my husband,” she smirked, “no woman has better.” “What’s that?” Habinnas demanded. “You kept on my trail to buy that glass bean for you; if I had a daughter, I’ll be damned if I wouldn’t cut off her little ears. We’d have everything as cheap as dirt if there were no women, but we have to piss hot and drink cold, the way things are now.” The women, angry though they were, were laughing together, in the meantime, and exchanging drunken kisses, the one running on about her diligence as a housekeeper, and the other about the infidelities and neglect of her husband. Habinnas got up stealthily, while they were clinging together in this fashion and, seizing Fortunata by the feet, he tipped her over backwards upon the couch. “Let go!” she screeched, as her tunic slipped above her knees; then, after pulling down her clothing, she threw herself into Scintilla’s lap, and hid, with her handkerchief, a face which was none the more beautiful for its blushes.

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After a short interval, Trimalchio gave orders for the dessert to be served, whereupon the slaves took away all the tables and brought in others, and sprinkled the floor with sawdust mixed with saffron and vermilion, and also with powdered mica, a thing I had never seen done before. When all this was done Trimalchio remarked, “I could rest content with this course, for you have your second tables, but, if you’ve something especially nice, why bring it on.” Meanwhile an Alexandrian slave boy, who had been serving hot water, commenced to imitate a nightingale, and when Trimalchio presently called out, “Change your tune,” we had another surprise, for a slave, sitting at Habinnas’ feet, egged on, I have no doubt, by his own master, bawled suddenly in a singsong voice, “Meanwhile AEneas and all of his fleet held his course on the billowy deep”; never before had my ears been assailed by a sound so discordant, for in addition to his barbarous pronunciation, and the raising and lowering of his voice, he interpolated Atellane verses, and, for the first time in my life, Virgil grated on my nerves. When he had to quit, finally, from sheer want of breath, “Did he ever have any training,” Habinnas exclaimed, “no, not he! I educated him by sending him among the grafters at the fair, so when it comes to taking off a barker or a mule driver, there’s not his equal, and the rogue’s clever, too, he’s a shoemaker, or a cook, or a baker a regular jack of all trades. But he has two faults, and if he didn’t have them, he’d be beyond all price: he snores and he’s been circumcised. And that’s the reason he never can keep his mouth shut and always has an eye open. I paid three hundred dinars for him.”


“Yes,” Scintilla broke in, “and you’ve not mentioned all of his accomplishments either; he’s a pimp too, and I’m going to see that he’s branded,” she snapped. Trimalchio laughed. “There’s where the Cappadocian comes out,” he said; “never cheats himself out of anything and I admire him for it, so help me Hercules, I do. No one can show a dead man a good time. Don’t be jealous, Scintilla; we’re next to you women, too, believe me. As sure as you see me here safe and sound, I used to play at thrust and parry with Mamma, my mistress, and finally even my master got suspicious and sent me back to a stewardship; but keep quiet, tongue, and I’ll give you a cake.” Taking all this as praise, the wretched slave pulled a small earthen lamp from a fold in his garment, and impersonated a trumpeter for half an hour or more, while Habinnas hummed with him, holding his finger pressed to his lips. Finally, the slave stepped out into the middle of the floor and waved his pipes in imitation of a flute-player; then, with a whip and a smock, he enacted the part of a mule-driver. At last Habinnas called him over and kissed him and said, as he poured a drink for him, “You get better all the time, Massa. I’m going to give you a pair of shoes.” Had not the dessert been brought in, we would never have gotten to the end of these stupidities. Thrushes made of pastry and stuffed with nuts and raisins, quinces with spines sticking out so that they looked like sea-urchins. All this would have been endurable enough had it not been for the last dish that was served; so revolting was this, that we would rather have died of starvation than to have even touched it. We thought that a fat goose, flanked with fish and all kinds of birds, had been served, until Trimalchio spoke up. “Everything you see here, my friends,” said he, “was made from the same stuff.” With my usual keen insight, I jumped to the conclusion that I knew what that stuff was and, turning to Agamemnon, I said, “I shall be greatly surprised, if all those things are not made out of excrement, or out of mud, at the very least: I saw a like artifice practiced at Rome during the Saturnalia.”

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I had not done speaking, when Trimalchio chimed in, “As I hope to grow fatter in fortune but not in figure, my cook has made all this out of a hog! It would be simply impossible to meet up with a more valuable fellow: he’d make you a fish out of a sow’s coynte, if that’s what you wanted, a pigeon out of her lard, a turtle-dove out of her ham, and a hen out of a knuckle of pork: that’s why I named him Daedalus, in a happy moment. I brought him a present of knives, from Rome, because he’s so smart; they’re made of Noric steel, too.” He ordered them brought in immediately, and looked them over, with admiration, even giving us the chance to try their edges upon our cheeks. Then all of a sudden two slaves came in, carrying on as if they had been fighting at the fountain, at least; each one had a water-jar hanging from a yoke around his neck. Trimalchio arbitrated their difference, but neither would abide by his decision, and each one smashed the other’s jar with a club. Perturbed at the insolence of these drunken ruffians, we watched both of them narrowly, while they were fighting, and then, what should come pouring out of the broken jars but oysters and scallops, which a slave picked up and passed around in a dish. The resourceful cook would not permit himself to be outdone by such refinements, but served us with snails on a silver gridiron, and sang continually in a tremulous and very discordant voice. I am ashamed to have to relate what followed, for, contrary to all convention, some long-haired boys brought in unguents in a silver basin and anointed the feet of the reclining guests; but before doing this, however, they bound our thighs and ankles with garlands of flowers. They then perfumed the wine-mixing vessel with the same unguent and poured some of the melted liquid into the lamps. Fortunata had, by this time, taken a notion that she wanted to dance, and Scintilla was doing more hand-clapping than talking, when Trimalchio called out, “Philargyrus, and you too, Carrio, you can both come to the table; even if you are green faction fans, and tell your bedfellow, Menophila, to come too.” What would you think happened then? We were nearly crowded off the couches by the mob of slaves that crowded into the dining-room and almost filled it full. As a matter of fact, I noticed that our friend the cook, who had made a goose out of a hog, was placed next to me, and he stunk from sauces and pickle. Not satisfied with a place at the table, he immediately staged an impersonation of Ephesus the tragedian, and then he suddenly offered to bet his master that the greens would take first place in the next circus games.


Trimalchio was hugely tickled at this challenge. “Slaves are men, my friends,” he observed, “but that’s not all, they sucked the same milk that we did, even if hard luck has kept them down; and they’ll drink the water of freedom if I live: to make a long story short, I’m freeing all of them in my will. To Philargyrus, I’m leaving a farm, and his bedfellow, too. Carrio will get a tenement house and his twentieth, and a bed and bedclothes to boot. I’m making Fortunata my heir and I commend her to all my friends. I announce all this in public so that my household will love me as well now as they will when I’m dead.” They all commenced to pay tribute to the generosity of their master, when he, putting aside his trifling, ordered a copy of his will brought in, which same he read aloud from beginning to end, to the groaning accompaniment of the whole household. Then, looking at Habinnas, “What say you, my dearest friend,” he entreated; “you’ll construct my monument in keeping with the plans I’ve given you, won’t you? I earnestly beg that you carve a little bitch at the feet of my statue, some wreaths and some jars of perfume, and all of the fights of Petraites. Then I’ll be able to live even after I’m dead, thanks to your kindness. See to it that it has a frontage of one hundred feet and a depth of two hundred. I want fruit trees of every kind planted around my ashes; and plenty of vines, too, for it’s all wrong for a man to deck out his house when he’s alive, and then have no pains taken with the one he must stay in for a longer time, and that’s the reason I particularly desire that this notice be added:



“In any case, I’ll see to it through a clause in my will, that I’m not insulted when I’m dead. And for fear the rabble comes running up into my monument, to crap, I’ll appoint one of my freedmen custodian of my tomb. I want you to carve ships under full sail on my monument, and me, in my robes of office, sitting on my tribunal, five gold rings on my fingers, pouring out coin from a sack for the people, for I gave a dinner and two dinars for each guest, as you know. Show a banquet-hall, too, if you can, and the people in it having a good time. On my right, you can place a statue of Fortunata holding a dove and leading a little bitch on a leash, and my favorite boy, and large jars sealed with gypsum, so the wine won’t run out; show one broken and a boy crying over it. Put a sun-dial in the middle, so that whoever looks to see what time it is must read my name whether he wants to or not. As for the inscription, think this over carefully, and see if you think it’s appropriate:













When he had repeated these words, Trimalchio began to weep copiously, Fortunata was crying already, and so was Habinnas, and at last, the whole household filled the dining-room with their lamentations, just as if they were taking part in a funeral. Even I was beginning to sniffle, when Trimalchio said, “Let’s live while we can, since we know we’ve all got to die. I’d rather see you all happy, anyhow, so let’s take a plunge in the bath. You’ll never regret it. I’ll bet my life on that, it’s as hot as a furnace!” “Fine business,” seconded Habinnas, “there’s nothing suits me better than making two days out of one,” and he got up in his bare feet to follow Trimalchio, who was clapping his hands. I looked at Ascyltos. “What do you think about this?” I asked. “The very sight of a bath will be the death of me.” “Let’s fall in with his suggestion,” he replied, “and while they are hunting for the bath we will escape in the crowd.” Giton led us out through the porch, when we had reached this understanding, and we came to a door, where a dog on a chain startled us so with his barking that Ascyltos immediately fell into the fish-pond. As for myself, I was tipsy and had been badly frightened by a dog that was only a painting, and when I tried to haul the swimmer out, I was dragged into the pool myself. The porter finally came to our rescue, quieted the dog by his appearance, and pulled us, shivering, to dry land. Giton had ransomed himself by a very cunning scheme, for what we had saved for him, from dinner, he threw to the barking brute, which then calmed its fury and became engrossed with the food. But when, with chattering teeth, we besought the porter to let us out at the door, “If you think you can leave by the same door you came in at,” he replied, “you’re mistaken: no guest is ever allowed to go out through the same door he came in at; some are for entrance, others for exit.”

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What were we miserable wretches to do, shut up in this newfangled labyrinth. The idea of taking a hot bath had commenced to grow in favor, so we finally asked the porter to lead us to the place and, throwing off our clothing, which Giton spread out in the hall to dry, we went in. It was very small, like a cold water cistern; Trimalchio was standing upright in it, and one could not escape his disgusting bragging even here. He declared that there was nothing nicer than bathing without a mob around, and that a bakery had formerly occupied this very spot. Tired out at last, he sat down, but when the echoes of the place tempted him, he lifted his drunken mouth to the ceiling, and commenced murdering the songs of Menacrates, at least that is what we were told by those who understood his language. Some of the guests joined hands and ran around the edge of the pool, making the place ring with their boisterous peals of laughter; others tried to pick rings up from the floor, with their hands tied behind them, or else, going down upon their knees, tried to touch the ends of their toes by bending backwards. We went down into the pool while the rest were taking part in such amusements. It was being heated for Trimalchio. When the fumes of the wine had been dissipated, we were conducted into another dining-room where Fortunata had laid out her own treasures; I noticed, for instance, that there were little bronze fishermen upon the lamps, the tables were of solid silver, the cups were porcelain inlaid with gold; before our eyes wine was being strained through a straining cloth. “One of my slaves shaves his first beard today,” Trimalchio remarked, at length, “a promising, honest, thrifty lad; may he have no bad luck, so let’s get our skins full and stick around till morning.”

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He had not ceased speaking when a cock crowed! Alarmed at this omen, Trimalchio ordered wine thrown under the table and told them to sprinkle the lamps with it; and he even went so far as to change his ring from his left hand to his right. “That trumpeter did not sound off without a reason,” he remarked; “there’s either a fire in the neighborhood, or else someone’s going to give up the ghost. I hope it’s none of us! Whoever brings that Jonah in shall have a present.” He had no sooner made this promise, than a cock was brought in from somewhere in the neighborhood and Trimalchio ordered the cook to prepare it for the pot. That same versatile genius who had but a short time before made birds and fish out of a hog, cut it up; it was then consigned to the kettle, and while Daedalus was taking a long hot drink, Fortunata ground pepper in a boxwood mill. When these delicacies had been consumed, Trimalchio looked the slaves over. “You haven’t had anything to eat yet, have you?” he asked. “Get out and let another relay come on duty.” Thereupon a second relay came in. “Farewell, Gaius,” cried those going off duty, and “Hail, Gaius,” cried those coming on. Our hilarity was somewhat dampened soon after, for a boy, who was by no means bad looking, came in among the fresh slaves. Trimalchio seized him and kissed him lingeringly, whereupon Fortunata, asserting her rights in the house, began to rail at Trimalchio, styling him an abomination who set no limits to his lechery, finally ending by calling him a dog. Trimalchio flew into a rage at her abuse and threw a wine cup at her head, whereupon she screeched, as if she had had an eye knocked out and covered her face with her trembling hands. Scintilla was frightened, too, and shielded the shuddering woman with her garment. An officious slave presently held a cold water pitcher to her cheek and Fortunata bent over it, sobbing and moaning. But as for Trimalchio, “What the hell’s next?” he gritted out, “this Syrian dancing-whore don’t remember anything! I took her off the auction block and made her a woman among her equals, didn’t I? And here she puffs herself up like a frog and pukes in her own nest; she’s a blockhead, all right, not a woman. But that’s the way it is, if you’re born in an attic you can’t sleep in a palace I’ll see that this booted Cassandra’s tamed, so help me my Genius, I will! And I could have married ten million, even if I did only have two cents: you know I’m not lying! ‘Let me give you a tip,’ said Agatho, the perfumer to the lady next door, when he pulled me aside: ‘don’t let your line die out!’ And here I’ve stuck the ax into my own leg because I was a damned fool and didn’t want to seem fickle. I’ll see to it that you’re more careful how you claw me up, sure as you’re born, I will! That you may realize how seriously I take what you’ve done to me-- Habinnas, I don’t want you to put her statue on my tomb for fear I’ll be nagged even after I’m dead! And furthermore, that she may know I can repay a bad turn, I won’t have her kissing me when I’m laid out!”


When Trimalchio had launched this thunderbolt, Habinnas commenced to beg him to control his anger. “There’s not one of us but goes wrong sometimes,” argued he; “we’re not gods, we’re men.” Scintilla also cried out through her tears, calling him “Gaius,” and entreating him by his guardian angel to be mollified. Trimalchio could restrain the tears no longer. “Habinnas,” he blubbered, “as you hope to enjoy your money, spit in my face if I’ve done anything wrong. I kissed him because he’s very thrifty, not because he’s a pretty boy. He can recite his division table and read a book at sight: he bought himself a Thracian uniform from his savings from his rations, and a stool and two dippers, with his own money, too. He’s worth my attention, ain’t he? But Fortunata won’t see it! Ain’t that the truth, you high-stepping hussy’? Let me beg you to make the best of what you’ve got, you shekite, and don’t make me show my teeth, my little darling, or you’ll find out what my temper’s like! Believe me, when once I’ve made up my mind, I’m as fixed as a spike in a beam! But let’s think of the living. I hope you’ll all make yourselves at home, gentlemen: I was in your fix myself once; but rose to what I am now by my own merit. It’s the brains that makes the man, all the rest’s bunk. I buy well, I sell well, someone else will tell you a different story, but as for myself, I’m fairly busting with prosperity. What, grunting-sow, still bawling? I’ll see to it that you’ve something to bawl for, but as I started to say, it was my thrift that brought me to my fortune. I was just as tall as that candlestick when I came over from Asia; every day I used to measure myself by it, and I would smear my lips with oil so my beard would sprout all the sooner. I was my master’s ‘mistress’ for fourteen years, for there’s nothing wrong in doing what your master orders, and I satisfied my mistress, too, during that time, you know what I mean, but I’ll say no more, for I’m not one of your braggarts!”


“At last it came about by the will of the gods that I was master in the house, and I had the real master under my thumb then. What is there left to tell? I was made co-heir with Caesar and came into a Senator’s fortune. But nobody’s ever satisfied with what he’s got, so I embarked in business. I won’t keep you long in suspense; I built five ships and loaded them with wine--worth its weight in gold, it was then--and sent them to Rome. You’d think I’d ordered it so, for every last one of them foundered; it’s a fact, no fairy tale about it, and Neptune swallowed thirty million sesterces in one day! You don’t think I lost my pep, do you? By Hercules, no! That was only an appetizer for me, just as if nothing at all had happened. I built other and bigger ships, better found, too, so no one could say I wasn’t game. A big ship’s a big venture, you know. I loaded them up with wine again, bacon, beans, Capuan perfumes, and slaves: Fortunata did the right thing in this affair, too, for she sold every piece of jewelry and all her clothes into the bargain, and put a hundred gold pieces in my hand. They were the nest-egg of my fortune. A thing’s soon done when the gods will it; I cleared ten million sesterces by that voyage, all velvet, and bought in all the estates that had belonged to my patron, right away. I built myself a house and bought cattle to resell, and whatever I touched grew just like a honeycomb. I chucked the game when I got to have an income greater than all the revenues of my own country, retired from business, and commenced to back freedmen. I never liked business anyhow, as far as that goes, and was just about ready to quit when an astrologer, a Greek fellow he was, and his name was Serapa, happened to light in our colony, and he slipped me some information and advised me to quit. He was hep to all the secrets of the gods: told me things about myself that I’d forgotten, and explained everything to me from needle and thread up; knew me inside out, he did, and only stopped short of telling me what I’d had for dinner the day before. You’d have thought he’d lived with me always!”


“Habinnas, you were there, I think, I’ll leave it to you; didn’t he say--’You took your wife out of a whore-house’? you’re as lucky in your friends, too, no one ever repays your favor with another, you own broad estates, you nourish a viper under your wing, and--why shouldn’t I tell it--I still have thirty years, four months, and two days to live! I’ll also come into another bequest shortly. That’s what my horoscope tells me. If I can extend my boundaries so as to join Apulia, I’ll think I’ve amounted to something in this life! I built this house with Mercury on the job, anyhow; it was a hovel, as you know, it’s a palace now! Four dining-rooms, twenty bed-rooms, two marble colonnades, a store-room upstairs, a bed-room where I sleep myself, a sitting-room for this viper, a very good room for the porter, a guest-chamber for visitors. As a matter of fact, Scaurus, when he was here, would stay nowhere else, although he has a family place on the seashore. I’ll show you many other things, too, in a jiffy; believe me, if you have an as, you’ll be rated at what you have. So your humble servant, who was a frog, is now a king. Stychus, bring out my funereal vestments while we wait, the ones I’ll be carried out in, some perfume, too, and a draught of the wine in that jar, I mean the kind I intend to have my bones washed in.”


It was not long before Stychus brought a white shroud and a purple-bordered toga into the dining-room, and Trimalchio requested us to feel them and see if they were pure wool. Then, with a smile, “Take care, Stychus, that the mice don’t get at these things and gnaw them, or the moths either. I’ll burn you alive if they do. I want to be carried out in all my glory so all the people will wish me well.” Then, opening a jar of nard, he had us all anointed. “I hope I’ll enjoy this as well when I’m dead,” he remarked, “as I do while I’m alive.” He then ordered wine to be poured into the punch-bowl. “Pretend,” said he, “that you’re invited to my funeral feast.” The thing had grown positively nauseating, when Trimalchio, beastly drunk by now, bethought himself of a new and singular diversion and ordered some horn- blowers brought into the dining-room. Then, propped up by many cushions, he stretched himself out upon the couch. “Let on that I’m dead,” said he, “and say something nice about me.” The horn-blowers sounded off a loud funeral march together, and one in particular, a slave belonging to an undertaker, made such a fanfare that he roused the whole neighborhood, and the watch, which was patrolling the vicinity, thinking Trimalchio’s house was afire, suddenly smashed in the door and rushed in with their water and axes, as is their right, raising a rumpus all their own. We availed ourselves of this happy circumstance and, leaving Agamemnon in the lurch, we took to our heels, as though we were running away from a real conflagration.



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There was no torch to light the way for us, as we wandered around, nor did the silence of midnight give promise of our meeting any wayfarer with a light; in addition to this, we were drunk and unfamiliar with the district, which would confuse one, even in daylight, so for the best part of a mortal hour we dragged our bleeding feet over all the flints and pieces of broken tile, till we were extricated, at last, by Giton’s cleverness. This prudent youngster had been afraid of going astray on the day before, so he had taken care to mark all the pillars and columns with chalk. These marks stood out distinctly, even through the pitchy night, and by their brilliant whiteness pointed out the way for us as we wandered about. Nevertheless, we had no less cause for being in a sweat even when we came to our lodging, for the old woman herself had been sitting and swilling so long with her guests that even if one had set her afire, she would not have known it. We would have spent the night on the door-sill had not Trimalchio’s courier come up in state, with ten wagons; he hammered on the door for a short time, and then smashed it in, giving us an entrance through the same breach. (Hastening to the sleeping-chamber, I went to bed with my “brother” and, burning with passion as I was, after such a magnificent dinner, I surrendered myself wholly to sexual gratification.)

Oh Goddesses and Gods, that purple night
How soft the couch! And we, embracing tight;
With every wandering kiss our souls would meet!
Farewell all mortal woes, to die were sweet

But my self-congratulation was premature, for I was overcome with wine, and when my unsteady hands relaxed their hold, Ascyltos, that never-failing well-spring of iniquity, stole the boy away from me in the night and carried him to his own bed, where he wallowed around without restraint with a “brother” not his own, while the latter, not noticing the fraud, or pretending not to notice it, went to sleep in a stranger’s arms, in defiance of all human rights. Awaking at last, I felt the bed over and found that it had been despoiled of its treasure: then, by all that lovers hold dear, I swear I was on the verge of transfixing them both with my sword and uniting their sleep with death. At last, however, I adopted a more rational plan; I spanked Giton into wakefulness, and, glaring at Ascyltos, “Since you have broken faith by this outrage,” I gritted out, with a savage frown, “and severed our friendship, you had better get your things together at once, and pick up some other bottom for your abominations!” He raised no objection to this, but after we had divided everything with scrupulous exactitude, “Come on now,” he demanded, “and we’ll divide the boy!”


I thought this was a parting joke till he whipped out his sword, with a murderous hand. “You’ll not have this prize you’re brooding over, all to yourself! Since I’ve been rejected, I’ll have to cut off my share with this sword.” I followed suit, on my side, and, wrapping a mantle around my left arm, I put myself on guard for the duel. The unhappy boy, rendered desperate by our unreasoning fury, hugged each of us tightly by the knee, and in tears he humbly begged that this wretched lodging-house should not witness a Theban duel, and that we would not pollute--with mutual bloodshed the sacred rites of a friendship that was, as yet, unstained. “If a crime must be committed,” he wailed, “here is my naked throat, turn your swords this way and press home the points. I ought, to be the one to die, I broke the sacred pledge of friendship.” We lowered our points at these entreaties. “I’ll settle this dispute,” Ascyltos spoke up, “let the boy follow whomsoever he himself wishes to follow. In that way, he, at least, will have perfect freedom in choosing a ‘brother’.” Imagining that a relationship of such long standing had passed into a tie of blood, I was not at all uneasy, so I snatched at this proposition with precipitate eagerness, and submitted the dispute to the judge. He did not deliberate long enough to seem even to hesitate, for he got up and chose Ascyltos for a “brother,” as soon as the last syllable had passed my lips! At this decision I was thunder-struck, and threw myself upon the bed, unarmed and just as I stood. Had I not begrudged my enemy such a triumph, I would have laid violent hands upon myself. Flushed with success, Ascyltos marched out with his prize, and abandoned, in a strange town, a comrade in the depths of despair; one whom, but a little while before, he had loved most unselfishly, one whose destiny was so like his own.

As long as is expedient, the name of friendship lives,
Just as in dicing, Fortune smiles or lowers;
When good luck beckons, then your friend his gleeful service gives
But basely flies when ruin o’er you towers.
The strollers act their farces upon the stage, each one his part,

The father, son, the rich man, all are here,
But soon the page is turned upon the comic actor’s art,
The masque is dropped, the make-ups disappear!


Nevertheless, I did not indulge myself very long in tears, being afraid that Menelaus, the tutor, might drop in upon me all alone in the lodging-house, and catch me in the midst of my troubles, so I collected my baggage and, with a heavy heart, sneaked off to an obscure quarter near the seashore. There, I kept to my room for three days. My mind was continually haunted by my loneliness and desertion, and I beat my breast, already sore from blows. “Why could not the earth have opened and swallowed me,” I wailed aloud, between the many deep-drawn groans, “or the sea, which rages even against the guiltless? Did I flee from justice, murder my ghost, and cheat the arena, in order that, after so many proofs of courage, I might be left lying here deserted, a beggar and an exile, in a lodging-house in a Greek town? And who condemned me to this desolation’? A boy stained by every form of vice, who, by his own confession, ought to be exiled: free, through vice, expert in vice, whose favors came through a throw of the dice, who hired himself out as a girl to those who knew him to be a boy! And as to the other, what about him? In place of the manly toga, he donned the woman’s stola when he reached the age of puberty: he resolved, even from his mother’s womb, never to become a man; in the slave’s prison he took the woman’s part in the sexual act, he changed the instrument of his lechery when he double-crossed me, abandoned the ties of a long-standing friendship, and, shame upon him, sold everything for a single night’s dalliance, like any other street-walker! Now the lovers lie whole nights, locked in each other’s arms, and I suppose they make a mockery of my desolation when they are resting up from the exhaustion caused by their mutual excesses. But not with impunity! If I don’t avenge the wrong they have done me. in their guilty blood, I’m no free man!”


I girded on my sword, when I had said these words, and, fortifying my strength with a heavy meal, so that weakness would not cause me to lose the battle, I presently sallied forth into the public streets and rushed through all the arcades, like a maniac. But while, with my face savagely convulsed in a frown, I was meditating nothing but bloodshed and slaughter, and was continually clapping my hand to the hilt of my sword, which I had consecrated to this, I was observed by a soldier, that is, he either was a real soldier, or else he was some night-prowling thug, who challenged me. “Halt! Who goes there? What legion are you from? Who’s your centurion?” “Since when have men in your outfit gone on pass in white shoes?” he retorted, when I had lied stoutly about both centurion and legion. Both my face and my confusion proved that I had been caught in a lie, so he ordered me to surrender my arms and to take care that I did not get into trouble. I was held up, as a matter of course, and, my revenge balked, I returned to my lodging-house and, recovering by degrees from my fright, I began to be grateful to the boldness of the footpad. It is not wise to place much reliance upon any scheme, because Fortune has a method of her own.

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(Nevertheless, I found it very difficult to stifle my longing for revenge, and after tossing half the night in anxiety, I arose at dawn and, in the hope of mitigating my mental sufferings and of forgetting my wrongs, I took a walk through all the public arcades and) entered a picture-gallery, which contained a wonderful collection of pictures in various styles. I beheld works from the hand of Zeuxis, still undimmed by the passage of the years, and contemplated, not without a certain awe, the crude drawings of Protogenes, which equalled the reality of nature herself; but when I stood before the work of Apelles, the kind which the Greeks call “Monochromatic,” verily, I almost worshipped, for the outlines of the figures were drawn with such subtlety of touch, and were so life-like in their precision, that you would have thought their very souls were depicted. Here, an eagle was soaring into the sky bearing the shepherd of Mount Ida to heaven; there, the comely Hylas was struggling to escape from the embrace of the lascivious Naiad. Here, too, was Apollo, cursing his murderous hand and adorning his unstrung lyre with the flower just created. Standing among these lovers, which were only painted, “It seems that even the gods are wracked by love,” I cried aloud, as if I were in a wilderness. “Jupiter could find none to his taste, even in his own heaven, so he had to sin on earth, but no one was betrayed by him! The nymph who ravished Hylas would have controlled her passion had she thought Hercules was coming to forbid it. Apollo recalled the spirit of a boy in the form of a flower, and all the lovers of Fable enjoyed Love’s embraces without a rival, but I took as a comrade a friend more cruel than Lycurgus!” But at that very instant, as I was telling my troubles to the winds, a white-haired old man entered the picture-gallery; his face was care-worn, and he seemed, I know not why, to give promise of something great, although he bestowed so little care upon his dress that it was easily apparent that he belonged to that class of literati which the wealthy hold in contempt. “I am a poet,” he remarked, when he had approached me and stood at my side, “and one of no mean ability, I hope, that is, if anything is to be inferred from the crowns which gratitude can place even upon the heads of the unworthy! Then why, you demand, are you dressed so shabbily? For that very reason; love or art never yet made anyone rich.”

The trader trusts his fortune to the sea and takes his gains,
     The warrior, for his deeds, is girt with gold;
The wily sycophant lies drunk on purple counterpanes,
     Young wives must pay debauchees or they’re cold.
But solitary, shivering, in tatters Genius stands
     Invoking a neglected art, for succor at its hands.

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“It is certainly true that a man is hated when he declares himself an enemy to all vice, and begins to follow the right road in life, because, in the first place, his habits are different from those of other people; for who ever approved of anything to which he took exceptions? Then, they whose only ambition is to pile up riches, don’t want to believe that men can possess anything better than that which they have themselves; therefore, they use every means in their power to so buffet the lovers of literature that they will seem in their proper place--below the moneybags.” “I know not why it should be so,” (I said with a sigh), “but Poverty is the sister of Genius.” (“You have good reason,” the old man replied, “to deplore the status of men of letters.” “No,” I answered, “that was not the reason for my sigh, there is another and far weightier cause for my grief.” Then, in accordance with the human propensity of pouring one’s personal troubles into another’s ears, I explained my misfortune to him, and dwelt particularly upon Ascyltos’ perfidy.) “Oh how I wish that this enemy who is the cause of my enforced continence could be mollified,” (I cried, with many a groan,) “but he is an old hand at robbery, and more cunning than the pimps themselves!” (My frankness pleased the old man, who attempted to comfort me and, to beguile my sorrow, he related the particulars of an amorous intrigue in which he himself had played a part.)


“When I was attached to the Quaestor’s staff, in Asia, I was quartered with a family at Pergamus. I found things very much to my liking there, not only on account of the refined comfort of my apartments, but also because of the extreme beauty of my host’s son. For the latter reason, I had recourse to strategy, in order that the father should never suspect me of being a seducer. So hotly would I flare up, whenever the abuse of handsome boys was even mentioned at the table, and with such uncompromising sternness would I protest against having my ears insulted by such filthy talk, that I came to be looked upon, especially by the mother, as one of the philosophers. I was conducting the lad to the gymnasium before very long, and superintending his conduct, taking especial care, all the while, that no one who could debauch him should ever enter the house. Then there came a holiday, the school was closed, and our festivities had rendered us too lazy to retire properly, so we lay down in the dining-room. It was just about midnight, and I knew he was awake, so I murmured this vow, in a very low voice, ‘Oh Lady Venus, could I but kiss this lad, and he not know it, I would give him a pair of turtle-doves tomorrow!’ On hearing the price offered for this favor, the boy commenced to snore! Then, bending over the pretending sleeper, I snatched a fleeting kiss or two. Satisfied with this beginning, I arose early in the morning, brought a fine pair of turtle-doves to the eager lad, and absolved myself from my vow.”


“Next night, when the same opportunity presented itself, I changed my petition, ‘If I can feel him all over with a wanton hand,’ I vowed, ‘and he not know it, I will give him two of the gamest fighting-cocks, for his silence.’ The lad nestled closer to me of his own accord, on hearing this offer, and I truly believe that he was afraid that I was asleep. I made short work of his apprehensions on that score, however, by stroking and fondling his whole body. I worked myself into a passionate fervor that was just short of supreme gratification. Then, when day dawned, I made him happy with what I had promised him. When the third night gave me my chance, I bent close to the ear of the rascal, who pretended to be asleep. ‘Immortal gods,’ I whispered, ‘if I can take full and complete satisfaction of my love, from this sleeping beauty, I will tomorrow present him with the best Macedonian pacer in the market, in return for this bliss, provided that he does not know it.’ Never had the lad slept so soundly! First I filled my hands with his snowy breasts, then I pressed a clinging kiss upon his mouth, but I finally focused all my energies upon one supreme delight! Early in the morning, he sat up in bed, awaiting my usual gift. It is much easier to buy doves and game-cocks than it is to buy a pacer, as you know, and aside from that, I was also afraid that so valuable a present might render my motive subject to suspicion, so, after strolling around for some hours, I returned to the house, and gave the lad nothing at all except a kiss. He looked all around, threw his arms about my neck. ‘Tell me, master,’ he cried, ‘where’s the pacer?’ (‘The difficulty of getting one fine enough has compelled me to defer the fulfillment of my promise,’ I replied, ‘but I will make it good in a few days.’ The lad easily understood the true meaning of my answer, and his countenance betrayed his secret resentment.)”


“(In the meantime,) by breaking this vow, I had cut myself off from the avenue of access which I had contrived, but I returned to the attack, all the same, when the opportunity came. In a few days, a similar occasion brought about the very same conditions as before, and the instant I heard his father snoring, I began pleading with the lad to receive me again into his good graces, that is to say, that he ought to suffer me to satisfy myself with him, and he in turn could do whatever his own distended member desired. He was very angry, however, and would say nothing at all except, ‘Either you go to sleep, or I’ll call father!’ But no obstacle is so difficult that depravity cannot twist around it and even while he threatened ‘I’ll call father,’ I slipped into his bed and took my pleasure in spite of his half-hearted resistance. Nor was he displeased with my improper conduct for, although he complained for a while, that he had been cheated and made a laughing- stock, and that his companions, to whom he had bragged of his wealthy friend, had made sport of him. ‘But you’ll see that I’ll not be like you,’ he whispered; ‘do it again, if you want to!’ All misunderstandings were forgotten and I was readmitted into the lad’s good graces. Then I slipped off to sleep, after profiting by his complaisance. But the youth, in the very flower of maturity, and just at the best age for passive pleasure, was by no means satisfied with only one repetition, so he roused me out of a heavy sleep. ‘Isn’t there something you’d like to do?’ he whispered! The pastime had not begun to cloy, as yet, and, somehow or other, what with panting and sweating and wriggling, he got what he wanted and, worn out with pleasure, I dropped off to sleep again. Less than an hour had passed when he began to punch me with his hand. ‘Why are we not busy,’ he whispered! I flew into a violent rage at being disturbed so many times, and threatened him in his own words, ‘Either you go to sleep, or I’ll call father!’”


Heartened up by this story, I began to draw upon his more comprehensive knowledge as to the ages of the pictures and as to certain of the stories connected with them, upon which I was not clear; and I likewise inquired into the causes of the decadence of the present age, in which the most refined arts had perished, and among them painting, which had not left even the faintest trace of itself behind. “Greed of money,” he replied, “has brought about these unaccountable changes. In the good old times, when virtue was her own reward, the fine arts flourished, and there was the keenest rivalry among men for fear that anything which could be of benefit to future generations should remain long undiscovered. Then it was that Democritus expressed the juices of all plants and spent his whole life in experiments, in order that no curative property should lurk unknown in stone or shrub. That he might understand the movements of heaven and the stars, Eudoxus grew old upon the summit of a lofty mountain: three times did Chrysippus purge his brain with hellebore, that his faculties might be equal to invention. Turn to the sculptors if you will; Lysippus perished from hunger while in profound meditation upon the lines of a single statue, and Myron, who almost embodied the souls of men and beasts in bronze, could not find an heir. And we, sodden with wine and women, cannot even appreciate the arts already practiced, we only criticise the past! We learn only vice, and teach it, too. What has become of logic? of astronomy? Where is the exquisite road to wisdom? Who even goes into a temple to make a vow, that he may achieve eloquence or bathe in the fountain of wisdom? And they do not pray for good health and a sound mind; before they even set foot upon the threshold of the temple, one promises a gift if only he may bury a rich relative; another, if he can but dig up a treasure, and still another, if he is permitted to amass thirty millions of sesterces in safety! The Senate itself, the exponent of all that should be right and just, is in the habit of promising a thousand pounds of gold to the capitol, and that no one may question the propriety of praying for money, it even decorates Jupiter himself with spoils’. Do not hesitate, therefore, at expressing your surprise at the deterioration of painting, since, by all the gods and men alike, a lump of gold is held to be more beautiful than anything ever created by those crazy little Greek fellows, Apelles and Phydias!”


“But I see that your whole attention is held by that picture which portrays the destruction of Troy, so I will attempt to unfold the story in verse:

And now the tenth harvest beheld the beleaguered of Troia
Worn out with anxiety, fearing: the honor of Calchas
The prophet, hung wavering deep in the blackest despair.
Apollo commanded! The forested peaks of Mount Ida
Were felled and dragged down; the hewn timbers were fitted to fashion
A war-horse. Unfilled is a cavity left, and this cavern,
Roofed over, capacious enough for a camp. Here lie hidden
The raging impetuous valor of ten years of warfare.
Malignant Greek troops pack the recess, lurk in their own offering.
Alas my poor country! We thought that their thousand grim war-ships
Were beaten and scattered, our arable lands freed from warfare!
Th’ inscription cut into the horse, and the crafty behavior
Of Sinon, his mind ever powerful for evil, affirmed it.
Delivered from war, now the crowd, carefree, hastens to worship
And pours from the portals. Their cheeks wet with weeping, the joy
Of their tremulous souls brings to eyes tears which terror
Had banished. Laocoon, priest unto Neptune, with hair loosed,
An outcry evoked from the mob: he drew back his javelin
And launched it! The belly of wood was his target. The weapon
Recoiled, for the fates stayed his hand, and this artifice won us.
His feeble hand nerved he anew, and the lofty sides sounded,
His two-edged ax tried them severely. The young troops in ambush
Gasped. And as long as the reverberations re-echoed
The wooden mass breathed out a fear that was not of its own.
Imprisoned, the warriors advance to take Troia a captive
And finish the struggle by strategem new and unheard of.
Behold! Other portents: Where Tenedos steep breaks the ocean
Where great surging billows dash high; to be broken, and leap back
To form a deep hollow of calm, and resemble the plashing
Of oars, carried far through the silence of night, as when ships pass
And drive through the calm as it smashes against their fir bows.
Then backward we look: towards the rocks the tide carries two serpents
That coil and uncoil as they come, and their breasts, which are swollen
Aside dash the foam, as the bows of tall ships; and the ocean
Is lashed by their tails, their manes, free on the water, as savage
As even their eyes: now a blinding beam kindles the billows,
The sea with their hissing is sibilant! All stare in terror!
Laocoon’s twin sons in Phrygian raiment are standing
With priests wreathed for sacrifice. Them did the glistening serpents
Enfold in their coils! With their little hands shielding their faces,
The boys, neither thinking of self, but each one of his brother!
Fraternal love’s sacrifice! Death himself slew those poor children
By means of their unselfish fear for each other! The father,
A helper too feeble, now throws himself prone on their bodies:
The serpents, now glutted with death, coil around him and drag him
To earth! And the priest, at his altar a victim, lies beating
The ground. Thus the city of Troy, doomed to sack and destruction,
First lost her own gods by profaning their shrines and their worship.
The full moon now lifted her luminous beam and the small stars
Led forth, with her torch all ablaze; when the Greeks drew the bolts
And poured forth their warriors, on Priam’s sons, buried in darkness
And sodden with wine. First the leaders made trial of their weapons
Just as the horse, when unhitched from Thessalian neck-yoke,
First tosses his head and his mane, ere to pasture he rushes.
They draw their swords, brandish their shields and rush into the battle.
One slays the wine-drunken Trojans, prolonging their dreams
To death, which ends all. Still another takes brands from the altars,
And calls upon Troy’s sacred temples to fight against Trojans.”

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Some of the public, who were loafing in the portico, threw stones at the reciting Eumolpus and he, taking note of this tribute to his genius, covered his head and bolted out of the temple. Fearing they might take me for a poet, too, I followed after him in his flight and came to the seashore, where we stopped as soon as we were out of range. “Tell me,” I demanded, “what are you going to do about that disease of yours? You’ve loafed with me less than two hours, and you’ve talked more often like a poet than you have like a human being! For this reason, I’m not at all surprised that the rabble chases you with rocks. I’m going to load my pockets with stones, too, and whenever you begin to go out of your head, I’m going to let blood out of it!” His expression changed. “My dear young man,” said he, “today is not the first time I have had such compliments showered upon me; the audience always applauds me in this fashion, when I go into the theatre to recite anything, but I’ll abstain from this sort of diet for the whole day, for fear of having trouble with you.” “Good,” I replied, “we’ll dine together if you’ll swear off crankiness for the day.” (So saying,) I gave the housekeeper the orders for our little supper (and we went straight off to the baths.)


(There) I catch sight of Giton laden with towels and scrapers, leaning, downhearted and embarrassed, against the wall. You could see that he did not serve of his own free will. Then, that I might assure myself that I saw aright, “Take pity on me, brother,” he cried, turning towards me a face lighted up with joy, “there are no arms here, I can speak freely take me away from that bloody robber, and punish your penitent judge as severely as you like. To have perished, should you wish it, will be a consolation great enough in my misery!” Fearing some one might overhear our plans, I bade him hush his complaints and, leaving Eumolpus behind--for he was reciting a poem in the bath--I pull Giton down a dark and dirty passage, after me, and fly with all speed to my lodgings. Arriving there, I slam the door shut, embrace him convulsively, and press my face against his which is all wet with tears. For a long time, neither of us could find his voice, and as for the lad, his shapely bosom was heaving continuously with choking sobs. “Oh the disgraceful inconsistency of it all,” I cried, “for I love you still, although you abandoned me, and no scar from that gaping wound is left upon this breast! What can you say that will justify you in yielding your love to a stranger? Did I merit such an affront’?” He held his head higher when he found that he was loved.

For one to love, and at the same time, blame,
That were a labor Hercules to tame!
Conflicting passions yield in Cupid’s name.

(“And furthermore,” I went on), “I was not the one that laid the cause of our love before another judge, but I will complain no more, I will remember nothing, if you will prove your penitence by keeping faith.” He wiped his face upon his mantle, while I poured out these words, with groans and tears. “Encolpius,” said he, “I beseech you, I appeal to your honest recollection, did I leave you, or did you throw me over? For my part, I admit, and openly at that, that I sought, refuge with the stronger, when I beheld two armed men.” I kissed that, bosom, so full of prudence, threw my arms around his neck and pressed him tightly against my breast, that he might see unmistakably that he had gotten back into my good graces, and that our friendship lived again in perfect confidence.


Night had fallen by this time, and the woman to whom I had given my order had prepared supper, when Eumolpus knocked at the door. “How many of you are there?” I called out, and as I spoke, I peeped cautiously through a chink in the door to see if Ascyltos had come with him; then, as I perceived that he was the only guest, I quickly admitted him. He threw himself upon the pallet and caught sight of Giton, waiting table, whereupon, he nodded his head, “I like your Ganymede,” he remarked, “this day promises a good ending!” I did not take kindly to such an inquisitive beginning, fearing that I had let another Ascyltos into my lodging. Eumolpus stuck to his purpose. “I like you better than the whole bathful,” he remarked, when the lad had served him with wine, then he thirstily drained the cup dry and swore that never before had he tasted a wine with such a satisfying tang to it. “While I was bathing,” he went on, “I was almost beaten up for trying to recite a poem to the people sitting around the basin, and when I had been thrown out of the baths, just like I was out of the theatre, I hunted through every nook and cranny of the building, calling ‘Encolpius, Encolpius,’ at the top of my voice. A naked youth at the other end, who had lost his clothes, was bawling just as loudly and no less angrily for Giton! As for myself, the slaves took me for a maniac, and mimicked me in the most insolent manner, but a large crowd gathered around him, clapping its hands in awe-struck admiration, for so heavy and massive were his private parts, that you would have thought that the man himself was but an appendage of his own member! Oh such a man! He could do his bit all right! I haven’t a doubt but that he could begin on the day before and never finish till the day after the next! And he soon found a friend, of course: some Roman knight or other, I don’t know his name, but he bears a bad reputation, so they say, threw his own mantle around the wanderer and took him off home with himself, hoping, I suppose, to have the sole enjoyment of so huge a prize. But I couldn’t get my own clothing back from the officious bath attendant till I found some one who could identify me, which only goes to show that it is more profitable to rub up the member than it is to polish the mind!” While Eumolpus was relating all this, I changed countenance continually, elated, naturally, at the mishaps of my enemy, and vexed at his good fortune; but I controlled my tongue nevertheless, as if I knew nothing about the episode, and read aloud the bill of fare. (Hardly had I finished, when our humble meal was served. The food was plain but succulent and nutritious, and the famished scholar Eumolpus, fell to ravenously.)

Kind Providence unto our needs has tempered its decrees
     And met our wants, our carping plaints to still
Green herbs, and berries hanging on their rough and brambly sprays
     Suffice our hunger’s gnawing pangs to kill.
What fool would thirst upon a river’s brink? Or stand and freeze
     In icy blasts, when near a cozy fire?
The law sits armed outside the door, adulterers to seize,
     The chaste bride, guiltless, gratifies desire.
All Nature lavishes her wealth to meet our just demands;
But, spurred by lust of pride, we stop at naught to gain our ends!

(Our philosopher began to moralize, when he had gorged himself, leveling many critical shafts at those who hold every-day things in contempt, esteeming nothing except what is rare.)


(“To their perverted taste,” he went on,) everything one may have lawfully is held cheap and the appetite, tickled only by forbidden indulgences, delights in what is most difficult to obtain.

The pheasant from Colchis, the wild-fowl from African shores,
Because they are dainties, the parvenu’s palate adores
The white-feathered goose, and the duck in his bright-colored plumes
Must nourish the rabble; they’re common, so them Fashion dooms!
The wrasse brought from dangerous Syrtis is much more esteemed
When fishing-boats founder! And even the mullet is deemed,
No matter how heavy, a weight on the market! The whore
Displaces the wife; and in perfumes, the cinnamon more
Is esteemed than the rose! So whatever we have, we despise,
And whatever we have not, we think a superlative prize!”

“Is this the way in which you keep your promise not to recite a single verse today?” I demanded; “bear in mind your promise and spare us, at least, for we have thrown no rocks at you yet. If a single one of those fellows drinking under this very roof were to smell out a poet in their midst, he would arouse the whole neighborhood and involve all of us in the same misunderstanding!” Giton, who was one of the gentlest of lads, took me to task for having spoken in that manner, denying that I did rightly in criticising my elders and at the same time forgetting my duties as host by offering an affront to one whom I had invited out of kindness. And much more, full of moderation and propriety, which was in exquisite keeping with his good looks.


“Happy the mother,” cried Eumolpus, “who bore such a son as you! May your fortune be in keeping with your merit! Beauty and wisdom are rarely found mixed! And that you may not think that all your words are wasted, know that you have found a lover! I will fill my verses with your praise! I will act as your guardian and your tutor, following you even when you bid me stay behind! Nor can Encolpius take offense, he loves another.” The soldier who took my sword from me did Eumolpus a good turn, too; otherwise, the rage which I had felt against Ascyltos would have been quenched in the blood of Eumolpus. Seeing what was in the wind, Giton slipped out of the room, pretending he was going after water, and by this diplomatic retreat he put an end to my fury. Then, as my anger cooled, little by little, “Eumolpus,” I said, “rather than have you entertain designs of such a nature, I would even prefer to have you spouting poetry! I am hot-tempered and you are lecherous; see how uncongenial two such dispositions must be! Take me for a maniac, humor my malady: in other words, get out quick!” Taken completely aback by this onslaught, Eumolpus crossed the threshold of the room without stopping to ask the reason for my wrath, and immediately slammed the door shut, penning me in, as I was not looking for any move of that kind then, having quickly removed the key, he hurried away in search of Giton. Finding that I was locked in, I decided to hang myself, and had already fastened my belt to the bedstead which stood alongside of the wall, and was engaged in fastening the noose around my neck, when the doors were unlocked and Eumolpus came in with Giton, recalling me to light when I was just about to turn the fatal goal-post! Giton was greatly wrought up and his grief turned to fury: seizing me with both hands, he threw me upon the bed. “If you think, Encolpius,” he shrieked, “that you can contrive to die before I do, you’re wrong! I thought of suicide first. I hunted for a sword in Ascyltos’ house: I would have thrown myself from a precipice if I had not found you! You know that Death is never far from those who seek him, so take your turn and witness the spectacle you wished to see!” So saying, he snatched a razor from Eumolpus’ servant, slashed his throat, once, twice, and fell down at our feet! I uttered a loud cry, rushed to him as he fell, and sought the road to death by the same steel; Giton, however, showed not the faintest trace of any wound, nor was I conscious of feeling any pain. The razor, it turned out, was untempered and dull and was used to imbue boy apprentices with the confidence of the experienced barber. Hence it was in a sheath and, for the reason given above, the servant was not alarmed when the blade was snatched nor did Eumolpus break in upon this farcical death scene.

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The landlord made his appearance with a part of our little supper, while this lover’s comedy was being enacted and, taking in the very disorderly spectacle which we presented, lying there and wallowing as we were, “Are you drunk,” he demanded, “or are you runaway slaves, or both? Who turned up that bed there? What’s the meaning of all these sneaking preparations? You didn’t want to pay the room-rent, you didn’t, by Hercules, you didn’t; you wanted to wait till night and run away into the public streets, but that won’t go here! This is no widow’s joint, I’ll show you that; not yet it ain’t! This place belongs to Marcus Manicius!” “So you threaten, do you’?” yelled Eumolpus, giving the fellow a resounding slap in the face. At this, the latter threw a small earthenware pitcher, which had been emptied by the draughts of successive guests, at Eumolpus’ head, and cut open the forehead of his cursing adversary: then he skipped out of the room. Infuriated at such an insult. Eumolpus snatched up a wooden candlestick, ran in pursuit of his retreating foeman, and avenged his broken head with a shower of blows. The entire household crowded around, as did a number of drunken lodgers, but I seized this opportunity of retaliating and locked Eumolpus out, retorting his own trick upon the quarrelsome fellow, and found myself without a rival, as it were, able to enjoy my room and my night’s pleasure as well. In the meantime, Eumolpus, locked out as he was, was being very roughly handled by the cooks and scullions of the establishment; one aimed a spitful of hissing-hot guts at his eyes; another grabbed a two-tined fork in the pantry and put himself on guard. But worst of all, a blear-eyed old hag, girded round with a filthy apron, and wearing wooden clogs which were not mates, dragged in an immense dog on a chain, and “sicked” him upon Eumolpus, but he beat off all attacks with his candlestick.

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We took in the entire performance through a hole in the folding-doors: this had been made but a short time before, when the handle had been broken and jerked out, and I wished him joy of his beating. Giton, however, forgetting everything except his own compassion, thought we ought to open the door and succor Eumolpus, in his peril; but being still angry, I could not restrain my hand; clenching my fist, I rapped his pitying head with my sharp knuckles. In tears, he sat upon the bed, while I applied each eye in turn, to the opening, filling myself up as with a dainty dish, with Eumolpus’ misfortunes, and gloating over their prolongation, when Bargates, agent for the building, called from his dinner, was carried into the midst of the brawl by two chair-men, for he had the gout. He carried on for some time against drunkards and fugitive slaves, in a savage tone and with a barbarous accent, and then, looking around and catching sight of Eumolpus, “What,” he exclaimed, “are you here, nay prince of poets? and these damned slaves don’t scatter at once and stop their brawling!” (Then, whispering in Eumolpus’ ear,) “My bedfellow’s got an idea that she’s finer-haired than I am; lampoon her in a poem, if you think anything of me, and make ‘er ashamed.”


Eumolpus was speaking privately with Bargates, when a crier attended by a public slave entered the inn, accompanied by a medium-sized crowd of outsiders. Waving a torch that gave out more smoke than light, he announced: “Strayed from the baths, a short time ago, a boy about sixteen years of age, curly headed, a minion, handsome, answers to the name of Giton. One thousand sesterces reward will be paid to anyone bringing him back or giving information as to his whereabouts.” Ascyltos, dressed in a tunic of many colors, stood not far from the crier, holding out a silver tray upon which was piled the reward, as evidence of good faith. I ordered Giton to get under the bed immediately, telling him to stick his hands and feet through the rope netting which supported the mattress, and, just as Ulysses of old had clung to the ram, so he, stretched out beneath the mattress, would evade the hands of the hunters. And Giton did not hesitate at obeying this order, but fastened his hands in the netting for a moment, outdoing Ulysses in his own cunning! For fear of leaving room for suspicion, I piled covers upon my pallet, leaving the impression of a single person of my own stature. Meanwhile Ascyltos, in company with the magistrate’s servant, had ransacked all the rooms and had come at last to mine, where he entertained greater hopes of success, because he found the doors carefully barred. The public slave loosened the bolts by inserting the edge of his ax in the chink. I threw myself at Ascyltos’ feet, begging him, by the memory of our friendship and our companionship in suffering, to show me my “brother,” safe and sound, and furthermore, that my simulated prayers might carry conviction, I added, “I know very well, Ascyltos, that you have come here seeking my life. If not, why the axes?

“Well, fatten your grudge, then! Here’s my neck! Pour out that blood you seek to shed under pretext of a search!” Ascyltos repelled this suspicion, affirming that he sought nothing except his own fugitive and desired the death of neither man nor suppliant, and least of all did he wish to harm one whom, now that their quarrel was over, he regarded as his dearest friend.


The public servant, however, was not derelict in the performance of his duty for, snatching a cane from the innkeeper, he poked underneath the bed, ransacking every corner, even to the cracks in the wall. Twisting his body out of reach, and cautiously drawing a full breath, Giton pressed his mouth against the very bugs themselves. (The pair had scarcely left the room) when Eumolpus burst in in great excitement, for the doors had been broken and could keep no one out. “The thousand sesterces are mine,” he shouted, “I’ll follow that crier out and tell him Giton is in your power, and it will serve you right, too!” Seeing that his mind was made up, I embraced his knees and besought him not to kill a dying man. “You might have some reason for being excited,” I said, “if you could produce the missing boy, but you cannot, as the thing stands now, for he escaped into the crowd and I have not even a suspicion as to where he has gone! Get the lad back, Eumolpus, for heaven’s sake, even if you do restore him to Ascyltos!” I had just succeeded in persuading him to believe all this when Giton, nearly suffocated from holding his breath, suddenly sneezed three times, and shook the bed. Eumolpus turned at the commotion. “Hello, Giton,” he exclaimed, “glad to see you!” Then he turned back the mattress and discovered an Ulysses who even a ravenous Cyclops might have spared; thereupon, he faced me, “You robber,” said he, “what does all this mean? You hadn’t the nerve to tell me the truth even when you were caught! If the god, that umpires human affairs hadn’t forced a sign from this boy as he hung there, I would be wandering from one pot-house to another, like a fool!” (But) Giton was far more tactful than I: first of all, he dressed the cut upon Eumolpus’ forehead, with spider’s web soaked in oil; he then exchanged the poet’s torn clothing for his own cloak; this done, he embraced the old gentleman, who was already somewhat mollified, and poulticed him with kisses. “Dearest of fathers,” he cried, “we are entirely in your hands! In yours alone! If you love your Giton, do your best to save him. Would that some cruel flame might devour me, alone, or that the wintry sea might swallow me, for I am the cause for all these crimes. Two enemies would be reconciled if I should perish!” (Moved by our troubles, but particularly stirred by Giton’s caresses, “You are fools,” exclaimed Eumolpus, “you certainly are: here you are gifted with talents enough to make your fortunes and you still lead a life of misery, and every day you bring new torments upon yourselves, as the fruits of your own acts!)”



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“I have always and everywhere lived such a life that each passing day was spent as though that light would never return; (that is, in tranquillity! Put aside those thoughts which worry you, if you wish to follow my lead. Ascyltos persecutes you here; get out of his way. I am about to start for foreign parts, you may come with me. I have taken a berth on a vessel which will probably weigh anchor this very night. I am well known on board, and we shall be well received.)

Leave then thy home and seek a foreign shore
Brave youth; for thee thy destiny holds more:
To no misfortune yield! The Danube far
Shall know thy spirit, and the polar star,
And placid Nile, and they who dwell in lands
Where sunrise starts, or they where sunset ends!
A new Ulysses treads on foreign sands.”

(To me, this advice seemed both sound and practical, because it would free me from any annoyance by Ascyltos, and because it gave promise of a happier life. I was overcome by the kindly sympathy of Eumolpus, and was especially sorry for the latest injury I had done him. I began to repent my jealousy, which had been the cause of so many unpleasant happenings) and with many tears, I begged and pled with him to admit me into favor, as lovers cannot control their furious jealousy, and vowing, at the same time, that I would not by word or deed give him cause for offense in the future. And he, like a learned and cultivated gentleman, ought to remove all irritation from his mind, and leave no trace of it behind. The snows belong upon the ground in wild and uncultivated regions, but where the earth has been beautified by the conquest of the plough, the light snow melts away while you speak of it. And so it is with anger in the heart; in savage minds it lingers long, it glides quickly away from the cultured. “That you may experience the truth of what you say,” exclaimed Eumolpus, “see! I end my anger with a kiss. May good luck go with us! Get your baggage together and follow me, or go on ahead, if you prefer.” While he was speaking, a knock sounded at the door, and a sailor with a bristling beard stood upon the threshold. “You’re hanging in the wind, Eumolpus,” said he, “as if you didn’t know that son-of-a-bitch of a skipper!” Without further delay we all got up. Eumolpus ordered his servant, who had been asleep for some time, to bring his baggage out. Giton and I pack together whatever we have for the voyage and, after praying to the stars, we went aboard.


(We picked out a retired spot on the poop and Eumolpus dozed off, as it was not yet daylight. Neither Giton nor myself could get a wink of sleep, however. Anxiously I reflected that I had received Eumolpus as a comrade, a rival more formidable than Ascyltos, and that thought tortured me. But reason soon put my uneasiness to flight.) “It is unfortunate,” (said I to myself,) “that the lad has so taken our friend’s fancy, but what of it? Is not nature’s every masterpiece common to all? The sun shines upon all alike! The moon with her innumerable train of stars lights even the wild beasts to their food. What can be more beautiful than water?

“Yet it flows for common use. Shall love alone, then, be stolen, rather than be regarded as a prize to be won? No, indeed I desire no possession unless the world envies me for possessing it. A solitary old man can scarcely become a serious rival; even should he wish to take advantage, he would lose it through lack of breath.” When, but without any confidence, I had arrived at these conclusions, and beguiled my uneasy spirit, I covered my head with my tunic and began to feign sleep, when all of a sudden, as though Fortune were bent upon annihilating my peace of mind, a voice upon the ship’s deck gritted out something like this--“So he fooled me after all."--As this voice, which was a man’s, and was only too familiar, struck my ears, my heart fluttered. And then a woman, equally furious, spat out more spitefully still--“If only some god would put Giton into my hands, what a fine time I would give that runaway.” --Stunned by these unexpected words, we both turned pale as death. I was completely terrified, and, as though I were enveloped in some turbulent nightmare, was a long time finding my voice, but at last, with trembling hands, I tugged at the hem of Eumolpus’ clothing, just as he was sinking into slumber. “Father,” I quavered, “on your word of honor, can you tell me whose ship this is, and whom she has aboard?” Peeved at being disturbed, “So,” he snapped, “this was the reason you wished to have us quartered in the most inaccessible spot on deck, was it? So we could get no rest! What good will it do you when I’ve informed you that Lycas of Tarentum is master of this ship and that he carries Tryphaena as an exile to Tarentum?”


I shivered, horror-struck, at this thunderbolt and, beating my throat, “Oh Destiny,” I wailed, “you’ve vanquished me completely, at last!” As for Giton, he fell in a faint upon my bosom and remained unconscious for quite a while, until a sweat finally relieved our tension, whereupon, hugging Eumolpus around the knees, “Take pity upon the perishing,” I besought him, “in the name of our common learning, aid us! Death himself hangs over us, and he will come as a relief unless you help us!” Overwhelmed by this implication, Eumolpus swore by all the gods and goddesses that he knew nothing of what had happened, nor had he had any ulterior purpose in mind, but that he had brought his companions upon this voyage which he himself had long intended taking, with the most upright intentions and in the best of good faith. “But,” demanded he, “what is this ambush? Who is this Hannibal who sails with us? Lycas of Tarentum is a most respectable citizen and the owner, not only of this ship, which he commands in person, but of landed estates as well as commercial houses under the management of slaves. He carries a cargo consigned to market. He is the Cyclops, the arch-pirate, to whom we owe our passage! And then, besides himself, there is Tryphaena, a most charming woman, travelling about here and there in search of pleasure.” “But,” objected Giton, “they are the very ones we are most anxious to avoid,” whereupon he explained to the astonished Eumolpus the reasons for their enmity and for the danger which threatened us. So muddled did he become, at what had been told him, that he lost the power of thinking, and requested each of us to offer his own opinion. “Just imagine,” said he, “that we are trapped in the Cyclops’ cave: some way out must be found, unless we bring about a shipwreck, and free ourselves from all dangers!” “Bribe the pilot, if necessary, and persuade him to steer the ship into some port,” volunteered Giton; “tell him your brother’s nearly dead from seasickness: your woebegone face and streaming tears will lend color to your deception, and the pilot may be moved to mercy and grant your prayer.” Eumolpus denied the practicability of this. “It is only with difficulty,” affirmed he, “that large ships are warped into landlocked harbors, nor would it appear probable that my brother could have been taken so desperately in so short a time. And then, Lycas will be sure to want to visit a sick passenger, as part of his duties! You can see for yourselves what a fine stroke it would be, bringing the captain to his own runaways! But, supposing that the ship could be put off her course, supposing that Lycas did not hold sick-call, how could we leave the ship in such a manner as not to be stared at by all the rest? With muffled heads? With bare? If muffled, who would not want to lend the sick man a hand? If bare, what would it mean if not proscribing ourselves?”


“Why would it not be better to take refuge in boldness,” I asked, “slide down a rope into the ship’s boat, cut the painter, and leave the rest to luck’? And furthermore, I would not involve Eumolpus in this adventure, for what is the good of getting an innocent man into troubles with which he has no concern? I shall be well content if chance helps us into the boat.” “Not a bad scheme,” Eumolpus agreed, “if it could only be carried out: but who could help seeing you when you start? Especially the man at the helm, who stands watch all night long and observes even the motions of the stars. But it could be done in spite of that, when he dozed off for a second, that is, if you chose some other part of the ship from which to start: as it is, it must be the stern, you must even slip down the rudder itself, for that is where the painter that holds the boat in tow is made fast. And there is still something else, Encolpius. I am surprised that it has not occurred to you that one sailor is on watch, lying in the boat, night and day. You couldn’t get rid of that watchman except by cutting his throat or throwing him overboard by force. Consult your own courage as to whether that can be done or not. And as far as my coming with you is concerned, I shirk no danger which holds out any hopes of success, but to throw away life without a reason, as if it were a thing of no moment, is something which I do not believe that even you would sanction--see what you think of this: I will wrap you up in two hide baggage covers, tie you up with thongs, and stow you among my clothing, as baggage, leaving the ends somewhat open, of course, so you can breathe and get your food. Then I will raise a hue and cry because my slaves have thrown themselves into the sea, fearing worse punishment; and when the ship makes port, I will carry you out as baggage without exciting the slightest suspicion!” “Oh! So you would bundle us up like we were solid,” I sneered; “our bellies wouldn’t make trouble for us, of course, and we’ll never sneeze nor snore! And all because a similar trick turned out successfully before! Think the matter over! Being tied up could be endured for one day, but suppose it might have to be for longer? What if we should be becalmed? What if we were struck by a storm from the wrong quarter of the heavens? What could we do then? Even clothes will cut through at the wrinkles when they are tied up too long, and paper in bundles will lose its shape. Do you imagine that we, who are young and unused to hardship, could endure the filthy rags and lashings necessary to such an operation, as statues do? No! That’s settled! Some other road to safety must be found! I have thought up a scheme, see what you think of it! Eumolpus is a man of letters. He will have ink about him, of course. With this remedy, then, let’s change our complexions, from hair to toe-nails! Then, in the guise of Ethiopian slaves, we shall be ready at hand to wait upon you, light-hearted as having escaped the torturer, and, with our altered complexions, we can impose upon our enemies!” “Yes, indeed,” sneered Giton, “and be sure and circumcise us, too, so we will be taken for Jews, pierce our ears so we will look like Arabs, chalk our faces so that Gaul will take us for her own sons; as if color alone could change one’s figure! As if many other details did not require consideration if a passable imposture is to result! Even granting that the stained face can keep its color for some time, suppose that not a drop of water should spot the skin, suppose that the garment did not stick to the ink, as it often does, where no gum is used, tell me! We can’t make our lips so hideously thick, can we? We can’t kink our hair with a curling-iron, can we? We can’t harrow our foreheads with scars, can we? We can’t force our legs out into the form of a bow or walk with our ankle-bones on the ground, can we? Can we trim our beards after the foreign style? No! Artificial color dirties the body without changing it. Listen to the plan which I have thought out in my desperation; let’s tie our garments around our heads and throw ourselves into the deep!”


“Gods and men forbid that you should make so base an ending of your lives,” cried Eumolpus. “No! It will be better to do as I direct. As you may gather, from his razor, my servant is a barber: let him shave your heads and eyebrows, too, and quickly at that! I will follow after him, and I will mark my inscription so cleverly upon your foreheads that you will be mistaken for slaves who have been branded! The same letters will serve both to quiet the suspicions of the curious and to conceal, under semblance of punishment, your real features!” We did not delay the execution of this scheme but, sneaking stealthily to the ship’s side, we submitted our heads and eyebrows to the barber, that he might shave them clean. Eumolpus covered our foreheads completely, with large letters and, with a liberal hand, spread the universally known mark of the fugitive over the face of each of us. As luck would have it, one of the passengers, who was terribly seasick, was hanging over the ship’s side easing his stomach. He saw the barber busy at his unseasonable task by the light of the moon and, cursing the omen which resembled the last offering of a crew before shipwreck, he threw himself into his bunk. Pretending not to hear his puking curses, we reverted to our melancholy train of thought and, settling ourselves down in silence, we passed the remaining hours of the night in fitful slumber. (On the following morning Eumolpus entered Lycas’ cabin as soon as he knew that Tryphaena was out of bed and, after some conversation upon the happy voyage of which the fine weather gave promise, Lycas turned to Tryphaena and remarked:)


“Priapus appeared to me in a dream and seemed to say--Know that Encolpius, whom you seek, has, by me, been led aboard your ship!” Tryphaena trembled violently, “You would think we had slept together,” she cried, “for a bust of Neptune, which I saw in the gallery at Baiae, said to me, in my dream--You will find Giton aboard Lycas’ ship!” “From which you can see that Epicurus was a man inspired,” remarked Eumolpus; “he passed sentence upon mocking phantasms of that kind in a very witty manner.

Dreams that delude the mind with flitting shades
By neither powers of air nor gods, are sent:
Each makes his own! And when relaxed in sleep
The members lie, the mind, without restraint
Can flit, and re-enact by night, the deeds
That occupied the day. The warrior fierce,
Who cities shakes and towns destroys by fire
Maneuvering armies sees, and javelins,
And funerals of kings and bloody fields.

The cringing lawyer dreams of courts and trials,
The miser hides his hoard, new treasures finds:
The hunter’s horn and hounds the forests wake,
The shipwrecked sailor from his hulk is swept.
Or, washed aboard, just misses perishing.
Adultresses will bribe, and harlots write
To lovers: dogs, in dreams their hare still course;
And old wounds ache most poignantly in dreams!”

“Still, what’s to prevent our searching the ship?” said Lycas, after he had expiated Tryphaena’s dream, “so that we will not be guilty of neglecting the revelations of Providence?” “And who were the rascals who were being shaved last night by the light of the moon?” chimed in Hesus, unexpectedly, for that was the name of the fellow who had caught us at our furtive transformation in the night. “A rotten thing to do, I swear! From what I hear, it’s unlawful for any living man aboard ship to shed hair or nails, unless the wind has kicked up a heavy sea.”


Lycas was greatly disturbed by this information, and flew into a rage. “So someone aboard my ship cut off his hair, did he?” he bawled, “and at dead of night, too! Bring the offenders aft on deck here, and step lively, so that I can tell whom to punish, from their heads, that the ship may be freed from the curse!” “I ordered it done,” Eumolpus broke in, “and I didn’t order it as an unlucky omen, either, seeing that I had to be aboard the same vessel: I did it because the scoundrels had long matted hair, I ordered the filth cleared off the wretches because I did not wish to even seem to make a prison out of your ship: besides, I did not want the seared scars of the letters to be hidden in the least, by the interference of the hair; as they ought to be in plain sight, for everyone to read, and at full length, too. In addition to their other misdemeanors, they blew in my money on a street-walker whom they kept in common; only last night I dragged them away from her, reeking with wine and perfumes, as they were, and they still stink of the remnants of my patrimony!” Thereupon, forty stripes were ordered for each of us, that the tutelary genius of the ship might be propitiated. And they were not long about it either. Eager to propitiate the tutelary genius with our wretched blood, the savage sailors rushed upon us with their rope’s ends. For my part, I endured three lashes with Spartan fortitude, but at the very first blow, Giton set up such a howling that his all too familiar voice reached the ears of Tryphaena; nor was she the only one who was in a flutter, for, attracted by this familiar voice, all the maids rushed to where he was being flogged. Giton had already moderated the ardor of the sailors by his wonderful beauty, he appealed to his torturers without uttering a word. “It’s Giton! It’s Giton!” the maids all screamed in unison. “Hold your hands, you brutes; help, Madame, it’s Giton!” Tryphaena turned willing ears, she had recognized that voice herself, and flew to the boy. Lycas, who knew me as well as if he had heard my voice, now ran up; he glanced at neither face nor hands, but directed his eyes towards parts lower down; courteously he shook hands with them, “How do you do, Encolpius,” he said. Let no one be surprised at Ulysses’ nurse discovering, after twenty years, the scar that established his identity, since this man, so keenly observant, had, in spite of the most skillful disguise of every feature and the obliteration of every identifying mark upon my body, so surely hit upon the sole means of identifying his fugitive! Deceived by our appearance, Tryphaena wept bitterly, believing that the marks upon our foreheads were, in truth, the brands of prisoners: she asked us gently, into what slave’s prison we had fallen in our wanderings, and whose cruel hands had inflicted this punishment. Still, fugitives whose members had gotten them into trouble certainly deserved some punishment.


In a towering passion, Lycas leaped forward, “Oh you silly woman,” he shouted, “as if those scars were made by the letters on the branding-iron! If only they had really blotched up their foreheads with those inscriptions, it would be some satisfaction to us, at least; but as it is, we are being imposed upon by an actor’s tricks, and hoaxed by a fake inscription!” Tryphaena was disposed to mercy, as all was not lost for her pleasures, but Lycas remembered the seduction of his wife and the insults to which he had been subjected in the portico of the temple of Hercules: “Tryphaena,” he gritted out, his face convulsed with savage passion, “you are aware, I believe, that the immortal gods have a hand in human affairs: what did they do but lead these scoundrels aboard this ship in ignorance of the owner and then warn each of us alike, by a coincidence of dreams, of what they had done? Can you then see how it would be possible to let off those whom a god has, himself, delivered up to punishment? I am not a cruel man; what moves me is this: I am afraid I shall have to endure myself whatever I remit to them!” At this superstitious plea Tryphaena veered around; denying that she would plead for quarter, she was even anxious to help along the fulfillment of this retribution, so entirely just: she had herself suffered an insult no less poignant than had Lycas, for her chastity had been called in question before a crowd.

Primeval Fear created Gods on earth when from the sky
The lightning-flashes rent with flame the ramparts of the world,
And smitten Athos blazed! Then, Phoebus, sinking to the earth,
His course complete, and waning Luna, offerings received.
The changing seasons of the year the superstition spread
Throughout the world; and Ignorance and Awe, the toiling boor,
To Ceres, from his harvest, the first fruits compelled to yield
And Bacchus with the fruitful vine to crown. Then Pales came
Into her own, the shepherd’s gains to share. Beneath the waves
Of every sea swims Neptune. Pallas guards the shops,
And those impelled by Avarice or Guilt, create new Gods!

(Lycas, as he perceived that Tryphaena was as eager as himself for revenge, gave orders for our punishment to be renewed and made more drastic, whereupon Eumolpus endeavored to appease him as follows,)


(“Lycas,” said he, “these unfortunates upon whom you intend to wreak your vengeance, implore your compassion and) have chosen me for this task. I believe that I am a man, by no means unknown, and they desire that, somehow, I will effect a reconciliation between them and their former friends. Surely you do not imagine that these young men fell into such a snare by accident, when the very first thing that concerns every prospective passenger is the name of the captain to whom he intrusts his safety! Be reasonable, then; forego your revenge and permit free men to proceed to their destination without injury. When penitence manages to lead their fugitives back, harsh and implacable masters restrain their cruelty, and we are merciful to enemies who have surrendered. What could you ask, or wish for, more? These well-born and respectable young men be suppliant before your eyes and, what ought to move you more strongly still, were once bound to you by the ties of friendship. If they had embezzled your money or repaid your faith in them with treachery, by Hercules, you have ample satisfaction from the punishment already inflicted! Look! Can you read slavery on their foreheads, and see upon the faces of free men the brand-marks of a punishment which was self-inflicted!” Lycas broke in upon this plea for mercy, “Don’t try to confuse the issue,” he said, “let every detail have its proper attention and first of all, why did they strip all the hair off their heads, if they came of their own free will? A man meditates deceit, not satisfaction, when he changes his features! Then again, if they sought reconciliation through a mediator, why did you do your best to conceal them while employed in their behalf? It is easily seen that the scoundrels fell into the toils by chance and that you are seeking some device by which you could sidestep the effects of our resentment. And be careful that you do not spoil your case by over-confidence when you attempt to sow prejudice among us by calling them well-born and respectable! What should the injured parties do when the guilty run into their own punishment? And inasmuch as they were our friends, by that, they deserve more drastic punishment still, for whoever commits an assault upon a stranger, is termed a robber; but whoever assaults a friend, is little better than a parricide!” “I am well aware,” Eumolpus replied, to rebut this damning harangue, “that nothing can look blacker against these poor young men than their cutting off their hair at night. On this evidence, they would seem to have come aboard by accident, not voluntarily. Oh how I wish that the explanation could come to your ears just as candidly as the thing itself happened! They wanted to relieve their heads of that annoying and useless weight before they came aboard, but the unexpected springing up of the wind prevented the carrying out of their wishes, and they did not imagine that it mattered where they began what they had decided to do, because they were unacquainted with either the omens or the law of seafaring men.” “But why should they shave themselves like suppliants?” demanded Lycas, “unless, of course, they expected to arouse more sympathy as bald-pates. What’s the use of seeking information through a third person, anyway? You scoundrel, what have you to say for yourself? What salamander singed off your eyebrows? You poisoner, what god did you vow your hair to? Answer!”

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I was stricken dumb, and trembled from fear of punishment, nor could I find anything to say, out of countenance as I was and hideous, for to the disgrace of a shaven poll was added an equal baldness in the matter of eyebrows; the case against me was only too plain, there was not a thing to be said or done! Finally, a damp sponge was passed over my tear-wet face, and thereupon, the smut dissolved and spread over my whole countenance, blotting out every feature in a sooty cloud. Anger turned into loathing. Swearing that he would permit no one to humiliate well-born young men contrary to right and law, Eumolpus checked the threats of the savage persecutors by word and by deed. His hired servant backed him up in his protest, as did first one and then another of the feeblest of the seasick passengers, whose participation served rather to inflame the disagreement than to be of help to us. For myself I asked no quarter, but I shook my fists in Tryphaena’s face, and told her in a loud voice that unless she stopped hurting Giton, I would use every ounce of my strength against her, reprobate woman that she was, the only person aboard the ship who deserved a flogging. Lycas was furiously angry at my hardihood, nor was he less enraged at my abandoning my own cause, to take up that of another, in so wholehearted a manner. Inflamed as she was by this affront, Tryphaena was as furious as he, so the whole ship’s company was divided into two factions. On our side, the hired barber armed himself with a razor and served out the others to us; on their side, Tryphaena’s retainers prepared to battle with their bare fists, nor was the scolding of female warriors unheard in the battle-line. The pilot was neutral, but he declared that unless this madness, stirred up by the lechery of a couple of vagabonds, died down, he would let go the helm! The fury of the combatants continued to rage none the less fiercely, nevertheless, they fighting for revenge, we for life. Many fell on each side, though none were mortally wounded, and more, bleeding from wounds, retreated, as from a real battle, but the fury of neither side abated. At last the gallant Giton turned the menacing razor against his own virile parts, and threatened to cut away the cause of so many misfortunes. This was too much for Tryphaena; she prevented the perpetration of so horrid a crime by the out and out promise of quarter. Time and time again, I lifted the barber’s blade to my throat, but I had no more intention of killing myself than had Giton of doing what he threatened, but he acted out the tragic part more realistically than I, as it was, because he knew that he held in his hand the same razor with which he had already cut his throat. The lines still stood at the ready, and it was plain to be seen that this would be no everyday affair, when the pilot, with difficulty, prevailed upon Tryphaena to undertake the office of herald, and propose a truce; so, when pledges of good faith had been given and received, in keeping with the ancient precedent she snatched an olive-branch from the ship’s figurehead and, holding it out, advanced boldly to parley.

“What fury,” she exclaims, “turns peace to war? What evil deed
Was by these hands committed? Trojan hero there is none
Absconding in this ship with bride of Atreus’ cuckold seed
Nor crazed Medea, stained by life’s blood of her father’s son!
But passion scorned, becomes a power: alas! who courts his end
By drawing sword amidst these waves? Why die before our time?
Strive not with angry seas to vie and to their fury lend
Your rage by piling waves upon its savage floods sublime !”


The woman poured out this rhapsody in a loud excited voice, the battle-line wavered for an instant, then all hands were recalled to peace and terminated the war. Eumolpus, our commander, took advantage of the psychological moment of their repentance and, after administering a stinging rebuke to Lycas, signed a treaty of peace which was drawn up as follows: “It is hereby solemnly agreed on your part, Tryphaena, that you do forego complaint of any wrong done you by Giton; that you do not bring up anything that has taken place prior to this date, that you do not seek to revenge anything that has taken place prior to this date, that you do not take steps to follow it up in any other manner whatsoever; that you do not command the boy to perform anything to him repugnant; that you do neither embrace nor kiss the said Giton; that you do not enfold said Giton in the sexual embrace, except under immediate forfeiture of one hundred denarii. Item, it is hereby agreed on your part, Lycas, that you do refrain from annoying Encolpius with abusive word or reproachful look; that you do not seek to ascertain where he sleep at night; or, if you do so seek, that you forfeit two hundred denarii immediately for each and every such offense.” The treaty was signed upon these terms, and we laid down our arms. It seemed well to wipe out the past with kisses, after we had taken oath, for fear any vestige of rancor should persist in our minds. Factious hatreds died out amidst universal good-fellowship, and a banquet, served on the field of battle, crowned our reconciliation with joviality. The whole ship resounded with song and, as a sudden calm had caused her to lose headway, one tried to harpoon the leaping fish, another hauled in the struggling catch on baited hooks. Then some sea-birds alighted upon the yard-arms and a skillful fowler touched them with his jointed rods: they were brought down to our hands, stuck fast to the limed segments. The breeze caught up the down, but the wing and tail feathers twisted spirally as they fell into the sea-foam. Lycas was already beginning to be on good terms with me, and Tryphaena had just sprinkled Giton with the last drops in her cup, when Eumolpus, who was himself almost drunk, was seized with the notion of satirizing bald pates and branded rascals, but when he had exhausted his chilly wit, he returned at last to his poetry and recited this little elegy upon hair:

“Gone are those locks that to thy beauty lent such lustrous charm
And blighted are the locks of Spring by bitter Winter’s sway;
Thy naked temples now in baldness mourn their vanished form,
And glistens now that poor bare crown, its hair all worn away
Oh! Faithless inconsistency! The gods must first resume
The charms that first they granted youth, that it might lovelier bloom!

Poor wretch, but late thy locks did brighter glister
Than those of great Apollo or his sister!
Now, smoother is thy crown than polished grasses
Or rounded mushrooms when a shower passes!
In fear thou fliest the laughter-loving lasses.
That thou may’st know that Death is on his way,
Know that thy head is partly dead this day!”

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It is my opinion that he intended favoring us with more of the same kind of stuff, sillier than the last, but Tryphaena’s maid led Giton away below and fitted the lad out in her mistress’ false curls; then producing some eyebrows from a vanity box, she skillfully traced out the lines of the lost features and restored him to his proper comeliness. Recognizing the real Giton, Tryphaena was moved to tears, and then for the first time she gave the boy a real love-kiss. I was overjoyed, now that the lad was restored to his own handsome self, but I hid my own face all the more assiduously, realizing that I was disfigured by no ordinary hideousness since not even Lycas would bestow a word upon me. The maid rescued me from this misfortune finally, however, and calling me aside, she decked me out with a head of hair which was none the less becoming; my face shone more radiantly still, as a matter of fact, for my curls were golden! But in a little while, Eumolpus, mouthpiece of the distressed and author of the present good understanding, fearing that the general good humor might flag for lack of amusement, began to indulge in sneers at the fickleness of women: how easily they fell in love; how readily they forgot even their own sons! No woman could be so chaste but that she could be roused to madness by a chance passion! Nor had he need to quote from old tragedies, or to have recourse to names, notorious for centuries; on the contrary, if we cared to hear it, he would relate an incident which had occurred within his own memory, whereupon, as we all turned our faces towards him and gave him our attention, he began as follows:

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“There was a certain married lady at Ephesus, once upon a time, so noted for her chastity that she even drew women from the neighboring states to come to gaze upon her! When she carried out her husband she was by no means content to comply with the conventional custom and follow the funeral cortege with her hair down, beating her naked breast in sight of the onlookers! She followed the corpse, even into the tomb; and when the body had been placed in the vault, in accordance with the Greek custom, she began to stand vigil over it, weeping day and night! Neither parents nor relations could divert her from punishing herself in this manner and from bringing on death by starvation. The magistrates, the last resort, were rebuffed and went away, and the lady, mourned by all as an unusual example, dragged through the fifth day without nourishment. A most faithful maid was in attendance upon the poor woman; she either wept in company with the afflicted one or replenished the lamp which was placed in the vault, as the occasion required. Throughout the whole city there was but one opinion, men of every calling agreed that here shone the one solitary example of chastity and of love! In the meantime the governor of the province had ordered some robbers crucified near the little vault in which the lady was bewailing her recent loss. On the following night, a soldier who was standing guard over the crosses for fear someone might drag down one of the bodies for burial, saw a light shining brightly among the tombs, and heard the sobs of someone grieving. A weakness common to mankind made him curious to know who was there and what was going on, so he descended into the tomb and, catching sight of a most beautiful woman, he stood still, afraid at first that it was some apparition or spirit from the infernal regions; but he finally comprehended the true state of affairs as his eye took in the corpse lying there, and as he noted the tears and the face lacerated by the finger-nails, he understood that the lady was unable to endure the loss of the dear departed. He then brought his own scanty ration into the vault and exhorted the sobbing mourner not to persevere in useless grief, or rend her bosom with unavailing sobs; the same end awaited us all, the same last resting place: and other platitudes by which anguished minds are recalled to sanity. But oblivious to sympathy, she beat and lacerated her bosom more vehemently than before and, tearing out her hair, she strewed it upon the breast of the corpse. Notwithstanding this, the soldier would not leave off, but persisted in exhorting the unfortunate lady to eat, until the maid, seduced by the smell of the wine, I suppose, was herself overcome and stretched out her hand to receive the bounty of their host. Refreshed by food and drink, she then began to attack the obstinacy of her mistress. ‘What good will it do you to die of hunger?’ she asked, ‘or to bury yourself alive’? Or to surrender an uncondemned spirit before the fates demand it? ‘Think you the ashes or sepultured dead can feel aught of thy woe! Would you recall the dead from the reluctant fates? Why not shake off this womanish weakness and enjoy the blessings of light while you can? The very corpse lying there ought to convince you that your duty is to live!’ When pressed to eat or to live, no one listens unwillingly, and the lady, thirsty after an abstinence of several days, finally permitted her obstinacy to be overcome; nor did she take her fill of nourishment with less avidity than had the maid who had surrendered first.”


“But to make a long story short, you know the temptations that beset a full stomach: the soldier laid siege to her virtue with the selfsame blandishments by which he had persuaded her that she ought to live. Nor, to her modest eye, did the young man seem uncouth or wanting in address. The maid pled in his behalf and kept repeating:

Why will you fight with a passion that to you is pleasure,
Remembering not in whose lands you are taking your leisure?

“But why should I keep you longer in suspense? The lady observed the same abstinence when it came to this part of her body, and the victorious soldier won both of his objectives; so they lay together, not only that night, in which they pledged their vows, but also the next, and even the third, shutting the doors of the vault, of course, so that anyone, acquaintance or stranger, coming to the tomb, would be convinced that this most virtuous of wives had expired upon the body of her husband. As for the soldier, so delighted was he with the beauty of his mistress and the secrecy of the intrigue, that he purchased all the delicacies his pay permitted and smuggled them into the vault as soon as darkness fell. Meanwhile, the parents of one of the crucified criminals, observing the laxness of the watch, dragged the hanging corpse down at night and performed the last rite. The soldier was hoodwinked while absent from his post of duty, and when on the following day he caught sight of one of the crosses without its corpse, he was in terror of punishment and explained to the lady what had taken place: He would await no sentence of court-martial, but would punish his neglect of duty with his own sword! Let her prepare a place for one about to die, let that fatal vault serve both the lover and the husband! ‘Not that,’ cried out the lady, no less merciful than chaste, ‘the gods forbid that I should look at the same time upon the corpses of the two men dearest to me; I would rather hang the dead than slay the living!’ So saying, she gave orders for the body of her husband to be lifted out of the coffin and fastened upon the vacant cross! The soldier availed himself of the expedient suggested by this very ingenious lady and next day everyone wondered how a dead man had found his way to the cross!”


The sailors received this tale with roars of laughter, and Tryphaena blushed not a little and laid her face amorously upon Giton’s neck. But Lycas did not laugh; “If that governor had been a just man,” said he, shaking his head angrily, “he would have ordered the husband’s body taken down and carried back into the vault, and crucified the woman.” No doubt the memory of Hedyle haunted his mind, and the looting of his ship in that wanton excursion. But the terms of the treaty permitted the harboring of no old grudges and the joy which filled our hearts left no room for anger. Tryphaena was lying in Giton’s lap by this time, covering his bosom with kisses one minute and rearranging the curls upon his shaven head the next. Uneasy and chagrined at this new league, I took neither food nor drink but looked askance at them both, with grim eyes. Every kiss was a wound to me, every artful blandishment which the wanton woman employed, and I could not make up my mind as to whether I was more angered at the boy for having supplanted me with my mistress, or at my mistress for debauching the boy: both were hateful to my sight, and more galling than my late servitude. And to make the matter all the more aggravating, Tryphaena would not even greet me as an acquaintance, whom she had formerly received as a lover, while Giton did not think me worthy of a “Here’s-to-you” in ordinary civility, nor even speak to me in the course of the common conversation; I suppose he was afraid of reopening a tender scar at the moment when a return to her good graces had commenced to draw it together. Tears of vexation dropped upon my breast and the groan I smothered in a sigh nearly wracked my soul.

The vulture tearing; at the liver’s deep and vital parts,
That wracks our breasts and rends our very heartstrings
Is not that bird the charming poet sings with all his arts;
‘T’is jealousy or hate that human hearts stings.

(In spite of my ill-humor, Lycas saw how well my golden curls became me and, becoming enamoured anew, began winking his wanton eyes at me and) sought admission to my good graces upon a footing of pleasure, nor did he put on the arrogance of a master, but spoke as a friend asking a favor; (long and ardently he tried to gain his ends, but all in vain, till at last, meeting with a decisive repulse, his passion turned to fury and he tried to carry the place by storm; but Tryphaena came in unexpectedly and caught him in his wanton attempt, whereupon he was greatly upset and hastily adjusted his clothing and bolted out of the cabin. Tryphaena was fired with lust at this sight, “What was Lycas up to?” she demanded. “What was he after in that ardent assault?” She compelled me to explain, burned still more hotly at what she heard, and, recalling memories of our past familiarities, she desired me to renew our old amour, but I was worn out with so much venery and slighted her advances. She was burning up with desire by this time, and threw her arms around me in a frenzied embrace, hugging me so tightly that I uttered an involuntary cry of pain. One of her maids rushed in at this and, thinking that I was attempting to force from her mistress the very favor which I had refused her, she sprang at us and tore us apart. Thoroughly enraged at the disappointment of her lecherous passion, Tryphaena upbraided me violently, and with many threats she hurried out to find Lycas for the purpose of exasperating him further against me and of joining forces with him to be revenged upon me. Now you must know that I had formerly held a very high place in this waiting-maid’s esteem, while I was prosecuting my intrigue with her mistress, and for that reason she took it very hard when she surprised me with Tryphaena, and sobbed very bitterly. I pressed her earnestly to tell me the reason for her sobs) {and after pretending to be reluctant she broke out:} “You will think no more of her than of a common prostitute if you have a drop of decent blood in your veins! You will not resort to that female catamite, if you are a man!” {This disturbed my mind but} what exercised me most was the fear that Eumolpus would find out what was going on and, being a very sarcastic individual, might revenge my supposed injury in some poetic lampoon, (in which event his ardent zeal would without doubt expose me to ridicule, and I greatly dreaded that. But while I was debating with myself as to the best means of preventing him from getting at the facts, who should suddenly come in but the man himself; and he was not uninformed as to what had taken place, for Tryphaena had related all the particulars to Giton and had tried to indemnify herself for my repulse, at the expense of my little friend. Eumolpus was furiously angry because of all this, and all the more so as lascivious advances were in open violation of the treaty which had been signed. The minute the old fellow laid eyes upon me, he began bewailing my lot and ordered me to tell him exactly what had happened. As he was already well informed, I told him frankly of Lycas’ lecherous attempt and of Tryphaena’s wanton assault. When he had heard all the facts,) Eumolpus swore roundly (that he would certainly avenge us, as the Gods were just and would not suffer so many villainies to go unpunished.)

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We were still discussing this and other matters when the sea grew rough, and clouds, gathering from every quarter, obscured with darkness the light of day. The panic- stricken sailors ran to their stations and took in sail before the squall was upon them, but the gale did not drive the waves in any one direction and the helmsman lost his bearings and did not know what course to steer. At one moment the wind would set towards Sicily, but the next, the North Wind, prevailing on the Italian coast, would drive the unlucky vessel hither and yon; and, what was more dangerous than all the rain-squalls, a pall of such black density blotted out the light that the helmsman could not even see as far forward as the bow. At last, as the savage fury of the sea grew more malignant, the trembling Lycas stretched out his hands to me imploringly. “Save us from destruction, Encolpius,” he shouted; “restore that sacred robe and holy rattle to the ship! Be merciful, for heaven’s sake, just as you used to be!” He was still shouting when a windsquall swept him into the sea; the raging elements whirled him around and around in a terrible maelstrom and sucked him down. Tryphaena, on the other hand, was seized by her faithful servants, placed in a skiff, along with the greater part of her belongings, and saved from certain death. Embracing Giton, I wept aloud: “Did we deserve this from the gods,” I cried, “to be united only in death? No! Malignant fortune grudges even that. Look! In an instant the waves will capsize the ship! Think! In an instant the sea will sever this lover’s embrace! If you ever loved Encolpius truly, kiss him while yet you may and snatch this last delight from impending dissolution!” Even as I was speaking, Giton removed his garment and, creeping beneath my tunic, he stuck out his head to be kissed; then, fearing some more spiteful wave might separate us as we clung together, he passed his belt around us both. “If nothing else,” he cried, “the sea will at least bear us longer, joined together, and if, in pity, it casts us up upon the same shore, some passerby may pile some stones over us, out of common human kindness, or the last rites will be performed by the drifting sand, in spite of the angry waves.” I submit to this last bond and, as though I were laid out upon my death-bed, await an end no longer dreaded. Meanwhile, accomplishing the decrees of the Fates, the storm stripped the ship of all that was left; no mast, no helm, not a rope nor an oar remained on board her; she was only a derelict, heavy and water-logged, drifting before the waves. Some fishermen hastily put off in their little boats to salvage their booty, but, seeing men alive and ready to defend their property, they changed their predatory designs into offers of help.


Just then, amid that clamor of voices we heard a peculiar noise, and from beneath the captain’s cabin there came a bellowing as of some wild beast trying to get out. We then followed up the sound and discovered Eumolpus, sitting there scribbling verses upon an immense sheet of parchment! Astounded that he could find time to write poetry at death’s very door, we hauled him out, in spite of his protests, and ordered him to return to his senses, but he flew into a rage at being interrupted; “Leave me alone until I finish this sentence,” he bawled; “the poem labors to its birth.” Ordering Giton to come to close quarters and help me drag the bellowing bard ashore, I laid hands upon the lunatic. When this job had at last been completed, we came, wet and wretched, to a fisherman’s hut and refreshed ourselves somewhat with stores from the wreck, spoiled though they were by salt water, and passed a night that was almost interminable. As we were holding a council, next day, to determine to what part of the country we had best proceed, I suddenly caught sight of a human body, turning around in a gentle eddy and floating towards the shore. Stricken with melancholy, I stood still and began to brood, with wet eyes, upon the treachery of the sea. “And perhaps,” said I, “a wife, safe in some far-away country of the earth, awaits this man, or a son who little dreams of storms or wrecks; or perhaps he left behind a father, whom he kissed good-by at parting! Such is the end of mortal’s plans, such is the outcome of great ambitions! See how man rides the waves!” Until now, I had been sorrowing for a mere stranger, but a wave turned the face, which had undergone no change, towards the shore, and I recognized Lycas; so evil- tempered and so unrelenting but a short time before, now cast up almost at my feet! I could no longer restrain the tears, at this; I beat my breast again and yet again, with my hands. “Where is your evil temper now?” I cried. “Where is your unbridled passion? You be there, a prey to fish and wild beasts, you who boasted but a little while ago of the strength of your command. Now you have not a single plank left of your great ship! Go on, mortals; set your hearts upon the fulfillment of great ambitions: Go on, schemers, and in your wills control for a thousand years the disposal of the wealth you got by fraud! Only yesterday this man audited the accounts of his family estate, yea, even reckoned the day he would arrive in his native land and settled it in his mind! Gods and goddesses, how far he lies from his appointed destination! But the waves of the sea are not alone in thus keeping faith with mortal men: The warrior’s weapons fail him; the citizen is buried beneath the ruins of his own penates, when engaged in paying his vows to the gods; another falls from his chariot and dashes out his ardent spirit; the glutton chokes at dinner; the niggard starves from abstinence. Give the dice a fair throw and you will find shipwreck everywhere! Ah, but one overwhelmed by the waves obtains no burial! As though it matters in what manner the body, once it is dead, is consumed: by fire, by flood, by time! Do what you will, these all achieve the same end. Ah, but the beasts will mangle the body! As though fire would deal with it any more gently; when we are angry with our slaves that is the punishment which we consider the most severe. What folly it is, then, to do everything we can to prevent the grave from leaving any part of us behind {when the Fates will look out for us, event against our wills.} (After these reflections we made ready to pay the last rites to the corpse,) and Lycas was burned upon a funeral pyre raised by the hands of enemies, while Eumolpus, fixing his eyes upon the far distance to gain inspiration, composed an epitaph for the dead man:






We set out upon our intended journey, after this last office had been wholeheartedly performed, and, in a little while, arrived, sweating, at the top of a mountain, from which we made out, at no great distance, a town, perched upon the summit of a lofty eminence. Wanderers as we were, we had no idea what town it could be, until we learned from a caretaker that it was Crotona, a very ancient city, and once the first in Italy. When we earnestly inquired, upon learning this, what men inhabited such historic ground, and the nature of the business in which they were principally engaged, now that their wealth had been dissipated by the oft recurring wars, “My friends,” replied he, “if you are men of business, change your plans and seek out some other conservative road to a livelihood, but if you can play the part of men of great culture, always ready with a lie, you are on the straight road to riches: The study of literature is held in no estimation in that city, eloquence has no niche there, economy and decent standards of morality come into no reward of honor there; you must know that every man whom you will meet in that city belongs to one of two factions; they either ‘take-in,’ or else they are ‘taken-in.’ No one brings up children in that city, for the reason that no one who has heirs is invited to dinner or admitted to the games; such an one is deprived of all enjoyments and must lurk with the rabble. On the other hand, those who have never married a wife, or those who have no near relatives, attain to the very highest honors; in other words, they are the only ones who are considered soldierly, or the bravest of the brave, or even good. You will see a town which resembles the fields in time of pestilence,” he continued, “in which there is nothing but carcasses to be torn at and carrion crows tearing at them.”

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Eumolpus, who had a deeper insight, turned this state of affairs over in his mind and declared that he was not displeased with a prospect of that kind. I thought the old fellow was joking in the care-free way of poets, until he complained, “If I could only put up a better front! I mean that I wish my clothing was in better taste, that my jewelry was more expensive; all this would lend color to my deception: I would not carry this scrip, by Hercules, I would not I would lead you all to great riches!” For my part, I undertook to supply whatever my companion in robbery had need of, provided he would be satisfied with the garment, and with whatever spoils the villa of Lycurgus had yielded when we robbed it; as for money against present needs, the Mother of the Gods would see to that, out of regard to her own good name! “Well, what’s to prevent our putting on an extravaganza?” demanded Eumolpus. “Make me the master if the business appeals to you.” No one ventured to condemn a scheme by which he could lose nothing, and so, that the lie would be kept safe among us all, we swore a solemn oath, the words of which were dictated by Eumolpus, to endure fire, chains, flogging, death by the sword, and whatever else Eumolpus might demand of us, just like regular gladiators! After the oath had been taken, we paid our respects to our master with pretended servility, and were informed that Eumolpus had lost a son, a young man of great eloquence and promise, and that it was for this reason the poor old man had left his native land that he might not see the companions and clients of his son, nor even his tomb, which was the cause of his daily tears. To this misfortune a recent shipwreck had been added, in which he had lost upwards of two millions of sesterces; not that he minded the loss but, destitute of a train of servants he could not keep up his proper dignity! Furthermore, he had, invested in Africa, thirty millions of sesterces in estates and bonds; such a horde of his slaves was scattered over the fields of Numidia that he could have even sacked Carthage! We demanded that Eumolpus cough frequently, to further this scheme, that he have trouble with his stomach and find fault with all the food when in company, that he keep talking of gold and silver and estates, the incomes from which were not what they should be, and of the everlasting unproductiveness of the soil; that he cast up his accounts daily, that he revise the terms of his will monthly, and, for fear any detail should be lacking to make the farce complete, he was to use the wrong names whenever he wished to summon any of us, so that it would be plain to all that the master had in mind some who were not present. When everything had been thus provided for, we offered a prayer to the gods “that the matter might turn out well and happily,” and took to the road. But Giton could not bear up under his unaccustomed load, and the hired servant Corax, a shirker of work, often put down his own load and cursed our haste, swearing that he would either throw his packs away or run away with his load. “What do you take me for, a beast of burden?” he grumbled, “or a scow for carrying stone? I hired out to do the work of a man, not that of a pack-horse, and I’m as free as you are, even if my father did leave me poor!” Not satisfied with swearing, he lifted up his leg from time to time and filled the road with an obscene noise and a filthy stench. Giton laughed at his impudence and imitated every explosion with his lips, {but Eumolpus relapsed into his usual vein, even in spite of this.}


“Young men,” said he, “many are they who have been seduced by poetry; for, the instant a man has composed a verse in feet, and has woven a more delicate meaning into it by means of circumlocutions, he straightway concludes that he has scaled Helicon! Take those who are worn out by the distressing detail of the legal profession, for example: they often seek sanctuary in the tranquillity of poetry, as a more sheltered haven, believing themselves able more easily to compose a poem than a rebuttal charged with scintillating epigrams! But a more highly cultivated mind loves not this conceited affectation, nor can it either conceive or bring forth, unless it has been steeped in the vast flood of literature. Every word that is what I would call ‘low,’ ought to be avoided, and phrases far removed from plebeian usage should be chosen. Let ‘Ye rabble rout avaunt,’ be your rule. In addition, care should be exercised in preventing the epigrams from standing out from the body of the speech; they should gleam with the brilliancy woven into the fabric. Homer is an example, and the lyric poets, and our Roman Virgil, and the exquisite propriety of Horace. Either the others did not discover the road that leads to poetry, or, having seen, they feared to tread it. Whoever attempts that mighty theme, the civil war, for instance, will sink under the load unless he is saturated with literature. Events, past and passing, ought not to be merely recorded in verse, the historian will deal with them far better; by means of circumlocutions and the intervention of the immortals, the free spirit, wracked by the search for epigrams having a mythological illusion, should plunge headlong and appear as the prophecy of a mind inspired rather than the attested faith of scrupulous exactitude in speech. This hasty composition may please you, even though it has not yet received its final polishing:”


“The conquering Roman now held the whole world in his sway,
The ocean, the land; where the sun shone by day or the moon
Gleamed by night: but unsated was he. And the seas
Were roiled by the weight of his deep-laden keels; if a bay
Lay hidden beyond, or a land which might yield yellow gold
‘Twas held as a foe. While the struggle for treasure went on
The fates were preparing the horrors and scourges of war.
Amusements enjoyed by the vulgar no longer can charm
Nor pleasures worn threadbare by use of the plebeian mob.
The bronzes of Corinth are praised by the soldier at sea;
And glittering gems sought in earth, vie with purple of Tyre;
Numidia curses her here, there, the exquisite silks
Of China; Arabia’s people have stripped their own fields.
Behold other woes and calamities outraging peace!
Wild beasts, in the forest are hunted, for gold; and remote
African hammon is covered by beaters, for fear
Some beast that slays men with his teeth shall escape, for by that
His value to men is enhanced! The vessels receive
Strange ravening monsters; the tiger behind gilded bars
And pacing his cage is transported to Rome, that his jaws
May drip with the life blood of men to the plaudits of men
Oh shame! To point out our impending destruction; the crime
Of Persia enacted anew; in his puberty’s bloom
The man child is kidnapped; surrenders his powers to the knife,
Is forced to the calling of Venus; delayed and hedged round
The hurrying passage of life’s finest years is held back
And Nature seeks Nature but finds herself not. Everywhere
These frail-limbed and mincing effeminates, flowing of locks,
Bedecked with an infinite number of garments of silk
Whose names ever change, the wantons and lechers to snare,
Are eagerly welcomed! From African soil now behold
The citron-wood tables; their well-burnished surface reflects
Our Tyrian purples and slaves by the horde, and whose spots
Resemble the gold that is cheaper than they and ensnare
Extravagance. Sterile and ignobly prized is the wood
But round it is gathered a company sodden with wine;
And soldiers of fortune whose weapons have rusted, devour
The spoils of the world. Art caters to appetite. Wrasse
From Sicily brought to their table, alive in his own Sea water.
The oysters from Lucrine’s shore torn, at the feast
Are served to make famous the host; and the appetite, cloyed,
To tempt by extravagance. Phasis has now been despoiled
Of birds, its littoral silent, no sound there is heard
Save only the wind as it rustles among the last leaves.
Corruption no less vile is seen in the campus of Mars,
Our quirites are bribed; and for plunder and promise of gain
Their votes they will alter. The people is venal; corrupt
The Senate; support has its price! And the freedom and worth
Of age is decayed, scattered largesse now governs their power;
Corrupted by gold, even dignity lies in the dust.
Cato defeated and hooted by mobs, but the victor
Is sadder, ashamed to have taken the rods from a Cato:
In this lay the shame of the nation and character’s downfall,
‘Twas not the defeat of a man! No! The power and the glory
Of Rome were brought low; represented in him was the honor
Of sturdy Republican Rome. So, abandoned and wretched,
The city has purchased dishonor: has purchased herself!
Despoiled by herself, no avenger to wipe out the stigma
Twin maelstroms of debt and of usury suck down the commons.
No home with clear title, no citizen free from a mortgage,
But as some slow wasting disease all unheralded fastens
Its hold on the vitals, destroying the vigor of manhood,
So, fear of the evils impending, impels them to madness.
Despair turns to violence, luxury’s ravages needs must
Repaired be by bloodshed, for indigence safely can venture.
Can art or sane reason rouse wallowing Rome from the offal
And break the voluptuous slumber in which she is sunken?
Or must it be fury and war and the blood-lust of daggers?”


“Three chieftains did fortune bring forth, whom the fury of battles
Destroyed; and interred, each one under a mountain of weapons;
The Parthian has Crassus, Pompeius the Great by the waters
Of Egypt lies. Julius, ungrateful Rome stained with his life blood.
And earth has divided their ashes, unable to suffer
The weight of so many tombs. These are the wages of glory!
There lies between Naples and Great Puteoli, a chasm
Deep cloven, and Cocytus churns there his current; the vapor
In fury escapes from the gorge with that lethal spray laden.
No green in the aututun is there, no grass gladdens the meadow,
The supple twigs never resound with the twittering singing
Of birds in the Springtime. But chaos, volcanic black boulders
Of pumice lie Happy within their drear setting of cypress.
Amidst these infernal surroundings the ruler of Hades
Uplifted his head by the funeral flames silhouetted
And sprinkled with white from the ashes of corpses; and challenged
Winged Fortune in words such as these: ‘Oh thou fickle controller
Of things upon earth and in heaven, security’s foeman,
Oh Chance! Oh thou lover eternally faithful to change, and
Possession’s betrayer, dost own thyself crushed by the power
Of Rome? Canst not raise up the tottering mass to its downfall
Its strength the young manhood of Rome now despises, and staggers
In bearing the booty heaped up by its efforts: behold how
They lavish their spoils! Wealth run mad now brings down their destruction.
They build out of gold and their palaces reach to the heavens;
The sea is expelled by their moles and their pastures are oceans;
They war against Nature in changing the state of creation.
They threaten my kingdom! Earth yawns with their tunnels deep driven
To furnish the stone for their madmen’s foundations; already
The mountains are hollowed and now but re-echoing caverns;
While man quarries marble to serve his vainglorious purpose
The spirits infernal confess that they hope to win Heaven!
Arise, then, O Chance, change thy countenance peaceful to warlike
And harry the Romans, consign to my kingdom the fallen.
Ah, long is it now since my lips were with blood cooled and moistened,
Nor has my Tisiphone bathed her blood-lusting body
Since Sulla’s sword drank to repletion and earth’s bristling harvest
Grew ripe upon blood and thrust up to the light of the sunshine!’”


“He spake ... and attempted to clasp the right hand of Fortuna,
But ruptured the crust of the earth, deeply cloven, asunder.
Then from her capricious heart Fortune made answer: ‘O father
Whom Cocytus’ deepest abysses obey, if to forecast
The future I may, without fear, thy petition shall prosper;
For no less consuming the anger that wars in this bosom,
The flame no less poignant, that burns to my marrow All favors
I gave to the bulwarks of Rome, now, I hate them. My
Gifts I repent! The same God who built up their dominion
Shall bring down destruction upon it. In burning their manhood
My heart shall delight and its blood-lust shall slake with their slaughter.
Now Philippi’s field I can see strewn with dead of two battles
And Thessaly’s funeral pyres and Iberia mourning.
Already the clangor of arms thrills my ears, and rings loudly:
Thou, Lybian Nile, I can see now thy barriers groaning
And Actium’s gulf and Apollo’s darts quailing the warriors!
Then, open thy thirsty dominions and summon fresh spirits;
For scarce will the ferryman’s strength be sufficient to carry
The souls of the dead in his skiff: ‘tis a fleet that is needed!
Thou, Pallid Tisiphone, slake with wide ruin, thy thirsting
And tear ghastly wounds: mangled earth sinks to hell and the spirits.’”


“But scarce had she finished, when trembled the clouds; and a gleaming
Bright flash of Jove’s lightning transfixed them with flame and was gone.
The Lord of the Shades blanched with fear, at this bolt of his brother’s,
Sank back, and drew closely together the gorge in Earth’s bosom.
By auspices straightway the slaughter of men and the evils
Impending are shown by the gods. Here, the Titan unsightly
Blood red, veils his face with a twilight; on strife fratricidal
Already he gazed, thou hadst thought! There, silvery Cynthia
Obscuring her face at the full, denied light to the outrage.
The mountain crests riven by rock-slides roll thundering downward
And wandering rivers, to rivulets shrunk, writhed no longer
Familiar marges between. With the clangor of armor
The heavens resound; from the stars wafts the thrill of a trumpet
Sounding the call to arms. AEtna, now roused to eruption
Unwonted, darts flashes of flame to the clouds. Flitting phantoms
Appear midst the tombs and unburied bones, gibbering menace
A comet, strange stars in its diadem, leads a procession
And reddens the skies with its fire. Showers of blood fall from heaven
These portents the Deity shortly fulfilled! For now Caesar
Forsook vacillation and, spurred by the love of revenge, sheathed
The Gallic sword; brandished the brand that proclaimed civil warfare.
There, high in the Alps, where the crags, by a Greek god once trodden,
Slope down and permit of approach, is a spot ever sacred
To Hercules’ altar; the winter with frozen snow seals it
And rears to the heavens a summit eternally hoary,
As though the sky there had slipped down: no warmth from the sunbeams,
No breath from the Springtime can soften the pile’s wintry rigor
Nor slacken the frost chains that bind; and its menacing shoulders
The weight of the world could sustain. With victorious legions
These crests Caesar trod and selected a camp. Gazing downwards
On Italy’s plains rolling far, from the top of the mountain,
He lifted both hands to the heavens, his voice rose in prayer:
‘Omnipotent Jove, and thou, refuge of Saturn whose glory
Was brightened by feats of my armies and crowned with my triumphs,
Bear witness! Unwillingly summon I Mars to these armies,
Unwillingly draw I the sword! But injustice compels me.
While enemy blood dyes the Rhine and the Alps are held firmly
Repulsing a second assault of the Gauls on our city,
She dubs me an outcast! And Victory makes me an exile!
To triumphs three score, and defeats of the Germans, my treason
I trace! How can they fear my glory or see in my battles
A menace? But hirelings, and vile, to whom my Rome is but a
Stepmother! Methinks that no craven this sword arm shall hamper
And take not a stroke in repost. On to victory, comrades,
While anger seethes hot. With the sword we will seek a decision
The doom lowering down is a peril to all, and the treason.
My gratitude owe I to you, not alone have I conquered!
Since punishment waits by our trophies and victory merits
Disgrace, then let Chance cast the lots. Raise the standard of battle;
Again take your swords. Well I know that my cause is accomplished
Amidst such armed warriors I know that I cannot be beaten.’
While yet the words echoed, from heaven the bird of Apollo
Vouchsafed a good omen and beat with his pinions the ether.
From out of the left of a gloomy grove strange voices sounded
And flame flashed thereafter! The sun gleamed with brighter refulgence
Unwonted, his face in a halo of golden flame shining.”


“By omens emboldened, to follow, the battle-flags, Caesar
Commanded; and boldly led on down the perilous pathway.
The footing, firm-fettered by frost chains and ice, did not hinder
At first, but lay silent, the kindly cold masking its grimness;
But, after the squadrons of cavalry shattered the clouds, bound
By ice, and the trembling steeds crushed in the mail of the rivers,
Then, melted the snows! And soon torrents newborn, from the heights of
The mountains rush down: but these also, as if by commandment
Grow rigid, and, turn into ice, in their headlong rush downwards!
Now, that which rushed madly a moment before, must be hacked through!
But now, it was treacherous, baffling their steps and their footing
Deceiving; and men, horses, arms, fall in heaps, in confusion.
And see! Now the clouds, by an icy gale smitten, their burden
Discharge! Lo! the gusts of the whirlwind swirl fiercely about them;
The sky in convulsions, with swollen hail buffets them sorely.
Already the clouds themselves rupture and smother their weapons,
An avalanche icy roars down like a billow of ocean;
Earth lay overwhelmed by the drifts of the snow and the planets
Of heaven are blotted from sight; overwhelmed are the rivers
That cling to their banks, but unconquered is Caesar! His javelin
He leans on and scrunches with firm step a passage the bristling
Grim ice fields across! As, spurred on by the lust, of adventure
Amphitryon’s offspring came striding the Caucasus slopes down;
Or Jupiter’s menacing mien as, from lofty Olympus
He leaped, the doomed giants to crush and to scatter their weapons.
While Caesar in anger the swelling peaks treads down, winged rumor
In terror flies forth and on beating wings seeks the high summit
Of Palatine tall: every image she rocks with her message
Announcing this thunderbolt Roman! Already, the ocean
Is tossing his fleets! Now his cavalry, reeking with German
Gore, pours from the Alps! Slaughter, bloodshed, and weapons
The red panorama of war is unrolled to their vision!
By terror their hearts are divided: two counsels perplex them!
One chooses by land to seek flight: to another, the water
Appeals, and the sea than his own land is safer! Another
Will stand to his arms and advantage extort from Fate’s mandate.
The depth of their fear marks the length of their flight! In confusion
The people itself--shameful spectacle--driven by terror
Is led to abandon the city. Rome glories in fleeing!
The Quirites from battle blench! Cowed by the breath of a rumor
Relinquished their firesides to mourning! One citizen, palsied
With terror, his children embraces: another, his penates
Conceals in his bosom; then, weeping, takes leave of his threshold
And slaughters the distant invader--with curses! Their spouses
Some clasp to their sorrow-wracked bosoms! Youths carry their fathers
Bowed down with old age, uninured to the bearing of burdens.
They seize what they dread to lose most. Inexperience drags all
Its chattels to camp and to battle: as, when powerful Auster
Piles up the churned waters and tumbles them: never a yard-arm
Nor rudder to answer the hand, here, one fashions a life-raft
Of pine planks, another steers into some bay on a lee shore,
Another will crack on and run from the gale and to Fortune
Trust all! But why sorrow for trifles? The consuls, with Pompey
The Great--he, the terror of Pontus, of savage Hydaspes
Explorer, the reef that wrecked pirates, caused Jove to turn livid,
When thrice was a triumph decreed him, whom Pontus’ vexed water
And pacified billows of Bosphorus worshipped! Disgraceful their
Flight! Title and glory forsaking! Now Fortune capricious
Looks down on the back of great Pompey retreating in terror!”


“So great a misfortune disrupted the concord of heaven
And gods swelled the rout in their panic! Behold through creation
The gentle divinities flee from the ravening earth; in
Their loathing they turn from humanity, doomed to destruction!
And first of all, Peace, with her snowy white arms, hides her visage
Defeated, her helmet beneath and, abandoning earth, flees
To seek out the realm of implacable Dis, as a refuge
Meek Faith her companion, and Justice with locks loosely flowing,
And Concord, in tears, and her raiment in tatters, attend her.
The minions of Pluto pour forth from the portals of darkness
That yawn: the serpent-haired Fury, Bellona the Savage,
Megoera with firebrands, destruction, and treachery, livid
Death’s likeness! Among them is Frenzy, as, free, with her lashings
Snapped short, she now raises her gory head, shielding her features
Deep scarred by innumerous wounds ‘neath her helmet blood-clotted.
Her left arm she guards with a battle-scarred shield scored by weapons,
And numberless spear-heads protrude from its surface: her right hand
A flaming torch brandishes, kindling a flame that will burn up
The world! Now the gods are on earth and the skies note their absence;
The planets disordered their orbits attempt! Into factions
The heavens divide; first Dione espouses the cause of
Her Caesar. Minerva next steps to her side and the great son
Of Ares, his mighty spear brandishing! Phoebus espouses
The cause of Great Pompey: his sister and Mercury also
And Hercules like unto him in his travels and labors.
The trumpets call! Discord her Stygian head lifts to heaven
Her tresses disheveled, her features with clotted blood covered,
Tears pour from her bruised eyes, her iron fangs thick coated with rust,
Her tongue distils poison, her features are haloed with serpents,
Her hideous bosom is visible under her tatters,
A torch with a blood red flame waves from her tremulous right hand.
Emerging from Cocytus dark and from Tartarus murky
She strode to the crests of the Apennines noble, the prospect
Of earth to survey, spread before her the world panorama
Its shores and the armies that march on its surface: these words then
Burst out of her bosom malignant: ‘To arms, now, ye nations,
While anger seethes hot, seize your arms, set the torch to the cities,
Who skulks now is lost; neither woman nor child nor the aged
Bowed down with their years shall find quarter: the whole world will tremble
And rooftrees themselves shall crash down and take part in the struggle.
Marcellus, hold firm for the law! And thou, Curio, madden
The rabble! Thou, Lentulus, strive not to check valiant Ares!
Thou, Cesar divine, why delayest thou now thine invasion?
Why smash not the gates, why not level the walls of the cities,
Their treasures to pillage? Thou, Magnus, dost not know the secret
Of holding the hills of Rome? Take thou the walls of Dyrrachium,
Let Thessaly’s harbors be dyed with the blood of the Romans!’
On earth was obeyed every detail of Discord’s commandment.”

When Eumolpus had, with great volubility, poured out this flood of words, we came at last to Crotona. Here we refreshed ourselves at a mean inn, but on the following day we went in search of more imposing lodgings and fell in with a crowd of legacy hunters who were very curious as to the class of society to which we belonged and as to whence we had come. Thereupon, in accord with our mutual understanding, such ready answers did we make as to who we might be or whence we had come that we gave them no cause for doubt. They immediately fell to wrangling in their desire to heap their own riches upon Eumolpus and every fortune-hunter solicited his favor with presents.




For a long time affairs at Crotona ran along in this manner and Eumolpus, flushed with success so far forgot the former state of his fortunes that he even bragged to his followers that no one could hold out against any wish of his, and that any member of his suite who committed a crime in that city would, through the influence of his friends, get off unpunished. But, although I daily crammed my bloated carcass to overflowing with good things, and began more and more to believe that Fortune had turned away her face from keeping watch upon me, I frequently meditated, nevertheless, upon my present state and upon its cause. “Suppose,” thought I, “some wily legacy hunter should dispatch an agent to Africa and catch us in our lie? Or even suppose the hireling servant, glutted with prosperity, should tip off his cronies or give the whole scheme away out of spite? There would be nothing for it but flight and, in a fresh state of destitution, a recalling of poverty which had been driven off. Gods and goddesses, how ill it fares with those living outside the law; they are always on the lookout for what is coming to them!” (Turning these possibilities over in my mind I left the house, in a state of black melancholy, hoping to revive my spirits in the fresh air, but scarcely had I set foot upon the public promenade when a girl, by no means homely, met me, and, calling me Polyaenos, the name I had assumed since my metamorphosis, informed me that her mistress desired leave to speak with me. “You must be mistaken,” I answered, in confusion, “I am only a servant and a stranger, and am by no means worthy of such an honor.”)

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(“You yourself,” she replied, “are the one to whom I was sent but,) because you are well aware of your good looks, you are proud and sell your favors instead of giving them. What else can those wavy well-combed locks mean or that face, rouged and covered with cosmetics, or that languishing, wanton expression in your eyes? Why that gait, so precise that not a footstep deviates from its place, unless you wish to show off your figure in order to sell your favors? Look at me, I know nothing about omens and I don’t study the heavens like the astrologers, but I can read men’s intentions in their faces and I know what a flirt is after when I see him out for a stroll; so if you’ll sell us what I want there’s a buyer ready, but if you will do the graceful thing and lend, let us be under obligations to you for the favor. And as for your confession that you are only a common servant, by that you only fan the passion of the lady who burns for you, for some women will only kindle for canaille and cannot work up an appetite unless they see some slave or runner with his clothing girded up: a gladiator arouses one, or a mule-driver all covered with dust, or some actor posturing in some exhibition on the stage. My mistress belongs to this class, she jumps the fourteen rows from the stage to the gallery and looks for a lover among the gallery gods at the back.” Puffed up with this delightful chatter. “Come now, confess, won’t you,” I queried, “is this lady who loves me yourself?” The waiting maid smiled broadly at this blunt speech. “Don’t have such a high opinion of yourself,” said she, “I’ve never given in to any servant yet; the gods forbid that I should ever throw my arms around a gallows-bird. Let the married women see to that and kiss the marks of the scourge if they like: I’ll sit upon nothing below a knight, even if I am only a servant.” I could not help marveling, for my part, at such discordant passions, and I thought it nothing short of a miracle that this servant should possess the hauteur of the mistress and the mistress the low tastes of the wench!

Each one will find what suits his taste, one thing is not for all,
One gathers roses as his share, another thorns enthrall.

After a little more teasing, I requested the maid to conduct her mistress to a clump of plane trees. Pleased with this plan, the girl picked up the skirt of her garment and turned into a laurel grove that bordered the path. After a short delay she brought her mistress from her hiding-place and conducted her to my side; a woman more perfect than any statue. There are no words with which to describe her form and anything I could say would fall far short. Her hair, naturally wavy, flowed completely over her shoulders; her forehead was low and the roots of her hair were brushed back from it; her eyebrows, running from the very springs of her cheeks, almost met at the boundary line between a pair of eyes brighter than stars shining in a moonless night; her nose was slightly aquiline and her mouth was such an one as Praxiteles dreamed Diana had. Her chin, her neck, her hands, the gleaming whiteness of her feet under a slender band of gold; she turned Parian marble dull! Then, for the first time, Doris’ tried lover thought lightly of Doris!

Oh Jove, what’s come to pass that thou, thine armor cast away
Art mute in heaven; and but an idle tale?
At such a time the horns should sprout, the raging bull hold sway,
Or they white hair beneath swan’s down conceal
Here’s Dana’s self! But touch that lovely form
Thy limbs will melt beneath thy passions’ storm!

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She was delighted and so be witchingly did she smile that I seemed to see the full moon showing her face from behind a cloud. Then, punctuating her words with her fingers, “Dear boy, if you are not too critical to enjoy a woman of wealth who has but this year known her first man, I offer you a sister,” said she. “You have a brother already, I know, for I didn’t disdain to ask, but what is to prevent your adopting a sister, too? I will come in on the same footing only deem my kisses worthy of recognition and caress me at your own pleasure!” “Rather let me implore you by your beauty,” I replied. “Do not scorn to admit an alien among your worshipers: If you permit me to kneel before your shrine you will find me a true votary and, that you may not think I approach this temple of love without a gift, I make you a present of my brother!” “What,” she exclaimed, “would you really sacrifice the only one without whom you. could not live’? The one upon whose kisses your happiness depends. Him whom you love as I would have you love me?” Such sweetness permeated her voice as she said this, so entrancing was the sound upon the listening air that you would have believed the Sirens’ harmonies were floating in the breeze. I was struck with wonder and dazzled by I know not what light that shone upon me, brighter than, the whole heaven, but I made bold to inquire the name of my divinity. “Why, didn’t my maid tell you that I am called Circe?” she replied. “But I am not the sun-child nor has my mother ever stayed the revolving world in its course at her pleasure; but if the Fates bring us two together I will owe heaven a favor. I don’t know what it is, but some god’s silent purpose is beneath this. Circe loves not Polyaenos without some reason; a great torch is always flaming when these names meet! Take me in your arms then, if you will; there’s no prying stranger to fear, and your ‘brother’ is far away from this spot!” So saying, Circe clasped me in arms that were softer than down and drew me to the ground which was covered with colored flowers.

With flowers like these did Mother Earth great Ida’s summit strew
When Jupiter, his heart aflame, enjoyed his lawful love;
There glowed the rose, the flowering rush, the violet’s deep blue,
From out green meadows snow-white lilies laughed. Then from above,
This setting summoned Venus to the green and tender sod,
Bright day smiled kindly on the secret amour of the God.

Side by side upon the grassy plot we lay, exchanging a thousand kisses, the prelude to more poignant pleasure, (but alas! My sudden loss of vigor disappointed Circe!)

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(Infuriated at this affront,) “What’s the matter,” demanded she; “do my kisses offend you? Is my breath fetid from fasting? Is there any evil smelling perspiration in my armpits? Or, if it’s nothing of this kind, are you afraid of Giton?” Under her eyes, I flushed hotly and, if I had any virility left, I lost it then; my whole body seemed to be inert. “My queen,” I cried, “do not mock me in my humiliation. I am bewitched!” (Circe’s anger was far from being appeased by such a trivial excuse; turning her eyes contemptuously away from me, she looked at her maid,) “Tell me, Chrysis, and tell me truly, is there anything repulsive about me? Anything sluttish? Have I some natural blemish that disfigures my beauty? Don’t deceive your mistress! I don’t know what’s the matter with us, but there must be something!” Then she snatched a mirror from the silent maid and after scrutinizing all the looks and smiles which pass between lovers, she shook out her wrinkled earth-stained robe and flounced off into the temple of Venus (nearby.) And here was I, like a convicted criminal who had seen some horrible nightmare, asking myself whether the pleasure out of which I had been cheated was a reality or only a dream.

As when, in the sleep-bringing night
Dreams sport with the wandering eyes,
And earth, spaded up, yields to light
Her gold that by day she denies,
The stealthy hand snatches the spoils;
The face with cold sweat is suffused
And Fear grips him tight in her toils
Lest robbers the secret have used
And shake out the gold from his breast.
But, when they depart from his brain,
These enchantments by which he’s obsessed,
And Truth comes again with her train
Restoring perspective and pain,
The phantasm lives to the last,
The mind dwells with shades of the past.

(The misfortune seemed to me a dream, but I imagined that I must surely be under a spell of enchantment and, for a long time, I was so devoid of strength that I could not get to my feet. But finally my mental depression began to abate, little by little my strength came back to me, and I returned home: arrived there, I feigned illness and threw myself upon my couch. A little late: Giton, who had heard of my indisposition, entered the room in some concern. As I wished to relieve his mind I informed him that I had merely sought my pallet to take a rest, telling him much other gossip but not a word about my mishap as I stood in great fear of his jealousy and, to lull any suspicion which he might entertain, I drew him to my side and endeavoured to give him some proofs of my love but all my panting and sweating were in vain. He jumped up in a rage and accused my lack of virility and change of heart, declaring that he had for a long time suspected that I had been expending my vigor and breath elsewhere. “No! No! Darling,” I replied, “my love for you has always been the same, but reason prevails now over love and wantonness.”) “And for the Socratic continence of your love, I thank you in his name,” (he replied sarcastically,) “Alcibiades was never more spotless when he left his master’s bed!”


“Believe me, ‘brother,’ when I tell you that I do not know whether I am a man or not,” (I vainly protested;) “I do not feel like one, if I am! Dead and buried lies that part in which I was once an Achilles!” (Giton, seeing that I was completely enervated, and) fearing that it might give cause for scandal if he were caught in this quiet place with me, tore himself away and fled into an inner part of the house. (He had just gone when) Chrysis entered the room and handed me her mistress’s tablets, in which were written the following words:


Were I a wanton, I should complain of my disappointment, but as it is I am beholden to your impotence, for by it I dallied the longer in the shadow of pleasure. Still, I would like to know how you are and whether you got home upon your own legs, for the doctors say that one cannot walk without nerves! Young man, I advise you to beware of paralysis for I never in my life saw a patient in such great danger; you’re as good as dead, I’m sure! What if the same numbness should attack your hands and knees? You would have to send for the funeral trumpeters! Still, even if I have been affronted, I will not begrudge a prescription to one as sick as you! Ask Giton if you would like to recover. I am sure you will get back your strength if you will sleep without your “brother” for three nights. So far as I am concerned, I am not in the least alarmed about. finding someone to whom I shall be as pleasing as I was to you; my mirror and my reputation do not lie.

          Farewell (if you can).

“Such things will happen,” said Chrysis, when she saw that I had read through the entire inditement, “and especially in this city, where the women can lure the moon from the sky! But we’ll find a cure for your trouble. Just return a diplomatic answer to my mistress and restore her self-esteem by frank courtesy for, truth to tell, she has never been herself from the minute she received that affront.” I gladly followed the maid’s advice and wrote upon the tablets as follows:



Dear lady, I confess that I have often given cause for offense, for I am only a man, and a young one, too, but I never committed a deadly crime until today! You have my confession of guilt, I deserve any punishment you may see fit to prescribe. I betrayed a trust, I murdered a man, I violated a temple: demand my punishment for these crimes. Should it be your pleasure to slay me I will come to you with my sword; if you are content with a flogging I will run naked to my mistress; only bear in mind that it was not myself but my tools that failed me. I was a soldier, and ready, but I had no arms. What threw me into such disorder I do not know, perhaps my imagination outran my lagging body, by aspiring to too much it is likely that I spent my pleasure in delay; I cannot imagine what the trouble was. You bid me beware of paralysis; as if a disease which prevented my enjoying you could grow worse! But my apology amounts briefly to this; if you will grant me an opportunity of repairing my fault, I will give you satisfaction.


After dismissing Chrysis with these fair promises, I paid careful attention to my body which had so evilly served me and, omitting the bath, I annointed myself, in moderation, with unguents and placed myself upon a more strengthening diet such as onions and snail’s heads without condiments, and I also drank more sparingly of wine; then, taking a short walk before settling down to sleep, I went to bed without Giton. So anxious was I to please her that I feared the outcome if my “brother” lay tickling my side.


Finding myself vigorous in mind and body when I arose next morning, I went down to the same clump of plane trees, though I dreaded the spot as one of evil omen, and commenced to wait for Chrysis to lead me on my way. I took a short stroll and had just seated myself where I had sat the day before, when she came under the trees, leading a little old woman by the hand. “Well, Mr. Squeamish,” she chirped, when she had greeted me, “have you recovered your appetite?” In the meantime, the old hag:
A wine-soaked crone with twitching lips

brought out a twisted hank of different colored yarns and put it about my neck; she then kneaded dust and spittle and, dipping her middle finger into the mixture, she crossed my forehead with it, in spite of my protests.

As long as life remains, there’s hope;
Thou rustic God, oh hear our prayer,
Great Priapus, I thee invoke,
Temper our arms to dare!

When she had made an end of this incantation she ordered me to spit three times, and three times to drop stones into my bosom, each stone she wrapped up in purple after she had muttered charms over it; then, directing her hands to my privates, she commenced to try out my virility. Quicker than thought the nerves responded to the summons, filling the crone’s hand with an enormous erection! Skipping for joy, “Look, Chrysis, look,” she cried out, “see what a hare I’ve started, for someone else to course!” (This done, the old lady handed me over to Chrysis, who was greatly delighted at the recovery of her mistress’s treasure; she hastily conducted me straight to the latter, introducing me into a lovely nook that nature had furnished with everything which could delight the eye.)

Shorn of its top, the swaying pine here casts a
summer shade
And quivering cypress, and the stately plane
And berry-laden laurel. A brook’s wimpling waters strayed
Lashed into foam, but dancing on again
And rolling pebbles in their chattering flow.
‘Twas Love’s own nook,
As forest nightingale and urban Procne undertook
To bear true witness; hovering, the gleaming grass above
And tender violets; wooing with song, their stolen love.

Fanning herself with a branch of flowering myrtle, she lay, stretched out with her marble neck resting upon a golden cushion. When she caught sight of me she blushed faintly; she recalled yesterday’s affront, I suppose. At her invitation, I sat down by her side, as soon as the others had gone; whereupon she put the branch of myrtle over my face and emboldened, as if a wall had been raised between us, “Well, Mr. Paralytic,” she teased, “have you brought all of yourself along today?” “Why ask me,” I replied, “why not try me instead?” and throwing myself bodily into her arms, I revelled in her kisses with no witchcraft to stop me.

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The loveliness of her form drew, me to her and summoned me to love. Our lips were pressed together in a torrent of smacking kisses, our groping hands had discovered every trick of excitation, and our bodies, clasped in a mutual embrace, had fused our souls into one, (and then, in the very midst of these ravishing preliminaries my nerves again played me false and I was unable to last until the instant of supreme bliss.) Lashed to fury by these inexcusable affronts, the lady at last ran to avenge herself and, calling her house servants, she gave orders for me to be hoisted upon their shoulders and flogged; then, still unsatisfied with the drastic punishment she had inflicted upon me, she called all the spinning women and scrubbing wenches in the house and ordered them to spit upon me. I covered my face with my hands but I uttered no complaint as I well knew what I deserved and, overwhelmed with blows and spittle, I was driven from the house. Proselenos was kicked out too, Chrysis was beaten, and all the slaves grumbled among themselves and wondered what had upset their mistress’s good humor. I took heart after having given some thought to my misfortunes and, artfully concealing the marks of the blows for fear that Eumolpus would make merry over my mishaps or, worse yet, that Giton might be saddened by my disgrace, I did the only thing I could do to save my self-respect, I pretended that I was sick and went to bed. There, I turned the full fury of my resentment against that recreant which had been the sole cause of all the evil accidents which had befallen me.

Three times I grasped the two-edged blade
The recreant to cut away;
Three times by Fear my hand was stayed
And palsied Terror said me nay
That which I might have done before
‘Twas now impossible to do;
For, cold with Fear, the wretch withdrew
Into a thousand-wrinkled mare,
And shrank in shame before my gaze
Nor would his head uncover more.
But though the scamp in terror skulked,
With words I flayed him as he sulked.

Raising myself upon my elbow I rebuked the shirker in some such terms as these: “What have you to say for yourself, you disgrace to gods and men,” I demanded, “for your name must never be mentioned among refined people. Did I deserve to be lifted up to heaven and then dragged down to hell by you? Was it right for you to slander my flourishing and vigorous years and land me in the shadows and lassitude of decrepit old age? Give me some sign, however faint, I beg of you, that you have returned to life!” I vented my anger in words such as these.

His eyes were fixed, and with averted look
He stood, less moved by any word of mine
Than weeping willows bending o’er a brook
Or drooping poppies as at noon they pine.

When I had made an end of this invective, so out of keeping with good taste, I began to do penance for my soliloquy and blushed furtively because I had so far forgotten my modesty as to invoke in words that part of my body which men of dignity do not even recognize. Then, rubbing my forehead for a long time, “Why have I committed an indiscretion in relieving my resentment by natural abuse,” I mused, “what does it amount to? Are we not accustomed to swear at every member of the human body, the belly, throat, or even the head when it aches, as it often does? Did not Ulysses wrangle with his own heart? Do not the tragedians ‘Damn their eyes’ just as if they could hear?

“Gouty patients swear at their feet, rheumatics at their hands, blear-eyed people at their eyes, and do not those who often stub their toes blame their feet for all their pain?

“Why will our Catos with their frowning brows
Condemn a work of fresh simplicity’?
A cheerful kindness my pure speech endows;
What people do, I write, to my capacity.
For who knows not the pleasures Venus gives?
Who will not in a warm bed tease his members?
Great Epicurus taught a truth that lives;
Love and enjoy life! All the rest is embers.

“Nothing can be more insincere than the silly prejudices of mankind, and nothing sillier than the morality of bigotry,”


I called Giton when I had finished my meditation: “Tell me, little brother,” I demanded, “tell me, on your honor: Did Ascyltos stay awake until he had exacted his will of you, the night he stole you away from me? Or was he content to spend the night like a chaste widow?” Wiping his eyes the lad, in carefully chosen words took oath that Ascyltos had used no force against him. (The truth of the matter is, that I was so distraught with my own misfortunes that I knew not what I was saying. “Why recall past memories which can only cause pain,” said I to myself. I then directed all my energies towards the recovery of my lost manhood. To achieve this I was ready even to devote myself to the gods; accordingly, I went out to invoke the aid of Priapus.) {Putting as good a face upon the matter as I could} I knelt upon the threshold of his shrine and invoked the God in the following verses:

“Of Bacchus and the nymphs, companion boon,
Whom fair Dione set o’er forests wide
As God: whom Lesbos and green Thasos own
For deity, whom Lydians, far and wide
Adore through all the seasons of the year;
Whose temple in his own Hypaepa placed,
Thou Dryad’s joy and Bacchus’, hear my prayer!
To thee I come, by no dark blood disgraced,
No shrine, in wicked lust have I profaned;
When I was poor and worn with want, I sinned
Not by intent, a pauper’s sin’s not banned
As of another! Unto thee I pray
Lift thou the load from off my tortured mind,
Forgive a light offense! When fortune smiles
I’ll not thy glory shun and leave behind
Thy worship! Unto thee, a goat that feels
His primest vigor, father of the flocks
Shall come! And suckling pigs, the tender young
Of some fine grunting sow! New wine, in crocks
Shall foam! Thy grateful praises shall be sung
By youths who thrice shall dance around thy shrine
Happy, in youth and full of this year’s wine!”

While I was engaged in this diplomatic effort in behalf of the affected member, a hideous crone with disheveled hair, and clad in black garments which were in great: disorder, entered the shrine and, laying hands upon me, led me {thoroughly frightened,} out into the portico.

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“What witches” (she cried,) “have devoured your manhood? What filth did you tread upon at some crossroads, in the dark? Not even by the boy could you do your duty but, weak and effeminate, you are worn out like a cart-horse at a hill, you have lost both labor and sweat! Not content with getting yourself into trouble, you have stirred up the wrath of the gods against me {and I will make you smart for it.”} She then led me, unresisting, back into the priestess’s room, pushed me down upon the bed, snatched a cane that hung upon the door, and gave me another thrashing: I remained silent and, had the cane not splintered at the first stroke, thereby diminishing the force of the blow, she might easily have broken my arms or my head. I groaned dismally, and especially when she manipulated my member and, shedding a flood of tears, I covered my head with my right arm and huddled down upon the pillow. Nor did she weep less bitterly:

The sailor, naked from his foundered barque,
Some shipwrecked mariner seeks out to hear his woe;
When hail beats down a farmer’s crop, his cark
Seeks consolation from another, too.
Death levels caste and sufferers unites,
And weeping parents are as one in grief;
We also will beseech the starry heights,
United prayers climb best, is the belief.

She seated herself upon the other side of the bed and in quavering tones commenced to accuse the delays of old age. At last the priestess came in. “Why,” she cried, “what has brought you into my cell as if you were visiting a newly made grave? And on a feast-day, too, when even mourners ought to smile!” “OEnothea,” the old hag replied, “this young man here was born under an unlucky star: he can’t dispose of his goods to either boy or girl. Such an unfortunate fellow you never saw. He has no tool at all, only a piece of leather soaked in water! I wish you would tell me what you think of a man who could get up from Circe’s bed without having tasted pleasure!” On hearing these words, OEnothea sat down between us and, after shaking her head for a while, “I’m the only one that knows how to cure that disease,” said she, “and for fear you think I’m talking to hear myself talk, I’ll just have the young fellow sleep with me for a night, and if I don’t make it as hard as horn!

All that you see in the world must give heed to my mandates;
Blossoming earth, when I will it, must languish, a desert.’
Riches pour forth, when I will it, from crags and grim boulders
Waters will spurt that will rival the Nile at its flooding
Seas calm their billows before me, gales silence their howlings,
Hearing my step! And the rivers sink into their channels;
Dragons, Hyrcanian tigers stand fast at my bidding!
Why should I tell you of small things? The image of Luna
Drawn by my spells must descend, and Apollo, atremble
Backs up his horses and turns from his course at my order!
Such is the power of my word! By the rites of a virgin
Quenched is the raging of bulls; and the sun’s daughter Circe
Changed and transfigured the crew of the wily Ulysses.
Proteus changes his form when his good pleasure dictates,
I, who am skilled in these arts, can the shrubs of Mount Ida
Plant in the ocean; turn rivers to flow up the mountains!”

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At this declaration, which was so awe-inspiring, I shuddered in terror, and commenced to scrutinize the crone more narrowly. “Come now,” said OEnothea, “obey my orders,” and, carefully wiping her hands, she bent over the cot and kissed me, once, twice! On the middle of the altar OEnothea placed an old table, upon which she heaped live coals, then with melted pitch she repaired a goblet which had become cracked through age. Next she replaced, in the smoke-stained wall, a peg which had come out when she took down the wooden goblet. Then, having donned a mantle, in the shape of a piece of square-cut cloth, she set a huge kettle upon the hearth and at the same time speared with a fork a cloth hanging upon the meathooks, and lifted it down. It contained some beans which had been laid away for future use, and a very small and stale piece of pig’s cheek, scored with a thousand slashes. When she had untied the string which fastened the cloth, she poured some of the beans upon the table and ordered me to shell them quickly and carefully. I obey her mandate and with careful fingers separate the beans from the filthy pods which contain them; but she, accusing my clumsiness, hastily snatched them and, skillfully tearing off the pods with her teeth, spat them upon the ground, where they looked like dead flies. I wondered, then, at the ingenuity of poverty and its expedients for emergency. (So ardent a follower of this virtue did the priestess seem that it was reflected in everything around her. Her dwelling, in particular, was a very shrine of poverty.)

No Indian ivory set in gold gleamed here,
No trodden marble glistened here; no earth
Mocked for its gifts; but Ceres’ festive grove:
With willow wickerwork ‘twas set around,
New cups of clay by revolutions shaped
Of lowly wheel. For honey soft, a bowl;
Platters of green bark wickerwork, a jar
Stained by the lifeblood of the God of Wine;
The walls around with chaff and spattered clay
Were covered. Flanging from protruding nails
Were slender stalks of the green rush; and then
Suspended from the smoky beam, the stores
Of this poor cottage. Service berries soft,
Entwined in fragrant wreaths hung down,
Dried savory and raisins by the bunch.
An hostess here like she on Attic soil,
Of Hecate’s pure worship worthy she!
Whose fame Kallimachos so grandly sang
‘Twill live forever through the speaking years.


In the meantime, (having shelled the beans,) she took a mouthful of the meat and with the fork was replacing the pig’s cheek, which was coeval with herself, upon the meat-hook, when the rotten stool, which she was using to augment her height, broke down under the old lady’s weight and let her fall upon the hearth. The neck of the pot was broken, putting out the fire, which was just getting a good start, her elbow was burned by a flaming brand, and her whole face was covered by the ashes raised by her fall. I jumped up in dismay and, not without laughing, helped the old lady to her feet. She hastily scurried out into the neighborhood to replenish the fire, for fear anything should delay the sacrifice. I was on my way to the door of the cell when lo! and behold! three sacred geese which were accustomed, I suppose, to demand their feed from the old woman at midday, made a rush at me and, surrounding me, made me nervous with their abominable rabid cackling. One tore at my tunic, another undid the lacings of my sandals and tugged at them, but one in particular, the ringleader and moving spirit of this savage attack, did not hesitate to worry at my leg with his serrated bill. Unable to see the joke, I twisted off one of the legs of the little table and, thus armed, began to belabor the pugnacious brute. Nor did I rest content with a light blow, I avenged myself by the death of the goose.

‘Twas thus, I ween, the birds of Stymphalus
To heaven fled, by Herakles impelled;
The Harpies, too, whose reeking pinions held
That poison which the feast of Phineus
Contaminated. All the air above
With their unwonted lamentations shook,
The heavens in uproar and confusion move
{The Stars, in dread, their orbits then forsook!}

By this time the two remaining geese had picked up the beans which had been scattered all over the floor and bereft, I suppose, of their leader, had gone back into the temple; and I, well content with my revenge and my booty, threw the dead goose behind the cot and bathed the trifling wound in my leg with vinegar: then, fearing a scolding, I made up my mind to run away and, collecting together all my belongings, started to leave the house. I had not yet stepped over the threshold of the cell, however, when I caught sight of OEnothea returning with an earthen vessel full of live coals. Thereupon I retraced my steps and, throwing off my garments, I took my stand just inside the door, as if I were awaiting her return. She banked her fire with broken reeds, piled some pieces of wood on top, and began to excuse her delay on the ground that her friend would not permit her to leave until after the customary three drinks had been taken. “But what were you up to in my absence?” she demanded. “Where are the beans?” Thinking that I had done a thing worthy of all praise, I informed her of the battle in all its details and, that she might not be downcast any longer, I produced the dead goose in payment for her loss. When the old lady laid eyes upon that, she raised such a clamor that you would have thought that the geese had invaded the room again. Confounded and thunderstruck at the novelty of my crime, I asked her why she was so angry and why she pitied the goose rather than myself.


But, beating her palms together, “You villain, are you so brazen that you can speak?” she shrieked. “Don’t you know what a serious crime you’ve committed? You have slaughtered the delight of Priapus, a goose, the very darling of married women! And for fear you think that nothing serious has happened, if the magistrates find this out you’ll go to the cross! Until this day my dwelling has been inviolate and you have polluted it with blood! You have conducted yourself in such a manner that any enemy I have can turn me out of the priesthood!”

She spoke, and from her trembling head she tore the snow-white hair,
     And scratched her cheeks: her eyes shed floods of tears.
As when a torrent headlong rushes down the valleys drear,
     Its icy fetters gone when Sprint appears,
And strikes the frozen shackles from rejuvenated earth
     So down her face the tears in torrents swept
     And wracking sobs convulsed her as she wept.

“Please don’t make such a fuss,” I said, “I’ll give you an ostrich in place of your goose!” While she sat upon the cot and, to my stupefaction, bewailed the death of the goose, Proselenos came in with the materials for the sacrifice. Seeing the dead goose and inquiring the cause of her grief, she herself commenced to weep more violently still and to commiserate me, as if I had slain my own father, instead of a public goose. Growing tired of this nonsense at last, “See here,” said I, “could I not purchase immunity for a price, even though I had assaulted you’? Even though I had murdered a man? Look here! I’m laying down two gold pieces, you can buy both gods and geese with them!” “Forgive me, young man,” said OEnothea, when she caught sight of the gold, “I am anxious upon your account; that is a proof of love, not of malignity. Let us take such precautions that not a soul will find this out. As for you, pray to the gods to forgive your sacrilege!”

The rich man can sail in a favoring gale
     And snap out his course at his pleasure;
A Dance espouse, no Acrisius will rail,
     His credence by hers he will measure;
Write verse, or declaim; snap the finger of scorn
     At the world, yet still win all his cases,
The rabble will drink in his words with concern
     When a Cato austere it displaces.
At law, his “not proven,” or “proved,” he can have
     With Servius or Labeo vieing;
With gold at command anything he may crave
     Is his without asking or sighing.
The universe bows at his slightest behest,
     For Jove is a prisoner in his treasure chest.

In the meantime, she scurried around and put a jar of wine under my hands and, when my fingers had all been spread out evenly, she purified them with leeks and parsley. Then, muttering incantations, she threw hazel-nuts into the wine and drew her conclusions as they sank or floated; but she did not hoodwink me, for those with empty shells, no kernel and full of air, would of course float, while those that were heavy and full of sound kernel would sink to the bottom. {She then turned her attention to the goose,} and, cutting open the breast, she drew out a very fat liver from which she foretold my future. Then, for fear any trace of the crime should remain, she cut the whole goose up, stuck the pieces upon spits, and served up a very delectable dinner for me, whom, but a moment before, she had herself condemned to death, in her own words! Meanwhile, cups of unmixed wine went merrily around (and the crones greedily devoured the goose which they had but so lately lamented. When the last morsel had disappeared, OEnothea, half-drunk by this time, looked at me and said, “We must now go through with the mysteries, so that you may get back your virility.”)

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(As she said this OEnothea brought) out a leathern dildo which, when she had smeared it with oil, ground pepper, and pounded nettle seed, she commenced to force, little by little, up my anus. The merciless old virago then anointed the insides of my thighs with the same decoction; finally mixing nasturtium juice with elixir of southern wood, she gave my genitals a bath and, picking up a bunch of green nettles, she commenced to strike me gently all over my belly below the navel. {The nettles stung me horribly and I suddenly took to my heels, with the old hags in full pursuit.} Although they were befuddled with wine and lust they followed the right road and chased me through several wards, screaming “Stop thief.” I made good my escape, however, although every toe was bleeding as the result of my headlong flight. (I got home as quickly as I could and, worn out with fatigue, I sought my couch, but I could not snatch a wink of sleep for the evil adventures which had befallen me kept running through my brain and, brooding upon them, I came to the conclusion that no one could be so abjectly unfortunate. “Has Fortune, always inimical to me, stood in need of the pangs of love, that she might torture me more cruelly still,” I cried out; “unhappy wretch that I am! Fortune and Love have joined forces to bring about my ruin. Cruel Eros himself had never dealt leniently with me, loved or lover I am put to the torture! Take the case of Chrysis: she loves me desperately, never leaves off teasing me, she who despised me as a servant, because, when she was acting as her mistress’s go-between, I was dressed in the garments of a slave: she, I say) that same Chrysis, who looked with contempt upon your former lowly lot, is now bent upon following it up even at the peril of her life; (she swore that she would never leave my side on the day when she told me of the violence of her passion: but Circe owns me, heart and soul, all others I despise. Who could be lovelier than she?) What loveliness had Ariadne or Leda to compare with hers? What had Helen to compare with her, what has Venus? If Paris himself had seen her with her dancing eyes, when he acted as umpire for the quarreling goddesses, he would have given up Helen and the goddesses for her! If I could only steal a kiss, if only I might put my arms around that divine, that heavenly bosom, perhaps the virility would come back to this body and the parts, flaccid from witchcraft would, I believe, come into their own. Contempt cannot tire me out: what if I was flogged; I will forget it! What if I was thrown out! I will treat it as a joke! Only let me be restored to her good graces!

At rest on my pallet, night’s silence had scarce settled down
To soothe me, and eyes heavy-laden with slumber to lull
When torturing Amor laid hold of me, seizing my hair
And dragging me, wounding me, ordered a vigil till dawn.
‘Oh heart of stone, how canst thou lie here alone?’ said the God,
‘Thou joy of a thousand sweet mistresses, how, oh my slave?’
In disarrayed nightrobe I leap to bare feet and essay
To follow all paths; but a road can discover by none.
One moment I hasten; the next it is torture to move,
It irks me again to turn back, shame forbids me to halt
And stand in the midst of the road. Lo! the voices of men,
The roar of the streets, and the songs of the birds, and the bark
Of vigilant watch-dogs are hushed! Alone, I of all
Society dread both my slumber and couch, and obey
Great Lord of the Passions, thy mandate which on me was laid.”


(Such thoughts as these, of lovely Circe’s charms so wrought upon my mind that) I disordered my bed by embracing the image, as it were, of my mistress, (but my efforts were all wasted.) This obstinate (affliction finally wore out my patience, and I cursed the hostile deity by whom I was bewitched. I soon recovered my composure, however, and, deriving some consolation from thinking of the heroes of old, who had been persecuted by the anger of the gods, I broke out in these lines:)

Hostile gods and implacable rate not me alone pursue;
Herakles once suffered the weight of heaven’s displeasure too
Driven from the Inachian coast: Laomedon of old
Sated two of the heavenly host: in Pelias, behold
Juno’s power to avenge an affront; and Telephus took arms
Knowing not he must bear the brunt; Ulysses feared the storms
Angry Neptune decreed as his due. Now, me to overwhelm
Outraged Priapus ever pursues on land and Nereus’ realm.

(Tortured by these cares I spent the whole night in anxiety, and at dawn, Giton, who had found out that I had slept at home, entered the room and bitterly accused me of leading a licentious life; he said that the whole household was greatly concerned at what I had been doing, that I was so rarely present to attend to my duties, and that the intrigue in which I was engaged would very likely bring about my ruin. I gathered from this that he had been well informed as to my affairs, and that someone had been to the house inquiring for me. Thereupon,) I began to ply Giton with questions as to whether anyone had made inquiry for me; “Not today,” he replied, “but yesterday a woman came in at the door, not bad looking, either, and after talking to me for quite a while, and wearing me out with her far-fetched conversation, finally ended by saying that you deserved punishment, and that you would receive the scourging of a slave if the injured party pressed his complaint.” (This news afflicted me so bitterly that I levelled fresh recriminations against Fortune, and) I had not yet finished grumbling when Chrysis came in and, throwing herself upon me, embraced me passionately. “I have you,” she cried, “just as I hoped I would; you are my heart’s desire, my joy, you can never put out this flame of mine unless you quench it in my blood!” (I was greatly embarrassed by this wantonness of Chrysis and had recourse to flattery in order that I might rid myself of her, as I feared that her passionate outcries would reach the ears of Eumolpus who, in the arrogance of success, had put on the manner of the master. So on this account, I did everything I could think of to calm Chrysis. I feigned love, whispered compliments, in short, so skillfully did I dissimulate that she believed I was Love’s own captive. I showed her what pressing peril overhung us should she be caught in that room with me, as Eumolpus was only too ready to punish the slightest offense. On hearing this, she left me hurriedly, and all the more quickly, as she caught sight of Giton, who had only left me a little before she had come in, on his way to my room. She was scarcely gone when) one of the newly engaged servants rushed in and informed me that the master was furiously angry with me because of my two days’ absence from duty; I would do well, therefore, to prepare some plausible excuse, as it was not likely that his angry passion would be placated until someone had been flogged. (Seeing that I was so vexed and disheartened, Giton said not a word about the woman, contenting himself with speaking of Eumolpus, and advising me that it would be better to joke with him than to treat the matter seriously. I followed this lead and appeared before the old fellow, with so merry a countenance that, instead of showing severity, he received me with good humor and rallied me upon the success of my love affairs, praising the elegance of my figure which made me such a favorite with the ladies. “I know very well,” he went on, “that a lovely woman is dying for love of you, Encolpius, and this may come in handy for us, so play your part and I’ll play mine, too!”)

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(He was still speaking, when in came a) matron of the most exclusive social set, Philumene by name, who had often, when young, extorted many a legacy by means of her charms, but an old woman now, the flower of her beauty faded, she threw her son and daughter in the way of childless old men and through this substitution she contrived to continue her established policy. She came to Eumolpus, both to commend her children to his practical judgment and to entrust herself and her hopes to his good nature, he being the only one in all the world who could daily instruct young children in healthy precepts. In short, she left her children in Eumolpus’ house in order that they might hear the words that dropped from his lips, as this was the only legacy she could leave to them. Nor did she do otherwise than as she had promised, but left in his bed chamber a very beautiful daughter and her brother, a lad, and pretended that she herself was compelled to go out to a temple to offer up her vows. Eumolpus, who was so continent that even I was a boy in his eyes, lost no time in inviting the damsel to sacrifice to the Aversa Venus; but, as he had told everyone that he was gouty and that his back was weak, and as he stood in danger of upsetting the whole farce if he did not carefully live up to the pretence, he therefore, that the imposture might be kept up, prevailed upon the young lady to seat herself upon that goodness which had been commended to her, and ordered Corax to crawl under the bed upon which he himself was lying and after bracing himself by putting his hands upon the floor, to hoist his master up and down with his own back. Corax carried out the order in full and skillfully seconded the wriggling of the girl with a corresponding seesaw. Then, when the crisis was about due, Eumolpus, in a ringing voice, called out to Corax to increase the cadence. And thus the old lecher, suspended between his servant and his mistress, enjoyed himself just as if he were in a swing. Time and again Eumolpus repeated this performance, to the accompaniment of ringing laughter in which he himself joined. At last, fearing I might lose an opportunity through lack of application, I also made advances to the brother who was enjoying the gymnastics of his sister through the keyhole, to see if he would prove amenable to assault. Nor did this well trained lad reject my advances; but alas! I discovered that the God was still my enemy. (However, I was not so blue over this failure as I had been over those before, and my virility returned a little later and, suddenly finding myself in better fettle I cried out,) “Great are the gods who have made me whole again! In his loving kindness, Mercury, who conducts and reconducts the souls, has restored to me that which a hostile hand had cut away. Look! You will find that I am more graciously endowed than was Protestilaus or any other of the heroes of old!” So saying, I lifted up my tunic and showed Eumolpus that I was whole. At first he was startled, then, that he might believe his own eyes, he handled this pledge of the good will of the gods with both hands. (Our good humor was revived by this blessing and we laughed at the diplomacy of Philumene and at the skill with which her children plied their calling, little likely to profit them much with us, however, as it was only in hopes of coming into a legacy that she had abandoned the boy and girl to us. Meditating upon this unscrupulous method of getting around childless old men, I began to take thought of the present state of our own affairs and made use of the occasion to warn Eumolpus that he might be bitten in biting the biters. “Everything that we do,” I said, “should be dictated by Prudence.) Socrates, {whose judgment was riper than that} of the gods or of men used to boast that he had never looked into a tavern nor believed the evidence of his own eyes in any crowded assembly which was disorderly: so nothing is more in keeping than always conversing with wisdom.

Live coals are more readily held in men’s mouths than a secret!
Whatever you talk of at home will fly forth in an instant,
Become a swift rumor and beat at the walls of your city.
Nor is it enough that your confidence thus has been broken,
As rumor but grows in the telling and strives to embellish.
The covetous servant who feared to make public his knowledge
A hole in the ground dug, and therein did whisper his secret
That told of a king’s hidden ears: this the earth straightway echoed,
And rustling reeds added that Midas was king in the story.

“Every word of this is true,” I insisted, “and no one deserves to get into trouble more quickly than he who covets the goods of others! How could cheats and swindlers live unless they threw purses or little bags clinking with money into the crowd for bait? Just as dumb brutes are enticed by food, human beings are not to be caught unless they have something in the way of hope at which to nibble! (That was the reason that the Crotonians gave us such a satisfactory reception, but) the ship does not arrive, from Africa, with your money and your slaves, as you promised. The patience of the fortune-hunters is worn out and they have already cut down their liberality so that, either I am mistaken, or else our usual luck is about to return to punish you!”


(“I have thought up a scheme,” replied Eumolpus, “which will embarrass our fortune-hunting friends sorely,” and as he said this, he drew his tablets from his wallet and read his last wishes aloud, as follows:) “All who are down for legacies under my will, my freedmen only excepted, shall come into what I bequeath them subject to this condition, that they do cut my body into pieces and devour said pieces in sight of the crowd: {nor need they be inordinately shocked} for among some peoples, the law ordaining that the dead shall be devoured by their relatives is still in force; nay, even the sick are often abused because they render their own flesh worse! I admonish my friends, by these presents, lest they refuse what I command, that they devour my carcass with as great relish as they damned my soul!” (Eumolpus had just started reading the first clauses when several of his most intimate friends entered the room and catching sight of the tablets in his hand in which was contained his last will and testament, besought him earnestly to permit them to hear the contents. He consented immediately and read the entire instrument from first to last. But when they had heard that extraordinary stipulation by which they were under the necessity of devouring his carcass, they were greatly cast down, but) his reputation for enormous wealth dulled the eyes and brains of the wretches, (and they were such cringing sycophants that they dared not complain of the outrage in his hearing. One there was, nevertheless, named) Gorgias, who was willing to comply, (provided he did not have too long to wait! To this, Eumolpus made answer:) “I have no fear that your stomach will turn, it will obey orders; if, for one hour of nausea you promise it a plethora of good things: just shut your eyes and pretend that it’s not human guts you’ve bolted, but ten million sesterces! And beside, we will find some condiment which will disguise the taste! No flesh is palatable of itself, it must be seasoned by art and reconciled to the unwilling stomach. And, if you desire to fortify the plan by precedents, the Saguntines ate human flesh when besieged by Hannibal, and they had no legacy in prospect! In stress of famine, the inhabitants of Petelia did the same and gained nothing from the diet except that they were not hungry! When Numantia was taken by Scipio, mothers, with the half-eaten bodies of their babes in their bosoms, were found! (Therefore, since it is only the thought of eating human flesh that makes you squeamish, you must try to overcome your aversion, with all your heart, so that you may come into the immense legacies I have put you down for!” So carelessly did Eumolpus reel off these extravagances that the fortune-hunters began to lose faith in the validity of his promises and subjected our words and actions to a closer scrutiny immediately; their suspicions grew with their experience and they came to the conclusion that we were out and out grafters, and thereupon those who had been put to the greatest expense for our entertainment resolved to seize us and take it out in just revenge; but Chrysis, who was privy to all their scheming, informed me of the designs which the Crotonians had hatched; and when I heard this news, I was so terrified that I fled instantly, with Giton, and left Eumolpus to his fate. I learned, a few days later, that the Crotonians, furious because the old fox had lived so long and so sumptuously at the public expense, had put him to death in the Massilian manner. That you may comprehend what this means, know that) whenever the Massilians were ravaged by the plague, one of the poor would offer himself to be fed for a whole year upon choice food at public charge; after which, decked out with olive branches and sacred vestments, he was led out through the entire city, loaded with imprecations so that he might take to himself the evils from which the city suffered, and then thrown headlong (from the cliff.)

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There are two basic instincts in the character of the normal individual; the will to live, and the will to propagate the species. It is from the interplay of these instincts that prostitution took origin, and it is for this reason that this profession is the oldest in human experience, the first offspring, as it were, of savagery and of civilization. When Fate turns the leaves of the book of universal history, she enters, upon the page devoted thereto, the record of the birth of each nation in its chronological order, and under this record appears the scarlet entry to confront the future historian and arrest his unwilling attention; the only entry which time and even oblivion can never efface.

If, prior to the time of Augustus Caesar, the Romans had laws designed to control the social evil, we have no knowledge of them, but there is nevertheless no lack of evidence to prove that it was only too well known among them long before that happy age (Livy i, 4; ii, 18); and the peculiar story of the Bacchanalian cult which was brought to Rome by foreigners about the second century B.C. (Livy xxxix, 9-17), and the comedies of Plautus and Terence, in which the pandar and the harlot are familiar characters. Cicero, Pro Coelio, chap. xx, says: “If there is anyone who holds the opinion that young men should be interdicted from intrigues with the women of the town, he is indeed austere! That, ethically, he is in the right, I cannot deny: but nevertheless, he is at loggerheads not only with the licence of the present age, but even with the habits of our ancestors and what they permitted themselves. For when was this NOT done? When was it rebuked? When found fault with?” The Floralia, first introduced about 238 B.C., had a powerful influence in giving impetus to the spread of prostitution. The account of the origin of this festival, given by Lactantius, while no credence is to be placed in it, is very interesting. “When Flora, through the practice of prostitution, had come into great wealth, she made the people her heir, and bequeathed a certain fund, the income of which was to be used to celebrate her birthday by the exhibition of the games they call the Floralia” (Instit. Divin. xx, 6). In chapter x of the same book, he describes the manner in which they were celebrated: “They were solemnized with every form of licentiousness. For in addition to the freedom of speech that pours forth every obscenity, the prostitutes, at the importunities of the rabble, strip off their clothing and act as mimes in full view of the crowd, and this they continue until full satiety comes to the shameless lookers-on, holding their attention with their wriggling buttocks.” Cato, the censor, objected to the latter part of this spectacle, but, with all his influence, he was never able to abolish it; the best he could do was to have the spectacle put off until he had left the theatre. Within 40 years after the introduction of this festival, P. Scipio Africanus, in his speech in defense of Tib. Asellus, said: “If you elect to defend your profligacy, well and good. But as a matter of fact, you have lavished, on one harlot, more money than the total value, as declared by you to the Census Commissioners, of all the plenishing of your Sabine farm; if you deny my assertion I ask who dare wager 1,000 sesterces on its untruth? You have squandered more than a third of the property you inherited from your father and dissipated it in debauchery” (Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, vii, 11). It was about this time that the Oppian law came up for repeal. The stipulations of this law were as follows: No woman should have in her dress above half an ounce of gold, nor wear a garment of different colors, nor ride in a carriage in the city or in any town, or within a mile of it, unless upon occasion of a public sacrifice. This sumptuary law was passed during the public distress consequent upon Hannibal’s invasion of Italy. It was repealed eighteen years afterward, upon petition of the Roman ladies, though strenuously opposed by Cato (Livy 34, 1; Tacitus, Annales, 3, 33). The increase of wealth among the Romans, the spoils wrung from their victims as a portion of the price of defeat, the contact of the legions with the softer, more civilized, more sensuous races of Greece and Asia Minor, laid the foundations upon which the social evil was to rise above the city of the seven hills, and finally crush her. In the character of the Roman there was but little of tenderness. The well-being of the state caused him his keenest anxiety. One of the laws of the twelve tables, the “Coelebes Prohibito,” compelled the citizen of manly vigor to satisfy the promptings of nature in the arms of a lawful wife, and the tax on bachelors is as ancient as the times of Furius Camillus. “There was an ancient law among the Romans,” says Dion Cassius, lib. xliii, “which forbade bachelors, after the age of twenty-five, to enjoy equal political rights with married men. The old Romans had passed this law in hope that, in this way, the city of Rome, and the Provinces of the Roman Empire as well, might be insured an abundant population.” The increase, under the Emperors, of the number of laws dealing with sex is an accurate mirror of conditions as they altered and grew worse. The “Jus Trium Librorum,” under the empire, a privilege enjoyed by those who had three legitimate children, consisting, as it did, of permission to fill a public office before the twenty-fifth year of one’s age, and in freedom from personal burdens, must have had its origin in the grave apprehensions for the future, felt by those in power. The fact that this right was sometimes conferred upon those who were not legally entitled to benefit by it, makes no difference in this inference. Scions of patrician families imbibed their lessons from the skilled voluptuaries of Greece and the Levant and in their intrigues with the wantons of those climes, they learned to lavish wealth as a fine art. Upon their return to Rome they were but ill-pleased with the standard of entertainment offered by the ruder and less sophisticated native talent; they imported Greek and Syrian mistresses. ‘Wealth increased, its message sped in every direction, and the corruption of the world was drawn into Italy as by a load-stone. The Roman matron had learned how to be a mother, the lesson of love was an unopened book; and, when the foreign hetairai poured into the city, and the struggle for supremacy began, she soon became aware of the disadvantage under which she contended. Her natural haughtiness had caused her to lose valuable time; pride, and finally desperation drove her to attempt to outdo her foreign rivals; her native modesty became a thing of the past, her Roman initiative, unadorned by sophistication, was often but too successful in outdoing the Greek and Syrian wantons, but without the appearance of refinement which they always contrived to give to every caress of passion or avarice. They wooed fortune with an abandon that soon made them the objects of contempt in the eyes of their lords and masters. “She is chaste whom no man has solicited,” said Ovid (Amor. i, 8, line 43). Martial, writing about ninety years later says: “Sophronius Rufus, long have I been searching the city through to find if there is ever a maid to say ‘No’; there is not one.” (Ep. iv, 71.) In point of time, a century separates Ovid and Martial; from a moral standpoint, they are as far apart as the poles. The revenge, then, taken by Asia, gives a startling insight into the real meaning of Kipling’s poem, “The female of the species is more deadly than the male.” In Livy (xxxiv, 4) we read: (Cato is speaking), “All these changes, as day by day the fortune of the state is higher and more prosperous and her empire grows greater, and our conquests extend over Greece and Asia, lands replete with every allurement of the senses, and we appropriate treasures that may well be called royal,--all this I dread the more from my fear that such high fortune may rather master us, than we master it.” Within twelve years of the time when this speech was delivered, we read in the same author (xxxix, 6), “for the beginnings of foreign luxury were brought into the city by the Asiatic army”; and Juvenal (Sat. iii, 6), “Quirites, I cannot bear to see Rome a Greek city, yet how small a fraction of the whole corruption is found in these dregs of Achaea? Long since has the Syrian Orontes flowed into the Tiber and brought along with it the Syrian tongue and manners and cross-stringed harp and harper and exotic timbrels and girls bidden stand for hire at the circus.” Still, from the facts which have come down to us, we cannot arrive at any definite date at which houses of ill fame and women of the town came into vogue at Rome. That they had long been under police regulation, and compelled to register with the aedile, is evident from a passage in Tacitus: “for Visitilia, born of a family of praetorian rank, had publicly notified before the aediles, a permit for fornication, according to the usage that prevailed among our fathers, who supposed that sufficient punishment for unchaste women resided in the very nature of their calling.” No penalty attached to illicit intercourse or to prostitution in general, and the reason appears in the passage from Tacitus, quoted above. In the case of married women, however, who contravened the marriage vow there were several penalties. Among them, one was of exceptional severity, and was not repealed until the time of Theodosius: “again he repealed another regulation of the following nature; if any should have been detected in adultery, by this plan she was not in any way reformed, but rather utterly given over to an increase of her ill behaviour. They used to shut the woman up in a narrow room, admitting any that would commit fornication with her, and, at the moment when they were accomplishing their foul deed, to strike bells, that the sound might make known to all, the injury she was suffering. The Emperor hearing this, would suffer it no longer, but ordered the very rooms to be pulled down” (Paulus Diaconus, Hist. Miscel. xiii, 2). Rent from a brothel was a legitimate source of income (Ulpian, Law as to Female Slaves Making Claim to Heirship). Procuration also, had to be notified before the aedile, whose special business it was to see that no Roman matron became a prostitute. These aediles had authority to search every place which had reason to fear anything, but they themselves dared not engage in any immorality there; Aulus Gellius, Noct. Attic. iv, 14, where an action at law is cited, in which the aedile Hostilius had attempted to force his way into the apartments of Mamilia, a courtesan, who thereupon, had driven him away with stones. The result of the trial is as follows: “the tribunes gave as their decision that the aedile had been lawfully driven from that place, as being one that he ought not to have visited with his officer.” If we compare this passage with Livy, xl, 35, we find that this took place in the year 180 B C. Caligula inaugurated a tax upon prostitutes (vectigal ex capturis), as a state impost: “he levied new and hitherto unheard of taxes; a proportion of the fees of prostitutes;--so much as each earned with one man. A clause was also added to the law directing that women who had practiced harlotry and men who had practiced procuration should be rated publicly; and furthermore, that marriages should be liable to the rate” (Suetonius, Calig. xi). Alexander Severus retained this law, but directed that such revenue be used for the upkeep of the public buildings, that it might not contaminate the state treasure (Lamprid. Alex. Severus, chap. 24). This infamous tax was not abolished until the time of Theodosius, but the real credit is due to a wealthy patrician, Florentius by name, who strongly censured this practice, to the Emperor, and offered his own property to make good the deficit which would appear upon its abrogation (Gibbon, vol. 2, p. 318, note). With the regulations and arrangements of the brothels, however, we have information which is far more accurate. These houses (lupanaria, fornices, et cet.) were situated, for the most part, in the Second District of the City (Adler, Description of the City of Rome, pp. 144 et seq.), the Coelimontana, particularly in the Suburra that bordered the town walls, lying in the Carinae,--the valley between the Coelian and Esquiline Hills. The Great Market (Macellum Magnum) was in this district, and many cook-shops, stalls, barber shops, et cet. as well; the office of the public executioner, the barracks for foreign soldiers quartered at Rome; this district was one of the busiest and most densely populated in the entire city. Such conditions would naturally be ideal for the owner of a house of ill fame, or for a pandar. The regular brothels are described as having been exceedingly dirty, smelling of the gas generated by the flame of the smoking lamp, and of the other odors which always haunted these ill ventilated dens. Horace, Sat. i, 2, 30, “on the other hand, another will have none at all except she be standing in the evil smelling cell (of the brothel)”; Petronius, chap. xxii, “worn out by all his troubles, Ascyltos commenced to nod, and the maid, whom he had slighted, and, of course, insulted, smeared lamp-black all over his face”; Priapeia, xiii, 9, “whoever likes may enter here, smeared with the black soot of the brothel”; Seneca, Cont. i, 2, “you reek still of the soot of the brothel.” The more pretentious establishments of the Peace ward, however, were sumptuously fitted up. Hair dressers were in attendance to repair the ravages wrought in the toilette, by frequent amorous conflicts, and aquarioli, or water boys attended at the door with bidets for ablution. Pimps sought custom for these houses and there was a good understanding between the parasites and the prostitutes. From the very nature of their calling, they were the friends and companions of courtesans. Such characters could not but be mutually necessary to each other. The harlot solicited the acquaintance of the client or parasite, that she might the more easily obtain and carry on intrigues with the rich and dissipated. The parasite was assiduous in his attention to the courtesan, as procuring through her means, more easy access to his patrons, and was probably rewarded by them both, for the gratification which he obtained for the vices of the one and the avarice of the other. The licensed houses seem to have been of two kinds: those owned and managed by a pandar, and those in which the latter was merely an agent, renting rooms and doing everything in his power to supply his renters with custom. The former were probably the more respectable. In these pretentious houses, the owner kept a secretary, villicus puellarum, or superintendent of maids; this official assigned a girl her name, fixed the price to be demanded for her favors, received the money and provided clothing and other necessities: “you stood with the harlots, you stood decked out to please the public, wearing the costume the pimp had furnished you”; Seneca, Controv. i, 2. Not until this traffic had become profitable, did procurers and procuresses (for women also carried on this trade) actually keep girls whom they bought as slaves: “naked she stood on the shore, at the pleasure of the purchaser; every part of her body was examined and felt. Would you hear the result of the sale? The pirate sold; the pandar bought, that he might employ her as a prostitute”; Seneca, Controv. lib. i, 2. It was also the duty of the villicus, or cashier, to keep an account of what each girl earned: “give me the brothel-keeper’s accounts, the fee will suit” (Ibid.)

When an applicant registered with the aedile, she gave her correct name, her age, place of birth, and the pseudonym under which she intended practicing her calling. (Plautus, Poen.)

If the girl was young and apparently respectable, the official sought to influence her to change her mind; failing in this, he issued her a license (licentia stupri), ascertained the price she intended exacting for her favors, and entered her name in his roll. Once entered there, the name could never be removed, but must remain for all time an insurmountable bar to repentance and respectability. Failure to register was severely punished upon conviction, and this applied not only to the girl but to the pandar as well. The penalty was scourging, and frequently fine and exile. Notwithstanding this, however, the number of clandestine prostitutes at Rome was probably equal to that of the registered harlots. As the relations of these unregistered women were, for the most part, with politicians and prominent citizens it was very difficult to deal with them effectively: they were protected by their customers, and they set a price upon their favors which was commensurate with the jeopardy in which they always stood. The cells opened upon a court or portico in the pretentious establishments, and this court was used as a sort of reception room where the visitors waited with covered head, until the artist whose ministrations were particularly desired, as she would of course be familiar with their preferences in matters of entertainment, was free to receive them. The houses were easily found by the stranger, as an appropriate emblem appeared over the door. This emblem of Priapus was generally a carved figure, in wood or stone, and was frequently painted to resemble nature more closely. The size ranged from a few inches in length to about two feet. Numbers of these beginnings in advertising have been recovered from Pompeii and Herculaneum, and in one case an entire establishment, even to the instruments used in gratifying unnatural lusts, was recovered intact. In praise of our modern standards of morality, it should be said that it required some study and thought to penetrate the secret of the proper use of several of these instruments. The collection is still to be seen in the Secret Museum at Naples. The mural decoration was also in proper keeping with the object for which the house was maintained, and a few examples of this decoration have been preserved to modern times; their luster and infamous appeal undimmed by the passage of centuries.

Over the door of each cell was a tablet (titulus) upon which was the name of the occupant and her price; the reverse bore the word “occupata” and when the inmate was engaged the tablet was turned so that this word was out. This custom is still observed in Spain and Italy. Plautus, Asin. iv, i, 9, speaks of a less pretentious house when he says: “let her write on the door that she is ‘occupata.’” The cell usually contained a lamp of bronze or, in the lower dens, of clay, a pallet or cot of some sort, over which was spread a blanket or patch-work quilt, this latter being sometimes employed as a curtain, Petronius, chap 7.

The arches under the circus were a favorite location for prostitutes; ladies of easy virtue were ardent frequenters of the games of the circus and were always ready at hand to satisfy the inclinations which the spectacles aroused. These arcade dens were called “fornices,” from which comes our generic fornication. The taverns, inns, lodging houses, cook shops, bakeries, spelt-mills and like institutions all played a prominent part in the underworld of Rome. Let us take them in order:

Lupanaria--Wolf Dens, from lupa, a wolf. The derivation, according to Lactantius, is as follows: “for she (Lupa, i. e., Acca Laurentia) was the wife of Faustulus, and because of the easy rate at which her person was held at the disposal of all, was called, among the shepherds, ‘Lupa,’ that is, harlot, whence also ‘lupanar,’ a brothel, is so called.” It may be added, however, that there is some diversity of opinion upon this matter. It will be discussed more fully under the word “lupa.”

Fornix--An arch. The arcades under the theatres.

Pergulae--Balconies, where harlots were shown.

Stabulae--Inns, but frequently houses of prostitution.

Diversorium--A lodging house; house of assignation.

Tugurium--A hut. A very low den.

Turturilla--A dove cote; frequently in male part.

Casuaria--Road houses; almost invariably brothels.

Tabernae--Bakery shops.

The taverns were generally regarded by the magistrates as brothels and the waitresses were so regarded by the law (Codex Theodos. lx, tit. 7, ed. Ritter; Ulpian liiii, 23, De Ritu Nupt.). The Barmaid (Copa), attributed to Virgil, proves that even the proprietress had two strings to her bow, and Horace, Sat. lib. i, v, 82, in describing his excursion to Brundisium, narrates his experience, or lack of it, with a waitress in an inn. This passage, it should be remarked, is the only one in all his works in which he is absolutely sincere in what he says of women. “Here like a triple fool I waited till midnight for a lying jade till sleep overcame me, intent on venery; in that filthy vision the dreams spot my night clothes and my belly, as I lie upon my back.” In the AEserman inscription (Mommsen, Inscr. Regn. Neap. 5078, which is number 7306 in Orelli-Henzen) we have another example of the hospitality of these inns, and a dialogue between the hostess and a transient. The bill for the services of a girl amounted to 8 asses. This inscription is of great interest to the antiquary, and to the archoeologist. That bakers were not slow in organizing the grist mills is shown by a passage from Paulus Diaconus, xiii, 2: “as time went on, the owners of these turned the public corn mills into pernicious frauds. For, as the mill stones were fixed in places under ground, they set up booths on either side of these chambers and caused harlots to stand for hire in them, so that by these means they deceived very many,--some that came for bread, others that hastened thither for the base gratification of their wantonness.” From a passage in Festus, it would seem that this was first put into practice in Campania:--“harlots were called ‘aelicariae’, ‘spelt-mill girls, in Campania, being accustomed to ply for gain before the mills of the spelt-millers.” “Common strumpets, bakers’ mistresses, refuse the spelt-mill girls,” says Plautus, i, ii, 54.

There are few languages which are richer in pornographic terminology than the Latin.

Meretrix--Nomus Marcellus has pointed out the difference between this class of prostitutes and the prostibula. “This is the difference between a meretrix (harlot) and a prostibula (common strumpet): a meretrix is of a more honorable station and calling; for meretrices are so named a merendo (from earning wages) because they plied their calling only by night; prostibulu because they stand before the stabulum (stall) for gain both by day and night.”

Prostibula--She who stands in front of her cell or stall.

Proseda--She who sits in front of her cell or stall. She who later became the Empress Theodora belonged to this class, if any credit is to be given to Procopius.

Nonariae--She that is forbidden to appear before the ninth hour.

Mimae--Mime players. They were almost invariably prostitutes.

Cymbalistriae--Cymbal players. They were almost invariably prostitutes.

Ambubiae--Singing girls. They were almost invariably prostitutes.

Citharistriae--Harpists. They were almost invariably prostitutes.

Scortum--A strumpet. Secrecy is implied, but the word has a broad usage.

Scorta erratica | Clandestine strumpets who were street walkers. Secuteleia |

Busturiae--Tomb frequenters and hangers-on at funerals.

Copae--Bar maids.

Delicatae--Kept mistresses.

Famosae--Soiled doves from respectable families.

Doris--Harlots of great beauty. They wore no clothing.

Lupae--She wolves. Some authorities affirm that this name was given them because of a peculiar wolflike cry they uttered, and others assert that the generic was bestowed upon then because their rapacity rivalled that of the wolf. Servius, however, in his commentary on Virgil, has assigned a much more improper and filthy reason for the name; he alludes to the manner in which the wolf who mothered Rotnulus and Reinus licked their bodies with her tongue, and this hint is sufficient to confirm him in his belief that the lupa; were not less skilled in lingual gymnastics. See Lemaire’s Virgil, vol. vi, p. 521; commentary of Servius on AEneid, lib. viii, 631.

AElicariae--Bakers’ girls.

Noctiluae--Night walkers.

Blitidae--A very low class deriving their name from a cheap drink sold in the dens they frequented.

Forariae--Country girls who frequented the roads.

Gallinae--Thieving prostitutes, because after the manner of hens, prostitutes take anything and scatter everything.

Diobolares--Two obol girls. So called from their price.

Amasiae, also in the diminutive--Girls devoted to Venus. Their best expression in modern society would be the “vamps.”

Amatrix--Female lover, frequently in male part.

Amica--Female friend, frequently a tribad.

Quadrantariae--The lowest class of all. Their natural charms were no longer merchantable. She of whom Catullus speaks in connection with the lofty souled descendants of Remus was of this stripe.

From many passages in the ancient authors it is evident that harlots stood naked at the doors of their cells: “I saw some men prowling stealthily between the rows of name-boards and naked prostitutes,” Petronius, chap. 7. “She entered the brothel, cozy with its crazy-quilt, and the empty cell--her own. Then, naked she stands, with gilded nipples, beneath the tablet of the pretended Lysisca,” Juvenal, Sat. vi, 121 et seq. In some cases they had recourse to a gossamer tissue of silk gauze, as was formerly the custom in Paris, Chicago, and San Francisco. “The matron has no softer thigh nor has she a more beautiful leg,” says Horace, Sat. I, ii, “though the setting be one of pearls and emeralds (with all due respect to thy opinion, Cerinthus), the togaed plebeian’s is often the finer, and, in addition, the beauties of figure are not camouflaged; that which is for sale, if honest, is shown openly, whereas deformity seeks concealment. It is the custom among kings that, when buying horses, they inspect them in the open, lest, as is often the case, a beautiful head is sustained by a tender hoof and the eager purchaser may be seduced by shapely hocks, a short head, or an arching neck. Are these experts right in this? Thou canst appraise a figure with the eyes of Lynceus and discover its beauties; though blinder than Hypoesea herself thou canst see what deformities there are. Ah, what a leg! What arms! But how thin her buttocks are, in very truth what a huge nose she has, she’s short-waisted, too, and her feet are out of proportion! Of the matron, except for the face, nothing is open to your scrutiny unless she is a Catia who has dispensed with her clothing so that she may be felt all over thoroughly, the rest will be hidden. But as for the other, no difficulty there! Through the Coan silk it is as easy for you to see as if she were naked, whether she has an unshapely leg, whether her foot is ugly; her waist you can examine with your eyes. As for the price exacted, it ranged from a quadrans to a very high figure. In the inscription to which reference has already been made, the price was eight asses. An episode related in the life of Apollonius of Tyre furnishes additional information upon this subject. The lecher who deflowered a harlot was compelled to pay a much higher price for alleged undamaged goods than was asked of subsequent purchasers.

“Master,” cries the girl, throwing herself at his feet, “pity my maidenhood, do not prostitute this body under so ugly a name.” The superintendent of maids replies, “Let the maid here present be dressed up with every care, let a name-ticket be written for her, and the fellow who deflowers Tarsia shall pay half a libra; afterwards she shall be at the service of the public for one solidus per head.”

The passage in Petronius (chap. viii) and that in Juvenal (Sat. vi, 125) are not to be taken literally. “Aes” in the latter should be understood to mean what we would call “the coin,” and not necessarily coin of low denomination.


The origin of this vice (all peoples, savage and civilized, have been infected with it) is lost in the mists which shroud antiquity. The Old Testament contains many allusions to it, and Sodom was destroyed because a long-suffering deity could not find ten men in the entire city who were not addicted to its practice. So saturated was this city of the ancient world with the vice that the very name of the city or the adjective denoting citizenship in that city have transmitted the stigma to modern times. That the fathers of Israel were quick to perceive the tortuous ramifications of this vice is proved by a passage in Deuteronomy, chap. 22, verse .5: “the woman shall not wear that which pertaineth to a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abominations unto the Lord thy God.” Here we have the first regulation against fetishism and the perverted tendencies of gynandry and androgeny. Inasmuch as our concern with this subject has to do with the Roman world alone, a lengthy discussion of the early, manifestations of this vice would be out of place here; nevertheless, a brief sketch should be given to serve as a foundation to such discussion and to aid sociologists who will find themselves more and more concerned with the problem in view of the conditions in European society, induced by the late war. Their problem will, however, be more intimately concerned with homosexuality as it is manifested among women!

From remotest antiquity down to the present time, oriental nations have been addicted to this practice and it is probably from this source that the plague spread among the Greeks. I do not assert that they were ignorant of this form of indulgence prior to their association with the Persians, for Nature teaches the sage as well as the savage. Meier, the author of the article “Paederastia” in Ersch and Grueber’s encyclopedia (1837) is of the opinion that the vice had its origin among the Boeotians, and John Addington Symonds in his essay on Greek Love concurs in this view. As the two scholars worked upon the same material from different angles, and as the English writer was unacquainted with the German savant’s monograph until after Burton had written his Terminal Essay, it follows that the conclusions arrived at by these two scholars must be worthy of credence. The Greeks contemporary with the Homeric poems were familiar with paederasty, and there is reason to believe that it had been known for ages, even then. Greek Literature, from Homer to the Anthology teems with references to the vice and so common was it among them that from that fact it derived its generic; “Greek Love.” So malignant is tradition that the Greeks of the present time still suffer from the stigma, as is well illustrated by the proverb current among sailors: “Englisha man he catcha da boy, Johnnie da Greek he catcha da blame.” The Romans are supposed to have received their first introduction to paederasty and homosexuality generally, from the Etruscans or from the Greek colonists in Italy, but Suidas (Tharnyris) charges the inhabitants of Italy; with the invention of this vice and it would appear from Athenaeus (Deiphnos. lib. xiii) that the native peoples of Italy and the Greek colonists as well were addicted to the most revolting practices with boys. The case of Laetorius (Valerius Maximus vi, 1, 11) proves that as early as 320 B. C., the Romans were no strangers to it and also that it was not common among them, at that time.

As the character of the primitive Roman was essentially different from that of the contemporary Greek, and as his struggle for existence was severe in the extreme, there was little moral obliquity during the first two hundred and fifty years. The “coelibes prohibeto” of the Twelve Tables was also a powerful influence in preserving chastity. By the time of Plautus, however, the practice of paederasty was much more general, as is clearly proved by the many references which are found in his comedies (Cist. iv, sc. 1, line 5) and passim. By the year 169 B. C., the vice had so ravaged the populace that the Lex Scantinia was passed to control it, but legislation has never proved a success in repressing vice and the effectiveness of this law was no exception to the rule. Conditions grew steadily worse with the passage of time and the extension of the Roman power served to inoculate the legionaries with the vices of their victims. The destruction of Corinth may well have avenged itself in this manner. The accumulation of wealth and spoils gave the people more leisure, increased their means of enjoyment, and educated their taste in luxuries. The influx of slaves and voluptuaries from the Levant aided in the dissemination of the vices of the orient among the ruder Romans. As the first taste of blood arouses the tiger, so did the limitless power of the Republic and Empire react to the insinuating precepts of older and more corrupt civilizations. The fragments of Lucilius make mention of the “cinaedi,” in the sense that they were dancers, and in the earlier ages, they were. Cicero, in the second Philippic calls Antonius a catamite; but in Republican Rome, it is to Catullus that we must turn to find the most decisive evidence of their almost universal inclination to sodomy. The first notice of this passage in its proper significance is found in the Burmann Petronius (ed. 1709): here, in a note on the correct reading of “intertitulos, nudasque meretrices furtim conspatiantes,” the ancient reading would seem to have been “internuculos nudasque meretrices furtim conspatiantes” (and I am not at all certain but that it is to be preferred). Burmann cites the passage from Catullus (Epithalamium of Manlius and Julia); Burmann sees the force of the passage but does not grasp its deeper meaning. Marchena seems to have been the first scholar to read between the lines. See his third note.

A few years later, John Colin Dunlop, the author of a History of Roman Literature which ought to be better known among the teaching fraternity, drew attention to the same passage. So striking is his comment that I will transcribe it in full. “It,” the poem, “has also been highly applauded by the commentators; and more than one critic has declared that it must have been written by the hands of Venus and the Graces. I wish, however, they had excepted from their unqualified panegyrics the coarse imitation of the Fescennine poems, which leaves in our minds a stronger impression of the prevalence and extent of Roman vices, than any other passage in the Latin classics. Martial, and Catullus himself, elsewhere, have branded their enemies; and Juvenal in bursts of satiric indignation, has reproached his countrymen with the most shocking crimes. But here, in a complimentary poem to a patron and intimate friend, these are jocularly alluded to as the venial indulgences of his earliest youth” (vol. i, p. 453, second edition).

This passage clearly points to the fact that it was the common custom among the young Roman patricians to have a bed-fellow of the same sex. Cicero, in speaking of the acquittal of Clodius (Letters to Atticus, lib. i, 18), says, “having bought up and debauched the tribunal”; charges that the judges were promised the favors of the young gentlemen and ladies of Rome, in exchange for their services in the matter of Clodius’ trial. Manutius, in a note on this passage says, “bought up, because the judges took their pay and held Clodius innocent and absolved him: debauched, because certain women and youths of noble birth were introduced by night to not a few of them (there were 56 judges) as additional compensation for their attention to duty” (Variorum Notes to Cicero, vol. ii, pp. 339-340). In the Priapeia, the wayfarer is warned by Priapus to refrain from stealing fruit under penalty of being assaulted from the rear, and the God adds that, should this punishment hold no terrors, there is still the possibility that his mentule may be used as a club by the irate landowner. Again, in Catullus, 100, the Roman paederasty shows itself “Caelius loves Aufilenus and Quintus loves Aufilena--madly.” As we approach the Christian era the picture darkens. Gibbon (vol. i, p. 313) remarks, in a note, that “of the first fifteen emperors, Claudius was the only one whose taste in love was entirely correct,” but Claudius was a moron.

We come now to the bathing establishments. Their history in every country is the same, in one respect: the spreading and fostering of prostitution and paederastia. Cicero (Pro Coelio) accuses Clodia of having deliberately chosen the site of her gardens with the purpose of having a look at the young fellows who came to the Tiber to swim. Catullus (xxxiii) speaks of the cimaedi who haunt the bathing establishments: Suetonius (Tib. 43 and 44) records the desperate expedients to which Tiberius had recourse to regain his exhausted virility: the scene in Petronius (chap. 92). Martial (lib. i, 24)

“You invite no man but your bathing companion, Cotta, only the baths supply you with a guest. I used to wonder why you never invited me, now I know that you did not like the look of me naked.” Juvenal (ix, 32 et seq.), “Destiny rules over mankind; the parts concealed by the front of the tunic are controlled by the Fates; when Virro sees you naked and in burning and frequent letters presses his ardent suit, with lips foaming with desire; nothing will serve you so well as the unknown measure of a long member.” Lampridius (Heliogab. v), “At Rome, his principal concern was to have emissaries everywhere, charged with seeking out men with huge members; that they might bring them to him so that he could enjoy their impressive proportions.” The quotations given above furnish a sufficient commentary upon the bathing establishments and the reasons for lighting them. In happier times, they were badly lighted as the apertures were narrow and could admit but little light. Seneca (Epist. 86) describes the bath of Scipio: “In this bath of Scipio there were tiny chinks, rather than windows, cut through the stone wall so as to admit light without detriment to the shelter afforded; but men nowadays call them ‘baths-for-night-moths.’” Under the empire, however, the bathing establishments were open to the eye of the passer-by; lighted, as they were by immense windows. Seneca (Epist. 86), “But nowadays, any which are disposed in such a way as to let the sunlight enter all day long, through immense windows; men call baths-for-night-moths; if they are not sunburned as they wash, if they cannot look out on the fields and sea from the pavement. Sweet clean baths have been introduced, but the populace is only the more foul.” In former times, youth and age were not permitted to bathe together (Valer. Max. ii, 7.), women and men used the same establishments, but at different hours; later, however, promiscuous bathing was the order of the day and men and women came more and more to observe that precept, “noscetur e naso quanta sit hasta viro,” which Joan of Naples had always in mind. Long-nosed men were followed into the baths and were the recipients of admiration wherever they were. As luxury increased, these establishments were fitted up with cells and attendants of both sexes, skilled in massage, were always kept upon the premises, in the double capacity of masseurs and prostitutes (Martial, iii, 82, 13); (Juvenal, vi, 428), “the artful masseur presses the clitoris with his fingers and makes the upper part of his mistress thigh resound under his hands.” The aquarioli or water boys also included pandering in their tour of duty (Juvenal, Sat. vi, 331) “some water carrier will come, hired for the purpose,” and many Roman ladies had their own slaves accompany them to the baths to assist in the toilette: (Martial, vii, 3.4) “a slave girt about the loins with a pouch of black leather stands by you whenever you are washed all over with warn water,” here, the mistress is taking no chances, her rights are as carefully guarded as though the slave were infibulated in place of having his generous virility concealed within a leather pouch. (Claudianus, 18, 106) “he combed his mistress’ hair, and often, when she bathed, naked, he would bring water, to his lady, in a silver ewer.” Several of the emperors attempted to correct these evils by executive order and legislation, Hadrian (Spartianus, Life of Hadrian, chap. 18) “he assigned separate baths for the two sexes”; Marcus Aurelius (Capitolinus, Life of Marcus Antoninus, chap. 23) “he abolished the mixed baths and restrained the loose habits of the Roman ladies and the young nobles,” and Alexander Severus (Lampridius, Life of Alex. Severus, chap. 24.) “he forbade the opening of mixed baths at Rome, a practice which, though previously prohibited, Heliogabalus had allowed to be observed,” but, notwithstanding their absolute authority, their efforts along those lines met with little better success than have those of more recent times. The pages of Martial and Juvenal reek with the festering sores of the society of that period, but Charidemus and Hedylus still dishonor the cities of the modern world. Tatian, writing in the second century, says (Orat. ad Graecos): “paederastia is practiced by the barbarians generally, but is held in pre-eminent esteem by the Romans, who endeavor to get together troupes of boys, as it were of brood mares,” and Justin Martyr (Apologia, 1), has this to say: “first, because we behold nearly all men seducing to fornication, not merely girls, but males also. And just as our fathers are spoken of as keeping herds of oxen, or goats, or sheep, or brood mares, so now they keep boys, solely for the purpose of shameful usage, treating them as females, or androgynes, and doing unspeakable acts. To such a pitch of pollution has the multitude throughout the whole people come!” Another sure indication of the prevalence of the vice of sodomy is to be found in Juvenal, Sat. ii, 12-13, “but your fundament is smooth and the swollen haemorrhoids are incised, the surgeon grinning the while,” just as the physician of the nineties grinned when some young fool came to him with a blennorrhoeal infection! The ancient jest which accounts for the shaving of the priest’s crown is an inferential substantiation of the fact that the evils of antiquity, like the legal codes, have descended through the generations; survived the middle ages, and been transmitted to the modern world. A perusal of the Raggionamente of Pietro Aretino will confirm this statement, in its first premise, and the experiences of Sir Richard Burton in the India of Napier, and Harry Franck’s, in Spain, in the present century, and those of any intelligent observer in the Orient, today, will but bear out this hypothesis. The native population of Manila contains more than its proportion of catamites, who seek their sponsors in the Botanical Gardens and on the Luneta. The native quarters of the Chinese cities have their “houses” where boys are kept, just as the Egyptian mignons stood for hire in the lupanaria at Rome. A scene in Sylvia Scarlett could be duplicated in any large city of Europe or America; there is no necessity of appeal to Krafft-Ebbing or Havelock Ellis. But there is still another and surer method of gauging the extent of paederastic perversion at Rome, and that is the richness of the Latin vocabulary in terms and words bearing upon this repulsive subject. There are, in the Latin language, no less than one hundred and fifteen words and expressions in general usage.

But it is in Martial that we are able to sense the abandoned and cynical attitude of the Roman public toward this vice: the epigram upon Cantharus, xi, 46, is an excellent example. In commentating upon the meticulous care with which Cantharus avoided being spied upon by irreverent witnesses, the poet sarcastically remarks that such precautions would never enter the head of anyone were it merely a question of having a boy or a woman, and he mentions them in the order in which they are set forth here. No one dreads the limelight like the utter debauchee, as has been remarked by Seneca. We find a parallel in the old days in Shanghai, before the depredations of the American hetairai had aroused the hostility of the American judge, in 1907-8. Men of unquestioned respectability and austere asceticism were in the habit of making periodic trips to this pornographic Mecca for the reason that they could there be accommodated with the simultaneous ministrations of two or even three soiled doves of the stripe of her of whom Martial (ix, 69) makes caustic mention:

“I passed the whole night with a lascivious girl whose naughtiness none could surpass. Tired of a thousand methods of indulgence, I begged the boyish favor: she granted my prayers before they were finished, before even the first words were out of my mouth. Smiling and blushing, I besought her for something worse still; she voluptuously promised it at once. But to me, she was chaste. But, AEschylus, she will not be so to you; take the boon if you want it, but she will attach a condition.” In all that could pertain to accomplished skill in their profession, the “limit was the ceiling,” they were there to serve, and serve they did, as long as the recipient of their ministrations was willing to pay or as long as his chits were good. With them, secrecy was the watchword. Tiberius, probably more sinned against than sinning (he has had an able defender in Beasley) is charged, by Suetonius, with the invention of an amplification and refinement of this vice. The performers were called “spinthriae,” a word which signified “bracelet.” These copulators could be of both sexes though the true usage of the word allowed but one, and that the male. They formed a chain, each link of which was an individual in sexual contact with one or two other links: in this diversion, the preference seems to have been in favor of odd numbers (Martial, xii, 44, 5), where the chain consisted of five links, and Ausonius, Epigram 119, where it consisted of three.



CHAPTER 9. Gladiator obscene:--

The arena of his activities is, however, that of Venus and not Mars. Petronius is fond of figurative language, and in several other passages, he has made use of the slang of the arena: (chap. 61 ), “I used to fence with my mistress herself, until even the master grew Suspicious”; and again, in chapter 19, he says: “then, too, we were girded higher, and I had so arranged matters that if we came to close quarters, I myself would engage Quartilla, Ascyltos the maid, and Giton the girl.”

Dufour, in commentating upon this expression, Histoire de la Prostitution, vol. III, pp. 92 and 93, remarks: It is necessary to see in Petronius the abominable role which the “obscene gladiator” played; but the Latin itself is clear enough to describe all the secrets of the Roman debauch. “For some women,” says Petronius, in another passage, “will only kindle for canaille and cannot work up an appetite unless they see some slave or runner with his clothing girded up: a gladiator arouses one, or a mule driver, all covered with dust, or some actor posturing in some exhibition on the stage. My mistress belongs to this class, she jumps the fourteen rows from the stage to the gallery and looks for a lover among the gallery gods at the back.”

On “cum fortiter faceres,” compare line 25 of the Oxford fragment of the sixth satire of Juvenal; “hic erit in lecto fortissimus,” which Housman has rendered “he is a valiant mattress-knight.”


“In our neighborhood there are so many Gods that it is easier to meet one of them than it is to find a man.”

Quartilla is here smarting under the sting of some former lover’s impotence. Her remark but gives color to the charge that, owing to the universal depravity of Rome and the smaller cities, men were so worn out by repeated vicious indulgences that it was no easy matter for a woman to obtain satisfaction at their hands.

“Galla, thou hast already led to the nuptial couch six or seven catamites; thou went seduced by their delicate coiffure and combed beards. Thou hast tried the loins and the members, resembling soaked leather, which could not be made to stand by all the efforts of the wearied hand; the pathic husband and effeminate bed thou desertest, but still thou fallest into similar couches. Seek out some one rough and unpolished as the Curii and Fabii, and savage in his uncouth rudeness; you will find one, but even this puritanical crew has its catamites. Galla, it is difficult to marry a real man.” Martial, vii, 57.

“No faith is to be placed in appearances. What neighborhood does not reek with filthy practices’?” Juvenal, Sat. ii, 8.

“While you have a wife such as a lover hardly dare hope for in his wildest prayers; rich, well born, chaste, you, Bassus, expend your energies on boys whom you have procured with your wife’s dowry; and thus does that penis, purchased for so many thousands, return worn out to its mistress, nor does it stand when she rouses it by soft accents of love, and delicate fingers. Have some sense of shame or let us go into court. This penis is not yours, Bassus, you have sold it.” Martial, xii, 99.

“Polytimus is very lecherous on women, Hypnus is slow to admit he is my Ganymede; Secundus has buttocks fed upon acorns. Didymus is a catamite but pretends not to be. Amphion would have made a capital girl. My friend, I would rather have their blandishments, their naughty airs, their annoying impudence, than a wife with 3,000,000 sesterces.” Martial xii, 76.

But the crowning piece of infamy is to be found in Martial’s three epigrams upon his wife. They speak as distinctly as does the famous passage in Catullus’ Epithalamium of Manilius and Julia, or Vibia, as later editors have it.

“Wife, away, or conform to my habits. I am no Curius, Numa, or Tatius. I like to have the hours of night prolonged in luscious cups. You drink water and are ever for hurrying from the table with a sombre mien; you like the dark, I like a lamp to witness my pleasures, and to tire my loins in the light of dawn. Drawers and night gowns and long robes cover you, but for me no girl can be too naked. For me be kisses like the cooing doves; your kisses are like those you give your grandmother in the morning. You do not condescend to assist in the performance by your movements or your sighs or your hand; (you behave) as if you were taking the sacrament. The Phrygian slaves masturbated themselves behind the couch whenever Hector’s wife rode St. George; and, however much Ulysses snored, the chaste Penelope always had her hand there. You forbid my sodomising you. Cornelia granted this favor to Gracchus; Julia to Pompey, Porcia to Brutus. Juno was Jupiter’s Ganymede before the Dardan boy mixed the luscious cup. If you are so devoted to propriety--be a Lucretia to your heart’s content all day, I want a Lais at night.” xi, 105.

“Since your husband’s mode of life and his fidelity are known to you, and no woman usurps your rights, why are you so foolish as to be annoyed by his boys, (as if they were his mistresses), with whom love is a transient and fleeting affair? I will prove to you that you gain more by the boys than your lord: they make your husband keep to one woman. They give what a wife will not give. ‘I grant that favor,’ you say, ‘sooner than that my husband’s love should wander from my bed.’ It is not the same thing. I want the fig of Chios, not a flavorless fig; and in you this Chian fig is flavorless. A woman of sense and a wife ought to know her place. Let the boys have what concerns them, and confine yourself to what concerns you.” xii, 97.

“Wife, you scold me with a harsh voice when I’m caught with a boy, and inform me that you too have a bottom. How often has Juno said the same to the lustful Thunderer? And yet he sleeps with the tall Ganymede. The Tirynthian Hero put down his bow and sodomised Hylas. Do you think that Megaera had no buttocks? Daphne inspired Phoebus with love as she fled, but that flame was quenched by the OEbalian boy. However much Briseis lay with her bottom turned toward him, the son of AEacus found his beardless friend more congenial to his tastes. Forbear then, to give masculine names to what you have, and, wife, think that you have two vaginas.” xi, 44


“Quartilla applied a curious eye to a chink, purposely made, watching their childish dalliance with lascivious attention.”

Martial, xi, 46, makes mention of the fact that patrons of houses of ill fame had reason to beware of needle holes in the walls, through which their misbehaviour could be appreciatively scrutinized by outsiders; and in the passage of our author we find yet another instance of the same kind. One is naturally led to recall the “peep-houses” which were a feature of city life in the nineties. There was a notorious one in Chicago, and another in San Francisco. A beautiful girl, exquisitely dressed, would entice the unwary stranger into her room: there the couple would disrobe and the hero was compelled to have recourse to the “right of capture,” before executing the purpose for which he entered the house. The entertainment usually cost him nothing beyond a moderate fee and a couple of bottles of beer, or wine, if he so desired. The “management” secured its profit from a different and more prurient source. The male actor in this drama was sublimely ignorant of the fact that the walls were plentifully supplied with “peep-holes” through which appreciative onlookers witnessed his Corybantics at one dollar a head. There would sometimes be as many as twenty such witnesses at a single performance.

CHAPTER 34. Silver Skeleton, et seq.

Philosophic dogmas concerning the brevity and uncertainty of life were ancient even in the time of Herodotus. They have left their mark upon our language in the form of more than one proverb, but in none is this so patent as “the skeleton at the feast.” In chapter lxxviii of Euterpe, we have an admirable citation. In speaking of the Egyptians, he says: “At their convivial banquets, among the wealthy classes, when they have finished supper, a man carries round in a coffin the image of a dead body carved in wood, made as life-like as possible in color and workmanship, and in size generally about one or two cubits in length; and showing this to each of the company, he says: ‘Look upon this, then drink and enjoy yourself; for when dead you will be like this.’ This is the practice they have at their drinking parties.” According to Plutarch, (Isis and Osiris, chapter 17.) the Greeks adopted this Egyptian custom, and there is, of course, little doubt that the Romans took it from the Greeks. The aim of this custom was, according to Scaliger, to bring the diners to enjoy the sweets of life while they were able to feel enjoyment, and thus to abandon themselves to pleasure before death deprived them of everything. The verses which follow bring this out beautifully. In the Copa of Virgil we find the following:

“Wine there! Wine and dice! Tomorrow’s fears shall fools alone benumb! By the ear Death pulls me. ‘Live!’ he whispers softly, ‘Live! I come.’”

The practical philosophy of the indefatigable roues sums itself up in this sentence uttered by Trimalchio. The verb “vivere” has taken a meaning very much broader and less special, than that which it had at the time when it signified only the material fact of existence. The voluptuaries of old Rome were by no means convinced that life without license was life. The women of easy virtue, living within the circle of their friendships, after the fashion best suited to their desires, understood that verb only after their own interpretation, and the philologists soon reconciled themselves to the change. In this sense it was that Varro employed “vivere,” when he said: “Young women, make haste to live, you whom adolescence permits to enjoy, to eat, to love, and to occupy the chariot of Venus (Veneris tenere bigas).”

But a still better example of the extension in the meaning of this word is to be found in an inscription on the tomb of a lady of pleasure. This inscription was composed by a voluptuary of the school of Petronius.




In this inscription, it is almost impossible to translate the last three words. “While we live, let us live,” is inadequate, to say the least. So far did this doctrine go that latterly it was deemed necessary to have a special goddess as a patron. That goddess, if we may rely upon the authority of Festus, took her name “Vitula” from the word “Vita” or from the joyous life over which she was to preside.


“At the corners of the tray we also noted four figures of Marsyas and from their bladders spouted a highly seasoned sauce upon fish which were swimming about as if in a tide-race.”

German scholars have adopted the doctrine that Marsyas belonged to that mythological group which they designate as “Schlauch-silen” or, as we would say in English, “Wineskin-bearing Silenuses.” Their hypothesis seems to be based upon the discovery of two beautiful bas-reliefs of the age of Vespasian, which were excavated near the Rostra Vetera in the Forum. Sir Theodore Martin has a note on these bas-reliefs which I quote in extenso:

“In the Forum stood a statue of Marsyas, Apollo’s ill-starred rival. It probably bore an expression of pain, which Horace humorously ascribes to dislike of the looks of the Younger Novius, who is conjectured to have been of the profession and nature of Shylock. A naked figure carrying a wineskin, which appears upon each of two fine bas-reliefs of the time of Vespasian found near the Rostra Vetera in the Forum during the excavations conducted within the last few years by Signor Pietro Rosa, and which now stand in the Forum, is said, by archaeologists, to represent Marsyas. Why they arrive at this conclusion, except as arguing, from the spot where these bas-reliefs were found, that they were meant to perpetuate the remembrance of the old statue of Marsyas, is certainly not very apparent from anything in the figure itself.” Martin’s Horace, vol. 2, pp 145-6.

Hence German philologists render “utriculis” by the German equivalent for “Wineskins.”

“The Romans,” says Weitzius, “had two sources of water-supply, through underground channels, and through channels supported by arches. As adjuncts to these channels there were cisterns (or castella, as they were called). From these reservoirs the water was distributed to the public through routes more or less circuitous and left the cisterns through pipes, the diameter of which was reckoned in either twelfths or sixteenths of a Roman foot. At the exits of the pipes were placed stones or stone figures, the water taking exit from these figures either by the mouth, private parts or elsewhere, and falling either to the ground or into some stone receptacle such as a basket. Various names were given these statuettes: Marsyae, Satyri, Atlantes, Hermae, Chirones, Silani, Tulii.”

No one who has been through the Secret Museum at Naples will find much difficulty in recalling a few of these heavily endowed examples to mind, and our author, in choosing Marsyae, adds a touch of sarcastic realism, for statues of Marysas were often set up in free cities, symbolical, as it were, of freedom. In such a setting as the present, they would be the very acme of propriety.

“The figures,” says Gonzala de Salas, “formerly placed at fountains, and from which water took exit either from the mouth or from some other part, took their forms from the several species of Satyrs. The learned Wouweren has commented long and learnedly upon this passage, and his emendation ‘veretriculis’ caused me to laugh heartily. And as a matter of fact, I affirm that such a meaning is easily possible.” Professor E. P. Crowell, the first American scholar to edit Petronius, gravely states in his preface that “the object of this edition is to provide for class-room use an expurgated text,” and I note that he has tactfully omitted the “wineskins” from his edition.

In this connection the last sentence in the remarks of Wouweren, alluded to above, is strangely to the point. After stating his emendation of “veretriculis or veretellis” for “utriculis,” he says: “Unless someone proves that images of Marsyas were fashioned in the likeness of bag-pipers,” a fine instance of clarity of vision for so dark an age.


“Drawing his hunting-knife, he plunged it fiercely into the boar’s side, and some thrushes flew out of the gash.”

In the winter of 1895 a dinner was given in a New York studio. This dinner, locally known as the “Girl in the Pie Dinner,” was based upon Petronius, Martial, and the thirteenth book of Athenaeus. In the summer of 1919, I had the questionable pleasure of interviewing the chef-caterer who got it up, and he was, at the time, engaged in trying to work out another masterpiece to be given in California. The studio, one of the most luxurious in the world, was transformed for the occasion into a veritable rose grotto, the statuary was Pompeian, and here and there artistic posters were seen which were nothing if not reminiscent of Boulevard Clichy and Montmartre in the palmiest days. Four negro banjo players and as many jubilee singers titillated the jaded senses of the guests in a manner achieved by the infamous saxophone syncopating jazz of the Barbary Coast of our times. The dinner was over. The four and one half bottles of champagne allotted to each Silenus had been consumed, and a well-defined atmosphere of bored satiety had begun to settle down when suddenly the old-fashioned lullaby “Four and Twenty Blackbirds” broke forth from the banjoists and singers. Four waiters came in bearing a surprisingly monstrous object, something that resembled an impossibly large pie. They, placed it carefully in the center of the table. The negro chorus swelled louder and louder--“Four and Twenty Blackbirds Baked in a Pie.”

The diners, startled into curiosity and then into interest, began to poke their noses against this gigantic creation of the baker. In it they detected a movement not unlike a chick’s feeble pecking against the shell of an egg. A quicker movement and the crust ruptured at the top.

A flash of black gauze and delicate flesh showed within. A cloud of frightened yellow canaries flew out and perched on the picture frames and even on the heads and shoulders of the guests.

But the lodestone which drew and held the eyes of all the revellers was an exquisitely slender, girlish figure amid the broken crust of the pie. The figure was draped with spangled black gauze, through which the girl’s marble white limbs gleamed like ivory seen through gauze of gossamer transparency. She rose from her crouching posture like a wood nymph startled by a satyr, glanced from one side to the other, and stepped timidly forth to the table.

CHAPTER 56. Contumelia--Contus and Melon (malum).

All translators have rendered “contus” by “pole,” notwithstanding the fact that the word is used in a very different sense in Priapeia, x, 3: “traiectus conto sic extendere pedali,” and contrary to the tradition which lay behind the gift of an apple or the acceptance of one. The truth of this may be established by many passages in the ancient writers.

In the “Clouds” of Aristophanes, Just Discourse, in prescribing the rules and proprieties which should in govern the education and conduct of the healthy young man says:

“You shall rise up from your seat upon your elders’ approach; you shall never be pert to your parents or do any other unseemly act under the pretence of remodelling the image of Modesty. You will not rush off to the dancing-girl’s house, lest while you gaze upon her charms, some whore should pelt you with an apple and ruin your reputation.”

“This were gracious to me as in the story old to the maiden fleet of foot was the apple golden fashioned which unloosed her girdle long-time girt.” Catullus ii.

“I send thee these verses recast from Battiades, lest thou shouldst credit thy words by chance have slipped from my mind, given o’er to the wandering winds, as it was with that apple, sent as furtive love token by the wooer, which out-leaped from the virgin’s chaste bosom: for, placed by the hapless girl ‘neath her soft vestment, and forgotten--when she starts at her mother’s approach, out ‘tis shaken: and down it rolls headlong to the ground, whilst a tell-tale flush mantles the cheek of the distressed girl.” Catullus 1xv.

“But I know what is going on, and I intend presently to tell my master; for I do not want to show myself less grateful than the dogs which bark in defence of those who feed and take care of them. An adulterer is laying siege to the household--a young man from Elis, one of the Olympian fascinators; he sends neatly folded notes every day to our master’s wife, together with faded bouquets and half-eaten apples.” Alciphron, iii, 62. The words are put into the mouth of a rapacious parasite who feels that the security of his position in the house is about to be shaken.

“I didn’t mind your kissing Cymbalium half-a-dozen times, you only disgraced yourself; but--to be always winking at Pyrallis, never to drink without lifting the cup to her, and then to whisper to the boy, when you handed it to him, not to fill it for anyone but her--that was too much! And then--to bite a piece off an apple, and when you saw that Duphilus was busy talking to Thraso, to lean forward and throw it right into her lap, without caring whether I saw it or not; and she kissed it and put it into her bosom under her girdle! It was scandalous! Why do you treat me like this?” Lucian, Dial. Hetairae, 12. These words are spoken by another apostle of direct speech; a jealous prostitute who is furiously angry with her lover, and in no mood to mince matters in the slightest.

Aristxnetus, xxv, furnishes yet another excellent illustration. The prostitute Philanis, in writing to a friend of the same ancient profession, accuses her sister of alienating her lover’s affections. I avail myself of Sheridan’s masterly version.


As yesterday I went to dine
With Pamphilus, a swain of mine,
I took my sister, little heeding
The net I for myself was spreading
Though many circumstances led
To prove she’d mischief in her head.
For first her dress in every part
Was studied with the nicest art
Deck’d out with necklaces and rings,
And twenty other foolish things;

And she had curl’d and bound her hair
With more than ordinary care
And then, to show her youth the more,
A light, transparent robe she wore--
From head to heel she seemed t’admire
In raptures all her fine attire:
And often turn’d aside to view
If others gazed with rapture too.
At dinner, grown more bold and free,
She parted Pamphilus and me;
For veering round unheard, unseen,
She slily drew her chair between.
Then with alluring, am’rous smiles
And nods and other wanton wiles,
The unsuspecting youth insnared,
And rivall’d me in his regard.--
Next she affectedly would sip
The liquor that had touched his lip.
He, whose whole thoughts to love incline,
And heated with th’ enliv’ning wine,
With interest repaid her glances,
And answer’d all her kind advances.
Thus sip they from the goblet’s brink
Each other’s kisses while they drink;
Which with the sparkling wine combin’d,
Quick passage to the heart did find.
Then Pamphilus an apple broke,
And at her bosom aim’d the stroke,
While she the fragment kiss’d and press’d,
And hid it wanton in her breast.
But I, be sure, was in amaze,
To see my sister’s artful ways:
“These are returns,” I said, “quite fit
To me, who nursed you when a chit.
For shame, lay by this envious art;
Is this to act a sister’s part?"
But vain were words, entreaties vain,
The crafty witch secured my swain.
By heavens, my sister does me wrong;
But oh! she shall not triumph long.
Well Venus knows I’m not in fault
‘Twas she who gave the first assault
And since our peace her treach’ry broke,
Let me return her stroke for stroke.
She’ll quickly feel, and to her cost,
Not all their fire my eyes have lost
And soon with grief shall she resign
Six of her swains for one of mine."

The myth of Cydippe and Acontius is still another example, as is the legend of Atalanta and Hippomenes or Meilanion, to which Suetonius (Tiberius, chap. 44) has furnished such an unexpected climax. The emperor Theodosius ordered the assassination of a gallant who had given the queen an apple. As beliefs of this type are an integral part of the character of the lower orders, I am certain that the passage in Petronius is not devoid of sarcasm; and if such is the case, “contus” cannot be rendered “pole.” The etymology of the word contumely is doubtful but I am of the opinion that the derivation suggested here is not unsound. A recondite rendering of “contus” would surely give a sharper point to the joke and furnish the riddle with the sting of an epigram.


“You will see a town that resembles the fields in time of pestilence.”

In tracing this savage caricature, Petronius had in mind not Crotona alone; he refers to conditions in the capital of the empire. The descriptions which other authors have set down are equally remarkable for their powerful coloring, and they leave us with an idea of Rome which is positively astounding in its unbridled luxury. ‘We will rest content with offering to our readers the following portrayal, quoted from Ammianus Marcellinus, lib. xiv, chap. 6, and lib. xxviii, chap. 4. will not presume to attempt any translation after having read Gibbon’s version of the combination of these two chapters.

“The greatness of Rome was founded on the rare and almost incredible alliance of virtue and of fortune. The long period of her infancy was employed in a laborious struggle against the tribes of Italy, the neighbors and enemies of the rising city. In the strength and ardor of youth she sustained the storms of war, carried her victorious arms beyond the seas and the mountains, and brought home triumphal laurels from every country of the globe. At length, verging towards old age, and sometimes conquering by the terror only of her name, she sought the blessings of ease and tranquillity. The venerable city, which had trampled on the necks of the fiercest nations, and established a system of laws, the perpetual guardians of justice and freedom, was content, like a wise and wealthy parent, to devolve on the Caesars, her favorite sons, the care of governing her ample patrimony. A secure and profound peace, such as had been once enjoyed in the reign of Numa, succeeded to the tumults of a republic; while Rome was still adored as the queen of the earth, and the subject nations still reverenced the name of the people and the majesty of the senate. But this native splendor is degraded and sullied by the conduct of some nobles, who, unmindful of their own dignity, and of that of their country, assume an unbounded license of vice and folly. They contend with each other in the empty vanity of titles and surnames, and curiously select or invent the most lofty and sonorous appellations--Reburrus or Fabunius, Pagonius or Tarrasius--which may impress the ears of the vulgar with astonishment and respect. From a vain ambition of perpetuating their memory, they affect to multiply their likeness in statues of bronze and marble; nor are they satisfied unless those statues are covered with plates of gold, an honorable distinction, first granted to Achilius the consul, after he had subdued by his arms and counsels the power of King Antiochus. The ostentation of displaying, of magnifying perhaps, the rent-roll of the estates which they possess in all the provinces, from the rising to the setting sun, provokes the just resentment of every man who recollects that their poor and invincible ancestors were not distinguished from the meanest of the soldiers by the delicacy of their food or the splendor of their apparel. But the modern nobles measure their rank and consequence according to the loftiness of their chariots and the weighty magnificence of their dress. Their long robes of silk and purple float in the wind; and as they are agitated, by art or accident, they occasionally discover the under-garments, the rich tunics, embroidered with the figures of various animals. Followed by a train of fifty servants, and tearing up the pavement, they move along the streets with the same impetuous speed as if they travelled with post-horses, and the example of the senators is boldly imitated by the matrons and ladies, whose covered carriages are continually driving round the immense space of the city and suburbs. Whenever these persons of high distinction condescend to visit the public baths, they assume, on their entrance, a tone of loud and insolent command, and appropriate to their own use the conveniences which were designed for the Roman people. If, in these places of mixed and general resort, they meet any of the infamous ministers of their pleasures, they express their affection by a tender embrace, while they proudly decline the salutations of their fellow-citizens, who are not permitted to aspire above the honor of kissing their hands or their knees. As soon as they have indulged themselves in the refreshment of the bath, they resume their rings and the other ensigns of their dignity, select from their private wardrobe of the finest linen, such as might suffice for a dozen persons, the garments the most agreeable to their fancy, and maintain till their departure the same haughty demeanor which perhaps might have been excused in the great Marcellus after the conquest of Syracuse. Sometimes, indeed, these heroes undertake more arduous achievements. They visit their estates in Italy, and procure themselves, by the toil of servile hands, the amusements of the chase. If at any time, but more especially on a hot day, they have courage to sail in their galleys from the Lucrine lake to their elegant villas on the seacoast of Puteoli and the Caieta, they compare their own expeditions to the marches of Caesar and Alexander. Yet should a fly presume to settle on the silken folds of their gilded umbrellas, should a sunbeam penetrate through some unguarded and imperceptible chink, they deplore their intolerable hardships, and lament in affected language that they were not born in the land of the Cimmerians, the regions of eternal darkness. In these journeys into the country the whole body of the household marches with their master. In the same order as the cavalry and infantry, the heavy and the light armed troops, the advanced guard and the rear, are marshalled by the skill of their military leaders, so the domestic officers, who bear a rod as an ensign of authority, distribute and arrange the numerous train of slaves and attendants. The baggage and wardrobe move in the front, and are immediately followed by a multitude of cooks and inferior ministers employed in the service of the kitchens and of the table. The main body is composed of a promiscuous crowd of slaves, increased by the accidental concourse of idle or dependent plebeians. The rear is closed by the favorite band of eunuchs, distributed from age to youth, according to the order of seniority. Their numbers and their deformity excite the horror of the indignant spectators, who are ready to execrate the memory of Semiramis for the cruel art which she invented of frustrating the purposes of nature, and of blasting in the bud the hopes of future generations. In the exercise of domestic jurisdiction the nobles of Rome express an exquisite sensibility for any personal injury, and a contemptuous indifference for the rest of the human species. When they have called for warm water, if a slave has been tardy in his obedience, he is instantly chastised with three hundred lashes; but should the same slave commit a wilful murder, the master will mildly observe that he is a worthless fellow, but that, if he repeats the offense, he shall not escape punishment. Hospitality was formerly the virtue of the Romans; and every stranger who could plead either merit or misfortune was relieved or rewarded by their generosity. At present, if a foreigner, perhaps of no contemptible rank, is introduced to one of the proud and wealthy senators, he is welcomed indeed in the first audience with such warm professions and such kind inquiries that he retires enchanted with the affability of his illustrious friend, and full of regret that he had so long delayed his journey to Rome, the native seat of manners as well as of empire. Secure of a favorable reception, he repeats his visit the ensuing day, and is mortified by the discovery that his person, his name, and his country are already forgotten. If he still has resolution to persevere, he is gradually numbered in the train of dependents, and obtains the permission to pay his assiduous and unprofitable court to a haughty patron, incapable of gratitude or friendship, who scarcely deigns to remark his presence, his departure, or his return. Whenever the rich prepare a solemn and popular entertainment, whenever they celebrate with profuse and pernicious luxury their private banquets, the choice of the guests is the subject of anxious deliberation. The modest, the sober, and the learned are seldom preferred; and the nomenclators, who are commonly swayed by interested motives, have the address to insert in the list of invitations the obscure names of the most worthless of mankind. But the frequent and familiar companions of the great are those parasites who practice the most useful of all arts, the art of flattery; who eagerly applaud each word and every action of their immortal patron, gaze with rapture on his marble columns and variegated pavements, and strenuously praise the pomp and elegance which he is taught to consider as a part of his personal merit. At the Roman tables the birds, the dormice, or the fish, which appear of an uncommon size, are contemplated with curious attention; a pair of scales is accurately applied to ascertain their real weight; and, while the more rational guests are disgusted by the vain and tedious repetition, notaries are summoned to attest by an authentic record the truth of such a marvellous event. Another method of introduction into the houses and society of the great is derived from the profession of gaming, or, as it is more politely styled, of play. The confederates are united by a strict and indissoluble bond of friendship, or rather of conspiracy; a superior degree of skill in the Tesserarian art is a sure road to wealth and reputation. A master of that sublime science who in a supper or an assembly is placed below a magistrate displays in his countenance the surprise and indignation which Cato might be supposed to feel when he was refused the praetorship by the votes of a capricious people. The acquisition of knowledge seldom engages the curiosity of the nobles, who abhor the fatigue and disdain the advantages of study; and the only books which they peruse are the Satires of Juvenal and the verbose and fabulous histories of Marius Maximus. The libraries which they have inherited from their fathers are secluded, like dreary sepulchres, from the light of day. But the costly instruments of the theatre-flutes, and enormous lyres, and hydraulic organs--are constructed for their use; and the harmony of vocal and instrumental music is incessantly repeated in the palaces of Rome. In those palaces sound is preferred to sense, and the care of the body to that of the mind. It is allowed as a salutary maxim that the light and frivolous suspicion of a contagious malady is of sufficient weight to excuse the visits of the most intimate friends and even the servants who are dispatched to make the decent inquiries are not suffered to return home till they have undergone the ceremony of a previous ablution. Yet this selfish and unmanly delicacy occasionally yields to the more imperious passion of avarice. The prospect of gain will urge a rich and gouty senator as far as Spoleto; every sentiment of arrogance and dignity is subdued by the hopes of an inheritance, or even of a legacy; and a wealthy childless citizen is the most powerful of the Romans. The art of obtaining the signature of a favorable testament, and sometimes of hastening the moment of its execution, is perfectly understood; and it has happened that in the same house, though in different apartments, a husband and a wife, with the laudable design of overreaching each other, have summoned their respective lawyers to declare at the same time their mutual but contradictory intentions. The distress which follows and chastises extravagant luxury often reduces the great to the use of the most humiliating expedients. When they desire to borrow, they employ the base and supplicating style of the slave in the comedy; but when they are called upon to pay, they assume the royal and tragic declamation of the grandsons of Hercules. If the demand is repeated, they readily procure some trusty sycophant, instructed to maintain a charge of poison or magic against the insolent creditor, who is seldom released from prison till he has signed a discharge for the whole debt. These vices, which degrade the moral character of the Romans, are mixed with a puerile superstition that disgraces their understanding. They listen with confidence to the predictions of haruspices, who pretend to read in the entrails of victims the signs of future greatness and prosperity; and there are many who do not presume either to bathe or to dine, or to appear in public, till they have diligently consulted, according to the rules of astrology, the situation of Mercury and the aspect of the moon. It is singular enough that this vain credulity may often be discovered among the profane sceptics who impiously doubt or deny the existence of a celestial power.”


“They either take in or else they are taken in.”

“Captare” may be defined as to get the upper hand of someone; and “captari” means to be the dupe of someone, to be the object of interested flattery; “captator” means a succession of successful undertakings of the sort referred to above. Martial, lib. VI, 63, addresses the following verses to a certain Marianus, whose inheritance had excited the avarice of one of the intriguers:

“You know you’re being influenced,
You know the miser’s mind;
You know the miser, and you sensed
His purpose; still, you’re blind.”

Pliny the Elder, Historia Naturalis, lib. XIV, chap. i, writes in scathing terms against the infamous practice of paying assiduous court to old people for the purpose of obtaining a legacy under their wills. “Later, childlessness conferred advantages in the shape of the greatest authority and Lower; undue influence became very insidious in its quest of wealth, and in grasping the joyous things alone, debasing the true rewards of life; and all the liberal arts operating for the greatest good were turned to the opposite purpose, and commenced to profit by sycophantic subservience alone.”

And Ammianus Marcellinus, lib. XVIII, chap. 4, remarks: “Some there are that grovel before rich men, old men or young, childless or unmarried, or even wives and children, for the purpose of so influencing their wishes and them by deft and dextrous finesse.”

That this profession of legacy hunting is not one of the lost arts is apparent even in our day, for the term “undue influence” is as common in our courts as Ambrose Bierce’s definition of “husband,” or refined cruelty, or “injunctions” restraining husbands from disposing of property, or separate maintenance, or even “heart balm” and the consequent breach of promise.

CHAPTER 119. The rite of the Persians:

Castration has been practiced from remote antiquity, and is a feature of the harem life of the Levant to the present day. Semiramis is accused of having been the first to order the emasculation of a troupe of her boy slaves.

“Whether the first false likeness of men came to the Assyrians through the ingenuity of Semiramis; for these wanton wretches with high timbered voices could not have produced themselves, those smooth cheeks could not reproduce themselves; she gathered their like about her: or, Parthian luxury forbade with its knife, the shadow of down to appear, and fostered long that boyish bloom, compelling art-retarded youth to sink to Venus’ calling,” Claudianus, Eutrop. i, 339 seq.

“And last of all, the multitude of eunuchs, ranging in age, from old men to boys, pale and hideous from the twisted deformity of their features; so that, go where one will, seeing groups of mutilated men, he will detest the memory of Semiramis, that ancient queen who was the first to emasculate young men of tender age; thwarting the intent of Nature, and forcing her from her course.” Ammianus Marcellinus, book xiv, chap. vi.

The Old Testament proves that the Hebrew authorities of the time were no strangers to the abomination, but no mention of eunuchs in Judea itself is to be found prior to the time of Josiah. Castration was forbidden the Jews, Deuteronomy, xxiii, 1, but as this book was probably unknown before the time of Josiah, we can only conjecture as to the attitude of the patriarchs in regard to this subject; we are safe, however, in inferring that it was hostile. “Periander, son of Cypselus, had sent three hundred youths of the noblest young men of the Corcyraeans to Alyattes, at Sardis; for the purpose of emasculation.” Herodotus, iii, chapter 48.

“Hermotimus, then, was sprung from these Pedasians; and, of all men we know, revenged himself in the severest manner for an injury he had received; for, having been captured by an enemy and sold, he was purchased by one Panionius, a Chian, who gained a livelihood by the most infamous practices; for whenever he purchased boys remarkable for their beauty, having castrated them, he used to take them to Sardis and Ephesus and sell them for large sums; for with the barbarians, eunuchs are more valued than others, on account of their perfect fidelity. Panionius, therefore, had castrated many others, as he made his livelihood by this means, and among them, this man.

“Hermotimus, however, was not in every respect unfortunate, for he went to Sardis, along with other presents for the king, and in process of time was the most esteemed by Xerxes of all his eunuchs.

“When the king was preparing to march his Persian army against Athens, Hermotimus was at Sardis, having gone down at that time, upon some business or other, to the Mysian territory which the Chians possess, and is called Atarneus, he there met with Panionius. Having recognized him, he addressed many friendly words to him, first recounting the many advantages he had acquired by this means, and secondly, promising him how many favors he would confer upon him in requital, if he would bring his family and settle there; so that Panionius joyfully accepted the proposal and brought his wife and children. But when Hermotimus got him with his whole family into his power, he addressed him as follows:

“‘O thou, who, of all mankind, hast gained thy living by the most infamous acts, what harm had either I, or any of mine, done to thee, or any of thine, that of a man thou hast made me nothing?

“‘Thou didst imagine, surely, that thy machinations would pass unnoticed by the Gods, who, following righteous laws, have enticed thee, who hath committed unholy deeds, into my hands, so that thou canst not complain of the punishment I shall inflict upon thee.’

“When he had thus upbraided him, his sons being brought into his presence, Panionius was compelled to castrate his own sons, who were four in number; and, being compelled, he did it; and after he had finished it, his sons, being compelled, castrated him. Thus did vengeance and Hermotimus overtake Panionius.” Herodotus, viii, ch. 105-6.

Mention of the Galli, the emasculated priests of Cybebe should be made. Emasculation was a necessary first condition of service in her worship. (Catullus, Attys.) The Latin literature of the silver and bronze ages contains many references to castration. Juvenal and Martial have lavished bitter scorn upon this form of degradation, and Suetonius and Statius inform us that Domitian prohibited the practice, but it is in the “Amoures” attributed to Lucian that we find a passage so closely akin to the one forming a basis of this note, that it is inserted in extenso:

“Some pushed their cruelty so far as to outrage Nature with the sacrilegious knife, and, after depriving men of their virility, found in them the height of pleasure. These miserable and unhappy creatures, that they may the longer serve the purposes of boys, are stunted in their manhood, and remain a doubtful riddle of a double sex, neither preserving that boyhood in which they were born, nor possessing that manhood which should be theirs. The bloom of their youth withers away in a premature old age: while yet boys, they suddenly become old, without any interval of manhood. For impure sensuality, the mistress of every vice, devising one shameless pleasure after another, insensibly plunges into unmentionable debauchery, experienced in every form of brutal lust.” The jealous Roman husband’s furious desire to prevent the consequences of his wife’s incontinence was by no means well served by the use of such agents; on the contrary, the women themselves profited by the arrangement. By means of these eunuchs, they edited the morals of their maids and hampered the sodomitical hankerings, active or otherwise, of their husbands: Martial, xii, 54: but when the passions and suspicions of both heads of the family were mutually aroused, the eunuchs fanned them into flame and gained the ascendancy in the home. They even went so far as to marry: Martial, xi, 82, and Juvenal, i, 22.

In the third century a certain Valesius formed a sect which, following the example set by Origen, acted literally upon the text of Matthew, v, 28, 30, and Matthew, xix, 12. Of this sect, Augustine, De Heres. chap. 37, said: “the Valesians castrate themselves and those who partake of their hospitality, thinking that after this manner, they ought to serve God.” That injustice was done upon the wrong member is very evident, yet in an age so dark, so dominated by austere asceticism, this clean cut perception of the best interests of suffering humanity, is only to be rivalled by the French physician in the time of the black plague. He had observed that sthenic patients, when bled, died: the superstition and medical usage of the age prescribed bleeding, and when the fat abbots came to be bled, he bled them freely and with satisfaction. Justinian decreed that anyone guilty of performing the operation which deprived an individual of virility should be subjected to a similar operation, and this crime was later punished with death. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries we encounter another and even viler reason for this practice: that “the voice of such a person” (one castrated in boyhood) “after arriving at adult age, combines the high range and sweetness of the female with the power of the male voice,” had long been known, and Italian singing masters were not slow in putting this hint to practical use. The poor sometimes sold their children for this purpose, and the castrati and soprani are terms well known to the musical historian.

These artificial voices disgraced the Italian stage until literally driven from it by public hostility, and the punishment of death was the reward of the individual bold enough to perform such an operation. The papal authority excommunicated those guilty of the crime and those upon whom such an operation had been performed, but received artificial voices, which were the result of accident, into the Sistine choir. This pretext served the church well and, until the year 1878, when the disgrace was wiped out by Pope Leo XIII, the Sistine choir was an eloquent commentary upon the attitude of an institution placed, as it were, “between love and duty.” It should be recorded that this choir, in its recent visit to the United States, had but one artificial voice, and its owner was the oldest member of the choir.

Young home-born slaves were bought up by the dealers, castrated, because of the increased price they brought when in this condition, and sold for huge sums: Seneca, Controv. x, chap. 4; and kidnapping was frequently resorted to, just as it is in Africa today.

In Russia there is a sect called the “skoptzi,” whose tenets, in this respect, are indicated by their name. This sect is first mentioned in the person of a certain Adrian, a monk, who came to Russia about the year 1001. In 1041, l090 to 1096, 1138 to 1147, 1326, they are noticed, and in 1721 to 1724 they are prominent. They call themselves “white doves” and are divided into smaller congregations which, in their allegorical terminology, they call “ships”; the leader of each congregation is called the “pilot” and the female leader, the “pilot’s mate.” Their tenets provide for two degrees of emasculation: complete and incomplete, and, in the case of the former, he who submitted to the operation had the “royal seal” affixed to him, this being their name for complete emasculation: in the case of the latter, the neophyte had reached the “Second Degree of Purity.” The operation was performed with a red-hot knife or a hot iron, and this was known as the “baptism by fire.”

In the case of female converts, the breasts were amputated, either with a red-hot knife or a pair of red-hot shears (Kudrin trial, Moscow, 1871; testimony of physicians and examination of the accused) which served the double purpose of checking haemorrhage, as would a thermo-cautery, and avoiding infection. Another method consisted in searing the orifice of the vagina so that the scar tissue would contract it in such a manner as to effectually prevent the entrance of the male.

A peculiar attribute of this sect is the character of many of its members: bankers, civil service officials, navy officers, army officers and others of the finest professions. Leroy-Beaulieu, in discussing their methods of obtaining converts says: “they prefer boys and youths, whom they strive to convince of the necessity of ‘killing the flesh.’ They sometimes succeed so well, that cases are known of boys of fifteen or so resorting to self-mutilation, to save themselves from the temptations of early manhood. These apostles of purity do not always scruple to have recourse to violence or deceit. They ensnare their victims by equivocal forms of speech, and having thus obtained their consent virtually upon false pretences, they reveal to the confiding dupes the real meaning of the engagement they have entered into only at the last moment, when it is too late for them to escape the murderous knife. One evening, two men, one of them young and blooming, the other old, with sallow and unnaturally smooth face, were conversing, while sipping their tea, in a house in Moscow. ‘Virgins will alone stand before the throne of the Most High,’ said the elder man. ‘He who looks on a woman with desire commits adultery in his heart, and adulterers shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.’ ‘What then should we sinners doe’ asked the young man. ‘Knowest thou not,’ replied the elder, ‘the word of the Lord? If thy right eye leadeth thee into temptation, pluck it out and cast it from thee; if thy right hand leadeth thee into temptation, cut it off and cast it from thee. What ye must do is to kill the flesh. Ye must become like unto the disembodied angels, and that may be attained only, through being made white as snow.’ ‘And how can we be made thus white?’ further inquired the young man. ‘Come and see,’ said the old man. ‘He took his companion down many stairs, into a cellar resplendent with lights. Some fifteen white robed men and women were gathered there. In a corner was a stove, in which blazed a fire. After some prayers and dances, very like those in use among the Flagellants, the old man announced to his companion: ‘now shalt thou learn how sinners are made white as snow.’ And the young man, before he had time to ask a single question, was seized and gagged, his eyes were bandaged, he was stretched out on the ground, and the apostle, with a red-hot knife, stamped him with the ‘seal of purity.’ This happened to a peasant, Saltykov by name, and certainly not to him alone. He fainted away under the operation, and when he came to himself, he heard the voices of his chaste sponsors give him the choice between secrecy and death.”

Catherine II signed the first edict against this sect in 1772, but agitation was more or less constant until the Imperial government began vigorous prosecutions in 1871, and many were sentenced to hard labor in Siberia. When prosecutions were instituted, large numbers emigrated to Roumania and there took the name of “Lipovans.” Women, especially one of the name of Anna Romanovna, have had a great share in the invention and diffusion of the doctrine. Not infrequently it is the women who, with their own hands, transform the men to angels.

In 1871 their number was estimated to be about 3000, in 1874 they numbered 5444, including 1465 women, and in 1847, 515 men and 240 women were transported to Siberia. The sect still holds its own in Russia. They are millennarians and the messiah will not come for them until their sect numbers 144,000.

Antiquity knew three varieties of eunuch:

Castrati: Scrotum and testicles were amputated.

Spadones: Testicles were torn out.

Thlibiae: Testicles were destroyed by crushing.


“Such sweetness permeated her voice as she said this, so entrancing was the sound upon the listening air that you would have believed the Sirens’ harmonies were floating in the breeze.”

Many scholars have drawn attention to the ethereal beauty of this passage. Probably the finest parallel is to be found in Horace’s ode to Calliope. After the invocation to the muse he thinks he hears her playing:

“Hark! Or is this but frenzy’s pleasing dream?
Through groves I seem to stray
Of consecrated bay,
Where voices mingle with the babbling stream,
And whispering breezes play.”
            Sir Theodore Martin’s version.

Another exquisite and illuminating passage occurs in Catullus, 51, given in Marchena’s fourth note.


“Then she kneaded dust and spittle and, dipping her middle finger into the mixture, she crossed my forehead with it.”

Since the Fairy Tale Era of the human race, sputum has been employed to give potency to charms and to curses. It was anciently used as anathema and that use is still in force to this day. Let the incredulous critic spit in some one’s face if he doubts my word.

But sputum had also a place in the Greek and Roman rituals. Trimalchio spits and throws wine under the table when he hears a cock crowing unseasonably. This, in the first century. Any Jew in Jerusalem hearing the name of Titus mentioned, spits: this in 1903. In the ceremony of naming Roman children spittle had its part to play: it was customary for the nurse to touch the lips and forehead of the child with spittle. The Catholic priest’s ritual, which prescribes that the ears and nostrils of the infant or neophyte, as the case may be, shall be touched with spittle, comes, in all probability from Mark, vii, 33, 34, viii, 23, and John, ix, 6, which, in turn are probably derived from a classical original. It should be added that fishermen spit upon their bait before casting in their hooks.

CHAPTER 131. Medio sustulit digito:

There is more than a suggestion in the choice of the middle finger, in this instance. Among the Romans, the middle finger was known as the “infamous finger.”

Infami digito et lustralibus ante salivis
Expiat, urentes oculos inhibere perita.
         Persius, Sat. ii

See also Dio Chrysostom, xxxiii. “Neither,” says Lampridius, Life of Heliogabalus, “was he given to demand infamies in words when he could indicate shamelessness with his fingers,” Chapter 10. “With tears in his eyes, Cestos often complains to me, Mamurianus, of being touched by your finger. You need not use your finger, merely: take Cestos all to yourself, if nothing else is wanting in your establishment,” Martial, i, 93

To touch the posteriors lewdly with the finger, that is, the middle finger put forth and the two adjoining fingers bent down, so that the hand might form a sort of Priapus, was an obscene sign to attract catamites. That this position of the fingers was an indecent symbol is attested by numerous passages in the classical writers. “He would extend his hand, bent into an obscene posture, for them to kiss,” Suetonius, Caligula, 56. It may be added that one of that emperor’s officers assassinated him for insulting him in that manner. When this finger was thus applied it signified that the person was ready to sodomise him whom he touched. The symbol is still used by the lower orders.

“We are informed by our younger companions that gentlemen given to sodomitical practices are in the habit of frequenting some public place, such as the Pillars of the County Fire Office, Regent St., and placing their hands behind them, raising their fingers in a suggestive manner similar to that mentioned by our epigrammatist. Should any gentleman place himself near enough to have his person touched by the playful fingers of the pleasure-seeker, and evince no repugnance, the latter turns around and, after a short conversation, the bargain is struck. In this epigram, however, Martial threatens the eye and not the anus.” The Romans used to point out sodomites and catamites by thus holding out the middle finger, and so it was used as well in ridicule (or chaff, as we say) as to denote infamy in the persons who were given to these practices.

“If anyone calls you a catamite, Sextillus,” says Martial, ii, 28, “return the compliment and hold out your middle finger to him.” According to Ramiresius, this custom was still common in the Spain of his day (1600), and it still persists in Spanish and Italian countries, as well as in their colonies. This position of the fingers was supposed to represent the buttocks with a priapus inserted up the fundament; it was called “Iliga,” by the Spaniards. From this comes the ancient custom of suspending little priapi from boys’ necks to avert the evil eye.

Aristophanes, in the “Clouds,” says:

SOCRATES: First they will help you to be pleasant in company, and to know what is meant by OEnoplian rhythm and what by the Dactylic.

STREPSIADES: Of the Dactyl (finger)? I know that quite well.

SOCRATES: What is it then?

STREPSIADES: Why, ‘tis this finger; formerly, when a child, I used this one.

(Daktulos means, of course, both Dactyl (name of a metrical foot) and finger. Strepsiades presents his middle finger with the other fingers and thumb bent under in an indecent gesture meant to suggest the penis and testicles. It was for this reason that the Romans called this finger the “unseemly finger.”)

SOCRATES: You are as low minded as you are stupid.

[See also Suetonius. Tiberius, chapter 68.]


“OEnothea brought out a leathern dildo.”

This instrument, made from glass, wax, leather, or other suitable material such as ivory or the precious metals (Ezekiel xvi, 17), has been known from primitive times; and the spread of the cult of Priapus was a potent factor in making the instrument more common in the western world. Numerous Greek authors make mention of it: Aristophanes, Lucian, Herondas, Suidas and others. That it was only too familiar to the Romans is shown by their many references to it: Catullus, Martial, the apostle Paul, Tertullian, and others.

Aristophanes, Lysistrata: (Lysistrata speaking) “And not so much as the shadow of a lover! Since the day the Milesians betrayed us, I have never once caught sight of an eight-inch-long dildo even, to be a leathern consolation to us poor widows.” Her complaint is based upon the fact that all the men were constantly absent upon military duty and the force of the play lies in her strategic control of a commodity in great demand among the male members of society. Quoting again from the same play: Calonice: “And why do you summon us, Lysistrata dear? What is it all about?” Lysistrata: “About a big affair.” Calonice: “And is it thick, too’?” Lysistrata: “Indeed it is, great and big too.” Calonice: “And we are not all on the spot!” Lysistrata: “Oh! If it were what you have in mind, there would never be an absentee. No, no, it concerns a thing I have turned about and about, this way and that, for many sleepless nights.” When the plot has been explained, viz.: that the women refuse intercourse to their husbands until after peace has been declared--Calonice: “But suppose our poor devils of husbands go away and leave us”’ Lysistrata: “Then, as Pherecrates says, ‘we must flay a skinned dog,’ that’s all.”

Lucian, Arnoures, says: “but, if it is becoming for men to have intercourse with men, for the future let women have intercourse with women. Come, O new generation, inventor of strange pleasures! as you have devised new methods to satisfy male lust, grant the same privilege to women; let them have intercourse with one another like men, girding themselves with the infamous instruments of lust, an unholy imitation of a fruitless union.”

Herondas, Mime vi



Two women friends METRO and A Female Domestic.

Time, about 300 B. C.

Scene, Koritto’s sitting room.

KORITTO: (Metro has just come to call) Take a seat, Metro; (to the slave girl) Get up and get the lady a chair; I have to tell you to do everything; you’re such a fool you never do a thing of your own accord. You’re only a stone in the house, you’re not a bit like a slave except when you count up your daily allowance of bread: you count the crumbs when you do that, though, and whenever the tiniest bit happens to fall upon the floor, the very walls get tired of listening to your grumbling and boiling over with temper, as you do all day long--now, when we want to use that chair you’ve found time to dust it off and rub up the polish--you may thank the lady that I don’t give you a taste of my hand.

METRO: You have as hard a time as I do, Koritto, dear--day and night these low servants make me gnash my teeth and bark like a dog, just like they do you.--But I came to see you about--(to the slave girl) get out of here, get out of my sight, you trouble maker, you’re all ears and tongue and nothing else, all you do is to sit around Koritto--dear, now please don’t tell me a fib, who stitched that red dildo of yours?

KORITTO: Metro, where did you see that?

METRO: Why Nossis, the daughter of Erinna, had it three days ago. Oh but it was a beauty!

KORITTO: So Nossis had it, did she? Where did she get it, I wonder?

METRO: I’m afraid you’ll say something if I tell you.

KORITTO: My dear Metro, if anybody hears anything you tell me, from Koritto’s mouth, I hope I go blind.

METRO: It was given to her by Eubole of Bitas, and she cautioned her not to let a soul hear of it.

KORITTO: That woman will be my undoing, one of these days; I yielded to her importunity and gave it to her before I had used it myself, Metro dear, but to her it was a godsend--, now she takes it and gives it to some one who ought not to have it. I bid a long farewell to such a friend as she; let her look out for another friend instead of me. As for Nossis, Adrasteia forgive me. I don’t want to talk bigger than a lady should--I wouldn’t give her even a rotten dildo; no, not even if I had a thousand!

METRO: Please don’t flare up so quickly when you hear something unpleasant. A good woman must put up with everything. It’s all my fault for gossiping. My tongue ought to be cut out; honestly it should: but to get back to the question I asked you a moment ago: who stitched the dildo? Tell me if you love me! What makes you laugh when you look at me? What does your coyness mean? Have you never set eyes on me before? Don’t fib to me now, Koritto, I beg of you.

KORITTO: Why do you press me so? Kerdon stitched it.

METRO: Which Kerdon? Tell me, because there are two Kerdons, one is that blue-eyed fellow, the neighbor of Myrtaline the daughter of Kylaithis; but he couldn’t even stitch a plectron to a lyre--the other one, who lives near the house of Hermodorus, after you have left the street, was pretty good once, but he’s too old, now; the late lamented Kylaithis--may her kinsfolk never forget her--used to patronize him.

KORITTO: He’s neither of those you’ve mentioned, Metro; this fellow is bald headed and short, he comes from Chios or Erythrai, I think--you would mistake him for another Prexinos, one fig could not look more like another, but just hear him talk, and you’ll know that he is Kerdon and not Prexinos. He does business at home, selling his wares on the sly because everyone is afraid of the tax gatherers. My dear! He does do such beautiful work! You would think that what you see is the handiwork of Athena and not that of Kerdon! Do you know that he had two of them when he came here! And when I got a look at them my eyes nearly burst from their sockets through desire. Men never get--I hope we are alone--their tools so stiff; and not only that, but their smoothness was as sweet as sleep and their little straps were as soft as wool. If you went looking for one you would never find another ladies’ cobbler cleverer than he!

METRO: Why didn’t you buy the other one, too?

KORITTO: What didn’t I do, Metro dear’? And what didn’t I do to persuade him’? I kissed him, I patted his bald head, I poured out some sweet wine for him to drink, I fondled him, the only thing I didn’t do was to give him my body.

METRO: But you should have given him that too, if he asked it.

KORITTO: Yes, and I would have, but Bitas slave girl commenced grinding in the court, just at the wrong moment; she has reduced our hand mill nearly to powder by grinding day and night for fear she might have four obols to pay for having her own sharpened.

METRO: But how did he happen to come to your house, Koritto dear? You’ll tell me the truth won’t you, now?

KORITTO: Artemis the daughter of Kandas directed him to me by pointing out the roof of the tanner’s house as a landmark.

METRO: That Artemis is always discovering something new to help her make capital out of her skill as a go-between. But anyhow, when you couldn’t buy them both you should have asked who ordered the other one.

KORITTO: I begged him to tell me but he swore he wouldn’t, that’s how much he thought of me, Metro dear.

METRO: You mean that I must go and find Artemis now to learn who the Kerdon is--good-bye KORITTO. He (my husband) is hungry by now, so it’s time I was going.

KORITTO: (To the slave girl) Close the doors, there, chicken keeper, and count the chickens to see if they’re all there; throw them some grain, too, for the chicken thieves will steal them out of one’s very lap.


A lascivious dance of the old Greek comedy. Any person who performed this dance except upon the stage was considered drunk or dissolute. That the dance underwent changes for the worse is manifest from the representation of it found on a marble tazza in the Vatican (Visconti, Mus. Pio-Clem. iv, 29), where it is performed by ten figures, five Finns and five Bacchanals, but their movements, though extremely lively and energetic, are not marked by any particular indelicacy. Many ancient authors and scholiasts have commented upon the looseness and sex appeal of this dance. Meursius, Orchest., article Kordax, has collected the majority of passages in the classical writers, bearing upon this subject, but from this disorderly collection it is impossible to arrive at any definite description of the cordax. The article in Coelius Rhodiginus. Var. Lect. lib. iv, is conventional. The cordax was probably not unlike the French “chalhut,” danced in the wayside inns, and it has been preserved in the Spanish “bolero” and the Neapolitan “tarantella.” When the Romans adopted the Greek customs, they did not neglect the dances and it is very likely that the Roman Nuptial Dance, which portrayed the most secret actions of marriage had its origin in the Greek cordax. The craze for dancing became so menacing under Tiberius that the Senate was compelled to run the dancers and dancing masters out of Rome but the evil had become so deep rooted that the very precautions by which society was to be safeguarded served to inflame the passion for the dance and indulgence became so general and so public that great scandal resulted. Domitian, who was by no means straight laced, found it necessary to expel from the Senate those members who danced in public. The people imitated the nobles, and, as fast as the dancers were expelled, others from the highest and lowest ranks of society took their places, and there soon came to be no distinction, in this matter, between the noblest names of the patricians and the vilest rabble from the Suburra. There is no comparison between the age of Cicero and that of Domitian. “One could do a man no graver injury than to call him a dancer,” says Cicero, Pro Murena, and adds: “a man cannot dance unless he is drunk or insane.”

Probably the most realistic description of the cordax, conventional, of course, is to be found in Merejkovski’s “Death of the Gods.” The passage occurs in chapter vi. I have permitted myself the liberty of supplying the omissions and euphemisms in Trench’s otherwise excellent and spirited version of the novel. “At this moment hoarse sounds like the roarings of some subterranean monster came from the market square. They were the notes, now plaintive, now lively, of a hydraulic organ. At the entrance to a showman’s travelling booth, a blind Christian slave, for four obols a day, was pumping up the water which produced this extraordinary harmony. Agamemnon dragged his companions into the booth, a great tent with blue awnings sprinkled with silver stars. A lantern lighted a black-board on which the order of the program was chalked up in Syriac and Greek. It was stifling within, redolent of garlic and lamp oil soot. In addition to the organ, there struck up the wailing of two harsh flutes, and an Ethopian, rolling the whites of his eyes, thrummed upon an Arab drum. A dancer was skipping and throwing somersaults on a tightrope, clapping his hands to the time of the music, and singing a popular song:

Hue, huc, convenite nunc
Pedem tendite
Cursum addite

“This starveling snub-nosed dancer was old, repulsive, and nastily gay. Drops of sweat mixed with paint were trickling from his shaven forehead; his wrinkles, plastered with white lead, looked like the cracks in some wall when rain has washed away the lime. The flutes and organ ceased when he withdrew, and a fifteen-year-old girl ran out upon the stage. She was to perform the celebrated cordax, so passionately adored by the mob. The Fathers of the Church called down anathema upon it, the Roman laws prohibited it, but all in vain. The cordax was danced everywhere, by rich and poor, by senators’ wives and by street dancers, just as it had been before.

“‘What a beautiful girl,’ whispered Agamemnon enthusiastically. Thanks to the fists of his companions, he had reached a place in the front rank of spectators. The slender bronze body of the Nubian was draped only about the hips with an almost airy colorless scarf. Her hair was wound on the top of her head, in close fine curls like those of Nubian woven. Her face was of the severest Egyptian type, recalling that of the Sphinx.

“She began to dance languidly, carelessly, as if already weary. Above her head she swung copper bells, castanets or ‘crotals,’--swung them lazily, so that they tinkled very faintly. Gradually her movements became more emphatic, and suddenly under their long lashes, yellow eyes shone out, clear and bright as the eyes of a leopardess. She drew her body up to her full height and the copper castanets began to tinkle with such challenge in their piercing sound that the whole crowd trembled with emotion. Vivid, slender, supple as a serpent, the damsel whirled rapidly, her nostrils dilated, and a strange cry came crooning from her throat. With each impetuous movement, two dark little breasts held tight by a green silk net, trembled like two ripe fruits in the wind, and their sharp, thickly painted nipples were like rubies, as they protruded from the net.

“The crowd was beside itself with passion. Agamemnon, nearly mad, was held back by his companions. Suddenly the girl stopped as if exhausted. A slight shudder ran through her, from her head down the dark limbs to her feet. Deep silence prevailed. The head of the Nubian was thrown back as if in a rigid swoon but above it the crotals still tinkled with an extraordinary languor, a dying vibration, quick and soft as the wing flutterings of a captured butterfly. Her eyes grew dim but in their inner depths glittered two sparks; the face remained severe, impersonal, but upon the sensuous red lips of that sphinx-like mouth a smile trembled, faint as the dying sound of the crotals.”




The conquests of the French have resulted, during this war, in a boon to knowledge and to letters. Egypt has furnished us with monuments of its aboriginal inhabitants, which the ignorance and superstition of the Copts and Mussulmans kept concealed from civilized countries. The libraries of the convents of the various countries have been ransacked by savants and precious manuscripts have been brought to light.

By no means the least interesting of the acquisitions is a fragment of Petronius, which we offer to the public, taken from an ancient manuscript which our soldiers, in conquering St. Gall, have sent to us for examination. We have made an important discovery in reading a parchment which contains the work of St. Gennadius on the Duties of Priests, and which, judging from the form of the letters employed, we should say was written in the eleventh century. A most careful examination led us to perceive that the work by this saint had been written on pages containing written letters, which had been almost effaced. We know that in the dark ages it was customary to write ecclesiastical works on the manuscripts containing the best authors of Latinity.

At a cost of much labor we have been able to decipher a morsel which we give to the public: and of the authenticity of which there can be no doubt. We render homage to the brave French army to which we owe this acquisition.

It is easy to notice that there is a lacuna in that passage of Petronius in which Encolpius is left with Quartilla, looking through a chink in the door, at the actions of Giton and little Pannychis. A few lines below, it relates, in effect, that he was fatigued by the voluptuous enjoyment of Quartilla, and in that which remains to us, there is no mention of the preliminaries to this enjoyment. The style of the Latin so closely resembles the original of Petronius that it is impossible to believe that the fragment was forged.

For the benefit of those who have not read the author, it is well to state that this Quartilla was a priestess of Priapus, at whose house they celebrated the mysteries of that god. Pannychis is a young girl of seven years who had been handed over to Giton to be deflowered. This Giton is the “good friend” of Encolpius, who is supposed to relate the scene. Encolpius, who had drunk an aphrodisiacal beverage, is occupied with Quartilla in peeping through the door to see in what manner Giton was acquitting himself in his role. At that moment a soldier enters the house.

Finally an old woman, about whom there is some question in the fragment, is the same as the one who had unexpectedly conducted Encolpius to the house of the public women and of whom mention is made in the beginning of the work.

Ipsa Venus magico religatum brachia nodo
Perdocuit, multis non sine verberibus.
               Tibullus viii, 5.


Vous verrez que vous avez affaire a un homme.
You will learn that you have to deal with a man.

Fighting men have in all times been distinguished on account of the beauty of their women. The charming fable of the loves of Venus and Mars, described by the most ancient of poets, expresses allegorically, this truth. All the demi-gods had their amorous adventures; the most valiant were always the most passionate and the happiest. Hercules took the maidenheads of fifty girls, in a single night. Thesus loved a thousand beauties, and slept with them. Jason abandoned Hypsipyle for Medea, and her, for Creusa. Achilles, the swift of foot, forgot the tender Deidamia in the arms of his Briseis.

It has been remarked that the lovers did not have very scrupulous tastes in their methods of attaining satisfaction from the women they loved. The most common method was abduction and the women always submitted to this without a murmur of any sort. Helen was carried off by Theseus, after having also been abducted by Paris. The wife of Atreus was abducted by Thyestus, and from that arose the implacable hatred between the two families. Rape was no less common. Goddesses themselves and the favorites of the Gods were at the risk of falling prey to strong mortals. Pirithous, aided by Theseus, even attempted to snatch Proserpina from the God of the under-world. Juno herself was compelled to painful submission to the pursuit of Ixion, and Thetis succumbed despite herself, to the assaults of Peleus. The gift of foretelling the future, with which Apollo endowed Cassandra, did not insure her against the brutal caresses of Ajax, son of Oileus.

In the infancy of society, there was never known any other distinction except between the weak and the strong: the strong commanded and the weak obeyed. For that reason, women were regarded in the light of beings destined by nature, to serve the pleasures and even the caprices of men. Never did her suitors express a tender thought for Penelope, and, instead of making love to her, they squandered her property, slept with her slaves, and took charge of things in her house.

Circe gave herself to Ulysses who desired to slay her, and Calypso, full blown goddess as she was, was obliged to make his advances for him. The fine sentiments that Virgil puts into the mouth of the shade of Creusa, content with having died while serving against the Greeks, “she was a Trojan, and she wedded the son of Venus”; the confession with which Andromache, confronted by the murderer of her first husband, responds to the question of AEneas; these ideas, I say, and these sentiments, appertained to the polished century of Augustus and not to the epoch or, scene of the Trojan War. Virgil, in his AEneid, had never subscribed to the precepts of Horace, and of common sense:

Aut famam sequere, aut sibi convenientia finge

               Horace Ars Poet. 119.

From this manner of dealing with women arose another reason for the possession of beauty by the valiant. One coveted a woman much as one would covet a fine flock of sheep, and, in the absence of laws, the one in possession of either the one or the other of these desirable objects would soon be dispossessed of them if he was not courageous enough to guard them against theft. Wars were as much enterprises for ravishing women as they were for taking other property, and one should remember that Agamemnon promised to retire from before Troy if the Trojans would restore Helen and his riches to Menelaus; things which Paris had despoiled him of.

Also, there was never any of that thing we call “conjugal honor” among the Greeks; that idea was far too refined; it was a matter too complex ever to have entered the heads of these semi-barbarous people. This is exemplified in the fact that, after the taking of Troy, Helen, who had, of her own free will, belonged successively to Paris, and to Deiphobus, afterwards returned to Menelaus, who never offered her any reproach. That conduct of Menelaus was so natural that Telemachus, who, in his trip to Sparta found Helen again with Menelaus, just as she was before her abduction, did not show the least astonishment.

The books which bear the most remarkable resemblance to each other are the Bible and Homer, because the people they describe and the men about whom they speak are forerunners of civilization in pretty much the same degree. Sarah was twice snatched from the bosom of Abraham and he was never displeased with his wife and continued to live on good terms with her. David, a newcomer on the throne, hastened to have Michol brought to him although she had already married another man.

The best proof that, during the time of the Romans the women preferred soldiers to other men is in the claims to successful enterprises by the bragging soldier of Plautus. Pyrgopolinices thought it was only necessary to pose as a great warrior, to have all the women chasing after him; therefore, his parasite and his slave spoke of nothing but the passions be inspired in women. Tradition has it that among the Samnites, the bravest men had the choice of the fairest women, and to this custom is attributed one of the reasons these people were so warlike.

In the times of chivalry the greatest exploits were achieved for the pleasure of one’s Lady-Love, and there were even such valiant knights, as Don Quixote, who went about the world proving by force of arms that their ladies had no peer. The poverty-stricken troubadours singing harmoniously about their beautiful women found them flying away in the arms of knights who had broken lances at tournaments, or had performed the greatest feats of arms. In fine, all the peoples of the world have said with Dryden:

               "None but the brave deserves the fair.”


Ses camarades se saisissent de moi et de Quartilla.
His comrades seized hold of Quartilla and me.

The profession of Quartilla corresponded to that which is followed by our ladies of the Palace Royal. This Palace Royal is a sort of Babylon, with this difference; that the former prostitute themselves all the year round, and that they are not quite so attractive as the Chaldean beauties. For the rest, one of the incontestable facts of ancient history is this prostitution of the women of Babylon in honor of Venus, and I cannot understand why Voltaire refused to believe it, since religions have always been responsible for the most abominable actions, and because religious wars, the horrors of intolerance, the impostures of priests, the despotism of kings, the degradation and stupidity of the people, have been the direct fatal effects of religions; and seeing that the blind fanaticism of martyrs and the brutal cruelty of tyrants is a hundred times more deplorable than a sacrifice equally agreeable to the victim and to the one who officiates at the sacrifice; and seeing that the enjoyment and giving of life is no less holy than the maceration and caging of innocent animals.

The origin of courtesans is lost in the deepest antiquity. It appears that it was one of the patriarchal customs to enjoy them, for Judah slept with Thamar, widow of his two sons, and who, to seduce him, disguised herself as a courtesan. Another courtesan, Rahab, played a great role in the first wars of the people of the Lord: it was this same Rahab who married Solomon, father of Boaz, fourth forefather of David, and thirty-second forefather of Jesus Christ, our divine Savior. Yet the eternal sagacity of man has failed to take notice of this profession and to resent the injustice done it by the scorn of men. The elected kings of the people, the man who adopts the word father according to the flesh, are descendants of a courtesan.

For the rest, it must be admitted that many who follow this noble profession are unworthy of it and only too well justify the ignominy which is levelled against the entire class. You see these miserable creatures with livid complexions and haggard eyes, with voices of Stentor, breathing out at the same time the poisons which circulate in their veins and the liquors with which they are intoxicated; you see on their blemished and emaciated bodies, the marks of beings more hideous than they (twenty come to satisfy their brutal passions for every one of them); you listen to their vile language, you hear their oaths and revolting expressions: to go to these Megeres is often to encounter brigands and assassins: what a spectacle! It is the deformity of vice in the rags of indigence.

Ah! But these are not courtesans, they are the dregs of cities. A courtesan worthy of the name is a beautiful woman, gracious and amiable, at whose home gather men of letters and men of the world; the first magistrates, the greatest captains: and who keeps men of all professions in a happy state of mind because she is pleasing to them, she inspires in them a desire for reciprocal pleasure: such an one was Aspasia who, after having charmed the cultured people of Athens was for a long time the good companion of Pericles, and contributed much, perhaps, towards making his century what it was, the age of taste in arts and letters. Such an one also was Phryne, Lais, Glycera, and their names will always be celebrated; such, also, was Ninon d’Enclos, one of the ornaments of the century of Louis XIV, and Clairon, the first who realized all the grandeur of her art; such an one art thou, C-----, French Thalia, who commands attentions, I do not say this by way of apology but to share the opinion of Alceste.

A courtesan such as I have in mind may have all the public and private virtues. One knows the severe probity of Ninon, her generosity, her taste for the arts, her attachment to her friends. Epicharis, the soul of the conspiracy of Piso against the execrable Nero, was a courtesan, and the severe Tacitus, who cannot be taxed with a partiality for gallantry, has borne witness to the constancy with which she resisted the most seductive promises and endured the most terrible tortures, without revealing any of the details of the conspiracy or any of the names of the conspirators.

These facts should be recognized above that ascetic moral idea which consists of the sovereign virtue of abstinence in defiance of nature’s commands and which places weakness in these matters along with the most odious crimes. Can one see without indignation Suetonius’ reproach of Caesar for his gallantries with Servilia, with Tertia, and other Roman ladies, as a thing equal to his extortions and his measureless ambitions, and praising his warlike ardor against peoples who had never furnished room for complaint to Rome? The source of these errors was the theory of emanations. The first dreamers, who were called philosophers imagined that matter and light were co-eternal; they supposed that was all one unformed and tenebrous mass; and from the former they established the principle of evil and of all imperfection, while they regarded the latter as sovereign perfection. Creation, or, one might better say co-ordination, was only the emanation of light which penetrated chaos, but the mixture of light and matter was the cause of all the inevitable imperfections of the universe. The soul of man was part and parcel of divinity or of increased light; it would never attain happiness until it was re-united to the source of all light; but for it, we would be free from all things we call gross and material, and we would be taken into the ethereal regions by contemplation and by abstinence from the pleasures of the flesh. When these absurdities were adopted for the regulation of conduct, they necessarily resulted in a fierce morality, inimical to all the pleasures of life, such, in a word, as that of the Gymnosophists or, in a lesser measure, of the Trappists.

But despite the gloomy nonsense of certain atrabilious dreamers, the wonderful era of the Greeks was that of the reign of the courtesans. It was about the houses of these that revolved the sands of Pactolus, their fame exceeded that of the first men of Greece. The rich offerings that decorated the temples of the Gods were the gifts of these women, and it must be remembered that most of them were foreigners, originating, for the most part, in Asia Minor. It happened that an Athenian financier, who resembled the rest of his tribe as much as two drops of water, proposed once to levy an impost upon the courtesans. As he spoke eloquently of the incalculable advantages which would accrue to the Government by this tax, a certain person asked him by whom the courtesans were paid. “By the Athenians,” replied our orator, after deliberation. “Then it would be the Athenians who would pay the impost,” replied the questioner, and the people of Athens, who had a little more sense than certain legislative assemblies, hooted the orator down, and there was never any more question about a tax upon courtesans.

Corinth was famous for the number and beauty of its courtesans, from which comes the proverb: “It is not given to every man to go to Corinth”; there they ran the risk of losing their money and ruining their health. The cause of this great vogue of courtesans in Greece was not the supposed ugliness of the sex, as the savant Paw imagined, and contradicted by the unanimous evidence of ancient authors and of modern travellers; but rather, the retired and solitary life which the women of the country led. They lived in separate apartments and never had any communication with the streets or with the residences of men “the inner part of the house which was called the women’s apartments,” said Cornelius Nepos (preface). Strangers never visited them; they rarely visited their nearest relations. This was why marriage between brothers and sisters was authorized by law and encouraged by usage; the sisters were exposed to the attacks of their brothers because they lived separated from them.

With the Romans, as with us, the virtuous women corrupted somewhat the profession of the courtesans. The absolute seclusion of women was never the fashion at Rome and the stories we have on the authority of Valerius Maximus on the chastity and modesty of the first Roman matrons merit the same degree of belief as the legend of Romulus and Remus being brought up by a wolf, the rape of Lucretia or the tragic death of Virginia. On the contrary, in Livy, a great admirer of the customs of the early days of Rome, we find that in those times a great number of Roman women of the noblest families were convicted of having poisoned their husbands and condemned to death for this hideous crime: that, by no means shows a very exquisite and tender conjugal sentiment. During the period of the second Punic War with what energy they went about the city seeking the repeal of the law which took out of their hands the custody of jewels and precious stones! A repeal which they obtained despite the opposition of Cato the Censor. It appears that the profession of the courtesan was generally practised by the freed-women; their manner necessarily showed the results of their education. But the young sparks of Rome never paid much attention to them, they preferred to have love affairs with the wives of their friends. For one Sallust who ruined himself with freedwomen, there were five Cupienniuses; “Cupiennius, that admirer of the pudenda garbed in white,” Hor. Sat. I, ii, 36. Delia, Lesbia, Ipsythillia, Corinna, Nemesis, Neeria, Cynthia, Sulpitia, Lycimnia, and almost all the women to whom, under real or assumed names, Catullus, Tibullus, Propertius, Ovid, Horace, and others, addressed their erotic compositions, were Roman married women. Horace is the only one who celebrated a freedwoman in some of his odes. This is due, however, to his taste for variety and perhaps also, to his birth, for he himself was the son of a freedwoman. Ovid’s Art of Love and the Satires of Juvenal reveal the extent to which gallantry was the fashion at Rome and Cato would never have praised the conduct of that young man who had recourse to a public house if that had been an ordinary course of procedure.

In Europe of the middle ages, the priests and abbots helped to some extent in reviving the profession of the courtesans. Long before, Saint Paul had stated in his Epistles that it was permitted to the apostles of the Lord to take with them everywhere a sister for charity. The deaconesses date from the first century of the church. But the celibacy of the clergy was not universally and solidly established until about the eleventh century, under the pontificate of Gregory VII. During the preceding century, the celebrated Marozie and Theodore had put their lovers successively upon the chair of St. Peter, and their sons and grandsons, as well. But after the priests had submitted to celibacy they ostensibly took the concubines of which, alas! our housekeepers of today are but feeble vestiges. The Spanish codes of the middle ages were often concerned with the rights of the concubines of priests (mancebas de los clerigos) and these chosen ones of the chosen ones of the Lord invariably appeared worthy of envy. Finally the courtesans appeared in all their magnificence in the Holy City, and modern Rome atoned for the rebuffs and indignities these women had been compelled to endure in ancient Rome. The princes of the church showered them with gifts, they threw at their feet the price of redemption from sin, paid by the faithful, and the age of Leo X was for Rome a wonderful epoch of fine arts, belles lettres, and beautiful women. But a fanatical monk from Lower Germany fell upon this calm of the church and this happy era of the harlots; since then the revenues of the sacred college have continued to decrease, the beautiful courtesans have abandoned the capital of the Christian world, and their pleasures have fled with them. And can anyone longer believe in the perfection of the human race, since the best, the most holy of human institutions has so visibly degenerated!


Le Soldat ordonne a embasicetas de m’accabler de ses impurs baisers.
[The soldier ordered the catamite to beslaver me with his stinking kisses.]

One of the reasons which caused the learned and paradoxical Hardouin to assert that all the works which have been attributed to the ancients, with the exception of the Georgics and the Natural History of Pliny, were the compositions of monks, was doubtless the very frequent repetition of scenes of love for boys, which one notices in most of these writings: this savant was a Jesuit. But this taste is not peculiar to convents; it is to be found among all peoples and in all climates; its origin is lost in the night of the centuries; it is common in the most polished nations and it is common among savage tribes. Profound philosophers have argued in favor of it; poets have sung the objects of this sort of love in their tender and passionate compositions, and these compositions have always been the delight of posterity. What stupid or unfeeling reader can read without emotion that beautiful eclogue of Virgil where Corydon sighs his hopeless love for the beautiful Alexis? The most passionate ode of Horace is that one in which he complains of the harshness of Ligurinus. The tender Tibullus, deceived by his Marathus, brings tears to all who have hearts. The delicate Anacreon, praising his Bathylle, and the valiant Alceus giving himself up after his labors in war to sing of the dark eyes and black hair of Lycus . . . “with dark eyes and black hair beautiful.” It is not to over-civilized refinements of society which, according to certain misanthropists, degrade nature and corrupt it, that this taste is due; it is found among the south sea islanders, and the evidence of the first Spaniards attests that it was common among the hordes of American Indians before the discovery of the new world. Paw had attempted to explain this as resulting from defects in the formation of the organs of pleasure among the natives; but a peculiar cause is not sufficient explanation for a universal effect.

At the time of the Patriarchs, Greek love was so general that in the four cities, Sodom, Gomorrah, Adama, and Seboim, it was impossible to find ten men exempt from the contagion; that number would have sufficed, said the Lord, to withhold the punishment which he inflicted upon those cities.

It should be noted here that most of the assertions about the morals of the Israelites which are to be found in the Erotica Biblon of Mirabeau are either false or pure guesswork. It is a bizarre method of judging the morals of a people, that of taking their legal code and inferring that the people were accustomed to break all the laws which are forbidden by that code. Nevertheless, that is the method which the author of the Erotica Biblon adopts for portraying the morals of the Jewish people. Again, he has not even understood this code; he has believed that the law against giving one’s seed to the idol Moloch meant giving the human semen; and he is ignorant of the fact that this seed, as spoken of in the Bible, means the children and descendants. Thus it is that the land of Canaan is promised to the seed of Abraham, and the perpetuity of the reign on Sion to that of David. Moloch was a Phoenician deity, the same one to which, in Carthage, they sacrificed children; the Romans believed him to be a reincarnation of their Saturn, but Saturn was an Etruscan divinity who could never have had any connection with the Gods of Phoenicia. He (Mirabeau) has translated “those who polluted the temple” as meaning those who were guilty of some obscenity in the temple; and he does not know that the temple was “polluted” by a thousand acts, declared impure by law, and which were not obscene. The entrance of a woman into a sacred place, less than forty days after her accouchement, or the entrance of a man who had touched an impure animal, constituted a pollution of the House of the Lord. When one wishes to make a parade of erudition he should make some attempt to understand the things which he pretends to make clear to others. Or is it that this Mirabeau was merely careless?

The love of boys was so thoroughly the fashion in Greece that we have today given it the name “Greek Love.” Orestes was regarded as the “good friend” of Pylades and Patroclus as the lover of Achilles. In this taste, the Gods set the example for mortals, and the abduction of Ganymede for the service of the master of thunder, was not the least cause for annoyance given the chaste but over-prudish Juno. Lastly, Hercules was not content with the loves of Omphale and Dejanira, he also loved the beautiful Hylas, who was brought up by the nymphs.

The Greeks boasted, without blushing, of this love, which they considered the only passion worthy of men, and they did blush at loving a woman, intimacy with whom, they said, only rendered her adorers soft and effeminate. In the Dialogue of Plato, entitled “The Banquet,” which is concerned entirely with discussions of the various forms of love, they dismiss love for women as unworthy of occupying the attention of sensible men. One of the speakers, I believe it was Aristophanes, explaining the cause of this fire which we kindle in the bosoms of our loved ones, affirms that the first men were doubles which multiplied their force and their power. This, they abused and, as punishment, Jupiter struck them with lightning and separated them. By their love for each other they came together again to regain their primitive state. But the effeminates sought out only the women because they were only half men, half women; while those whose tastes were masculine and courageous wanted to become double men again.

Phedre has put into the mouth of AEsop an explanation of that love which would certainly not have been relished by the Greeks. He says that while Prometheus was occupied with modelling his man and woman, he was invited to a feast given by Jupiter, to the Gods; he came back intoxicated and, by mistake, applied the sexual parts of one to the body of the other.

For the rest, the Greeks were all in accord in their profound contempt for women. The theatrical writers, especially, who studied more particularly the general opinions and catered to them in order to obtain the applause of the public, were distinguished by their bitterness against the sex. Euripides maintained that Prometheus deserved to be chained to Mount Caucasus with the vulture gnawing at his entrails, because he had fashioned a being so pernicious and hateful as woman. The shade of Agamemnon, in the Odyssey advised Ulysses not to put any faith in Penelope and did not stop talking until he had enumerated the entire list of the vices of the sex. The first Latin authors imitated the Greeks in their invectives against women; the comedies of Plautus, especially, teem with virulent attacks upon them.

At Rome, however, the great freedom permitted to women, soon brought about other opinions in regard to them; they often played an important role in public and private affairs, and the men convinced themselves that, like men, women were capable of the greatest crimes and of the most heroic virtues. The noble stoicism of Arria is not the only example of courageous virtue displayed by the Roman women at a time when crowned monsters governed the empire. The young Paulina opened her veins with her husband, the philosopher, Seneca; Mallonia preferred to die in torments rather than give herself up to the odious he-goat of Capri. Who does not admire the noble independence, the conjugal love, and the matronly virtues of Agrippina, the wife of Germanicus?

Moreover, men began to avow their love for women, and we have here occasion to observe the rapid progress of gallantry among the Romans. However, the love for boys was no less universally in vogue in Rome, and Cicero charges, in his letters to Atticus, that the judges who had so scandalously white-washed Clodius of the accusation of having profaned the mysteries of the “Good Goddess,” had been publicly promised the favors of the most illustrious women and the finest young men of the first families. Caesar himself, in his early youth had yielded to the embraces of Nicomedes, King of Bithynia; moreover, after his triumph over the Gauls, on the solemn occasion when it was customary to twit the victor with all his faults, the soldiers sang: “Caesar subdued the Gauls, Nicomedes subdued Caesar. But Caesar who subdued the Gauls, triumphed, and Nicomedes, who subdued Caesar did not.” Cato said of him that he was loved by the King, in his youth and that, when he was older, he loved the queen and, one day, in the senate, while he was dwelling on I know not what request of the daughter of Nicomedes, and recounting the benefits which Rome owed to that monarch, Cicero silenced him by replying: “We know very well what he has given, and what thou hast given him!” At last, during the time when the first triumvirate divided all the power, a bad joker remarked to Pompey: “I salute thee, O King,” and, addressing Caesar, “I salute thee, O Queen!” His enemies maintained that he was the husband of all the women and the wife of all the husbands. Catullus, who detested him, always called him “the bald catamite,” in his epigrams: he set forth that his friendship with Mamurra was not at all honorable; he called this Mamurra “pathicus,” a name which they bestowed upon those who looked for favors among mature men or among men who had passed the stage of adolescence.

The masters of the empire never showed any hesitancy in trying and even in overdoing the pleasures which all their subjects permitted themselves. Alas! A crown is such a weighty burden! The road of domination is strewn with so many briars that one would never be able to pass down it if he did not take care that they were pressed down under the roses. The Roman emperors adopted that plan; they longed for pleasures and they took the pleasures which offered themselves without delay and in a spirit of competition. Caligula was so little accustomed to waiting that, while occupied in offering a sacrifice to the Gods, and the figure of a priest having pleased him, he did not take time to finish the sacred ceremonies before taking his pleasure of him.

A remarkable thing is that among almost all peoples, the baths are the places where the prostitution of men by their own sex is the most common. We see in Catullus that the “cinaedi” (catamites), a noun which my chaste pen refuses to translate into French, haunted the baths incessantly to carry out their practices. Among the Orientals, of all modern peoples who have retained this taste most generally, this same fact holds good. It was at the bath that Tiberius, impotent through old age and debauchery, was made young again by the touch little children applied to his breasts; these children he called “‘little fishes,” they sucked his withered breasts, his infected mouth, his livid lips, and finally his virile parts. Hideous spectacle of a tyrant disgraced by nature and struggling against her maledictions! But in vain did he invent new pleasures, in vain did he take part in these scenes in which groups of young men by threes and fours assumed all sorts of lascivious postures, and were at the same time active and passive; the sight of these indulgences of the “sprintriae” (for that is the name which was given there) did not enable him to resuscitate his vigor any more than the glamor of the throne or the servile submission of the senate served to mitigate his remorse.

But of all the emperors, the ones who carried their taste for young boys to the greatest lengths were, Nero, Domitian and Hadrian. The first publicly wedded the young eunuch Sporus, whom he had had operated upon so that he might serve him like a young woman. He paid court to the boy as he would to a woman and another of his favorites dressed himself up in a veil and imitated the lamentations which women were accustomed to utter on nuptial nights. The second consecrated the month of September to his favorite and the third loved Antinous passionately and caused him to be deified after death.

The most ample proof of the universality of the taste for young boys among the Romans is found in the Epithalamium of Manilius and Julia, by Catullus, and it might be cause for surprise that this has escaped all the philologists, were it not a constant thing that men frequently reading about these centuries fail to perceive the most palpable facts in their authors, just as they pass over the most striking phenomena of nature without observing them. It appears, from this epithalamium, that young men, before their marriage, had a favorite selected from among their slaves and that this favorite was charged with the distribution of nuts among his comrades, on the day, they in turn, treated him with contempt and hooted him. Here follows an exact translation of this curious bit. The favorite could not refuse the nuts to the slaves when by giving them it appeared that he owned that his master had put away his love for hire.

“Lest longer mute tongue stays that
    In festal jest, from Fescennine,
Nor yet deny their nuts to boys,
    He-Concubine! who learns in fine
      His lordling’s love is fled.

Throw nuts to boys thou idle all
    He-Concubine! wast fain full long
With nuts to play: now pleased as thrall
    Be thou to swell Talasios’ throng
      He-Concubine throw nuts.

Wont thou as peasant-girls to jape
    He-whore! Thy Lord’s delight the while:
Now shall hair-curling chattel scrape
    Thy cheeks: poor wretch, ah’ poor and vile:--
      He-Concubine, throw nuts.”

and further on, addressing the husband:

“‘Tis said from smooth-faced ingle train
(Anointed bridegroom!) hardly fain
Hast e’er refrained; now do refrain!
    O Hymen Hymenaeus io,
      O Hymen Hymenaeus!

We know that naught save licit rites
Be known to thee, but wedded wights
No more deem lawful such delights.
    O Hymen Hymenaeus io,
      O Hymen Hymenaeus.”
               (LXI. Burton, tr.)

The Christian religion strongly prohibits this love; the theologians put it among the sins which directly offend against the Holy Ghost. I have not the honor of knowing just why this thing arouses his anger so much more than anything else; doubtless there are reasons. But the wrath of this honest person has not prevented the Christians from having their “pathici,” just as they have in countries where they are authorized by the reigning deities. We have even noticed that they are the priests of the Lord and especially the monks who practice this profession most generally amongst us. The children of Loyola have acquired well-merited renown in this matter: when they painted “Pleasure” they never failed to represent him wearing trousers. Those disciples of Joseph Calasanz who took their places in the education of children, followed their footsteps with zeal and fervor. Lastly, the cardinals, who have a close acquaintance with the Holy Ghost, are so prejudiced in favor of Greek love that they have made it the fashion in the Holy City of Rome; this leads me to wonder whether the Holy Ghost has changed His mind in regard to this matter and is no longer shocked by it; or whether the theologians were not mistaken in assuming an aversion against sodomy which He never had. The cardinals who are on such familiar terms with him would know better than to give all their days over to this pleasure if He really objected to it.

I shall terminate this over-long note with an extract from a violent diatribe against this love which Lucian puts into the mouth of Charicles. He is addressing Callicratidas, a passionate lover of young boys, with whom he had gone to visit the temple of Venus at Cnidus.

“O Venus, my queen! to thee I call; lend me your aid while I plead your cause. For everything over which you deign to shed, be it ever so little, the persuasion of your charms, reaches absolute perfection, above all, erotic discourses need your presence, for you are their lawful mother. In your womanhood, defend the cause of woman, and grant to men to remain men as they have been born. At the beginning of my discourse, I call as witness to the truth of my arguments the first mother of all created things, the source of all generation, the holy Nature of this universe, who, gathering into one and uniting the elements of the world--earth, air, fire and water--and mingling them together, gave life to everything that breathes. Knowing that we are a compound of perishable matter, and that the span of life assigned to each of us was short, she contrived that the death of one should be the birth of another, and meted out to the dying, by way of compensation, the coming into being of others, that by mutual succession we might live forever. But, as it was impossible for anything to be born from a single thing alone, she created two different sexes, and bestowed upon the male the power of emitting semen, making the female the receptacle of generation. Having inspired both with mutual desires, she joined them together, ordaining, as a sacred law of necessity, that each sex should remain faithful to its own nature--that the female should not play the male unnaturally, nor the male degrade himself by usurping the functions of the female. Thus intercourse of men with women has preserved the human race by never-ending succession: no man can boast of having been created by man alone; two venerable names are held in equal honor, and men revere their mother equally with their father. At first, when men were filled with heroic thoughts, they reverenced those virtues which bring us nearer to the Gods, obeyed the laws of Nature, and, united to women of suitable age, became the sires of noble offspring. But, by degrees, human life, degenerating from that nobility of sentiment, sank to the lowest depths of pleasure, and began to carve out strange and corrupt ways in the search after enjoyment. Then sensuality, daring all, violated the laws of Nature herself. Who was it who first looked upon the male as female, violating him by force or villainous persuasion? One sex entered one bed, and men had the shamelessness to look at one another without a blush for what they did or for what they submitted to, and, sowing seed, as it were, upon barren rocks, they enjoyed a short-lived pleasure at the cost of undying shame.

“Some pushed their cruelty so far as to outrage Nature with the sacrilegious knife, and, after depriving men of their virility, found in them the height of pleasure. These miserable and unhappy creatures, that they may the longer serve the purposes of boys, are stunted in their manhood, and remain a doubtful riddle of a double sex, neither preserving that boyhood in which they were born, nor possessing that manhood which should be theirs. The bloom of their youth withers away in a premature old age: while yet boys they suddenly become old, without any interval of manhood. For impure sensuality, the mistress of every vice, devising one shameless pleasure after another, insensibly plunges into unmentionable debauchery, experienced in every form of brutal lust. Whereas, if each would abide by the laws prescribed by Providence, we should be satisfied with intercourse with women, and our lives would be undefiled by shameful practices. Consider the animals, which cannot corrupt by innate viciousness, how they observe the law of Nature in all its purity. He-lions do not lust after he-lions, but, in due season, passion excites them towards the females of their species: the bull that rules the herd mounts cows, and the ram fills the whole flock of ewes with the seed of generation. Again, boars mate with sows, he-wolves with shewolves, neither the birds that fly through the air, nor the fish that inhabit the deep, or any living creatures upon earth desire male intercourse, but amongst them the laws of Nature remain unbroken. But you men, who boast idly of your wisdom, but are in reality worthless brutes, what strange disease provokes you to outrage one another unnaturally? What blind folly fills your minds, that you commit the two-fold error of avoiding what you should pursue, and pursuing what you should avoid? If each and all were to pursue such evil courses, the race of human beings would become extinct on earth. And here comes in that wonderful Socratic argument, whereby the minds of boys, as yet unable to reason clearly, are deceived, for a ripe intellect could not be misled. These followers of Socrates pretend to love the soul alone, and, being ashamed to profess love for the person, call themselves lovers of virtue, whereat I have often been moved to laughter. How comes it, O grave philosophers, that you hold in such slight regard a man who, during a long life, has given proofs of merit, and of that virtue which old age and white hairs become? How is it that the affections of the philosophers are all in a flutter after the young; who cannot yet make up their minds which path of life to take? Is there a law, then, that all ugliness is to be condemned as vice, and that everything that is beautiful is to be extolled without further examination? But, according to Homer, the great interpreter of truth--’One man is meaner than another in looks, but God crowns his words with beauty, and his hearers gaze upon him with delight, while he speaks unfalteringly with winning modesty, and is conspicuous amongst the assembled folk, who look upon him as a God when he walks through the city.’ And again he says: ‘Your beauteous form is destitute of intelligence; the wise Ulysses is praised more highly than the handsome Nireus.’ How then comes it that the love of wisdom, justice, and the other virtues, which are the heritage of the full-grown man, possess no attraction for you, while the beauty of boys excites the most vehement passion! What! should one love Phoedrus, remembering Lysias, whom he betrayed? Could one love the beauty of Alcibiades, who mutilated the statues of the Gods, and, in the midst of a debauch, betrayed the mysteries of the rites of Eleusis? Who would venture to declare himself his admirer, after Athens was abandoned, and Decelea fortified by the enemy--the admirer of one whose sole aim in life was tyranny? But, as the divine Plato says, as long as his chin was beardless, he was beloved by all; but, when he passed from boyhood to manhood, when his imperfect intelligence had reached its maturity, he was hated by all. Why, then, giving modest names to immodest sentiments, do men call personal beauty virtue, being in reality lovers of youth rather than lovers of wisdom? However, it is not my intention to speak evil of distinguished men. But, to descend from graver topics to the mere question of enjoyment, I will prove that connection with women is far more enjoyable than connection with boys. In the first place, the longer enjoyment lasts, the more delight it affords; too rapid pleasure passes quickly away, and it is over before it is thoroughly appreciated; but, if it lasts, it is thereby enhanced. Would to heaven that grudging Destiny had allotted us a longer lease of life, and that we could enjoy perpetual health without any sorrow to spoil our pleasure; then would our life be one continual feast. But, since jealous Fortune has grudged us greater blessings, those enjoyments that last the longest are the sweetest. Again, a woman, from puberty to middle age, until the last wrinkles furrow her face, is worth embracing and fit for intercourse; and, even though the prime of her beauty be past, her experience can speak more eloquently than the love of boys.

“I should consider anyone who attempted to have intercourse with a youth of twenty years to be the slave of unnatural lust. The limbs of such, like those of a man, are hard and coarse; their chins, formerly so smooth, are rough and bristly, and their well-grown thighs are disfigured with hairs. As for their other parts, I leave those of you who have experience to decide. On the other hand, a woman’s charms are always enhanced by an attractive complexion, flowing locks, dark as hyacinths, stream down her back and adorn her shoulders, or fall over her ears and temples, more luxuriant than the parsley in the fields. The rest of her person, without a hair upon it, shines more brilliantly than amber or Sidonian crystal. Why should we not pursue those pleasures which are mutual, which cause equal enjoyment to those who receive and to those who afford them? For we are not, like animals, fond of solitary lives, but, united in social relations, we consider these pleasures sweeter, and those pains easier to bear, which we share with others. Hence, a common table was instituted, the mediator of friendship. When we minister to the wants of the belly, we do not drink Thasian wine, or consume costly food by ourselves alone, but in company: for our pleasures and enjoyments are increased when shared with others. In like manner, the intercourse of men with women causes enjoyment to each in turn, and both are alike delighted; unless we accept the judgment of Tiresias, who declared that the woman’s pleasure was twice as great as the man’s. I think that those who are not selfish should not consider how they may best secure the whole enjoyment for themselves, but should share what they have with others. Now, in the case of boys, no one would be mad enough to assert that this is the case; for, while he who enjoys their person reaches the height of pleasure--at least, according to his way of thinking--the object of his passion at first feels pain, even to tears, but when, by repetition, the pain becomes less keen, while he no longer hurts him, he will feel no pleasure himself. To mention something still more curious --as is fitting within the precincts of Venus--you may make the same use of a woman as of a boy, and thereby open a double avenue to enjoyment; but the male can never afford the same enjoyment as the female.

“Therefore, if you are convinced by my arguments, let us, men and women, keep ourselves apart, as if a wall divided us; but, if it is becoming for men to have intercourse with men, for the future let women have intercourse with women. Come, O new generation, inventor of strange pleasures! As you have devised new methods to satisfy male lust, grant the same privilege to women; let them have intercourse with one another like men, girding themselves with the infamous instruments of lust, an unholy imitation of a fruitless union; in a word, let our wanton Tribads reign unchecked, and let our women’s chambers be disgraced by hermaphrodites. Far better that a woman, in the madness of her lust, should usurp the nature of a man, than that man’s noble nature should be so degraded as to play the woman!”


Embasicetas fut bientot au comble de ses voeux.
The Catamite soon reached the height of his passion.

The theologians class this species of lascivious feeling with pollution which is complete when it produces a result. The Holy Scripture tells us of Onan, son of Judas, grandson of Jacob, and husband of Thamar, who was slain by the Lord because he spilled his semen, “he poured his semen upon the ground.” We may be reproached, perhaps, for citing the Holy Bible too frequently, but that book contains the knowledge of salvation, and those who wish to be saved should not fail to study it with assiduity. That this study has occupied a good part of our life, we admit, and we have always found that study profitable. To vigorous minds that admission may seem ridiculous, but we are writing only for pious souls, and they will willingly applaud this courageous profession of our piety.

The theologians have also classified onanism and pollution among the sins against the Holy Ghost, and this being the case, there is no being in the world who has been sinned against so often. A medium indulgence in this sin furnished the pleasure of a queen, the severity of one Lucretia does not repel a thousand Tarquins. Men with vivid imaginations create for themselves a paradise peopled with the most beautiful houris, more seductive than those of Mahomet; Lycoris had a beautiful body but it was unfeeling; the imagination of her lover pictured her as falling before his caresses, he led her by the hand over pressed flowers, through a thick grove and along limpid streams; in that sweet reverie his life slipped by.

Here icy cold fountains, here flower covered meadows, Lycoris;
Here shady groves; life itself here would I dream out with thee.
               Virgil Bucol. Ecl. X, 41.

In the minds of the theologians pollution is synonymous with all pleasures with persons of the opposite or the same sex, which result in a waste of the elixir of life. In this sense, love between woman and woman is pollution and Sappho is a sinner against the Holy Ghost.

(Notwithstanding), however (these caprices of the third person of the trinity) I cannot see why pleasure should be regulated, or why a woman who has surveyed all the charms of a young girl of eighteen years should give herself up to the rude embraces of a man. What comparisons can be made between those red lips, that mouth which breathes pleasure for the first time, those snowy and purplous cheeks whose velvet smoothness is like the Venus flower, half in bloom, that new-born flesh which palpitates softly with desire and voluptuousness, that hand which you press so delicately, those round thighs, those plastic buttocks, that voice sweet and touching,--what comparison can be made between all this and pronounced features, rough beard, hard breast, hairy body, and the strong disagreeable voice of man? Juvenal has wonderfully expended all his bile in depicting, as hideous scenes, these mysteries of the Bona Dea, where the young and beautiful Roman women, far from the eyes of men, give themselves up to mutual caresses. Juvenal has painted the eyes of the Graces with colors which are proper to the Furies; his tableau, moreover, revolts one instead of doing good.

The only work of Sappho’s which remains to us is an ode written to one of her loved ones and from it we may judge whether the poetess merited her reputation. It has been translated into all languages; Catullus put it into Latin and Boileau into French. Here follows an imitation of that of Catullus:

Peer of a God meseemeth he,
Nay passing Gods (and that can be!)
Who all the while sits facing thee
Sees thee and hears
Thy low sweet laughs which (ah me!) daze
Mine every sense, and as I gaze
Upon thee (Lesbia!) o’er me strays

My tongue is dulled, limbs adown
Flows subtle flame; with sound its own
Rings either ear, and o’er are strown
Mine eyes with night.
               (LI. Burton, tr.)

After that we should never again exhort the ministers and moralists to inveigh against love of women for women; never was the interest of men found to be so fully in accord with the precepts of divine law.

Here I should like to speak of the brides of the Lord; but I remember “The Nun” of Diderot, and my pen falls from my hand. Oh, who would dare to touch a subject handled by Diderot?


Giton venait de la deflorer, et de remporter une victoire sanglante.
Giton the victor had won a not bloodless victory.

All people have regarded virginity as something sacred, and God has so honored it that he willed that his son be born of a virgin, fecundated, however, by the Holy Ghost. Still, it appears problematical whether the Virgin Mary, complete virgin that she was, did not have the same pleasure as those who are not virgins, when she received the divine annunciation. Father Sanchez has discussed the question very fully “whether the Virgin Mary ‘spent’ in copulation with the Holy-Ghost,” unhappily, he decided in the negative, and I have too much veneration for Father Sanchez not to submit to his decision; but because of it, I am vexed with the Virgin Mary and the Holy Ghost.

Notwithstanding this, the daughters of the people of the Lord were not content to remain virgins; a state of being which, at bottom has not much to recommend it. The daughter of Jephtha before being immolated for the sake of the Lord, demanded of her father a reprieve of two months in which to weep for her virginity upon the mountains of Gelboe; it seems it should not have taken so long had she had nothing to regret. Ruth had recourse to the quickest method when she wished to cease being a virgin; she simply went and lay down upon the bed with Boaz. The spirit of God has deemed it worth while to transmit this story to us, for the instruction of virgins from century to century.

The pagan Gods thought highly of maidenheads, they often took them and always, they set aside the virgins for themselves. The Phtyian, from whose organ Apollo was foreordained to come, proved to be only a virgin; the spirit of God did not communicate itself to anyone who had ever been sullied by contact with a mortal. It was to virgins that the sacred fires of Vesta were entrusted, and the violation of their virginity was a capital crime which all Rome regarded as a scourge from wrathful heaven.

The Sybils lived and died virgins; in addressing the Cumaean Sybil, AEneas never failed to bestow that title upon her.

Most of the immortals have preserved their virginity, Diana, Minerva, et cet. But what is the most astonishing is that the companions of Venus and Amor, the most lovable of all divinities, the Graces, were also virgins. Juno became a virgin again every year, by bathing in the waters of a magic fountain; that must have rendered Jupiter’s duties rather onerous.

There are some reasons for this passion of mankind for maidenheads. It is so wonderful to give the first lessons of voluptuousness to a pure and innocent heart, to feel under one’s hand the first palpitations of the virginal breasts which arouses unknown delights, to dry the first tears of tenderness, to inspire that first mixture of fear and hope, of vague desires and expectant inquietude; whoever has never had that satisfaction has missed the most pleasurable of all the delights of love. But taken in that sense, virginity is rather a moral inclination, as Buffon says, than a physical matter, and nothing can justify the barbarous precautions against amorous theft which were taken by unnatural fathers and jealous husbands.

In those unhappy countries which are bent under oppression, in those countries where heaven shows its heat in the beauty of the sex, and where beauty is only an object of speculation for avid parents; in such countries, I say, they resort to the most odious methods for preserving the virginity of the young and beautiful daughters who are destined to be sold like common cattle. They put a lock over the organ of pleasure and never permit it to be opened except when it is strictly necessary for carrying out those animal functions for which nature destined them.

The locks of chastity were long known in Europe; the Italians are accused with this terrible invention. Nevertheless, it is certain that they were used upon men, at least, in the time of the first Roman emperors. Juvenal, in his satire against women, VI, says: “If the singers please them there is no need for locks of chastity for those who have sold their voices to the praetors, who keep them.”

Si gaudet cantu, nullius fibula durat
Vocem vendentis praetoribus.
               Sat. VI, 379.

If pleased by the song of the singer employed by the praetor
No fibula long will hold out, free, the actor will greet her.

Christianity, most spiritual, most mystical of ancient religions, attempts to make out a great case for celibacy. Its founder never married, although the Pharisees reproached him for frequenting gay women, and had, perhaps, some reason for so doing. Jesus showed a particular affection for Mary Magdalen, to the point of exciting the jealousy of Martha, who complained that her sister passed her time in conversation with Jesus and left her with all the housework to do. “Mary has chosen the better part,” said the Savior. A good Christian must not doubt that the colloquies were always spiritual.

St. Paul counseled virginity and most of the apostolic fathers practiced it. Among others, St. Jerome lived his whole life among women and never lost his purity. He answered his enemies who reproached him with his very great intimacy with the Saintly Sisters, that the irrefutable proof of his chastity was that he stank. That stinking of St. Jerome, which is not a veritable article of faith in the Church, is, however, an object of pious belief; and my readers will very gladly assent to it.

When the Christian clergy wishes to form a body of doctrines to be submitted to by all the common people it thinks that by separating its interests and those of the common people as far as possible it must tighten those ropes by which it binds its fellow citizens. Also the Pope who was the most jealous of ecclesiastical power and the one who abused it most, Hildebrand, rigorously prohibited the marriage of priests and enunciated the most terrible warnings against those who did not retain their celibacy. However, although neither priests nor monks were permitted to marry, the epithet “virgins” cannot be justly applied to all priests and all monks without exception. Nor shall I repeat here the naughty pleasantries of Erasmus, of Boccaccio, and all the others, against the monks; without doubt maliciousness has developed more “satyrical” traits that they have brought out; beyond that, I have nothing to say.


Alors une vielle. . . .
[Finally an old woman . . .]

The question here has to do with a procurers or go-between. That profession has gradually fallen into discredit by I know not what fatality, which befalls the most worthy things. Cervantes the only philosophic author Spain has produced, wanted that calling to be venerated in cities above all others. And truly, when one thinks how much finesse is necessary to pursue that profession with success, when one considers that those who practice that truly liberal art are the repositories of the most important as well as the most sacred secrets, one would never fail to have the greatest respect for them. The tranquillity of homes, the civil state of persons they hold at their discretion, and still, though they drink in insults, though they endure abuse, very rarely do these beings, true stoics, compromise those who have confided in them.

In their Mercury, the ancients realized their beau ideal or archetype of go-between which they called; in vulgar language “pimp”. That God, as go-between for Jupiter, was often involved in the most hazardous enterprises, such as abducting Io, who was guarded by Argus of the hundred eyes; Mercury I say, was the God of concord, or eloquence, and of mystery. Except to inspire them with friendly feeling and kind affections, Mercury never went among mortals. Touched by his wand, venomous serpents closely embraced him. Listening to him, Achilles forgot his pride, extended hospitality to Priam and permitted him to take away the body of Hector. The ferocious Carthaginians were softened through the influence of this God of peace, and received the Trojans in friendship. Mercury it was who gathered men into society and substituted social customs for barbarism. He invented the lyre and was the master of Amphion, who opened the walls of Thebes by the charm of his singing. Mercury or Hermes gave the first man knowledge; but it was enveloped in a mysterious veil which it was never permitted the profane to penetrate, which signifies that all that he learned from God, concerning amorous adventures, should be wrapped in profound silence. How beautiful all these allegories are! And how true! How insipid life would be without these mysterious liaisons, by which Nature carries out her designs, eluding the social ties, without breaking them! Disciples of Mercury, I salute you, whatever be your sex; to your discretion, to your persuasive arts are confided our dearest interests, the peace of mind of husbands, the happiness of lovers, the reputation of women, the legitimacy of children. Without you, this desolated earth would prove to be, in reality, a vale of tears; the young and beautiful wife united to decrepit husband, would languish and grow weak, like the lonely flower which the sun’s rays never touch. Thus did Mexence bind in thine indissoluble bands the living and the dead.

Fate, however, has often avenged the go-betweens on account of the misunderstandings from which they suffer at the hands of the vulgar. Otho opened the way to the empire of the world by his services as a go-between for Nero. And the go-betweens of princes, and even of princesses, are always found in the finest situations. Even Otho did not lose all his rights; Nero exiled him with a commission of honor, “because he was caught in adultery with his own wife, Poppaea.” “Uxoris moechus coeperate esse suae” (Suet. Otho, chap. 111), said malicious gossip at Rome.


To the scholar contemplating an exhaustive study of Petronius, the masterly bibliography compiled by Gaselee is indispensable, and those of my readers who desire to pursue the subject are referred to it. The following is a list of editions, translations, criticisms and miscellaneous publications and authors from which I have derived benefit in the long and pleasant hours devoted to Petronius.

EDITIONS, Opera Omnia.

--------- Lyons 1615.
Hadrianides Amsterdam 1669.
Bourdelot Paris 1677.
Boschius Amsterdam    1677.
Burmann Utrecht 1709.
Anton Leipzig 1781.
Buecheler Berlin 1862.
Herxus(Buecheler)    Berlin 1911.


Amsterdam (Containing Frambotti’s corrections) 1670
Gaselee (Cambridge) 1915.


Affairs start to go wrong, your friends will stand from under
Believes, on the spot, every tale
Boys play in the schools, the young men are laughed at
Cardinals prejudiced in favor of Greek love
Death is never far from those who seek him
Death levels caste and sufferers unites
Deferred pleasures are a long time coming
Desire no possession unless the world envies me for possessing
Doctor’s not good for anything except for a consolation
Double capacity of masseurs and prostitutes
Egyptians “commercialized” that incomparable art
Either ‘take-in,’ or else they are ‘taken-in’
Empress Theodora belonged to this class
Errors committed in the name of religion
Esteeming nothing except what is rare
Everybody’s business is nobody’s business
Everything including the children, is devoted to ambition
Face, rouged and covered with cosmetics
Fierce morality, inimical to all the pleasures of life
For one hour of nausea you promise it a plethora of good things
Hardouin on homosexuality in priests
He can teach you more than he knows himself
High fortune may rather master us, than we master it
In the arrogance of success, had put on the manner of the master
Laughed ourselves out of a most disgraceful quarrel
Learning’s a fine thing, and a trade won’t starve
Legislation has never proved a success in repressing vice
Live coals are more readily held in men’s mouths than a secret
Love or art never yet made anyone rich
Man is hated when he declares himself an enemy to all vice
Men are lions at home and foxes abroad
No one will confess the errors he was taught in his school days
No one can show a dead man a good time
One could do a man no graver injury than to call him a dancer
Platitudes by which anguished minds are recalled to sanity
Priests, animated by an hypocritical mania for prophecy
Propensity of pouring one’s personal troubles into another’s ear
Putting as good a face upon the matter as I could
Religions responsible for the most abominable actions
Remarkable resemblance to each other are the Bible and Homer
Rumor but grows in the telling and strives to embellish
Russia there is a sect called the skoptzi
See or hear nothing at all of the affairs of every-day life
She is chaste whom no man has solicited--Ovid
Something in the way of hope at which to nibble
Stained by the lifeblood of the God of Wine
Stinking of St. Jerome
Tax on bachelors
The loser’s always the winner in arguments
The teachers, who must gibber with lunatics
They secure their ends, save by setting snares for the ears
They seize what they dread to lose most
To follow all paths; but a road can discover by none
Too many doctors did away with him
Wars were as much enterprises for ravishing women
We know that you’re only a fool with a lot of learning
Whatever we have, we despise
Whatever you talk of at home will fly forth in an instant
Whenever you learn a thing, it’s yours
While we live, let us live
You can spot a louse on someone else

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