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[30] We now went through to the dining-room. At the entrance the steward sat receiving accounts. I was particularly astonished to see rods and axes fixed on the door posts of the dining-room, and one part of them finished off with a kind of ship's beak, inscribed:

[p. 45] “PRESENTED BY CINNAMUS THE STEWARD TO CAIUS POMPEIUS TRIMALCHIO, PRIEST OF THE COLLEGE OF AUGUSTUS.”1 Under this inscription a double lamp hung from the ceiling, and two calendars were fixed on either doorpost, one having this entry, if I remember right: “Our master C. is out to supper on December the 30th and 31st,”the other being painted with the moon in her course, and the likenesses of the seven stars. Lucky and unlucky days were marked too with distinctive knobs.

Fed full of these delights, we tried to get into the dining-room, when one of the slaves, who was entrusted with this duty, cried, “Right foot first!” For a moment we were naturally nervous, for fear any of us had broken the rule in crossing the threshold. But just as we were all taking a step with the right foot together, a slave stripped for flogging fell at our feet, and began to implore us to save him from punishment. It was no great sin which had put him in such peril; he had lost the steward's clothes in the bath, and the whole lot were scarcely worth ten sesterces. So we drew back our right feet, and begged the steward, who sat counting gold pieces in the hall, to let the slave off. He looked up haughtily, and said,“It is not the loss I mind so much as the villain's carelessness. He lost my dinner dress, which one of my clients gave me on my birthday. It was Tyrian dve, of course, but it had been washed once already. Well, well, I make you a present of the fellow.”

1 Rods and axes were the symbols of office of lictors, the attendants on Roman magistrates, and the Sevirs had the right to be attended by lictors. See c. 65.

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load focus Introduction (Michael Heseltine, 1913)
load focus Latin (Michael Heseltine, 1913)
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    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 33
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