Meantime I had got a quiet corner to myself, and
had gone off on a long train of speculation,—why the pig had come in with
a cap of freedom on. After turning the problem over every way1
I ventured to put the[p. 67]
question which was troubling me to my old informant.“Your
humble servant can explain that too;” he said,“there is no riddle,
the thing is quite plain. Yesterday when this animal appeared as pièce de résistance
at dinner, the
guests dismissed him; and so to-day he comes back to dinner as a
freedman.” I cursed my dullness and asked no more questions, for fear of
showing that I had never dined among decent people.
As we were speaking, a beautiful boy with vineleaves and ivy in his hair brought
round grapes in a little basket, impersonating Bacchus in ecstasy, Bacchus full of
wine, Bacchus dreaming, and rendering his master's verses in a most shrill voice.
Trimalchio turned round at the noise and said, “Dionysus, rise and be
free.” The boy took the cap of freedom off the boar, and put it on his head.
Then Trimalchio went on:“I am sure you will agree that the god of liberation
is my father.”2
Trimalchio's phrase, and kissed the boy heartily as he went round.
After this dish Trimalchio got up and retired. With the tyrant away we had our
freedom, and we began to draw the conversation of our neighbours. Dama began after
calling for bumpers: “Day is nothing. Night is on you before you can turn
round. Then there is no better plan than going straight out of bed to dinner. It
is precious cold. I could scarcely get warm in a bath. But a hot drink is as
good as an overcoat. I have taken some deep drinks3
and I am quite soaked. The wine
has gone to my head.”