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[48] So the cook was reminded of his master's power, and the dish that was to be carried him off to the kitchen. Trimalchio turned to us with a mild expression and said,“I will change the wine if you do not like it. You will have to give it its virtues. Under God's providence, I do not have to buy it. Anything here which makes your mouths water is grown on a country estate of mine which I know nothing about as yet. I believe it is on the boundary of Terracina and Tarentum. Just now I want to join up all Sicily with properties of mine, so that if I take a fancy to go to Africa I shall travel through my own land. But do tell me, Agamemnon, what declamation1 did you deliver in school to-day? Of course, I do not practise in court myself, but I learned literature for domestic purposes. And do not imagine that I despise learning. I have got two libraries, one Greek and one Latin. So give me an outline of your speech, if you love me.” Then Agamemnon said: “A poor man and a rich man were once at enmity.” “But what is a poor man?” Trimalchio replied. “Very clever,” said Agamemnon, and went on expounding some problem or other. Trimalchio at once retorted: “If the thing really happened, there is no problem; if it never happened, it is all nonsense.” We followed up this and other sallies with the most extravagant admiration.“Tell me, dear Agamemnon,” said Trimalchio, “do you know anything of the twelve labours of Hercules, or the story of Ulysses and how the Cyclops twisted his thumb with the tongs? I used to read these things in Homer when I was a boy. Yes, and I myself with my own[p. 87] eyes saw the Sibyl hanging in a cage; and when the boys cried at her: Sibyl, Sibyl, what do you want?' 'I would that I were dead,' she used to answer.”2

1 Controversia is a declamation on a controversial theme.

2 Sibyls were said to live to a great age; their mummies continued to be exhibited after their death. A confusion with the myth of Tithonus, who was turned into a grasshopper.

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