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“ [52] I own about a hundred four-gallon cups engraved with Cassandra killing her children, and they lying there dead in the most lifelike way. I have a thousand jugs which Mummius1 left to my patron, and on them you see Daedalus shutting Niobe into the Trojan horse. And I have got the fights between Hereros and Petraites2 on my cups, and every cup is a heavy one; for I do not sell my connoisseurship for any money.”

As he was speaking, a boy dropped a cup. Trimalchio looked at him and said, “Quick, off with your own head, since you are so stupid.” The boy's lip fell and he began to petition. “Why do you ask me?” said Trimalchio, “as if I should be hard on you! I advise you to prevail upon yourself not to be stupid.” In the end we induced him to let the boy off. As soon as he was forgiven the boy ran round the table . . . .

Then Trimalchio shouted, “Out with water! In with wine!” . . . We took up the joke, especially Agamemnon, who knew how to earn a second invitation[p. 93] to dinner. Trimalchio warmed to his drinking under our flattery, and was almost drunk when he said:“None of you ask dear Fortunata to dance. I tell you no one can dance the cancan better.” He then lifted his hands above his head and gave us the actor Syrus, while all the slaves sang in chorus:

And Trimalchio would have come out into the middle of the room if Fortunata had not whispered in his ear. I suppose she told him that such low fooling was beneath his dignity. But never was anything so variable; at one moment he was afraid of Fortunata, and then he would return to his natural self.

1 The name is suggested by the previous references to Corinth. L. Mummius Achaicus captured and sacked Corinth in 146 B.C.

2 Celebrated gladiators of the period. Trimalchio in c. 71 orders the fights of Petraites to be depicted on his tomb.

3 The meaning of these words is uncertain.

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