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[59] Ascyltos was preparing a retort to his abuse, but Trimalchio was delighted with his fellow-freedman's readiness, and said, “Come now, stop all this wrangling. It is nicer to go on pleasantly, please do not be hard on the young man, Hermeros. Young blood is hot in him; you must be indulgent. A man who admits defeat in this kind of quarrel is always the winner. And you, too, when you were a young cockerel cried Cock-a-doodle-doo! and hadn't any sense in your head. So let us do better, and start the fun over again, and have a look at these reciters of Homer.” A troop came in at once and clashed spear on shield. Trimalchio sat up on his cushion, and when the reciters talked to each other in Greek verse, as their conceited wayis, he intoned Latin from a book. Soon there was silence, and then he said, “You know the story they are doing? Diomede and Ganymede were two brothers. Helen was their sister. Agamemnon carried her off and took in Diana by sacrificing a deer to her instead. So Homer is now telling[p. 111] the tale of the war between Troy and Parentium.1 Of course he won and married his daughter Iphigenia to Achilles. That drove Ajax mad, and he will show you the story in a minute.” As he spoke the heroes raised a shout, and the slaves stood back to let a boiled calf on a presentation dish be brought in. There was a helmet on its head. Ajax followed and attacked it with his sword drawn as if he were mad; and after making passes with the edge and the flat he collected slices on the point, and divided the calf among the astonished company.

1 Parentium is a town in Istria; Trimalchio has no reason but ignorance for selecting it as the enemy of Troy.

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