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[80] He did not resist, but after we had divided our spoils with scrupulous honesty he said, And now we must divide the boy too." I thought this was a parting joke. But he drew his sword murderously, and said,“You shall not enjoy this treasure that you brood over all alone. I am rejected, but I must carve off my share too, even with this sword.”

So I did the same on my side; wrapped my cloak round my arm and put myself in position for a fight. As we raved in folly, the poor boy touched our knees, and humbly besought us with tears not to let that quiet lodging-house be the scene of a Theban duel, or stain the sanctity of a beautiful friendship with each other's blood. “But if you must commit your crime,” he cried, “look here, here is my throat. Turn your hands this way and imbrue your blades. I deserve to die for breaking the oath of friendship.” We put up our swords at his prayers, and Ascyltos spoke first, I will put an end to this quarrel. Let the boy follow[p. 161] the one he prefers, so that he at any rate may have a free choice of brothers."

I had no fears, imagining that long-standing familiarity had passed into a tie of blood, and I accepted the arrangement in hot haste, and referred the dispute to the judge. He did not even pretend to take time to consider, but got up at once as I finished speaking, and chose Ascyltos for his brother. I was thunderstruck at his choice, and fell down on the bed just as I was, without my sword; I should have committed suicide at the sentence if I had not grudged my enemy this triumph. Ascyltos went stalking out with his winnings, and left his comrade, whom he had loved a little while before, and whose fortunes had been so like his own, in despair in a strange place.

The name of friendship endures so long as there is profit in it: the counter on the board plays a changeable game. While my luck holds you give me your smiles, my friends; when it is out, you turn your faces away in shameful flight.

A company acts a farce on the stage: one is called the father, one the son, and one is labelled the Rich Man. Soon the comic parts are shut in a book, the men's real faces come back, and the make-up disappears.

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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, 116
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