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[46] 14. For my own part, because of my love of conversation, I enjoy even “afternoon banquets,”1 not with my contemporaries only, very few of whom now remain, but also with you and with those of your age; and I am profoundly grateful to old age, which has increased my eagerness for conversation and taken away that for food and drink. But if there are any who find delight in such things (that I may by no means seem to have declared war on every kind of pleasure, when, perhaps, a certain amount of it is justified by nature), then I may say that I am not aware that old age is altogether wanting in appreciation even of these very pleasures. Indeed I find delight in the custom established by our forefathers of appointing presidents2 at such gatherings; and in the talk, which, after that ancestral custom, begins at the head of the table when the wine comes in; and I enjoy cups, like those described in Xenophon's Symposium,3 that are small in size, filled with dew-like drops, cooled in summer, and, again, in winter, warmed by the heat of sun or fire. Even when among the Sabines 4 I keep up the practice of frequenting such gatherings, and every day I join my neighbours in a social meal which we protract as late as we can into the night with talk on varying themes.

[p. 59]

1 i.e. banquets which began early and shortened the business day; the phrase usually suggests something of a debauch.

2 Referring to the arbiter bibendi, or rex-also called magister-convivi. The word “toast-masters” as used in the United States is the exact equivalent of the Latin. They were appointed with due ceremony even at public banquets.

3 Cf. Xen. Symp. 2. 26.

4 Noted for their simple habits.

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