As I was speaking, my grandfather Lamprias cried out: Then it seems there is need of temperance not only in our feasts, but also in our invitations. For methinks there is even an excess in kindness, when we pass by none of our friends, but draw them all in, as to see a sight or hear a play. And I think, it is not so great a disgrace for the entertainer not to have bread or wine enough for his guests, as not to have room enough, with which he ought always to be provided, not only for invited guests, but strangers and chance visitants. For suppose he hath not wine and bread enough, it may be imputed either to the carelessness or dishonesty of his servants; but the want of room must be imputed to the imprudence of the inviter. Hesiod is very much admired for beginning thus,
A vast chaos first was made.1For it was necessary that there should be first a place and room provided for the beings that were afterward to be produced; and not what was seen yesterday at my son's entertainment, when, as Anaxagoras said,
All lay jumbled together.[p. 325] But suppose a man hath room and provision enough, yet a multitude itself is to be avoided for its own sake, as hindering all familiarity and conversation; and it is more tolerable to let the company have no wine, than to exclude all converse from a feast. And therefore Theophrastus jocularly called the barbers' shops feasts without wine ; because those that sit there usually prattle and discourse. But those that invite a crowd at once deprive all of free communication of discourse, or rather make them divide into cabals, so that two or three privately talk together, and neither know nor look on those that sit, as it were, half a mile distant.
Some took this way to valiant Ajax' tent,And therefore some rich men are foolishly profuse, who build rooms big enough for thirty tables or more at once; for such a preparation certainly is for unsociable and unfriendly entertainments, and such as are fit for a panegyriarch rather than a symposiarch to preside over. But this may be pardoned in those; for wealth would not be wealth, it would be really blind and imprisoned, unless it had witnesses, as tragedies would be without spectators. Let us entertain few and often, and make that a remedy against having a crowd at once. For those that invite but seldom are forced to have all their friends, and all that upon any account they are acquainted with together; but those that invite frequently, and but three or four, render their entertainments like little barks, light and nimble. Besides, the very reason why we invite teaches us to select some out of the number of our many friends. For as when we are in want we do not call all together, but only those that can best afford help in that particular case,—when we would be advised, the wiser part; and when we are to have a trial, the best pleaders; and when we are to go a journey, those [p. 326] that can live pleasantly and are at leisure,—thus to our entertainments we should call only those that are at the present agreeable. Agreeable, for instance, to a prince's entertainment will be the magistrates, if they are his friends, or chiefest of the city; to marriage or birth-day feasts, all their kindred, and such as are under the protection of the same Jupiter the guardian of consanguinity; and to such feasts and merry-makings as this those are to be invited whose tempers are most suitable to the occasion. When we offer sacrifice to one God, we do not worship all the others that belong to the same temple and altar at the same time; but suppose we have three bowls, out of the first we pour oblations to some, out of the second to others, and out of the third to the rest, and none of the Gods take distaste. And in this a company of friends may be likened to the company of Gods; none takes distaste at the order of the invitation, if it be prudently managed and every one allowed a turn.
And some the other to Achilles' went.