And since we are on this subject, it is as well not to [p. 993] omit what happened to Amœbeus, a harp-player of our time, and a man of great science and skill in everything that related to music. He once came late to one of our banquets, and when he heard from one of the servants that we had all finished supper, he doubted what to do himself, until Sophon the cook came to him, and with a loud voice, so that every one might hear, recited to him these lines out of the Auge of Eubulus:—
O wretched man, why stand you at the doorsFor as that delightful writer Antiphanes says, in his Friend of the Thebans,—
Why don't you enter'? Long ago the geese
Have all been deftly carved limb from limb;
Long the hot pork has had the meat cut off
From the long backbone, and the stuffing, which
Lay in the middle of his stomach, has
Been served around; and all his pettitoes,
The dainty slices of fat, well-season'd sausages,
Have all been eaten. The well-roasted cuttle-fish
Is swallow'd long ago; and nine or ten
Casks of rich wine are drain'd to the very dregs.
So if you'd like some fragments of the feast,
Hasten and enter. Don't, like hungry wolf,
Losing this feast, then run about at random.
A. We now are well supplied with everything;So, come in—
For she, the namesake of the dame within,
The rich Bœotian eel, carved in the depths
Of the ample dish, is warm, and swells, and boils,
And bubbles up, and smokes; so that a man,
E'en though equipp'd with brazen nostrils, scarcely
Could bear to leave a banquet such as this,—
So rich a fragrance does it yield his senses.
B. Say you the cook is living
A. There is near
A cestreus, all unfed both night and day,
Scaled, wash'd, and stain'd with cochineal, and turned;
And as he nears his last and final turn
He cracks and hisses; while the servant bastes
The fish with vinegar: then there's Libyan silphium,
Dried in the genial rays of midday sun:—
B. Yet there are people found who dare to say
That sorcerers possess no sacred power;
For now I see three men their bellies filling
While you are turning this.
A. And the comrade squid
Bearing the form of the humpback'd cuttlefish,
Dreadful with armed claws and sharpen'd talons,
Changing its brilliant snow-white nature under
[p. 994] The fiery blasts of glowing coal, adorns
Its back with golden splendour; well exciting
Hunger, the best forerunner of a feast.
Do not delay, but enter: when we've dinedAnd so he, meeting him in this appropriate manner, replies with these lines out of the Harper of Clearchus:—
We then can best endure what must be borne.
Sup on white congers, and whatever elseAnd as there was great applause on this, and as every one with one accord called to him to come in, he went in and drank, and taking the lyre, sang to us in such a manner that we all marvelled at his skill on the harp, and at the rapidity of his execution, and at the tunefulness of his voice; for he appeared to me to be not at all inferior to that ancient Amœbeus, whom Aristeas, in his History of Harp-players, speaks of as living at Athens, and dwelling near the theatre, and receiving an Attic talent a-day every time he went out singing.
Can boast a sticky nature; for by such food
The breath is strengthen'd, and the voice of man
Is render'd rich and powerful.