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But Heraclides the Cumæan, who compiled a history of Persia, in the second book of that work, which is entitled Preparatory, says—“And those who wait upon the Persian kings while they are at supper, all minister after having bathed, wearing beautiful clothes; and they remain nearly half the day in attendance at the feast. But of those who are invited to eat with the king, some dine outside, and every one who chooses can see them, but some dine inside with the king: and even these do not actually eat with him; but there are two rooms opposite to one another, in one of which the king eats his meal, and in the other the guests eat theirs. And the king beholds them through the curtain which is at the door; but they cannot see him. But sometimes, when there is a feast, then they all sup in one room, namely, in the same room as the king, being the large room. And when the king has a drinking party, (and he has one very often,) his guests are about a dozen in number, and when they have supped, the king by himself, and his guests by themselves, then one of the eunuchs summons those who are to drink, with the king: and when they come, then they drink with him, but they do not have the same wine; also they sit on the ground and he reclines on a couch with golden feet; and when they are very drunk indeed they go away. But for the most part the king breakfasts and sups by himself: but sometimes his wife sups with him; and sometimes some of his sons do so. And at supper his concubines sing and play to him; and one of them leads, and then all he rest sing in concert. But the supper,” he continues, “which is called the king's supper, will appear to any one who hears of it to be very magnificent; still, when it is examined into, it [p. 236] will turn out to be economically and carefully managed, and in the same manner as the meals of the other Persians who are in office. For the king has a thousand victims slain every day: and among them are horses, and camels, and oxen, and asses, and stags, and an immense number of sheep; and a great many birds too are taken; and the Arabian ostrich (and that is a very large animal), and geese, and cocks; and a moderate quantity of them is served up to each of the mess-mates of the king, and each of them carries away what is left for his breakfast. But the greater part of these victims and of this meat is carried out into the court to the spear-bearers and light-armed troops whom the king maintains; and in the court the masters of the feasts portion out the meat and the bread into equal portions; and as the mercenary troops in Greece receive money for their hire, so do these men receive food from the king, on account, as if it were money. And in the same way, at the courts of the other Persians, who hold office as magistrates, all the food is placed at once upon the table; and when the mess-mates of the magistrate have finished their supper, then he who superintends the meal distributes what is left on the table (and the greater part of the bread and meat is left) to each of the servants. And each attendant, when he has received his share, has his food for the day. For the most honourable of the mess-mates (their title is οἱ σύνδειπνοι) never come to the king except to dinner; because, forsooth, they have requested permission not to be bound to come twice in the day, in order that they themselves may be able to receive guests at their own houses.”
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