But Herodotus, in his seventh book, says, that “the Greeks, who received Xerxes in hospitality, and invited him to supper, all came to the very extremity of ruin, so as to be utterly turned out of their houses; as for instance, among the Thasians, who, because of the cities which they had on the continent, received the army of Xerxes and entertained it at supper. Antipater, one of these citizens, expended four hundred talents in that single entertainment; and he placed on the tables gold and silver cups and goblets; and then the soldiers, when they departed after the supper, took them away with them. And wherever Xerxes took two meals, dining as well as supping, that city was utterly ruined.” [p. 237] And in the ninth book of his Histories, the same author tells us, “The king provides a royal entertainment and this is provided once every year, on the day on which the king was born. And the name of this feast is in Persian τυκτὰ, but in Greek τέλειον; and that is the only day tat he has his head rubbed, and gives presents to the Persians.” But Alexander the Great, whenever he supped with any of his friends, as Ephippus the Olynthian relates in his book on the Deaths of Alexander and Hephæstion, expended each day a hundred minæ, as perhaps sixty or seventy of his friends supped with him. But the king of the Persians, as Ctesias and Dinon relate in the Histories of Persia, supped with fifteen thousand men, and there were expended on the supper four hundred talents; and this amounts in Italian money to twenty four hundred thousand of sesterces. And this sum when divided among fifteen thousand men is a hundred and sixty sesterces of Italian money for each individual; so that it comes to very nearly the same as the expense of Alexander; for he expended a hundred minæ, according to the account of Ephippus. But Menander, in his play called Drunkenness, estimates the expense of the most sumptuous banquet at a talent, saying—
Then we do not in these matters act as we should doAnd it is as the very extravagance of expense that he has named a talent at all. And in his Morose Man he speaks as follows:—
When to the gods we sacrifice; for then we go and buy
A sheep, an offering for the gods, for scarce ten drachmas' price.
And then we send for flute players, and ointments, and perfumes,
And harps, and singing women, eels, and cheese, and honey too;
And ample jars of Thasian wine; but these can scarcely come,
When all together reckon'd up, to a small talent's sum.
See how these housebreakers do sacrifice!
Bearing such beds and couches, not to please
The gods, but their own selves. Incense is pious,
So is the votive cake; and this the god
Receives well-baked in the holy fire.
But they when they have offered the chump end
Of a lean loin, the gall bladder, and bones,
Not too agreeable or easy to eat,
Unto the gods, consume the rest themselves.