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But Parmeniscus began in this manner—"Parmeniscus to Molpis, greeting,—As I have often in my conversations with you talked about illustrious invitations and entertainments, I am afraid lest you should labour under such a plethora as to blame me; on which account I wish to make you a partaker in the feast which was given by Cebes of Cyzicus. Therefore, having first taken a drink of hyssop, come at the proper hour to the feast. For at the time when the festival of Bacchus was being celebrated at Athens, I went to sup with him; and I found six Cynics sitting at table, and one dogleader, Carneus the Megarian. But, as the supper was delayed, a discussion arose, what water is the sweetest. And while some were praising the water of Lerna, and some that of Pirene, Carneus, imitating Philoxenus, said—That is the best water which is poured over our hands. So then when the tables were laid we went to supper,
And much pulse porridge then we ate, but more did still flow in.
Then again lentils were brought on the table steeped in vinegar; and that child of Jupiter laid his hands on them and said—
Jove, may the man who made these lentils grow,
Never escape thy notice or thy memory.
And then some one else immediately cried out—
May a lentil deity and a lentil fate seize you.
[p. 253] But to me may there be, according to the words of the comic poet Diphilus, which he uses in his Peliades—
A. A flowery supper very sumptuous,
A bowl quite lull of pulse for every man.
B. That first part is not flowery.
A. After that
Let a saperdes dance into the middle,
A little strong to smell.
B. That is a flower
Which soon will drive the thrushes all away.
And as a great laugh arose, immediately that spoon of the theatre Melissa came in, and that dogfly Nicium, each of them being a courtesan of no small renown: and so they, looking on what was set upon the table and admiring it, laughed. And Nicium said,—Is not there one of all you men so proud of your beards that eats fish? Is it because your ancestor Meleager the Gadarean, in his poem entitled the Graces, said that Homer, being a Syrian by birth, represented the ancients as abstaining from fish in accordance with the custom of his own country, although there was a great abundance of them in the Hellespont? Or have you ever read that one treatise of his which embraces a comparison between peas and lentilsfor I see that you have made a great preparation of lentils. And when I see it, I should advise you, according to the rules of Antisthenes the pupil of Socrates, to relieve yourselves of life if you stick to such food as this. And Carneus replied to her—Euxitheus the Pythagorean, O Nicium, as Clearchus the Peripatetic tells us, in the second book of his Lives, said that the souls of all men were bound in the body, and in the life which is on earth, for the sake of punishment; and that God has issued an edict that if they do not remain there until he voluntarily releases them himself, they shall fall into more numerous and more important calamities. On which account all me, being afraid of those threatenings of the gods, fear to depart from life by their own act, but only gladly welcome death when he comes in old age, trusting that that deliverance of the soul then takes place with the full consent of those who have the power to sanction it. And this doctrine we ourselves believe. But I have no objection, replied she, to your selecting one of three evils, if you please. For do you not know, O retched men, that these heavy kinds of food shut in the dominant [p. 254] principle of the soul, and do not allow wisdom to exist unimpaired in it?

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