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And Alexis says this with reference to those who are too anxious as to buying their fish, in his Rich Heiress—
Whoever being poor buys costly fish,
And though in want of much, in this is lavish,
He strips by night whoever he may meet.
So when a man is stripp'd thus, let him go
[p. 360] At early morn and watch the fish-market.
And the first man he sees both poor and young
Buying his eels of Micio, let him seize him,
And drag him off to prison by the throat.
And Diphilus, in his Merchant, says that there is some such law as this in existence among the Corinthians—
A. This is an admirable law at Corinth,
That when we see a man from time to time
Purveying largely for his table, we
Should ask him whence he comes, and what's his business:
And if he be a man of property,
Whose revenues can his expenses meet,
Then we may let him as he will enjoy himself.
But if he do his income much exceed,
Then they bid him desist from such a course,
And fix a fine on all who disobey.
And if a man having no means at all
Still lives in splendid fashion, him they give
Unto the gaoler.
B. Hercules! what a law.
A. For such a man can't live without some crime.
Dost thou not see? He must rove out by night
And rob, break into houses, or else share
With some who do so. Or he must haunt the forum,
A vile informer, or be always ready
As a hired witness. And this tribe we hate,
And gladly would expel from this our city.
B. And you'd do well, by Jove; but what is that to me?
A. Because we see you every day, my friend,
Making not moderate but extravagant purchases.
You hinder all the rest from buying fish,
And drive the city to the greengrocer,
And so we fight for parsley like the combatants
At Neptune's games on th' Isthmus. . Does a hare
Come to the market? it is yours; a thrush
Or partridge? all do go the selfsame way.
So that we cannot buy or fish or fowl;
And you have raised the price of foreign wine.
And Sophilus, in his Androcles, wishes that the same custom prevailed at Athens also, thinking that it would be a good thing if two or three men were appointed by the city to the regulation of the provision markets. And Lynceus the Samian wrote a treatise on purveying against some one who was very difficult to please when making his purchases; teaching him what a man ought to say to those homicidal fishmongers, so as to buy what he wants at a fair rate and without being exposed to any annoyance.

[p. 361]

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