But the meaning which is now given to the name parasite is one which Carystius of Pergamus, in his treatise on the Didascali$e, says was first invented by Alexis, forgetting that Epicharmus, in his Hope or Plutus, has introduced one in a drinking party, where he says—
But here another stands at this man's feet,* * * * * *
Seeking for food which shall not cost him anything,And he introduces the parasite himself, making the following speech to some one who questioned him—
And he will drink up an entire cask,
As if it were a cupfull.
I sup with any one who likes, if he
Has only got the good sense to invite me;
And with each man who makes a marriage feast,
Whether I'm asked or not, there I am witty;
There I make others laugh, and there I praise
The host, who gives the feast. And if by chance
Any one dares to say a word against him,
I arm myself for contest, and o'erwhelm him.
Then eating much and drinking plentifully,
I leave the house. No link-boy doth attend me;
But I do pick my way with stumbling steps,
Both dark and desolate; and if sometimes
I do the watchmen meet, I swear to them
By all the gods that I have done no wrong;
But still they set on me. At last, well beaten,
I reach my home, and go to sleep on the ground,
And for a while forget my blows and bruises,
While the strong wine retains its sway and lulls me.