And Diodorus of Sinope, in his Orphan Heiress, has these expressions, when speaking of a parasite, and they are not devoid of elegance— [p. 377]
I wish to show and prove beyond a doubt
How reputable, and how usual too,
This practice is; a most divine contrivance.
Other arts needed not the gods to teach them;
Wise men invented them; but Jove himself
Did teach his friends to live as parasites,
And he confessedly is king o' the gods.
For he does often to men's houses come,
And cares not whether they be rich or poor;
And wheresoe'er he sees a well-laid couch,
And well-spread table near, supplied with all
That's good or delicate, he sits him down,
And asks himself to dinner, eats and drinks,
And then goes home again, and pays no share.
And I now do the same. For when I see
Couches prepared, and handsome tables loaded,
And the door open to receive the guests,
I enter in at once, and make no noise,
But trim myself, behaving quietly,
To give no great annoyance to my neighbour,
And then, when I have well enjoy'd the whole
That's set before me, and when I have drunk
Of delicate wines enough, I home return,
Like friendly Jupiter. And that such a line
Was always thought respectable and honest,
I now will give you a sufficient proof.
This city honours Hercules exceedingly,
And sacrifices to him in all the boroughs,
And at these sacred rites it ne'er admits
The common men, or parasites, or beggars;
But out of all the citizens it picks
Twelve men of all the noblest families,
All men of property and character;
And then some rich men, imitating Hercules,
Select some parasites, not choosing those
Who are the wittiest men, but who know best
How to conciliate men's hearts with flattery;
So that if any one should eat a radish,
Or stinking shad, they'd take their oaths at once
That he had eaten lilies, roses, violets;
And that if any odious smell should rise,
They'd ask where you did get such lovely scents.
So that because these men behave so basely,
That which was used to be accounted honourable,
Is now accounted base.