My pupil Leucon, and the rest of you,
You fellow servants—for there is no place
Unfit to lecture upon science in;
Know that in the cookery no seasoning
Is equal to the sauce of impudence.
And, if I must confess the whole o' the truth,
You'll find this quality of great use everywhere.
See now, this tribune, who displays a breast-plate
All over scales, or dragon wrought in steel,
Appears some Briareus; but when th' occasion
Calls for his might, he proves a very hare.
So when a cook with helpers and attendants
Comes to some stranger, and his pupils brings,
Calling the servants of the house mere humbugs,
Mere cummin splitters, famine personified;
They all crouch down before him: but if you bear
Yourself with honesty and spirit towards him,
He'll fly half flay'd with fear. Do you remember,
And, as I bade you, give fair room for boasting,
And take you care to know the taste of the guests;
For as in any other market, so
This is the goal which all your art should seek,,
To run straight into all the feasters' mouths
As into harbour. At the present moment
We're busied about a marriage feast—
An ox is offer'd as the choicest victim;
The father-in-law is an illustrious man,
The son-in-law a person of like honour;
Their wives are priestesses to the good goddess.
Corybantes, flutes, a crowd of revellers
Are all assisting at the festival.
Here's an arena for our noble art.
Always remember this.
And concerning another cook (whose name is Seuthes) the
same poet speaks in the following manner—
Seuthes, in the opinion of those men,
Is a great bungler. But I'd have you know,
My excellent friend, the case of a good cook
Is not unlike that of a general.
The enemy are present,—the commander,
A chief of lofty genius, stands against them,
And fears not to support the weight of war:—
Here the whole band of revellers is the enemy,
It marches on in close array, it comes
Keen with a fortnight's calculation
Of all the feast: excitement fires their breasts,
They're ready for the fray, and watch with zeal
To see what will be served up now before them.
Think now, that such a crowd collected sits
To judge of your performance.