'Tis a male sphinx, and not a cook, that I
Seem to have introduced into my house.
For by the gods I swear there's not one thing
Of all he says that I can understand,
So full is he of fine new-fangled words.
For when he first came in, he, looking big,
Ask'd me this question—"How many μέροπες1 now
Have you invited here to dinner? Tell me."—
“How many μέροπες have I ask'd to dinner”—
“You're angry.” —"Do you think that I'm a man
To have acquaintance with your μέροπες̣
It is a fine idea, to make a banquet
And ask a lot of μέροπες to eat it."
“Then do you mean there'll be no δαιτύμων (guest)?”
“No Dætymon that I know of.” —Then I counted—
[p. 602] There'll be Philinus, and Niceratus,
And Moschion, and this man too, and that—
And so I counted them all name by name;
But there was not a Dætymon among them.
“No Dætymon will come,” said I. “What! no one ?”
Replied he in a rage, as though insulted
That not a Dætymon had been invited.
“Do you not slay that tearer up of th' earth,”
Said he, “the broad-brow'd ox?” "In truth, not I;
I've got no ox to kill, you stupid fellow."
“Then you will immolate some sheep?” "Not I,
By Jove; nor ox, nor sheep, but there's a lamb."
“What! don't you know, said he, that lambs are sheep?”
“Indeed,” said I, "I neither know nor care
For all this nonsense. I'm but country bred;
So speak more plainly, if you speak at all."
“Why, don't you know that this is Homer's language”
My good cook, Homer was a man who had
A right to call things any names he pleased;
But what, in Vesta's name, is that to us?"
“At least you can't object when I quote him.”
“Why, do you mean to kill me with your Homer?”
“No, but it is my usual way of talking.”
“Then get another way, while here with me.”
“Shall I,” says he, "for your four dirty drachmas,
Give up my eloquence and usual habits?
Well, bring me here the οὐλόχυται." Oh me!
What are οὐλόχυται̣"“Those barley-cakes.”
“You madman, why such roundabout expressions?”
“Is there no sediment of the sea at hand?”
"Sediment Speak plain; do tell me what you want
In words I understand." “Old man,” says he,
"You are most wondrous dull; have you no salt?
That's sediment, and that you ought to know;
Bring me the basin."—So they brought it. He
Then slew the animals, adding heaps of words
Which not a soul of us could understand,
μίστυλλα, μοίρας,σίπτυχ᾽, ὀβελούς2
So that I took Philetas' Lexicon down,
To see what each of all these words did mean.
And then once more I pray'd of him to change,
And speak like other men; by earth I swear,
Persuasion's self could not have work'd on him.
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2 These are words applied by Homer to sacrifices.—μοῖρα is a portion, and ὀβελὸς a spit; but μίστυλλα is only a word derived from Homer's verb μιστύλλω, (from which Aemilianus, a friend of Martial, called his cook Mistyllus,) and δίπτυχα is used by Homer as an adverb.
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