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[60] We were not given long to admire these eleganttours de force; suddenly there came a noise from the ceiling, and the whole dining-room trembled. I rose from my place in a panic: I was afraid some acrobat would come down through the roof. All the other guests too looked up astonished, wondering what the new portent from heaven was announced. The whole ceiling parted asunder, and an enormous hoop, apparently knocked out of a giant cask, was let down. All round it were hung golden crowns and alabaster boxes of perfumes. We were asked to take these presents for ourselves, when I looked back at the table. . . . A dish with some cakes on it had now been put there, a Priapus made by the confectioner standing in the middle, holding up every kind of fruit and grapes in his wide apron in the conventional style. We reached greedily after his treasures, and a sudden fresh turn of humour renewed our merriment. All the cakes and all the fruits, however lightly they were touched, began to spurt out saffron, and the nasty juice flew[p. 113] even into our mouths. We thought it must be a sacred dish that was anointed with such holy appointments, and we all stood straight up and cried, β€œThe gods bless Augustus, the father of his country.” But as some people even after this solemnity snatched at the fruit, we filled our napkins too, myself especially, for I thought that I could never fill Giton's lap with a large enough present. Meanwhile three boys came in with their white tunics well tucked up, and two of them put images of the Lares with lockets round their necks on the table, while one carried round a bowl of wine and cried, β€œGod be gracious unto us.”

Trimalchio said that one of the images was called Gain, another Luck, and the third Profit. And as everybody else kissed Trimalchio's true portrait we were ashamed to pass it by.

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