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The King's Behavior at the Festival

The festival, including the gladiatorial shows and hunting, lasted thirty days, in the course of which there was continual round of spectacles. During the first five of these everybody in the gymnasium anointed himself with oil scented with saffron in gold vessels, of which there were fifteen, and the same number scented with cinnamon and nard. On the following days other vessels were brought in scented with fenugreek, marjoram, and lily, all of extraordinary fragrancy. Public banquets were also given, at which couches were prepared, sometimes for a thousand and sometimes for fifteen hundred, with the utmost splendour and costliness.

The whole of the arrangements were made personally by the king. He rode on an inferior horse by the side of the procession, ordering one part to advance, and another to halt, as occasion required; so that, if his diadem had been removed, no one would have believed that he was the king and the master of all; for his appearance was not equal to that of a moderately good servant. At the feasts also he stood himself at the entrance, and admitted some and assigned others their places; he personally ushered in the servants bringing the dishes; and walking about among the company sometimes sat down and sometimes lay down on the couches. Sometimes he would jump up, lay down the morsel of food or the cup that he was raising to his lips, and go to another part of the hall; and walking among the guests acknowledge the compliment, as now one and now another pledged him in wine, or jest at any recitations that might be going on. And when the festivity had gone on for a long time, and a good many of the guests had departed, the king was carried in by the mummers, completely shrouded in a robe, and laid upon the ground, as though he were one of the actors; then, at the signal given by the music, he leapt up, stripped, and began to dance with the jesters; so that all the guests were scandalised and retired. In fact every one who attended the festival, when they saw the extraordinary wealth which was displayed at it, the arrangements made in the processions and games, and the scale of the splendour on which the whole was managed, were struck with amazement and wonder both at the king and the greatness of his kingdom: but when they fixed their eyes on the man himself, and the contemptible conduct to which he condescended, they could scarcely believe that so much excellence and baseness could exist in one and the same breast.1 . . .

1 Hultsch prints in parallel columns the text of this fragment as it appears in Athenaeus and Diodorus. The English translation attempts to combine them.

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