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παράσιτος, “table companion”). A word which among the Greeks denoted originally the priest's assistant, who, like the priest, received his support from the offerings made to the temple, in return for certain services. These services included the collection and care of supplies of corn due to the temple, assistance at certain sacrifices, and the preparation of the banquets connected with certain festivals. The assistants of civil officials, who were maintained at the expense of the State, were also called parasites in many places. The word received another meaning in the Middle and New Greek comedy, where it means the hanger on, who plays the flatterer and buffoon, with a view to getting invited to dinner. The parasite was transferred as a standing character to the Roman imitations of Greek comedy, and figures largely in the plays of Plautus. Good examples of the stage parasite will be found in his Captivi and Menaechmi and in the Phormio of Terence. See Know, Die Parasiten bei den Griechen (1876).

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