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[57] Ascyltos let himself go completely, threw up his hands and made fun of everything, and laughed till he cried. This annoyed one of Trimalchio's fellowfreedmen, the man who was sitting next above me.“What are you laughing at, sheep's head?” he said.“Are our host's good things not good enough for you? I suppose you are richer and used to better living? As I hope to have the spirits of this place on my side, if I had been sitting next him I should have put a stopper on his bleating by now. A nice young[p. 103] shaver to laugh at other people! Some vagabond flyby-night not worth his salt. In fact, when I've done with him he won't know where to take refuge. Upon my word, I am not easily annoyed as a rule, but in rotten flesh worms will breed. He laughs. What has he got to laugh about? Did his father pay solid gold for him when he was a baby? A Roman knight, are you? Well, I am a king's son. 'Then why have you been a slave?' Because I went into service to please myself, and preferred being a Roman citizen to going on paying taxes as a provincial. And now I hope I live such a life that no one can jeer at me. I am a man among men; I walk about bare-headed; I owe nobody a brass farthing; I have never been in the Courts; no one has ever said to me in public, 'Pay me what you owe me.' I have bought a few acres and collected a little capital; I have to feed twenty bellies and a dog: I ransomed my fellow slave to preserve her from indignities; I paid a thousand silver pennies formy own freedom; I was made a priest of Augustus and excused the fees; I hope to die so that I need not blush in my grave. But are you so full of business that you have no time to look behind you? You can see the lice on others, but not the bugs on yourself. No one finds us comic but you: there is your schoolmaster, older and wiser than you: he likes us. You are a child just weaned, you cannot squeak out mu or ma, you are a clay-pot, a wash-leather in water, softer, not superior. If you are richer, then have two breakfasts and two dinners a day. I prefer my reputation to any riches. One word more. Who ever had to speak to me twice? I was a slave for forty years, and nobody knew whether I was a slave or free. I was a boy with long curls when I came to this place; they had not built the town-hall then.[p. 105] But I tried to please my master, a fine dignified gentleman whose little finger was worth more than your whole body. And there were people in the house who put out a foot to trip me up here and there. But still—God bless my master!—I struggled through. These are real victories: being born free is as easy as saying, Come here.' But why do you stare at me now like a goat in a field of vetch?”

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load focus Introduction (Michael Heseltine, 1913)
load focus Latin (Michael Heseltine, 1913)
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    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 42
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