previous next
[58] At this remark Giton, who was standing by my feet, burst out with an unseemly laugh, which he had now been holding in for a long while. Ascyltos's enemy noticed him, and turned his abuse on to the boy. “What,” he said, "are you laughing too, you curly-headed onion? A merry Saturnalia indeed: what, have we December here? When did you pay five per cent on your freedom? He doesn't know what to do, the gallows-bird, the crows'-meat. I will call down the wrath of Jupiter at once on you and the fellow who cannot keep you in order. As sure as I get my bellyfull, I would have given you what you deserve now on the spot, but for my respect for my fellow-freedman. We are getting on splendidly, but those fellows are fools, who don't keep you in hand. Yes, like master, like man. I can scarcely hold myself in, and I am not naturally hot-tempered, but when I once begin I do not care twopence for my own mother. Depend upon it, I shall meet you somewhere in public, you rat, you puff-ball. I will not grow an inch up or down until I have put your master's head in a nettle-bed,1 and I shall have no mercy on you, I can tell you, however much you may call upon Jupiter[p. 107] in Olympus. Those pretty eight-inch curls and that twopenny master of yours will be no use to you. Depend upon it, you will come under the harrow; if I know my own name you will not laugh any more, though you may have a gold beard like a god. I will bring down the wrath of Athena on you and the man who first made a minion of you.2

"No, I never learned geometry, and criticism, and suchlike nonsense.3 But I know my tall letters, and I can do any sum into pounds, shillings, and pence. In fact, if you like, you and I will have a little bet. Come on, I put down the metal. Now I will show you that your father wasted the fees, even though you are a scholar in rhetoric. Look here:

'What part of us am I? I come far, I come wide.
Now find me.'
I can tell you what part of us runs and does not move from its place; what grows out of us and grows smaller.4 Ah! you run about and look scared and hustled, like a mouse in a pot. So keep your mouth shut, or do not worry your betters who are unaware of your existence; unless you think I have any respect for the boxwood rings you stole from your young woman. May the God of grab be on my side!5 Let us go on 'Change and borrow money: then you will see that my iron ring commands credit. My word, a[p. 109] draggled fox is a fine creature! I hope I may never get rich and make a good end, and have the people swearing by my death, if I do not put on the black cap6 and hunt you down everywhere. It was a fine fellow who taught you to behave like this, too; a chattering ape, not a master. We had some real schooling, for the master used to say, ' Are all your belongings safe? Go straight home, and don't stop to look round you; and mind you do not abuse your elders. Count up all the wastrels, if you like; not one of them is worth twopence in the end.' Yes, I thank God for education; it made me what I am."

1 Cf. note, p. 57.

2 Deurode is a transliteration of the Greek δε̂υρο δή “come hither,” used of a person trained to be obsequious.

3 Lit. folly and nursery rhymes.

4 The answer to these riddles according to Buecheler is“the foot, the eye, and the hair.”

5 Occupo is a goblin who helps people in business, like the Lares mentioned in c. 60.

6 Toga perversa: a magistrate wore his toga reversed when he had to pronounce a capital sentence.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Introduction (Michael Heseltine, 1913)
load focus Latin (Michael Heseltine, 1913)
hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: