previous next
[45] “Oh, don't be so gloomy,” said Echion, the old clothes dealer. “'There's ups and there's downs,' as the country bumpkin said when he lost his spotted pig. What is not to-day, will be to-morrow: so we trudge through life. I engage you could not name a better country to call one's own, if only the men in it had sense. It has its troubles now like others. We must not be too particular when there is a sky above us all. If you were anywhere else, you would say that roast pork walked in the streets here. Just think, we are soon to be given a superb spectacle lasting three days; not simply a troupe of professional gladiators, but a large number of them freedmen. And our good Titus has a big imagination and is hot-blooded: it will be one thing or another, something real anyway. I know him[p. 77] very well, and he is all against half-measures. He will give you the finest blades, no running away, butchery done in the middle, where the whole audience can see it. And he has the wherewithal; he came into thirty million when his father came to grief. If he spends four hundred thousand, his estate will never feel it, and his name will live for ever. He has already collected some clowns, and a woman to fight from a chariot, and Glyco's steward, who was caught amusing Glyco's wife. You will see the crowd quarrel, jealous husbands against gallants. A twopenny halfpenny fellow like Glyco goes throwing his steward to the beasts. He only gives himself away. It is not the slave's fault; he had to do as he was told. That filthy wife of his rather deserved to be tossed by the bull. But a man who cannot beat his donkey, beats the saddle. How did Glyco suppose that a sprig of Hermogenes's sowing would ever come to a good end? He was one for paring the claws of a kite on the wing, and you do not gather figs from thistles.1 Glyco? why, Glyco has given away his own flesh and blood. He will be branded as long as he lives, and nothing but death will wipe it out. But a man must have his faults. My nose prophesies a good meal from Mammaea, twopence each for me and mine. If he does, he will put Norbanus2 quite in the shade. You know he will beat him hands down. After all, what has Norbanus ever done for us? He produced some decayed twopenny-halfpenny gladiators, who would have fallen flat if you breathed on them; I have seen better ruffians turned in to fight the wild beasts. He shed the blood of some mounted infantry that might[p. 79] have come off a lamp; dunghill cocks you would have called them: one a spavined mule, the other bandylegged, and the holder of the bye, just one corpse instead of another, and hamstrung. One man, a Thracian, had some stuffing, but he too fought according to the rule of the schools. In short, they were all flogged afterwards. How the great crowd roared at them, Lay it on'! They were mere runaways, to be sure. 'Still, says Norbanus, I did give you a treat.' Yes, and I clap my hands at you. Reckon it up, and I give you more than I got. One good turn deserves another.”

1 Literally “a viper does not bring forth a rope.”

2 A prosperous lawyer; see c. 46.

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 (1 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: