previous next
[53] But a clerk quite interrupted his passion for the dance by reading as though from the gazette: “July the 26th. Thirty boys and forty girls were born on Trimalchio's estate at Cumae. Five hundred thousand pecks of wheat were taken up from the threshing-floor into the barn. Five hundred oxen were broken in. On the same date: the slave Mithridates was led to crucifixion for having damned the soul of our lord Gaius. On the same date: ten million sesterces which could not be invested were returned to the reserve. On the same day: there was a fire in our gardens at Pompeii, which broke out in the house of Nasta the bailiff.” “Stop,” said Trimalchio, “When did I buy any gardens at Pompeii?” “Last year,” said the clerk, “so that they are not entered in your accounts yet.” Trimalchio glowed with passion, and said, “I will not have any property which is bought in my name entered in my accounts[p. 95] unless I hear of it within six months.” We now had a further recitation of police notices, and some foresters' wills, in which Trimalchio was cut out in a codicil; then the names of bailiffs, and of a freed-woman who had been caught with a bathman and divorced by her husband, a night watchman; the name of a porter who had been banished to Baiae; the name of a steward who was being prosecuted, and details of an action between some valets.

But at last the acrobats came in. A very dull fool stood there with a ladder and made a boy dance from rung to rung and on the very top to the music of popular airs, and then made him hop through burning hoops, and pick up a wine jar with his teeth. No one was excited by this but Trimalchio, who kept saying that it was a thankless profession. There were only two things in the world that he could watch with real pleasure, acrobats and trumpeters; all other shows were silly nonsense. “Why,” said he, “I once bought a Greek comedy company, but I preferred them to do Atellane plays,1 and I told my flute-player to have Latin songs.”

1 Native Latin comedy as opposed to comoedia palliata, which was translated or adapted from the Greek.

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)
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: