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[55] We applauded his action, and made small talk in different phrases about the uncertainty of man's affairs.“Ah,” said Trimalchio, “then we should not let this occasion slip without a record.” And he called at once for paper, and after very brief reflection declaimed these halting verses:

“What men do not look for turns about and comes to pass. And high over us Fortune directs our affairs. Wherefore, slave, hand us Falernian wine.”

A discussion of poetry arose out of this epigram, and for a long time it was maintained that Mopsus of Thrace held the crown of song in his hand, until Trimalchio said, "Now, I ask you as a scholar, how would you compare Cicero and Publilius?1 In my opinion the first has more eloquence, the second more beauty. For what could be better written than these lines?

[p. 99] "'The high walls of Mars crumble beneath the gaping jaws of luxury. To please thy palate the peacock in his Babylonian vesture of gilded feathers is prisoned and fed, for thee the guinea-fowl, and for thee the capon. Even our beloved foreign guest the stork, type of parental love, with thin legs and sounding rattle, the bird exiled by winter, the harbinger of the warm weather, has now built a nest in thine abhorred cooking-pot. What are pearls of price, the fruits of India, to thee? For thy wife to be adorned with seaspoils when she lies unchecked on a strange man's bed? For what end dost thou require the green emerald, the precious crystal, or the fire that lies in the jewels of Carthage, save that honesty should shine forth from amid the carbuncles? Thy bride might as well clothe herself with a garment of the wind as stand forth publicly naked under her clouds of muslin.'

1 Publilius is Publilius Syrus, a famous writer of farce. It is not certain whether the verses which follow are actually by him or not.

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