Cena Trimalchionis

Following our chat with Trimalchio, my uncle and I watch a most unusual event during our exercise.

Trimalchio had begun his game. It was strange to see a gleeful, bald man playing among long-haired boys. This ‘pater familiae,’ for that’s what he appeared to be, the head of this energetic household, kept tossing a prasina (green) ball back and forth with the boys. This soleatus (sandalled) man, despite his athletic-looking footwear, hardly moved from his spot in the center of the commotion. If a ball was dropped, he did not chase after it. Nor did he send one of the boys after it. A slave with a bag full of balls simply threw another one into the mix. Nearby, I noted one eunuch who appeared to be keeping track of the balls, dropped, not in play, and another holding an argenteam matellam (silver chamber-pot).

Across the room stood the trio of men from outside the gym, gazing at the lautitias (luxuries) of this man.  Another man ran up to them and said something, though I could only make out a few words – eavesdropping was an unfortunate habit of mine – I heard “cenae” (dinner) and “ponitis” (ponere – to give), so I could only assume they were invited to dinner as well. I thought they would make interesting company, especially the third one; he always trailed behind and never seemed to talk.

Anyway, the three friends were just as amused as I was. This amusement quickly turned to bewilderment, then disgust, when Trimalchio called over the eunuch with the chamber pot.  And, well, Trimalchio exonerata (having been eased) never had to stop his game. A basin was brought to him, and he wiped his hands on a slave boy’s head. Talk about ‘filthy rich.’

Tired of that sight, I walked off to see if anyone would challenge me in a wrestling match.


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