Schola in Historiae

While his character had not impressed me, the sum of all the tricks until this point provided a certain respect for Trimalchio’s style. Or perhaps it is his audacity.

All of the master’s slaves shouted, as if trained, “Gaio feliciter!” (may it be lucky for Gaius). The cook was honored with a drink, and given an argentea corona (silver crown) on a lance Corinthea (dish of Corinthian bronze).

I myself appreciate puns and the higher comedies, but I could not forgive Trimalchio for this following transgression.

Solus sum qui vera Corinthea habeam,” (I am the only one who has the true Corinthian bronze) Trimalchio said. He explained that “quia scilicet aerarius, a quo emo, Corinthus vocatur” (because of course the bronze-maker from whom I bought it, is called Corinthus).

Very clever, Trimalchio, but you should have stopped there. We did not all of us believe you were a fool, but in trying to prove yourself educated, completed just the opposite.

So that we would not think him a fool, the old man decided to tell us the origin of the Corinthian bronze:

‘When Troy was captured, Hannibal, a clever man and a great rogue, gathered up all the bronze, gold, and silver statues in the city and burned them. In this way, the Corinthian bronze was born, and craftsmen made little plates and entree dishes out of it.’

In the conclusion of the tale, Trimalchio’s audience remained silent, thought not much of a conclusion was observed before he began talking again. Vitrum (glass) is Trimalchio’s favorite material. Would it not shatter, he would prefer it to gold. This prompted Trimalchio to tell us a story about a glass goblet.

‘There was a craftsman who came to Caesar with his cup made of glass that would not break. He dropped in on the ground and dented it, then picked the goblet up again and, using a little hammer, fixed the dents. The craftsman expected to receive the throne of Jupiter for his marvelous creation, and Caesar asked him if he was the only one who knew about this art. The craftsman proudly answered “yes,” and was beheaded. That goblet would have ruined the Roman economy, which was built on gold.’

 

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