Cenae Sermo

I believed the greatest part of the evening had passed with the last couple of tricks. I knew not where Trimalchio went, but to me, it seemed like the party was drawing to a close. However, nobody left, and the guests continued their conversation.

My attention was roped back into the conversation with the line “Ego non cotidie lavor” (I do not wash daily). I looked and saw the man who was speaking, named ‘Seleucus,’ my neighbor informed me, and listened to this odd statement with the crowd. Seleucus continued on. “Nec sane lavare potui; fui enim hodie in funus” (besides, I could not wash; I was at a funeral today). He went on about a fellow named Chrysanthus, who had died. Seleucus ranted about how meaningless our lives are, calling mankind bullae (bubbles). Then he campaigned, in speech, against doctors. Apparently Chrysanthus died using the fasting cure. He concluded his wine-driven speech with the warning that women are not worth the time it takes to be kind to them.

My uncle recognized the next man to shout out, Phileros, who said “Vivorum meminerimus” (let us remember the living). I agreed with this Phileros, until the conversation immediately belonged to the dead man again. I have nothing against the majority, and I believe they would not wish to be mentioned at a party such as this. It did not matter that I refused to hide the displeasure on my face, for no one was sober enough to notice it, had they been looking. Phileros continued to talk, and in his opinion, Chrysanthus would have gotten a 1/4 coin from dung with his teeth, if that is what it took to make a profit. I amused myself with the notion that Chrysanthus made his money from a ‘dirty business.’

When the old man returned, we all gave our attention to him once more. Yet our attention was not to be rewarded with any important news or a fantastic trick; Trimalchio informed us of his bowel problems. I agreed with one part of his speech, that even “Jupiter himself cannot deny us relief.”

After that, three pigs were brought in with little bells. The pigs were of varying ages, and Trimalchio asked us which one we wished to eat. Trimalchio kept talking and at the end of his speech, chose the oldest boar for us.

After the boar was taken into the kitchen, Trimalchio continued to talk, to no one’s surprise. As a man of action, I grew bored with all this chit chat. Perhaps if it had been conversation on important matters, or those that challenge the mind, I would have stayed more engaged. But with the wine in my head, and the words in the air, I felt myself drifting off. I caught something about Trimalchio’s numerous slaves, and scolding the cook, and all the properties under Trimalchio. He asked Agamemnon, a student of law, to discuss what case he had made earlier that day. I roused myself, eager for a true discussion, when Trimalchio kept on talking. Fortunately, I was awake enough to catch what was perhaps the evening’s most intriguing aspect: Trimalchio has three libraries; one in Greek, the other in Latin.


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