Spread your knees on the tapestries and give your body the most
easy curves, like those taught in the gymnasium. Then praise some
bronze vase, survey the ceiling, admire the awning stretched over
the court. Water is poured over our hands; the tables are spread; we
sup and, after ablution, we now offer libations to the gods.
But, by Zeus! this supper is but a dream, it appears!
The flute-player has finished the prelude. The guests are Theorus,
Aeschines, Phanus, Cleon, Acestor; and beside this last, I don't
know who else. You are with them. Shall you know exactly how to take
up the songs that are started?
Better than any born mountaineer of Attica.
That we shall see. Suppose me to be Cleon. I am the first to begin
the song of Harmodius, and you take it up: "There never yet was seen
....such a rogue or such a thief."
Why, you wretched man, it will be the end of you if you sing that.
He will vow your ruin, your destruction, to chase you out of the
Well! then I shall answer his threats with another song: "With
your madness for supreme power, you will end by overthrowing the city,
which even now totters towards ruin."
And when Theorus, prone at Cleon's feet, takes his hand and sings,
"Like Admetus, love those who are brave," what reply will you make
I shall sing, "I know not how to play the fox, nor call myself the
friend of both parties."
Then comes the turn of Aeschines, the son of Sellus, and a
well-trained and clever musician, who will sing, "Good things and
riches for Clitagora and me and eke for the Thessalians!"
"The two of us have squandered a great deal between us."
At this game you seem at home. But come, we will go and dine
with Philoctemon.-Slave! slave! place our dinner in a basket; we are
going out for a good long drinking bout.
By no means, it is too dangerous; for after drinking, one breaks
in doors, one comes to blows, one batters everything. Anon, when the
wine is slept off, one is forced to pay.
Not if you are with decent people. Either they undertake to
appease the offended person or, better still, you say something witty,
you tell some comic story, perhaps one of those you have yourself
heard at table, either in Aesop's style or in that of Sybaris;
everyone laughs and the trouble is ended.
Faith! it's worth while learning many stories then, if you are
thus not punished for the ill you do. But come, no more delay!
(They go out.)