6
Dinner at Trimalchio's
Two days had now elapsed, and the free dinner* was in pro-
spect. But we were transfixed by so many wounds that we
were bent on flight rather than relaxation. So in our dejec-
tion we were discussing how to avoid the storm-clouds ahead,
but then one of Agamemnon's servants broke in on our
anxieties, and asked: What's the matter with you? Don't
you know your host for today? He is Trimalchio,* a man of
supreme refinement. He keeps a water-clock in his dining-
room, and a trumpeter at the ready, so that from time to
time he can keep count of the lost hours. So we forgot all
our misfortunes, and dressed with some care. Giton was
playing the role of servant with great élan, and we bade him
follow us to the baths.
27 To pass the time we strolled about in our dinner dress.
Indeed, we were laughing and joking as we approached
the groups of those who were taking exercise. Suddenly
we caught sight of a bald old man wearing a red shirt and
playing ball with some long-haired young slaves. The boys
were worth a good look, but they were not so much the
attraction as was their master. He was wearing slippers, and
throwing a green ball around. Any ball which came in con-
tact with the ground he did not bother to retrieve; there
was a bagful supervised by a slave, containing enough for
the players. We noticed some other unusual features: two
eunuchs stood in the circle facing Trimalchio. One was hold-
ing a silver chamber-pot; the other was counting the balls,
not as they sped from hand to hand as they were thrown in
the course of the game,* but as they dropped to the ground.
As we were admiring these refinements, Menelaus* came
bustling up. 'This is the host at whose table you will rest
your elbows. This in fact is the prelude to the dinner.' As

-20-

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