Author: Petronius Arbiter

Chapter the One Hundred and Seventeenth.

Eumolpus, who had a deeper in sight, turned this state of affairs over in his mind and declared that he was not displeased with a prospect of that kind. I thought the old fellow was joking in the care-free way of poets, until he complained, "If I could only put up a better front! I mean that I wish my clothing was in better taste, that my jewelry was more expensive; all this would lend color to my deception: I would not carry this scrip, by Hercules, I would not I would lead you all to great riches!" For my part, I undertook to supply whatever my companion in robbery had need of, provided he would be satisfied with the garment, and with whatever spoils the villa of Lycurgus had yielded when we robbed it; as for money against present needs, the Mother of the Gods would see to that, out of regard to her own good name! "Well, what’s to prevent our putting on an extravaganza?" demanded Eumolpus. "Make me the master if the business appeals to you." No one ventured to condemn a scheme by which he could lose nothing, and so, that the lie would be kept safe among us all, we swore a solemn oath, the words of which were dictated by Eumolpus, to endure fire, chains, flogging, death by the sword, and whatever else Eumolpus might demand of us, just like regular gladiators! After the oath had been taken, we paid our respects to our master with pretended servility, and were informed that Eumolpus had lost a son, a young man of great eloquence and promise, and that it was for this reason the poor old man had left his native land that he might not see the companions and clients of his son, nor even his tomb, which was the cause of his daily tears. To this misfortune a recent shipwreck had been added, in which he had lost upwards of two millions of sesterces; not that he minded the loss but, destitute of a train of servants he could not keep up his proper dignity! Furthermore, he had, invested in Africa, thirty millions of sesterces in estates and bonds; such a horde of his slaves was scattered over the fields of Numidia that he could have even sacked Carthage! We demanded that Eumolpus cough frequently, to further this scheme, that he have trouble with his stomach and find fault with all the food when in company, that he keep talking of gold and silver and estates, the incomes from which were not what they should be, and of the everlasting unproductiveness of the soil; that he cast up his accounts daily, that he revise the terms of his will monthly, and, for fear any detail should be lacking to make the farce complete, he was to use the wrong names whenever he wished to summon any of us, so that it would be plain to all that the master had in mind some who were not present. When everything had been thus provided for, we offered a prayer to the gods "that the matter might turn out well and happily," and took to the road. But Giton could not bear up under his unaccustomed load, and the hired servant Corax, a shirker of work, often put down his own load and cursed our haste, swearing that he would either throw his packs away or run away with his load. "What do you take me for, a beast of burden?" he grumbled, "or a scow for carrying stone? I hired out to do the work of a man, not that of a pack-horse, and I’m as free as you are, even if my father did leave me poor!" Not satisfied with swearing, he lifted up his leg from time to time and filled the road with an obscene noise and a filthy stench. Giton laughed at his impudence and imitated every explosion with his lips, {but Eumolpus relapsed into his usual vein, even in spite of this.}


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Chicago: Petronius Arbiter, "Chapter the One Hundred and Seventeenth.," Satyricon, trans. W. C. Firebaugh in Satyricon (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922), Original Sources, accessed April 21, 2018,

MLA: Arbiter, Petronius. "Chapter the One Hundred and Seventeenth." Satyricon, translted by W. C. Firebaugh, in Satyricon, New York, Boni and Liveright, 1922, Original Sources. 21 Apr. 2018.

Harvard: Arbiter, P, 'Chapter the One Hundred and Seventeenth.' in Satyricon, trans. . cited in 1922, Satyricon, Boni and Liveright, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 21 April 2018, from