Author: Petronius Arbiter

Chapter the Fifty-Third.

But his passion for dancing was interrupted at this stage by a stenographer who read aloud, as if he were reading the public records, "On the seventh of the Kalends of July, on Trimalchio’s estates near Cumae, were born thirty boys and forty girls: five hundred pecks of wheat were taken from the threshing floors and stored in the granaries: five hundred oxen were put to yoke: the slave Mithridates was crucified on the same date for cursing the genius of our master, Gaius: on said date ten million sesterces were returned to the vaults as no sound investment could be found: on said date, a fire broke out in the gardens at Pompeii, said fire originating in the house of Nasta, the bailiff." "What’s that?" demanded Trimalchio. "When were the gardens at Pompeii bought for me?" "Why, last year," answered the stenographer, "for that reason the item has not appeared in the accounts." Trimalchio flew into a rage at this. "If I’m not told within six months of any real estate that’s bought for me," he shouted, "I forbid it’s being carried to my account at all!" Next, the edicts of his aediles were read aloud, and the wills of some of his foresters in which Trimalchio was disinherited by a codicil, then the names of his bailiffs, and that of a freedwoman who had been repudiated by a night watchman, after she had been caught in bed with a bath attendant, that of a porter banished to Baioe, a steward who was standing trial, and lastly the report of a decision rendered in the matter of a lawsuit, between some valets. When this was over with, some rope dancers came in and a very boresome fool stood holding a ladder, ordering his boy to dance from rung to rung, and finally at the top, all this to the music of popular airs; then the boy was compelled to jump through blazing hoops while grasping a huge wine jar with his teeth. Trimalchio was the only one who was much impressed by these tricks, remarking that it was a thankless calling and adding that in all the world there were just two things which could give him acute pleasure, rope-dancers and horn blowers; all other entertainments were nothing but nonsense. "I bought a company of comedians," he went on, "but I preferred for them to put on Atellane farces, and I ordered my flute- player to play Latin airs only."


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Chicago: Petronius Arbiter, "Chapter the Fifty-Third.," Satyricon, trans. W. C. Firebaugh in Satyricon (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922), Original Sources, accessed March 20, 2019,

MLA: Arbiter, Petronius. "Chapter the Fifty-Third." Satyricon, translted by W. C. Firebaugh, in Satyricon, New York, Boni and Liveright, 1922, Original Sources. 20 Mar. 2019.

Harvard: Arbiter, P, 'Chapter the Fifty-Third.' in Satyricon, trans. . cited in 1922, Satyricon, Boni and Liveright, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 20 March 2019, from