Author: Petronius Arbiter

Chapter the Forty-Seventh.

Twaddle of this sort was being bandied about when Trimalchio came in; mopping his forehead and washing his hands in perfume, he said, after a short pause, "Pardon me, gentlemen, but my stomach’s been on strike for the past few days and the doctors disagreed about the cause. But pomegranate rind and pitch steeped in vinegar have helped me, and I hope that my belly will get on its good behavior, for sometimes there’s such a rumbling in my guts that you’d think a bellowing bull was in there. So if anyone wants to do his business, there’s no call to be bashful about it. None of us was born solid! I don’t know of any worse torment than having to hold it in, it’s the one thing Jupiter himself can’t hold in. So you’re laughing, are you, Fortunata? Why, you’re always keeping me awake at night yourself. I never objected yet to anyone in my dining-room relieving himself when he wanted to, and the doctors forbid our holding it in. Everything’s ready outside, if the call’s more serious, water, close-stool, and anything else you’ll need. Believe me, when this rising vapor gets to the brain, it puts the whole body on the burn. Many a one I’ve known to kick in just because he wouldn’t own up to the truth." We thanked him for his kindness and consideration, and hid our laughter by drinking more and oftener. We had not realized that, as yet, we were only in the middle of the entertainment, with a hill still ahead, as the saying goes. The tables were cleared off to the beat of music, and three white hogs, muzzled, and wearing bells, were brought into the dining-room. The announcer informed us that one was a two-year-old, another three, and the third just turned six. I had an idea that some rope-dancers had come in and that the hogs would perform tricks, just as they do for the crowd on the streets, but Trimalchio dispelled this illusion by asking, "Which one will you have served up immediately, for dinner? Any country cook can manage a dunghill cock, a pentheus hash, or little things like that, but my cooks are well used to serving up calves boiled whole, in their cauldrons!" Then he ordered a cook to be called in at once, and without awaiting our pleasure, he directed that the oldest be butchered, and demanded in a loud voice, "What division do you belong too?" When the fellow made answer that he was from the fortieth, "Were you bought, or born upon my estates?" Trimalchio continued. "Neither," replied the cook, "I was left to you by Pansa’s will." "See to it that this is properly done," Trimalchio warned, "or I’ll have you transferred to the division of messengers!" and the cook, bearing his master’s warning in mind, departed for the kitchen with the next course in tow.


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Chicago: Petronius Arbiter, "Chapter the Forty-Seventh.," Satyricon, trans. W. C. Firebaugh in Satyricon (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922), Original Sources, accessed October 5, 2022,

MLA: Arbiter, Petronius. "Chapter the Forty-Seventh." Satyricon, translted by W. C. Firebaugh, in Satyricon, New York, Boni and Liveright, 1922, Original Sources. 5 Oct. 2022.

Harvard: Arbiter, P, 'Chapter the Forty-Seventh.' in Satyricon, trans. . cited in 1922, Satyricon, Boni and Liveright, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 5 October 2022, from