Author: Petronius Arbiter

Chapter the Fifty-Sixth.

"What should we say was the hardest calling, after literature?" he asked. "That of the doctor or that of the money-changer, I would say: the doctor, because he has to know what poor devils have got in their insides, and when the fever’s due: but I hate them like the devil, for my part, because they’re always ordering me on a diet of duck soup: and the money-changer’s, because he’s got to be able to see the silver through the copper plating. When we come to the dumb beasts, the oxen and sheep are the hardest worked, the oxen, thanks to whose labor we have bread to chew on, the sheep, because their wool tricks us out so fine. It’s the greatest outrage under the sun for people to eat mutton and then wear a tunic. Then there’s the bee: in my opinion, they’re divine insects because they puke honey, though there are folks that claim that they bring it from Jupiter, and that’s the reason they sting, too, for wherever you find a sweet, you’ll find a bitter too." He was just putting the philosophers out of business when lottery tickets were passed around in a cup. A slave boy assigned to that duty read aloud the names of the souvenirs: "Silver s—ham," a ham was brought in with some silver vinegar cruets on top of it; "cervical"—something soft for the neck—a piece of the cervix—neck—of a sheep was brought in; "serisapia"—after wit—"and contumelia"—insult—we were given must wafers and an apple-melon—and a phallus—contus—; "porri"—leeks—"and persica," he picked up a whip and a knife; "passeres"—sparrows" and a fly—trap," the answer was raisins—uva passa—and Attic honey; "cenatoria"—a dinner toga—"and forensia"—business dress—he handed out a piece of meat—suggestive of dinner—and a note-book—suggestive of business—; "canale"—chased by a dog—"and pedale"—pertaining to the foot—, a hare and a slipper were brought out; "lamphrey"—murena—"and a letter," he held up a mouse—mus—and a frog—rana—tied together, and a bundle of beet—beta—the Greek letter beta—. We laughed long and loud, there were a thousand of these jokes, more or less, which have now escaped my memory.


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Chicago: Petronius Arbiter, "Chapter the Fifty-Sixth.," Satyricon, trans. W. C. Firebaugh in Satyricon (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922), Original Sources, accessed August 19, 2019,

MLA: Arbiter, Petronius. "Chapter the Fifty-Sixth." Satyricon, translted by W. C. Firebaugh, in Satyricon, New York, Boni and Liveright, 1922, Original Sources. 19 Aug. 2019.

Harvard: Arbiter, P, 'Chapter the Fifty-Sixth.' in Satyricon, trans. . cited in 1922, Satyricon, Boni and Liveright, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 19 August 2019, from