Socrates having observed that in public suppers every one brought his own dish of meat, and that sometimes some brought more and others less, was wont, when this happened, to bid a servant set the least dish in the middle of the table, and to give some of it to all the company. No man could, in civility, refuse it, nor exempt himself from doing the like with his own dish, insomuch that every man had a taste of the whole, and all fared alike. This in some measure banished luxury and expensiveness from these feasts. For they who would have laid out a great deal of money in delicacies cared no longer to do so, because they would have been as much for others as for themselves.
Being one day in these assemblies, and seeing a young man who ate his meat without bread, he took occasion to rally him for it upon a question that was started touching the imposing of names. “Can we give any reasons,” said he, “why a man is called flesh-eater—that is to say, a devourer of flesh?—for every man eats flesh when he has it; and I do not believe it to be upon that account that a man is called so.” “Nor I neither,” said one of the company. “But,” continued Socrates, “if a man takes delight to eat his meat without bread, do you not take him to be, indeed, a flesh-eater?” “I should think it difficult to find another who better would deserve that name.” Upon which somebody else taking the word said, “What think you of him who, with a little bread only, eats a great deal of flesh?” “I should,” replied Socrates, “judge him, too, to be a flesh-eater; and whereas others ask of the gods in their prayers to give them an abundance of fruits, such men in their petitions it is likely would pray only for abundance of flesh.”
The young man whom Socrates had in mind, suspecting that he spoke upon his account, took some bread, but continued still to eat a great deal of flesh with it. Socrates perceived him, and showing him with his finger to those that sat next to him, said to them, “Take notice of jour neighbour, and see whether it be the meat that makes him eat his bread, or the bread that makes him eat his meat.”