On one of Pausias’ masterworks you pore,
As you were crazy: what does Davus more,
Standing agape and straining knees and eyes
At some rude sketch of fencers for a prize,
Where, drawn in charcoal or red ochre, just
As if alive, they parry and they thrust?
Davus gets called a loiterer and a scamp,
You (save the mark!) a critic of high stamp.
If hot sweet-cakes should tempt me, I am naught:
Do you say no to dainties as you ought?
Am I worse trounced than you when I obey
My stomach? true, my back is made to pay:
But when you let rich tit-bits pass your lip
That cost no trifle, do you ’scape the whip?
Indulging to excess, you loathe your meat,
And the bloat trunk betrays the gouty feet.
The lad’s a rogue who goes by night to chop
A stolen flesh-brush at a fruiterer’s shop:
The man who sells a farm to buy good fare,
Is there no slavery to the stomach there?
Then too you cannot spend an hour alone;
No company’s more hateful than your own;
You dodge and give yourself the slip; you seek
In bed or in your cups from care to sneak:
In vain: the black dog follows you, and hangs
Close on your flying skirts with hungry fangs.
H. Where’s there a stone?
D. Who wants it?
H. Or a pike?
D. Mere raving this, or verse-making belike.
H. Unless you’re off at once, you’ll join
Who do their digging down at my estate.
That rich Nasidienus—let me hear
How yesterday you relished his good cheer:
For when I tried to get you, I was told
You’d been there since the day was six hours old.
F. O, ’twas the finest treat.
H. Inform me, pray,
What first was served your hunger to allay.
F. First a Lucanian boar; ’twas captured wild
(So the host told us) when the wind was mild;
Around it, turnips, lettuce, radishes,
By way of whet, with brine and Coan lees.
Then, when the board, a maple one, was cleared,
A high-girt slave with purple cloth appeared
And rubbed and wiped it clean: another boy
Removed the scraps, and all that might annoy:
“While dark Hydaspes, like an Attic maid
Who carries Ceres’ basket, grave and staid,
Came in with Caecuban, and, close behind,
Alcon with Chian, which had ne’er been brined.
Then said our host: “If Alban you’d prefer,
Maecenas, or Falern, we have them, Sir.”
H. What sorry riches! but I fail to glean
Who else was present at so rare a scene.