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Page 10

The Coming of the Guests

 

    As each guest comes, he is seen to be elegantly dressed, and to wear now, if at no other time, a handsome pair of sandals.[9] He has also taken pains to bathe and to perfume himself. As soon as each person arrives his sandals are removed in the vestibule by the slaves and his feet are bathed. No guest comes alone, however: every one has his own body servant with him, who will look after his footgear and himation during the dinner, and give a certain help with the serving. The house therefore becomes full of people, and will be the scene of remarkable animation during the next few hours.

    Prodicus is not disappointed in expecting some extra visitors. His guest of honor, Hermogenes, has brought along two, whom the host greets with the polite lie: "Just in time for dinner. Put off your other business. I was looking for you in the Agora and could not find you."[10] Also there thrusts in a half genteel, half rascally fellow, one Palladas, who spends all his evenings at dinner parties, being willing to be the common butt and jest of the company (having indeed something of the ability of a comic actor about him) in return for a share of the good things on the table. These "Parasites" are regular characters in Athens, and no symposium is really complete without them, although often their fooleries cease to be amusing.[11]

 

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