The Reconstructed Text- Part One
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THE SATYRICON: RECONSTRUCTED TEXT
The surviving fragments begin far after the opening escapades of the novel. The principal characters (Encolpius, Ascyltos, and Giton) find themselves at a school in a Roman city, perhaps Puteoli. Encolpius rants about the pathetic state of rhetoric to Agamemnon, a teacher of that subject.
Rhetoric and Life in the City:
[ch. 1] “Is it not much the same type of madness that afflicts our declaimers, who shout: “These wounds I got, defending our common liberties; this eye I lost on your behalf. Give me a helping hand to lead me to my children, for my poor maimed limbs refuse to bear my weight.” Even such extravagances might be borne, if they really served to guide beginners in the way of eloquence; but all pupils gain by these high-flown themes, these empty sounding phrases, is this, that on entering the forum they imagine themselves transported into a new and strange world. This is the reason, in my opinion, why young men grow up such blockheads in the schools, because they neither see nor hear one single thing connected with the usual circumstances of everyday life, nothing but stuff about pirates lurking on the seashore with fetters in their hands, tyrants issuing edicts to compel sons to cut off their own fathers’ heads, oracles in times of pestilence commanding three virgins or more to be sacrificed to stay the plague, — honey-sweet, well-rounded sentences, words and facts alike as it were, besprinkled with poppy and sesame.
[ch. 2] Under such a training it is no more possible to acquire good taste than it is not to stink, if you live in a kitchen. Give me leave to tell you that you rhetoricians are chiefly to blame for the ruin of oratory, for with your silly, idle phrases, meant only to tickle the ears of an audience, you have enervated and debauched the very substance of true eloquence. Young men were not bound down to declamations in the days when Sophocles and Euripides  found the very words they wanted to best express their meaning. No cloistered professor had as yet darkened men’s intellects, when Pindar and the nine Lyric bards  shrank from emulating the Homeric note. And not to cite poets exclusively, — I cannot see that either Plato  or Demosthenes  ever practiced this sort of mental exercise. A noble, and so to say chaste, style is not overloaded with ornament, not turgid; its own natural beauty gives it elevation. Then after a while this windy, extravagant deluge of words invaded Athens from Asia,  and like a malignant star, blasting the minds of young men aiming at lofty ideals, instantly broke up all rules of art and struck eloquence dumb. Since that day who has reached the perfection of Thucydides, the glory of Hyperides?  No! Not a poem has been written of bright and wholesome complexion; but all, as if fed on the same unhealthy diet, have lacked stamina to attain old age. Painting moreover shared the same fate, after Egypt presumptuously invented a compendious method for that noble art.
[ch. 3] Such and suchlike reflections I was indulging in one day before a numerous audience, when Agamemnon came up, curious to see who it was they were listening to so attentively. Well! he declined to allow me to declaim longer in the Portico than he had himself sweated in the schools; but “Young man,” he cries, “seeing your words are something better than mere popular commonplaces, and — a very rare occurrence — you are an admirer of sound sense, I will confide to you a professional secret. In the choice of these exercises it is not the masters that are to blame. They are forced to be just as mad as all the rest; for if they refuse to teach what pleases their scholars, they will be left, as Cicero says,  to lecture to empty benches. Just as false-hearted sycophants, scheming for a seat at a rich man’s table, make it their chief business to discover what will be most agreeable hearing to their host, for indeed their only way to gain their end is by cajolement and flattery; so a professor of rhetoric, unless like a fisherman he arm his hook with the bait he knows the fish will take, may stand long enough on his rock without a chance of success.
[ch. 4] “Whose fault is it then? It is the parents who deserve censure, who will not give their children the advantages of a strict training. In the first place their hopes, like everything else, are centered in ambition, and so being impatient to see their wishes fulfilled, they hurry lads into the forum when still raw and half taught, and indue mere babes with the mantle of eloquence, an art they admit themselves to be equaled by none in difficulty. If only they would let them advance step by step in their tasks, so that serious students might be broken in by solid reading, steady their minds with the precepts of philosophy, chasten their style with unsparing correction, study deep and long what they propose to imitate, and refuse to be dazzled by puerile graces, then and then only would the grand old type of oratory recover its former authority and stateliness. Nowadays, boys waste their time at school; as youths, they are jeered at in the forum, and what is worse than either, no one will acknowledge as an old man the faultiness of the teaching he received in his younger days.
[ch 5] “But so that you may not imagine I disapprove of satirical impromptus in the Lucilian  vein, I will myself throw my notions on this matter into verse:
He that would be an orator, must strive
To follow out the discipline of old,
And heed the laws of stern frugality;
Not his to haunt the court with fawning brow,
Nor sit a flatterer at great folks’ boards;
Not his with boon companions over the wine
To overcloud his brain, nor at the play
To sit and clap, agape at actors’ tricks.
But whether to Tritonia’s famous halls
The Muses lead his steps, or to those walls
That Spartan exiles reared or where
The Sirens’ song thrilled the enraptured air
Of all his tasks let poetry be first,
And Homer’s verse the fount to quench his thirst.
Soon will be master deep Socratic lore,
And wield the arms Demosthenes erst bore.
Then to new modes must he in turn be led,
And Grecian wit to Roman accents weds
Nor in the forum only will he find
Meet occupation for his busy mind;
On books he’ll feast, the poets’ words of fire,
Heroic tales of war and Tully’s  patriot ire,
Such be your studies; then, whatever the theme,
Pour forth your eloquence in copious stream.
[ch 6] Listening attentively to the speaker, I never noticed that Ascyltos had given me the slip; and I was still walking up and down in the gardens full of the burning words I had heard, when a great mob of students rushed into the Portico. Apparently these had just come from hearing an impromptu lecture of some critic or other who had been cutting up Agamemnon’s speech. So whilst the lads were making fun of his sentiments and abusing the arrangement of the whole discourse, I seized the opportunity to escape, and started off at a run in pursuit of Ascyltos. But I was heedless about the road I followed, and indeed felt by no means sure of the situation of our inn, the result being that whichever direction I took, I presently found myself back again at my starting point. At last, exhausted with running and dripping with sweat, I came across a little old woman, who was selling herbs.
[ch 7] “Excuse me, good mother,” say I, “can you tell me where I live?” — Charmed with the quiet absurdity of my question, “Why certainly!” she replied; and getting up, went on before me. I thought she must be a witch; but presently, when we had arrived at a rather shy neighborhood, the obliging old lady drew back the curtain of a doorway, and said, “Here is where you ought to live.” I was just protesting that I did not know the house, when I caught sight of mysterious figures prowling between rows of name-boards, and naked prostitutes. Then when it was too late, I saw I had been brought into a house of ill fame. So cursing the old woman’s falseness, I threw my robe over my head and made a dash right through the brothel to the opposite door, when behold! just on the threshold, whom should I meet but Ascyltos, worn out and half dead like myself? You would have thought the very same old hag had been his conductress. I made him a mocking bow, and asked him what he was doing in such a disreputable place.
[ch. 8] Wiping the sweat from his face with both hands, he replied, “If you only knew what happened to me!” “Why! what has happened?” said I. Then in a faint voice he went on, “I was wandering all over the town, without being able to discover where I had left our inn, when a respectable looking man accosted me, and most politely offered to show me the way. Then after traversing some very dark and intricate alleys, he brought me where we are, and producing his affair, began begging me to grant him my favors. In a flash, the woman had taken the fee for the room, and the man laid hold of me; and if I had not proved the stronger, I should have fared very ill indeed.” [....]
[ch. 9] After running about almost over the city, I caught sight of Giton, as it were, in a fog, standing at the corner of an alley close to the door of our inn, and hurried to join him. I asked my favorite whether he had got anything ready for our dinner, whereupon the lad sat down on the bed and began wiping away the tears with his thumb. Much disturbed at my favorite’s distress, I demanded what had happened. For a long time I could not drag a word out of him, — not indeed until I had added threats to prayers. Then he reluctantly told me. "That favorite or comrade of yours came into our lodging just now, and set to work to force me. When I screamed he drew a sword and said, ‘If you’re a Lucretia, you’ve found a Tarquin!’" 
Hearing this, I exclaimed, shaking my two fists in Ascyltos’ face. “What have you to say now, you pathetic prostitute, you, whose very breath is abominable?” Ascyltos feigned extreme indignation, and immediately repeated my gesture with greater emphasis, cried in still louder tones, “Will you hold your tongue, you filthy gladiator, who after murdering your host, had luck enough to escape from the criminals’ cage at the amphitheater!  Will you hold your tongue you midnight cut-throat, who never, when at your bravest, dare face an honest woman? Didn’t I serve you for a minion  in an orchard, just as this lad does now in an inn?” “Did you or did you not,” I interrupted, “sneak off from the master’s lecture?”
[ch. 10] “What was I to do, fool, when I was dying of hunger? Stop and listen to a string of phrases no better than the tinkling of broken glass or the nonsensical interpretations in dream books? By great Hercules, you are dead baser than I; to obtain a dinner you have condescended to flatter a Poet!” This ended our unseemly wrangle, and we both burst into a fit of laughter, and proceeded to discuss other matters in a more peaceable tone.
But the recollection of his late violence coming over me afresh, “Ascyltos,” I said, “I see we can get on together; so let us divide between us our bits of common funds, and each try to make head against poverty on his own bottom. 'You are a scholar; so am I. I don’t wish to spoil your profits, so I’ll take up another line. Else shall we find a thousand causes of quarrel every day, and soon make ourselves the talk of the town.” Ascyltos raised no objection, merely saying, “For today, as we have accepted, in our quality of men of letters, an invitation to dine out, don’t let us lose our evening; but tomorrow, since you wish it, I will look out for a new lodging and another bedfellow.” “Poor work,” said I, “putting off the execution of a good plan.” It was really my naughty passions that urged me to so speedy a parting; indeed I had been long wishing to be rid of his jealous observation, in order to renew my old relations with my sweet Giton. [....]
[ch. 11] After looking through the whole city, I came back to my little room, and now at length claiming my full tale of kisses, I clip my darling lad in the tightest of embraces; my utmost hopes of bliss are fulfilled to the envy of all mankind. The rites were not yet complete, when Ascyltos crept up stealthily to the door, and violently bursting in the bolts, caught me at play with his favorite. His laughter and applause filled the room, and tearing off the mantle that covered us, “Why! What are you after,” he cries, “my sainted friend? What? Both tucked cosily under one coverlet?” Nor did he stop at words, but detaching the strap from his wallet, he fell to thrashing me with no perfunctory hand, seasoning his blows with insulting remarks, — “This is the way you divide stock with a comrade, is it? Not so fast, my friend.” [....]
There is a major gap in the work here, which would have explained the origins of the stolen goods now encountered in the marketplace.
[ch. 12] On the approach of night we took our way to the market-place, where we saw an abundance of goods for sale, not indeed articles of any great value, but rather such as needed the kindly veil of darkness, considering their rather shady origin. To this place we also conveyed our stolen riding-cloak, and seizing the opportunity, displayed a corner of it in a quiet spot, hoping a buyer might be attracted by the beauty of the garment. It was not long before a countryman, whose face seemed somehow familiar to me, approached in company with a young woman, and began to examine the cloak minutely. On the other part Ascyltos, casting his eye on the rustic customer’s shoulders, was instantly struck dumb with surprise. Nor could I myself avoid some perturbation of mind when I saw him; for he appeared to be the identical peasant who had found our old tunic in the loneliness of the wood. Yes! He was the very man. But Ascyltos, afraid to trust his eyes and anxious not to do anything rash, first went up to the fellow as a would-be purchaser, drew the tunic from his shoulders and began to scrutinize it carefully.
[ch. 13] By a wonderful stroke of luck the rustic had not as yet had the curiosity to search the seams, but was offering the thing for sale with an indifferent air as some beggar-man’s leavings. When Ascyltos saw our money was intact and that the vendor was a person of no great account, he drew me a little aside from the throng and said, “Do you observe, comrade, our treasure that I was regretting as lost is come back again? That is our tunic and it seems to have the gold pieces in it still: they haven’t been touched. But what can we do about it? How are we to prove it is property?” I was greatly cheered not only at beholding our loot once more, but also because I thus found myself freed from a villainous suspicion, and at once declared against any sort of beating about the bush. I advised we should bring a civil action right out to compel him to give up the property to its rightful owners by law, if he refused to do so otherwise.
[ch. 14] Not so Ascyltos, who had a wholesome fear of the law. “Who knows us,” he said, “in this place, or will believe what we say? My own strong opinion is we should buy the property, our own though it be, now we see it, and rather pay a small sum to recover our treasure than get mixed up in a law-suit, the issue of which is uncertain.”
What worth our laws, when cash alone is king,
When to be poor is to be always wrong?
The Cynic sage  himself, stern moralist,
Is not averse to sell his words for gold;
Justice is bought, the highest bidder wins,
A partial judge directs a venal court.
But alas! Except for a brace of copper coins, which we had intended to spend on lupines and peas, we were penniless just then. So, for fear the prey might escape us meanwhile, we resolved to part with the cloak at a lower price, making the profit on the one transaction balance the loss on the other. Accordingly we spread out our merchandise; but the woman who had hitherto been standing beside the countryman closely muffled, now suddenly, after carefully scanning marks on the cloak, laid hold of the hem with both hands, and screamed out “Stop, thieves! Stop, thieves!” at the top of her voice. At this we were not a little disconcerted, but that we might not seem to acquiesce without a protest, we in our turn seized the tattered, filthy tunic, and declared no less spitefully it was our goods they had in their possession. But our case was far from being on all fours with theirs; and the crowd, that had gathered at the outcry, began to make fun of our impertinent claim, and not unnaturally, when on the one side they asserted their right to a most valuable cloak, but we to this old rag hardly worth mending. However Ascyltos adroitly stopped their ridicule by crying out, directly he could get a hearing:
[ch. 15] “Well! look you, every man likes his own property best; let ’em give us up our tunic, and they shall have their cloak.” Both the rustic and the young woman were ready enough to make the exchange; but a couple of attorneys, or to give them their true name night prowlers, who wanted to appropriate the cloak themselves, demanded that both the articles in dispute should be deposited with them, and the judge, look into the case in the morning; for not only must the ownership of these be investigated, but quite another question altogether as well, to wit, a suspicion of theft on the part of both parties. The bystanders were by this time all in favor of sequestration, and an individual in the crowd, a bald man with a very pimply face, who was in the habit of undertaking occasional jobs for the lawyers, impounded the cloak, saying he would produce it on the morrow. But the real object was self-evident, that the knavish crew having once got hold of the article in question, they might smuggle it out of the way, while we should be scared by the fear of a charge of theft from putting in an appearance at the appointed time. This was very much what we wanted ourselves, and luck seconded the wishes of both parties. For the countryman, indignant at our requiring the surrender of an old rag, threw the tunic in Ascyltos’s face, and withdrawing his own claim altogether, merely demanded the sequestration of the cloak as the only object of litigation. Having thus recovered our treasure, as we felt, we rush off full speed for our inn, and bolting the room door, start making merry over the astuteness both of our opponents and of the crowd, who had exercised so much ingenuity in giving us back our money! [...]
 Sophocles and Euripides were well-known writers of Greek tragic plays and were much read by educated Romans.
 Pindar was a famous Greek lyric poet. The “nine lyric bards” made up the Greek poetic canon. They were Alcman, Stesichorus, Sappho, Alcaeus, Ibycus, Anacreon, Simonides, Bacchylides, and of course, Pindar.
 A famous philosopher from Athens, also known for his prose style.
 Considered the greatest orator of 4th century Athens.
 Asiatic-style oratory was considered more elaborate and wordy than Greek oratory.
 Thucydides was a famous historian from Athens; Hyperides was a famous Attic orator.
 Widely considered the greatest Latin orator, he was also famed for his prose style.
 A famous Latin poet known for his satirical attacks.
 Cicero. See note 9 above.
 In a famous foundation myth for Rome, Lucretia is a virtuous married woman violently raped by Sextus Tarquin, son of the king of Rome. Despite her father and husband protesting her blamelessness, she commits suicide. Her husband leads a revolt, resulting in the foundation of the Republic.
 This appears to refer to a missing portion of the Satyricon.
 That is, as the penetrated rather than penetrating partner in a sexual encounter.
 Cynic philosophers rejected and attacked conventional social customs and widely accepted values.