Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Virro, the patron, is criticised throughout the poem for serving up two menus, one consisting of fine food for himself and guests of like status, the other consisting of grotty, inferior food — or, at some stages of the meal, of no food at all (a witty stroke, as we come to expect correspondence) — for guests such as his lowly client Trebius. This is not a novel theme in Roman literature: there are similar criticisms of the unequal feast at Martial 3.60, 3.82, 4.68, 6.11 and 9.2 (also, on specific items 1.20 (mushrooms), 1.43 (boar), 3.49 (wine), 4.85 (wine and cups)); Pliny 4.2.6; and, later, Lucian, Saturnalia 22 where the quantity of food, the boar, the wine-cups and the wine are all contrasted, with incidental reference to the different attitudes of the slaves (see Adamietz (1972) 85-96, Morford (1977) 221-6, Gowers (1993) 211-12). But J. develops this idea, which lends itself to Martial's treatment thanks to the antithetical tendency of epigram, into a bravura piece which portrays the breakdown of society in terms of alienation.Michael Scherer and Zeke J. Miller, "Donald Trump After Hours," Time Magazine:
The waiters know well Trump's personal preferences. As he settles down, they bring him a Diet Coke, while the rest of us are served water, with the Vice President sitting at one end of the table. With the salad course, Trump is served what appears to be Thousand Island dressing instead of the creamy vinaigrette for his guests. When the chicken arrives, he is the only one given an extra dish of sauce. At the dessert course, he gets two scoops of vanilla ice cream with his chocolate cream pie, instead of the single scoop for everyone else.Note: This is not political commentary. I am interested here only in the parallel between ancient and modern practices.
Related post: Stingy Hosts.