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Saturnalia

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1Primis mensis post epulas iam remotis et discursum variantibus poculis minutioribus Praetextatus, ‘solet cibus,’ inquit, ‘cum sumitur, tacitos efficere, potus loquaces. at nos et inter pocula silemus tamquam debeat seriis vel etiam philosophis carere tractatibus tale convivium.’

2. Et Symmachus: ‘verumne ita sentis, Vetti, ut philosophia conviviis intersit et non tamquam censoria quaedam et plus nimio reverenda materfamilias penetralibus suis contineatur, nec misceat se Libero, cui etiam tumultus familiares sunt, cum ipsa huius sit verecundiae ut strepitum non modo verborum, sed ne cogitationum quidem in sacrarium suae quietis admittat?

3. doceat nos vel peregrina institutio et disciplina a Parthis2 petita, qui solent cum concubinis, non cum coniugibus, inire convivia, tamquam has et in vulgus produci et lascivire quoque, illas non nisi domi abditas tueri deceat tectum pudorem.

4. an ego censeam

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Book VII

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When the first course was finished and the tables cleared,1 as smaller servings of wine were producing a varied bustle, Praetextatus said, ‘Food, when it’s taken, usually makes people quiet, wine makes them talkative—but we’re silent even while we drink, as though a dinner party like this should abstain from treating serious or even philosophical topics.’

2. Symmachus said, ‘Is that what you really think, Vettius—that philosophy should attend dinner parties and not be kept within her own sanctuary, like some severe and supremely respectable matron, and avoid mingling with father Liber, that old crony of carouse, though she herself is a figure of such modest restraint that she bars from her peaceful shrine all dissonance, not just of words but even of thoughts?2

3. Let even a foreign custom instruct us, a lesson fetched from the Parthians,3 who attend dinner parties with their concubines, not their wives, as though it were proper for the former to be brought forth in public and even play the wanton, but for wives to uphold their sheltered modesty only by being shut up at home.

4. Or am

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.macrobius-saturnalia.2011