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Chapter 13

  • NEXT morning, Petronius had barely finished dressing in the unctorium whe_inicius came, called by Tiresias. He knew that no news had come from th_ates. This information, instead of comforting him, as a proof that Lygia wa_till in Rome, weighed him down still more, for he began to think that Ursu_ight have conducted her out of the city immediately after her seizure, an_ence before Petronius's slaves had begun to keep watch at the gates. It i_rue that in autumn, when the days become shorter, the gates are closed rathe_arly; but it is true, also, that they are opened for persons going out, an_he number of these is considerable. It was possible, also, to pass the wall_y other ways, well known, for instance, to slaves who wish to escape from th_ity. Vinicius had sent out his people to all roads leading to the provinces, to watchmen in the smaller towns, proclaiming a pair of fugitive slaves, wit_ detailed description of Ursus and Lygia, coupled with the offer of a rewar_or seizing them. But it was doubtful whether that pursuit would reach th_ugitives; and even should it reach them, whether the local authorities woul_eel justified in making the arrest at the private instance of Vinicius, without the support of a pretor. Indeed, there had not been time to obtai_uch support. Vinicius himself, disguised as a slave, had sought Lygia th_hole day before, through every corner of the city, but had been unable t_ind the least indication or trace of her. He had seen Aulus's servants, it i_rue; but they seemed to be seeking something also, and that confirmed him i_he belief that it was not Aulus who had intercepted the maiden, and that th_ld general did not know what had happened to her.
  • When Tiresias announced to him, then, that there was a man who would undertak_o find Lygia, he hurried with all speed to the house of Petronius; and barel_ad he finished saluting his uncle, when he inquired for the man.
  • "We shall see him at once, Eunice knows him," said Petronius. "She will com_his moment to arrange the folds of my toga, and will give nearer informatio_oncerning him."
  • "Oh! she whom thou hadst the wish to bestow on me yesterday?"
  • "The one whom thou didst reject; for which I am grateful, for she is the bes_estiplica in the whole city."
  • In fact, the vestiplica came in before he had finished speaking, and takin_he toga, laid on a chair inlaid with pearl, she opened the garment to thro_t on Petronius's shoulder. Her face was clear and calm; joy was in her eyes.
  • Petronius looked at her. She seemed to him very beautiful. After a while, whe_he had covered him with the toga, she began to arrange it, bending at time_o lengthen the folds. 1-Je noticed that her arms had a marvellous pal_ose—color, and her bosom and shoulders the transparent reflections of pear_r alabaster.
  • "Eunice," said he, "has the man come to Tiresias whom thou didst mentio_esterday?"
  • "He has, lord."
  • "What is his name?"
  • "Chilo Chilonides."
  • "Who is he?"
  • "A physician, a sage, a soothsayer, who knows how to read people's fates an_redict the future."
  • "Has he predicted the future to thee?"
  • Eunice was covered with a blush which gave a rosy color to her ears and he_eck even.
  • "Yes, lord."
  • "What has he predicted?"
  • "That pain and happiness would meet me."
  • "Pain met thee yesterday at the hands of Tiresias; hence happiness also shoul_ome."
  • "It has come, lord, already."
  • "What?"
  • "I remain," said she in a whisper.
  • Petronius put his hand on her golden head.
  • "Thou hast arranged the folds well to-day, and I am satisfied with thee, Eunice."
  • Under that touch her eyes were mist-covered in one instant from happiness, an_er bosom began to heave quickly.
  • Petronius and Vinicius passed into the atrium, where Chio Chilonides wa_aiting. When he saw them, he made a low bow. A smile came to the lips o_etronius at thought of his suspicion of yesterday, that this man might b_unice's lover. The man who was standing before him could not be any one'_over. In that marvellous figure there was something both foul and ridiculous.
  • He was not old; in his dirty beard and curly locks a gray hair shone here an_here. He had a lank stomach and stooping shoulders, so that at the first cas_f the eye he appeared to be hunchbacked; above that hump rose a large head, with the face of a monkey and also of a fox; the eye was penetrating. Hi_ellowish complexion was varied with pimples; and his nose, covered with the_ompletely, might indicate too great a love for the bottle. His neglecte_pparel, composed of a dark tunic of goat's wool and a mantle of simila_aterial with holes in it, showed real or simulated poverty. At sight of him, Homer's Thersites came to the mind of Petronius. Hence, answering with a wav_f the hand to his bow, he said, — "A greeting, divine Thersites! How are th_umps which Ulysses gave thee at Troy, and what is he doing himself in th_lysian Fields?"
  • "Noble lord," answered Chilo Chionides, "Ulysses, the wisest of the dead, sends a greeting through me to Petronius, the wisest of the living, and th_equest to cover my lumps with a new mantle."
  • "By Hecate Triformis!" exclaimed Petronius, "the answer deserves a ne_antle."
  • But further conversation was interrupted by the impatient Vinicius, wh_nquired directly, — "Dost thou know clearly what thou art undertaking?" "Whe_wo households in two lordly mansions speak of naught else, and when half Rom_s repeating the news, it is not difficult to know," answered Chio. "The nigh_efore last a maiden named Lygia, but specially Callina, and reared in th_ouse of Aulus Plautius, was intercepted. Thy slaves were conducting her, _ord, from Caesar's palace to thy 'insula,' and I undertake to find her in th_ity, or, if she has left the city — which is little likely — to indicate t_hee, noble tribune, whither she has fled and where she has hidden."
  • "That is well," said Vinicius, who was pleased with the precision of th_nswer. "What means hast thou to do this?"
  • Chilo smiled cunningly. "Thou hast the means, lord; I have the wit only."
  • Petronius smiled also, for he was perfectly satisfied with his guest.
  • "That man can find the maiden," thought he. Meanwhile Vinicius wrinkled hi_oined brows, and said, — "Wretch, in case thou deceive me for gain, I wil_ive command to beat thee with clubs."
  • "I am a philosopher, lord, and a philosopher cannot be greedy of gain, especially of such as thou hast just offered magnanimously."
  • "Oh, art thou a philosopher?" inquired Petronius. "Eunice told me that tho_rt a physician and a soothsayer. Whence knowest thou Eunice?"
  • "She came to me for aid, for my fame struck her ears."
  • "What aid did she want?"
  • "Aid in love, lord. She wanted to be cured of unrequited love."
  • "Didst thou cure her?"
  • "I did more, lord. I gave her an amulet which secures mutuality. In Paphos, o_he island of Cyprus, is a temple, O lord, in which is preserved a zone o_enus. I gave her two threads from that zone, enclosed in an almond shell."
  • "And didst thou make her pay well for them?"
  • "One can never pay enough for mutuality, and I, who lack two fingers on m_ight hand, am collecting money to buy a slave copyist to write down m_houghts, and preserve my wisdom f or mankind."
  • "Of what school art thou, divine sage?"
  • "I am a Cynic, lord, because I wear a tattered mantle; I am a Stoic, because _ear poverty patiently; I am a Peripatetic, for, not owning a litter, I go o_oot from one wine-shop to another, and on the way teach those who promise t_ay for a pitcher of wine."
  • "And at the pitcher thou dost become a rhetor?"
  • "Heraclitus declares that 'all is fluid,' and canst thou deny, lord, that win_s fluid?"
  • "And he declared that fire is a divinity; divinity, therefore, is blushing i_hy nose."
  • "But the divine Diogenes from Apollonia declared that air is the essence o_hings, and the warmer the air the more perfect the beings it makes, and fro_he warmest come the souls of sages. And since the autumns are cold,a genuin_age should warm his soul with wine; and wouldst thou hinder,
  • O lord, a pitcher of even the stuff produced in Capua or Telesia from bearin_eat to all the bones of a perishable human body?"
  • "Chilo Chionides, where is thy birthplace?"
  • "On the Euxine Pontus. I come from Mesembria."
  • "Oh, Chio, thou art great!"
  • "And unrecognized," said the sage, pensively.
  • But Vinicius was impatient again. In view of the hope which had gleamed befor_im, he wished Chilo to set out at once on his work; hence the whol_onversation seemed to him simply a vain loss of time, and he was angry a_etronius.
  • "When wilt thou begin the search?" asked he, turning to the Greek.
  • "I have begun it already," answered Chio. "And since I am here, and answerin_hy affable question, I am searching yet. Only have confidence, honore_ribune, and know that if thou wert to lose the string of thy sandal I shoul_ind it, or him who picked it up on the street."
  • "Hast thou been employed in similar services?" asked Petronius.
  • The Greek raised his eyes. "To-day men esteem virtue and wisdom too low, for _hilosopher not to be forced to seek other means of living."
  • "What are thy means?"
  • "To know everything, and to serve those with news who are in need of it."
  • "And who pay for it?"
  • "Ah, lord, I need to buy a copyist. Otherwise my wisdom will perish with me."
  • "If thou hast not collected enough yet to buy a sound mantle, thy service_annot be very famous."
  • "Modesty hinders me. But remember, lord, that to-day there are not suc_enefactors as were numerous formerly; and for whom it was as pleasant t_over service with gold as to swallow an oyster from Puteoli. No; my service_re not small, but the gratitude of mankind is small. At times, when a value_lave escapes, who will find him, if not the only son of my father? When o_he walls there are inscriptions against the divine Poppae, who will indicat_hose who composed them? Who will discover at the book-stalls verses agains_aesar? Who will declare what is said in the houses of knights and senators?
  • Who will carry letters which the writers will not intrust to slaves? Who wil_isten to news at the doors of barbers? For whom have wine-shops and bake- shops no secret? In whom do slaves trust? Who can see through every house, from the atrium to the garden? Who knows every street, every alley and hiding- place? Who knows what they say in the baths, in the Circus, in the markets, i_he fencing-schools, in slave-dealers' sheds, and even in the arenas?"
  • "By the gods! enough, noble sage!" cried Petronius; "we are drowning in th_ervices, thy virtue, thy wisdom, and thy eloquence. Enough! We wanted to kno_ho thou art, and we know!"
  • But Vinicius was glad, for he thought that this man, like a hound, once put o_he trail, would not stop till he had found out the hiding-place.
  • "Well," said he, "dost thou need indications?"
  • "I need arms."
  • "Of what kind?" asked Vinicius, with astonishment.
  • The Greek stretched out one hand; with the other he made the gesture o_ounting money.
  • "Such are the times, lord," said he, with a sigh.
  • "Thou wilt be the ass, then," said Petronius, "to win the fortress with bag_f gold?"
  • "I am only a poor philosopher," answered Chilo, with humility; "ye have th_old."
  • Vinicius tossed him a purse, which the Greek caught in the air, though tw_ingers were lacking on his right hand.
  • He raised his head then, and said: "I know more than thou thinkest. I have no_ome empty-handed. I know that Aulus did not intercept the maiden, for I hav_poken with his slaves. I know that she is not on the Palatine, for all ar_ccupied with the infant Augusta; and perhaps I may even divine why ye prefe_o search for the maiden with my help rather than that of the city guards an_aesar's soldiers. I know that her escape was effected by a servant, — a slav_oming from the same country as she. He could not find assistance amon_laves, for slaves all stand together, and would not act against thy slaves.
  • Only a co-religionist would help him."
  • "Dost hear, Vinicius?" broke in Petronius. "Have I not said the same, word fo_ord, to thee?"
  • "That is an honor for me," said Chio. "The maiden, lord," continued he, turning again to Vinicius, "worships beyond a doubt the same divinity as tha_ost virtuous of Roman ladies, that genuine matron, Pomponia. I have hear_his, too, that Pomponia was tried in her own house for worshipping some kin_f foreign god, but I could not learn from her slaves what god that is, o_hat his worshippers are called. If I could learn that, I should go to them, become the most devoted among them, and gain their confidence. But thou, lord, who hast passed, as I know too, a number of days in the house of the nobl_ulus, canst thou not give me some information thereon?"
  • "I cannot," said Vinicius.
  • "Ye have asked me long about various things, noble lords, and I have answere_he questions; permit me now to give one. Hast thou not seen, honored tribune, some statuette, some offering, some token, some amulet on Pomponia or th_ivine Lygia? Hast thou not seen them making signs to each other, intelligibl_o them alone?"
  • "Signs? Wait! Yes; I saw once that Lygia made a fish on the sand."
  • "A fish? A-a! O-o-o! Did she do that once, or a number of times?"
  • "Only once."
  • "And art thou certain, lord, that she outlined a fish? O-o?"
  • "Yes," answered Vinicius, with roused curiosity. "Dost thou divine what tha_eans?"
  • "Do I divine!" exclaimed Chio. And bowing in sign of farewell, he added:
  • "May Fortune scatter on you both equally all gifts, worthy lords!"
  • "Give command to bring thee a mantle," said Petronius to him at parting.
  • "Ulysses gives thee thanks for Thersites," said the Greek; and bowing a secon_ime, he walked out.
  • "What wilt thou say of that noble sage?" inquired Petronius.
  • "This, that he will find Lygia," answered Vinicius, with delight; "but I wil_ay, too, that were there a kingdom of rogues he might be the king of it."
  • "Most certainly. I shall make a nearer acquaintance with this stoic; meanwhil_ must give command to perfume the atrium."
  • But Chilo Chionides, wrapping his new mantle about him, threw up on his palm, under its folds, the purse received from Vinicius, and admired both its weigh_nd its jingle. Walking on slowly, and looking around to see if they were no_ooking at him from the house, he passed the portico of Livia, and, reachin_he corner of the Clivus Virbius, turned toward the Subura.
  • "I must go to Sporus," said he to himself, "and pour out a little wine t_ortuna. I have found at last what I have been seeking this long time. He i_oung, irascible, bounteous as mines in Cyprus, and ready to give half hi_ortune for that Lygian linnet. Just such a man have I been seeking this lon_ime. It is needful, however, to be on one's guard with him, for the wrinklin_f his brow forebodes no good. Ah! the woif-whelps lord it over the world to- day! I should fear that Petronius less. O gods! but the trade of procurer pay_etter at present than virtue. Ah! she drew a fish on the sand! If I know wha_hat means, may I choke myself with a piece of goat's cheese! But I shal_now. Fish live under water, and searching under water is more difficult tha_n land, ergo he will pay me separately for this fish. Another such purse an_ might cast aside the beggar's wallet and buy myself a slave. But wha_ouldst thou say, Chilo, were I to advise thee to buy not a male but a femal_lave? I know thee; I know that thou wouldst consent. If she were beautiful, like Eunice, for instance, thou thyself wouldst grow young near her, and a_he same time wouldst have from her a good and certain income. I sold to tha_oor Eunice two threads from my old mantle. She is dull; but if Petronius wer_o give her to me, I would take her. Yes, yes, Chilo Chilonides, thou has_ost father and mother, thou art an orphan; therefore buy to console thee eve_ female slave. She must indeed live somewhere, therefore Vinicius will hir_er a dwelling, in which thou too mayest find shelter; she must dress, henc_inicius will pay for the dress; and must eat, hence he will support her. Och!
  • what a hard life! Where are the times in which for an obolus a man could bu_s much pork and beans as he could hold in both hands, or a piece of goat'_ntrails as long as the arm of a boy twelve years old, and filled with blood?
  • But here is that villain Sporus! In the wine-shop it will be easier to lear_omething."
  • Thus conversing, he entered the wine-shop and ordered a pitcher of "dark" fo_imself. Seeing the sceptical look of the shopkeeper, he took a gold coin fro_is purse, and, putting it on the table, said, — "Sporus, I toiled to-day wit_eneca from dawn till midday, and this is what my friend gave me at parting."
  • The plump eyes of Sporus became plumper still at this sight, and the wine wa_oon before Chilo. Moistening his fingers in it, he drew a fish on the table, and said, — "Knowest what that means?" "A fish? Well, a fish, — yes, that's _ish." "Thou art dull; though thou dost add so much water to the wine tha_hou mightst find a fish in it. This is a symbol which, in the language o_hilosophers, means 'the smile of fortune.' If thou hadst divined it, thou to_ightst have made a fortune. Honor philosophy, I tell thee, or I shall chang_y wineshop, — an act to which Petronius, my personal friend, has been urgin_e this long time."