Friday, August 27, 2004



Thomas More, Utopia, tr. Gilbert Burnet:
They eat and drink out of vessels of earth or glass, which make an agreeable appearance, though formed of brittle materials; while they make their chamber-pots and close-stools of gold and silver, and that not only in their public halls but in their private houses. Of the same metals they likewise make chains and fetters for their slaves, to some of which, as a badge of infamy, they hang an earring of gold, and make others wear a chain or a coronet of the same metal; and thus they take care by all possible means to render gold and silver of no esteem.
Thomas More was probably inspired in one detail by an epigram of Martial (1.37):
You capture your bowels' load in unfortunate gold, Bassus, nor does it shame you. You drink from glass. Therefore it costs you more to crap.

Ventris onus misero, nec te pudet, excipis auro,
  Basse, bibis vitro: carius ergo cacas.
Bassus has his modern imitators.

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