Thursday, August 03, 2006
More on Eating Alone
Seneca, Letters to Lucilius 19.10 (tr. Richard M. Gummere):
This saying of Maecenas's might have squared my account with you; but I feel sure, knowing you, that you will get out an injunction against me, and that you will be unwilling to accept payment of my debt in such crude and debased currency. However that may be, I shall draw on the account of Epicurus. He says [fragment 542 Usener]: "You must reflect carefully beforehand with whom you are to eat and drink, rather than what you are to eat and drink. For a dinner of meats without the company of a friend is like the life of a lion or a wolf."Lucian, Saturnalia 3.34 (tr. H.W. and F.G. Fowler):
Poteram tecum hac Maecenatis sententia parem facere rationem, sed movebis mihi controversiam, si novi te, nec voles quod debeo
in aspero et probo accipere. Ut se res habet, ab Epicuro versura facienda est. 'Ante' inquit 'circumspiciendum est cum quibus edas et bibas quam quid edas et bibas; nam sine amico visceratio leonis ac lupi vita est.'
It is surely not so agreeable to gorge yourself alone, like a lion or an old wolf that has deserted the pack, as to have the company of well-bred people who do their best to make things pleasant. In the first place they banish dull silence from your table, and are ready with a good story, a harmless jest, or some other contribution to entertainment; that is the way to please the Gods of wine and love and beauty. And secondly they win you love by spreading abroad next morning your hospitable fame. These are things that would be cheap at a considerable price.Plutarch, Convivial Questions 7.pr.1 (697 a, tr. T.C., rev. William W. Goodwin):
The Romans, Sossius Senecio, remember a pretty saying of a pleasant man and good companion, who supping alone said that he had eaten today, but not supped; as if a supper always wanted company and agreement to make it palatable and pleasing.These examples come from John E.B. Mayor's commentary on Juvenal 1.95. Mayor has other references, which I'll try to track down later.