Pliny Epistulae 1.15

by Tom Gardner

C. PLINIUS SEPTICIO CLARO SUO S.
1 Heus tu! Promittis ad cenam, nec uenis? Dicitur ius: ad assem impendium reddes, nec id modicum.
2 Paratae erant lactucae singulae, cochleae ternae, ova bina, halica cum mulso et niue — nam hanc quoque computabis, immo hanc in primis quae perit in ferculo — oliuae betacei cucurbitae bulbi, alia mille non minus lauta. Audisses comoedos uel lectorem uel lyristen uel — quae mea liberalitas — omnes.
3 At tu apud nescio quem ostrea vulvas echinos Gaditanas maluisti. Dabis poenas, non dico quas. Dure fecisti: invidisti, nescio an tibi, certe mihi, sed tamen et tibi. Quantum nos lusissemus risissemus studuissemus!
4 Potes apparatius cenare apud multos, nusquam hilarius simplicius incautius. In summa experire, et nisi postea te aliis potius excusaveris, mihi semper excusa. Vale.

1 Hey you! Do you promise to come to dinner and not come? The judgment is pronounced: you shall repay my expenses to the cent, and it won’t be a small amount.
2 It was all arranged: one lettuce each, three snails, two eggs, grit with mead and snow — you will count this as well, in fact this especially, for it disappeared in the dish — olives, beetroots, gherkins, onions, and a million others things no less refined. You would have heard a comedian or a reader or a luteplayer or — such is my grace — all of them.
3 But you chose to be at some person’s place, with oysters, sow’s wombs, sea urchins, dancing girls. You’ll pay the penalty, I won’t say what. You acted harshly, you were spiteful — perhaps towards you, I don’t know, and me of course, but still even you. How much we would have played, laughed, been cultured!
4 You can dine more sumptuously at many people’s houses, but nowhere can you be more cheerfully or blithely at ease. In short: try it out, and afterwards, if you aren’t making excuses to preferable invitations, you can always make excuses to me. Farewell.