BOOK THE FOURTH
3. Chapter III
A FASHIONABLE PARTY AND A DINNER A LA MODE IN POMPEII.
MEANWHILE Sallust and Glaucus were slowly strolling towards the house of
Diomed. Despite the habits of his life, Sallust was not devoid of many
estimable qualities. He would have been an active friend, a useful
citizen--in short, an excellent man, if he had not taken it into his head to
be a philosopher. Brought up in the schools in which Roman plagiarism
worshipped the echo of Grecian wisdom, he had imbued himself with those
doctrines by which the later Epicureans corrupted the simple maxims of their
great master. He gave himself altogether up to pleasure, and imagined there
was no sage like a boon companion. Still, however, he had a considerable
degree of learning, wit, and good nature; and the hearty frankness of his
very vices seemed like virtue itself beside the utter corruption of Clodius
and the prostrate effeminacy of Lepidus; and therefore Glaucus liked him the
best of his companions; and he, in turn, appreciating the nobler qualities
of the Athenian, loved him almost as much as a cold muraena, or a bowl of
the best Falernian.
'This is a vulgar old fellow, this Diomed,' said Sallust: 'but he has some
good qualities--in his cellar!'
'And some charming ones--in his daughter.'
'True, Glaucus: but you are not much moved by them, methinks. I fancy
Clodius is desirous to be your successor.'
'He is welcome. At the banquet of Julia's beauty, no guest, be sure, is
considered a musca.'
'You are severe: but she has, indeed, something of the Corinthian about
her--they will be well matched, after all! What good-natured fellows we are
to associate with that gambling good-for-nought.'
'Pleasure unites strange varieties,' answered Glaucus. 'He amuses me...'
'And flatters--but then he pays himself well! He powders his praise with
'You often hint that he plays unfairly--think you so really?'