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Simylus. Polystratus

Si. So here you are at last, Polystratus; you must be something very like a centenarian.

Pol. Ninety-eight.

Si. And what sort of a life have you had of it, these thirty years? you were about seventy when I died.

Pol. Delightful, though you may find it hard to believe.

Si. It is surprising that you could have any joy of your life--old, weak, and childless, moreover.

Pol. In the first place, I could do just what I liked; there were still plenty of handsome boys and dainty women; perfumes were sweet, wine kept its bouquet, Sicilian feasts were nothing to mine.

Si. This is a change, to be sure; you were very economical in my day.

Pol. Ah, but, my simple friend, these good things were presents--came in streams. From dawn my doors were thronged with visitors, and in the day it was a procession of the fairest gifts of earth.

Si. Why, you must have seized the crown after my death.

Pol. Oh no, it was only that I inspired a number of tender passions.

Si. Tender passions, indeed! what, you, an old man with hardly a tooth left in your head!

Pol. Certainly; the first of our townsmen were in love with me. Such as you see me, old, bald, blear-eyed, rheumy, they

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delighted to do me honour; happy was the man on whom my glance rested a moment.

Si. Well, then, you had some adventure like Phaon's, when he rowed Aphrodite across from Chios; your God granted your prayer and made you young and fair and lovely again.

Pol. No, no; I was as you see me, and I was the object of all desire.

Si. Oh, I give it up.

Pol. Why, I should have thought you knew the violent passion for old men who have plenty of money and no children.

Si. Ah, now I comprehend your beauty, old fellow; it was the Golden Aphrodite bestowed it.

Pol. I assure you, Simylus, I had a good deal of satisfaction out of my lovers; they idolized me, almost. Often I would be coy and shut some of them out. Such rivalries! such jealous emulations!

Si. And how did you dispose of your fortune in the end?

Pol. I gave each an express promise to make him my heir; he believed, and treated me to more attentions than ever; meanwhile I had another genuine will, which was the one I left, with a message to them all to go hang.

Si. Who was the heir by this one? one of your relations, I suppose.

Pol. Not likely; it was a handsome young Phrygian I had lately bought.

Si. Age?

Pol. About twenty.

Si. Ah, I can guess his office.

Pol. Well, you know, he deserved the inheritance much better than they did; he was a barbarian and a rascal; but by this time he has the best of society at his beck. So he inherited; and now he is one of the aristocracy; his smooth chin and his

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foreign accent are no bars to his being called nobler than Codrus, handsomer than Nireus, wiser than Odysseus.

Si. Well, I don't mind; let him be Emperor of Greece, if he likes, so long as he keeps the property away from that other crew.


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