The Rich to Cronus, Greeting.
Do you really suppose, Sire, that these letters of the poor 36 have gone exclusively to your address? Zeus is quite deaf with their clamour, their appeals for redistribution, their complaints of Destiny for her unfairness and of us for refusing them relief. But Zeus is Zeus; he knows where the fault lies, and consequently pays them very little attention. However, as the authority is at present with you, to you we will address our defence. Having before our eyes all that you have laid down on the beauty of assisting out of our abundance those who are in want, and the delight of associating and making merry with the poor, we adopted the principle of treating them on such equal terms that a guest could not possibly have anything to complain of.
On their side, they started with professions of wanting very 37 little indeed; but that was only the thin edge of the wedge. Now, if their demands are not instantly and literally satisfied, there is bad temper and offence and talk; their tales may be as false as they will, every one believes them: they have been there; they must know! Our only choice was between a refusal that meant detestation, and a total surrender that meant speedy ruin and transfer to the begging class for ourselves.
But the worst is to come. At table that filling of the stomach 38 (of which we have by no means the monopoly) does not so completely
occupy them but that, when they have drunk a drop too much, they find time for familiarities with the attendants or saucy compliments to the ladies. Then, after being ill at our tables, they go home, and next day reproach us with the hunger and thirst they feelingly describe. If you doubt the accuracy of this account, we refer you to your own quondam guest Ixion, who being hospitably received by you and treated as one of yourselves distinguished himself by his drunken addresses to Hera.
39For these among other reasons we determined to protect ourselves by giving them the entrée no longer. But if they engage under your guarantee to make only the moderate demands they now profess, and to abstain from outraging their hosts' feelings, what is ours shall be theirs; we shall be only too glad of their company. We will comply with your suggestions about the clothes and, as far as may be, about the gold, and in fact will do our duty. We ask them on their side to give up trading on our hospitality, and to be our friends instead of our toadies and parasites. If only the' will behave themselves, you shall have no reason to complain of us.