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ON SALARIED POSTS IN GREAT HOUSES
the finest of papyrus rolls, of which the knobs are of gold and the slip-cover of purple, but the content is either Thyestes feasting on his children or Oedipus married to his mother, or Tereus debauching two sisters at once. They too are splendid and universally admired, but inside, underneath their purple, they hide a deal of tragedy ; in fact if you unroll any one of them, you will find an ample drama by an Euripides or a Sophocles, while on the outside there is a gaudy purple laticlave and a golden bulla. Conscious of all this, they hate and plot against any renegade who, having become thoroughly familiar with them, is likely to expose the plot and tell it broadcast.
I desire, nevertheless, in imitation of Cebes,1 to paint you a picture of this career that we have discussed, so that you may look at it and determine whether you should enter it. I should gladly have requisitioned an Apelles, or Parrhasius, or Action, or Euphranor to paint it, but since it is impossible nowadays to find anyone so excellent and so thoroughly master of his craft, I shall show you the picture as best I can in unembellished prose.
Imagine painted a lofty, golden gateway, not down on the level ground but above the earth on a hill; the slope is long and steep and slippery, so that many a time those who hoped soon to be at the summit have broken their necks by a slip of the foot. Within, let Wealth himself be sitting, all golden, seemingly, very beautiful and fascinating ; and let his lover, after ascending with great toil, draw near the door and gaze spellbound at the gold. Let Hope, herself
1 Reputed author of the Tabula, a description of an imaginary allegorical painting representing human life.