The Satyricon "One Good Turn Deserves Another"

Gaius Petronius Arbiter

"One Good Turn Deserves Another"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: A great feast at the home of Trimalchio, a newly-rich vulgarian, has been finished, and the host, called "the tyrant" by the author, has retired. The author then begins to "draw the conversation" from his neighbors. One guest discusses how much harder times are now than they used to be, because all the people are skeptics: "as it is, the gods are gouty in the feet because we are sceptics." Echion, an old-clothes dealer, answers, however, that "'There's ups and there's downs', as the country bumpkin said when he lost his spotted pig." He then discusses the coming "superb spectacle," a gladiatorial combat that is to last three days. In discussing this event, he mentions some "decayed twopenny-halfpenny gladiators" who fought badly. He ends this discourse by saying:

. . . One man, a Thracian, had some stuffing, but he too fought according to the rule of the schools. In short, they were all flogged afterwards. How the great crowd roared at them, "Lay it on!" They were mere runaways, to be sure. "Still," says Norbanus, "I did give you a treat." Yes, and I clap my hands at you. Reckon it up, and I give you more than I got. One good turn deserves another.