Trimalchio interrupted these pleasant reminiscences..."Look now, these here heavens, as there are twelve gods living in 'em, changes into that many shapes.

"First it becomes the Ram. So whoever is born under that sign has a lot of herds, a lot of wool, a hard head as well, a brassy front and a sharp horn. Most scholars are born under this sign, and most muttonheads as well."

We applauded the wit of our astrologer and he went on:

"Then the whole heavens turns into the little old Bull. So bullheaded folk are born then, and cow-herds and those who find their own feed.

"Under the Heavenly Twins on the other hand - pairs-in-hand, yokes of oxen, people with big ballocks and people who do it both ways.

"I was born under the Crab, so I have a lot of legs to stand on and a lot of property on land and sea, because the Crab takes both in his stride. And that's why I put nothing over him earlier, so as not to upset my horoscope.

"Under Leo are born greedy and bossy people.

"Under the Virgin, effeminates, runaways and candidates for the chain-gang.

"Under the Scales, butchers, perfume-sellers and anyone who weighs things up.

"Under Scorpio poisoners and murderers.

"Under Sagittarius are born cross-eyed people who look at the vegetables and take the bacon.

"Under Capricorn, people in trouble who sprout horns through their worries.

"Under the Water-Carrier, bartenders and jugheads.

"Under the fishes, fish-fryers and people who spout in public.

"So the starry sky turns round like a millstone, always bringing some trouble, and men being born or dying."

Gaius Petronius Arbiter (d. AD 66), The Satyricon, The Dinner of Trimalchio

Note: Compare the exquisite wit of this 1,900 year-old document to contemporary parodies of astrology such as the "Real Astrology" column that besmirches various newspapers and is about as funny as a dead carp.

Back to Anesi's Book of Unfamiliar Quotations

©Copyright 1995-2006 Chuck Anesi all rights reserved