Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius was a Roman grammarian and neoplatonic philosopher during the reign of Honorius and Arcadius (395-423)
The most important of his works is the Saturnalia, containing an account of the discussions held at the house of Vettius Agorius Praetextatus (praetorian prefect from May 21 - Sept. 9, A.D. 384) during the holiday of the Saturnalia starting on December 17. It was written by the author for the benefit of his son Eustathius (or Eustachius)
1.Sulla’s son Faustus hearing that his sister was having an affair with two lovers at the same time, with Fulvius (a fuller’s son) and Pompeius surnamed Macula (a stain), declared: “I am surprised to find my sister with a stain, seeing that she has the services of a fuller.”
2.Servilius Geminus happened to be dining at the house of Lucius Mallius, who was held to be the best portrait painter in Rome and, noticing how misshapen his host’s sons were, observed: “Your modelling, Mallius, does not come up to your painting.” “Naturally,” replied Mallius, “for the modelling is done in the dark but the painting by daylight.”
3.Marcus Otacilius Pitholaus, on the occasion of the consulship of Caninius Revilus which lasted only one day remarked: “We used to have Priest of the Day but now we have consuls of a day.
(The point of the jest is the punning reference to the Priests of Jupiter (or Diespiter, i.e.”Father of the Day”; (see Aulus Gellius 5.12), who was known as the Flamen Dialis, and to the connection of the word Dialis with dies, “day.”)
4.Macrob. puts Symmachus the following verse by Plato in de mouth.
While with parted lips I was kissing my love and drawing his sweet fragrant breath from his open mouth, my poor, my lovesick, wounded soul rushed to my lips as it strove to find a way to pass between my open mouth and my love’s soft lips. Then, had the kiss been, even for a little while, prolonged, my soul, smitten with love’s fire, would have passed through and left me; and (a marvel this!) I should be dead- but alive within my love.
5.The lawyer Cascellius has a reputation for a remarkable outspoken wit, and here is one of his best-known quips. Vatinius had been stoned by the populace at a gladiatorial show which he was giving, and so he prevailed on the aediles to make a proclamation forbidding the throwing of anything but fruit into the arena. Now it so happened that Cascellius at that time was asked by a client to advise whether a fir cone was a fruit or not, and his reply was:” If you propose to throw one at Vatinius, it is.”
6.Then there is the story that, when a merchant asked him how to split a ship with a partner he replied:” If you split the ship, it will be neither yours nor your partner’s.”
7.A jest that went the rounds was one directed by Marcus Lollius at the distinguished speaker Galba, who (as I have already remarked) was hampered by a bodily deformity:” Galba’s intellectual ability is ill housed.”
8.To others who used to play at ball with him Gaius Caesar had made a gift of a hundred thousand sesterces, but Lucius Caecilius got only fifty thousand. “ What is the meaning of this?” said Caecilius, “ Do I play with only one hand?”
9.When Publius Clodius told Decimus Laberius that he was angry with him for refusing to produce a mime for him at his request, Laberius said:” What of it? All that you can do is to give me a return passage to Dyrrachium”
(– a mocking allusion to Cicero’s exile.)