Theophrastus, Characters: Bad Taste
“Bad taste, to give a simple definition, is a kind of action which causes grief but not harm. A person with bad taste is the kind…
Who barges in and wakes someone who is sleeping just to chat;
Or who slows people down when they are about to leave;
Or he demands someone waits before they take a walk
Or, when he takes a baby from his nurse, chews his food himself, coos and makes baby-sounds, saying, “you’re more wicked than your father”
Or, while he eats, relates that he’s all cleaned out inside because he drank some hellebore and that his bile was darker than the food on their plates.
Or he is likely to ask in front of the whole household, “Tell me, momma, what day was it when you went into labor and had me?
Or, he talks about how sweet she is and complains that it is not easy to find someone to have both of them.
Or, he has a cold water cistern in his home and a garden with many vegetables, and he has a cook who prepares dishes and his house is like a hotel, since it is always full and his friends are like a vase full of holes since he is never able to fill them even trying hard.
When he is entertaining he demonstrates to his guest what kind of a person his toady is. Over drinks he challenges him by saying, “The pleasure has been prepared for the guests” and then, when they ask, “The servant will go and get her now from the pimp so she can play the flute until we’re happy.”
(1) ἔστι δὲ ἡ ἀηδία, ὡς ὅρῳ περιλαβεῖν, ἔντευξις λύπης ποιητικὴ ἄνευ βλάβης, ὁ δὲ ἀηδὴς τοιοῦτός τις,
(2) οἷος ἐγείρειν ἄρτι καθεύδοντα εἰσελθών, ἵνα αὐτῷ λαλῇ.
(3) καὶ ἀνάγεσθαι δὴ μέλλοντας κωλύειν,
(4) καὶ προσελθὼν δεῖσθαι ἐπισχεῖν, ἕως ἂν περιπατήσῃ.
(5) καὶ τὸ παιδίον τῆς τίτθης ἀφελόμενος, μασώμενος σιτίζειν αὐτὸς καὶ ὑποκορίζεσθαι ποππύζων καὶ πανουργότερον τοῦ πάππου καλῶν.
(6) καὶ ἐσθίων δὲ ἅμα διηγεῖσθαι ὡς ἐλλέβορον πιὼν ἄνω καὶ κάτω καθαρθείη καὶ ζωμοῦ τοῦ παρακειμένου ἐν τοῖς ὑποχωρήμασιν αὑτῷ μελαντέρα <εἴη> ἡ χολή.
(7) καὶ ἐρωτῆσαι δὲ δεινὸς ἐναντίον τῶν οἰκείων· “εἴπ᾿, ὦ μάμμη, ὅτ᾿ ὤδινες καὶ ἔτικτές με, τίς ἡμέρα;”
(8) †καὶ ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς δὲ λέγειν ὡς ἡδύ ἐστι, καὶ ἀμφότερα δὲ οὐκ ἔχοντα οὐ ῥᾴδιον ἄνθρωπον λαβεῖν,†
(9) καὶ ὅτι ψυχρὸν ὕδωρ ἐστὶ παρ᾿ αὐτῷ λακκαῖον, καὶ ὡς κῆπος λάχανα πολλὰ ἔχων καὶ ἁπαλὰ [ὥστε εἶναι ψυχρὸν] καὶ μάγειρος εὖ τὸ ὄψον σκευάζων, καὶ ὅτι ἡ οἰκία αὐτοῦ πανδοκεῖόν ἐστι· μεστὴ γὰρ ἀεί· καὶ τοὺς φίλους αὐτοῦ εἶναι τὸν τετρημένον πίθον· εὖ ποιῶν γὰρ αὐτοὺς οὐ δύνασθαι ἐμπλῆσαι.
(10) καὶ ξενίζων δὲ δεῖξαι τὸν παράσιτον αὑτοῦ ποῖός τίς ἐστι τῷ συνδειπνοῦντι· καὶ παρακαλῶν δὲ ἐπὶ τοῦ ποτηρίου εἰπεῖν, ὅτι “τὸ τέρψον τοὺς παρόντας παρεσκεύασται,” καὶ ὅτι “αὐτήν,” ἐὰν κελεύσωσιν, “ὁ παῖς μέτεισι παρὰ τοῦ πορνοβοσκοῦ ἤδη, ὅπως πάντες ὑπ᾿ αὐτῆς αὐλώμεθα καὶ εὐφραινώμεθα.”