The ostentatious Trimalchio delights in all that’s artificial; even the colorful fruits he serves his guests are meant to simulate a fire burning beneath a griddle.


From his close-cropped head—the mark of a slave or former slave—to his napkin decorated with the broad purple stripe worn by senators on their togas, Trimalchio is a veritable popinjay.


But luck was with the canny Trimalchio. Born a slave in the Asiatic provinces, Trimalchio was brought to Rome, where he learned bookkeeping, obtained his freedom from his master Pompeius and parlayed his knack for business into millions.