A few days ago I remembered a short story that I was taught in high-school, and I'm trying to find from what book it comes from.

The story goes something like this:

A Roman senator was at a dinner party, he was bored of the people there because he thought that no one matched his intellectual standards. Until a few hours later when he met another man, they start talking and the senator was pleased to see a kindred spirit in that party, a man of rich culture, and a broad mind. He was so pleased and he enjoyed so much the time spent with this person that he asked him to meet again, but the man replied:-"I can't I don't think my master would allow it". The senator left immediately in an outrage, and then he told another senator:-"This is unbelievable, we should pass a law forcing slaves to wear something to identify themselves, so this doesn't happen again" and the other senator replied:-"I don't think that would be possible, if we do it they will figure out that there are more of them than us."

This is a short story from that book, and well, I've been searching for that book, but I haven't found it so far.

Any clue would help. Thanks!

  • Hi and welcome to Literature Stack Exchange. I like the story but I wonder if you could add when you read it (which could be helpful in dating the printed book) and in which language.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 20:48
  • Hey @Tsundoku - Thanks! Sorry, but I've little to no info about the story. I remember I read it when I was in my third year of high school, that's 2009. But I highly doubt that's the actual printing date, it was an old used book from the library.
    – 4gus71n
    Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 21:00

1 Answer 1


The short story you are looking for may have combined a non-fiction text with another text. The second part of the story may have its source in Lucius Annaeus Seneca's De Clementia / On Mercy.

Chapter XXIV of Book I of that work begins as follows (quoted from Wikisource):

A proposal was once made in the Senate to distinguish slaves from free men by their dress: it was then discovered how dangerous it would be for our slaves to be able to count our numbers. Be assured that the same thing would be the case if no one's offence is pardoned: it will quickly be discovered how far the number of bad men exceeds that of the good.

This is only a partial answer, since it is not clear yet where the story of the senator and the slave comes from.

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