食客 were honoured guests living in the houses of kings and princes for free. They had neither property nor rank; and they scarcely ran any errands. They were not even officially employed. They nevertheless belonged to the leisured class. Unlike the Greek civilization which was created by property owners, the best of the Chinese civilization was actually created by these parasites.
Due to the unbelievable worship of busywork in western culture, I am unable to find a translation for 食客 that is also associated with honour and respect.