Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/305

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EXTRAVAGANCES OF EMPEROR

the silversmiths could scarce keep pace with his generosity. It is a good feeling that of giving generously, better to give than to receive, and what Elagabalus got in return cost the giver so little pain.

To food and drink the Emperor was as much addicted as the traditional city alderman, though his imagination certainly surpassed that of the retired tradesman, at least in quality and design. His chief authority was Apicius, the renowned author of a book entitled De re coquinaria, but he had other models almost as famous, if not as long-lived, in the Emperors Otho and Vitellius, and managed to outdo them all in extravagance. Lampridius states that no feast cost Elagabalus less than 100,000 sesterces, and often reached the stupendous figure of 300,000, tout compris. The number of dishes has been reached, if not surpassed, by modern luxury, but to Lampridius' twenty-two courses sounded absurd; not so, however, the ablutions and courtesans who always attended and utilised the intervals in an unbecoming manner. Occasionally these intervals were of some length, caused by the removal of whole services of plate to the possession of some guest who had said the right thing at the psychological moment. Another means of delay was found in the practice, which Elagabalus instituted, of taking each course in the house of a different friend, an arrangement which necessitated the transference of the whole party in their gold and ivory chariots from the Capitol to the Palatine, thence to the Coelian Hill, and again to another friend who might