Page:The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus.djvu/306

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live beyond the walls, or yet to another in Trastevere. This, with the usual impedimenta, arriving at the house of each, for the dishes in their order, took time, and in such a fashion we can well believe the chronicler who states that a single feast was scarce finished in the daytime, especially as the intervals for customary enjoyments were arranged with due regard for the utmost desires of the guests.

It is charming to imagine a feast such as is recorded of Maecenas, where "in ungirdled tunics the guests lay on silver beds, the head and neck encircled with amaranthe—whose perfume, in opening the pores, neutralises the fumes of wine—fanned by boys, whose curly hair they used as napkins. Under the supervision of butlers the courses were served on silver platters, so large that they covered the tables. Sows' breasts with Lybian truffles; dormice baked in poppies and honey; peacocks' tongues flavoured with cinnamon; oysters stewed in garum—a sort of anchovy sauce made of the intestines of fish—flamingoes' and ostriches' brains, followed by the brains of thrushes, parroquets, pheasants, and peacocks, also a yellow pig cooked after the Trojan fashion, from which, when carved, hot sausages fell and live thrushes flew; sea-wolves from the Baltic, sturgeons from Rhodes, fig-peckers from Samos, African snails and the rest." A full list of the dainties set forth would weary the amateur, might even make him envious of the times that are now long dead, times when the ceaseless round of beef and mutton would have been considered monotonous or bad art, and year in year out plain boiled greens