Interveniens – 2

At the table, slave boys washed our hands with cool water, while others cared for our feet. They sang with their work, despite the unpleasant duty, much to my delight. I even heard a drink order sung across the room. All the guests were gathered, excluding the master, and a display to pique our appetites was brought forth. It was a bronze donkey with platters of olives. The dishes were inscribed with Trimalchio’s name and their weight in silver. There were also dormice dipped in honey and poppy-seed, a favorite of my uncle, as well as a tray of sausages. I spotted pomegranate seeds and felt my mouth water.

With things as they were, I expected a good evening. Now if only the host would show for us to begin.

We were engaged in the display when Trimalchio was carried in to the sound of music. He was propped up on the tiniest of pillows and dressed in a most extravagant manner. His appearance brought up a chuckle in me, but my uncle quickly turned his head to me and made a silencing motion.

Picking his teeth with a silver quill, Trimalchio told us he came against his own convenience because he did not want to make us wait much longer. A boy ran in with a board game Trimalchio was in the middle of playing. I marveled at the crystal pieces, and the use of gold and silver coins as counters.

Trimalchio talked as he played, but the room’s attention was divided until a wooden hen was brought in on a bed of straw. Two slaves hunted through the straw to bring out many peahen (peafowl – think ‘peacock’) eggs that were given to the guests. Trimalchio suggested we see if they were still fresh enough to suck. We hammered at the eggs with our spoons, and I heard another diner say “What treasure have we here?” Inside, I saw a fat songbird rolled up in a spice yoke.

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