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Buku Invitation to Die by Lindsey Davis

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Invitation to Die by Lindsey Davis

Author:Lindsey Davis

Language: eng

Format: epub

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

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Invitation to Die by Lindsey Davis

* * *

Finally, they became fully aware of this piece of theatre. A few lamps, of the kind used at funerals, allowed them to follow an usher. Faint pools of light hardly made an impact because, bloody hell, the whole room had been painted black.

It was not the elegant black of fashionable frescoed rooms, where a glossy background would be relieved by fine white borders and exquisitely coloured picture miniatures. Plain black. No fantasy garlands or candelabra, no naughty winged cherubs having fun in cute pursuits, no theatrical masks, tripods or torches, no myths, no monsters, no airy figures strewing flowers. Nothing. Just black walls, floor and ceiling. Black marble columns. Black drapes covering any windows. A black dais for the host.

 

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Invitation to Die by Lindsey Davis

 

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Invitation to Die by Lindsey Davis

Author:Lindsey Davis , Date: June 12, 2019

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Author:Lindsey Davis

Language: eng

Format: epub

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
* * *

Finally, they became fully aware of this piece of theatre. A few lamps, of the kind used at funerals, allowed them to follow an usher. Faint pools of light hardly made an impact because, bloody hell, the whole room had been painted black.

It was not the elegant black of fashionable frescoed rooms, where a glossy background would be relieved by fine white borders and exquisitely coloured picture miniatures. Plain black. No fantasy garlands or candelabra, no naughty winged cherubs having fun in cute pursuits, no theatrical masks, tripods or torches, no myths, no monsters, no airy figures strewing flowers. Nothing. Just black walls, floor and ceiling. Black marble columns. Black drapes covering any windows. A black dais for the host.

It was set out like a mausoleum, the old-fashioned kind where a family could enter their personal tomb to feast with their ancestors. Within the vast space stood couches. Devoid of the usual coverlets and banquet cushions to make reclining comfortable, these were in an uncompromising hard material; on the bare floor, they had been positioned like endless lines of graves. There was no doubt why: each position was marked by a dark rectangular slab. These were modelled on tombstones.

Each slab carried a guest’s name. Dear gods. There was a lamp for each man, which lit his name. Each diner had to lie on his couch beside his own gravestone.

Although plenty of others had entered ahead of them, no warm buzz of conversation rose, only anxious silence. The brothers passed through the banks of dining couches, not meeting the eyes of their fellow guests, not even greeting those they knew. It was every man for himself tonight, even though they all feared sharing one terrible fate.

After the Camilli reached their places and grimly noted their memorial slabs, things began to happen. Around them, the other places quickly filled. Although they never saw the Emperor go past, Domitian had now stationed himself at the central part of the gathering; from there he was able to glare at his guests—or victims—as his black joke played out.

Last to arrive, the two consuls joined him. Guests who were near enough witnessed a formal embrace between the Emperor and his leading men: a curious mix of supposed affection and ill-concealed indifference. Vicirius Proculus and Laberius Maximus, who were they? Domitian barely greeted them.

Best to be nonentities. The consuls would serve their term—not even a full year but on a speeded up rota, deputed only for the period of September to December so the deserving could all get a chance to hold office. Afterwards, best to subside into oblivion, grateful to have escaped the top man’s suspicion, relieved to still be alive. Now it was November: a month to go. Pray no informer named them for something they had done—or more likely some imagined slight they had never even thought about. It would soon all be over.… Scuttle back to their estates. Hope to get a province out of it, so they could spend a few years far away.

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