Andrew Dalby

Empire of Pleasures

Selected translations first published in Andrew Dalby's Empire of Pleasures. Use these links to find out more about the author, to buy a copy of the book, and to find the latest added information on the luxuries of Rome and its Empire.

The best smoked cheese comes from Velabrum

Cheese is not suited to every hearth or to every smoke, but the cheese that imbibes the smoke of Velabrum has the true flavour.

Martial, Epigrams 13.32. Latin text

Where to bathe in Rome

Bathe in the baths of Etruscus, Oppianus, or you will die unclean. No waters will caress you like these: not the spring of Aponus, unkind to girls, not soft Sinuessa nor prized Baiae. Nowhere is there such perfect peace; light itself lasts longer there. The quarries of Taygetus give of their greenness; marbles cut deep by the Phrygian and the Libyan vie in varied colours. Rich onyx marble exhales its dry breath; serpentine glows with a thin flame. If you like it the Laconian way, you can dip in the dry steam, then in the raw Virgo and the Marcia. They shine so palely and so still that you would think there was no water there at all, and you were seeing the white Parian marble of an empty bath.

Martial, Epigrams 6.42. This is an abridged translation: here's the complete Latin text

The perfect sauce for moray eel

This is my sauce for moray: Venafran oil of the first pressing; Spanish fish sauce; five year old Italian wine to be added during the cooking (if adding after, Chian will do better than any other), white pepper, and vinegar from the vineyards of Methymna. My own innovation is to add green rocket and bitter elecampane. Curtillus uses sea-urchins, not cleaned, because their own liquor is better than any brine.

Horace, Satires 2.8.45-52. Latin text