Yesterday I downloaded an E-book entitled "Petticoat Rebellion" By Joan Smith. It was a lovely light fluffy Regency with the usual handsome rake/Duke, a schoolmistress chaperoning four teenagers at a house party, a theft, the mandatory misunderstanding between lovers and a kidnapping. The usual. One of the characters, Lady Penfel was the Dukes Aunt. She was quite a quiz as they say in the Regencies. She is enjoying her widowhood by wearing costumes that resemble an aging light skirt and her hair, once auburn, is now somewhat augmented to a frizzy rouge to match her raddled face. Part of the plot involves the schoolmistress, Miss Addie Fairchild's wish to review the estates Da Vinci portfolio which is under lock and key. Once Lady Penfel determined Addie was an artist she insisted that Addie do her portrait as in the fashion of "After Actium". With her dog Cuddles at her feet instead of a lion. The picture was described as Cleopatra resting after the battle of Actium, gazing off into the distance amongst her dying soldiers. The mental picture of this caught my imagination so I Googled the title. I did not find "After Actium" but I found something that looked similar to what was described in the book but this was entitled, "Cleopatra testing poison on condemned prisoners". (see above) Ahhh, uh huh. and she had a leopard at her feet. Back to the book, the thievery got solved, the kidnapping got solved and the portraiture was put off until after the Duke married the Schoolmistress.
I have gone off to find other things that caught my interest in books before. Once after reading "Little Women" I decided to get a copy of the Vicar of Wakefield to see what the hubbub was all about, why did Aunt March give Jo such a hard time for reading The Vicar. Was it considered trash or what? So I eventually found a copy and managed with much effort to read the thing. I couldn't figure out what was so objectionable about this book in 1865. The only thing I got out of it was that part of the plot involved the Vicar having to do to debtors prison and while there he converted a few inmates to Christianity and the Vicar was a well liked fellow. Ok. Of the other literary references in Little Women about Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan I have never read. So.
This then reminded me of a phrase that has haunted me since the late sixties. I once went with my friend, Judy to apply for a job at the post office. We had to take a test. I distinctly remember one of the questions. I had to choose the definition of a Lucullan Feast. (A person who has not had a classical education would not get this correct...duh). So I remember choosing the answer that the Lucullan Feast happened when the troll ate your feet when you slept in his bed overnight, or something very similar to that. And I was wrong, wrong, wrong. But the Internet did not exist then and I would have had no idea where to start looking. So periodically and more lazily, I would think of Lucullan Feast as the years passed. One time I heard the phrase Lucullan Feast on television but it turned out that was the name of a cookery story somewhere in New Orleans. Hmph, not much help there. A decade or so later, I became acquainted with a columnist who lived in the Northwest, somehow the topic of Lucullan Feast came up and he told me all about it. In short, Lucullus was a famous Roman general who held fabulous parties with gourmet food. He was said to dine the best when he dined alone. So, had the internet existed prior to 1965, I would probably have passed the Post Office test and be retired from the postal service even as we speak. Ain't life strange?