Pliny the Younger, Letters 1.15
C. Plinius Septicio Claro suo s.
heus tu! promittis ad cenam, nec venis. dicitur ius; ad assem impendium reddes nec id modicum. paratae erant lactucae singulae, cochleae ternae, ova bina, halica cum mulso et nive (nam hanc quoque computabis, immo hanc in primis, quae perit in ferculo), olivae, betacei, cucurbitae, bulbi, alia mille non minus lauta. audisses comoedum vel lectorem vel lyristen vel, quae mea liberalitas, omnes. at tu apud nescio quem ostrea, vulvas, echinos, Gaditanas maluisti. dabis poenas, non dico quas. dure fecisti; invidisti, nescio an tibi, certe mihi, sed tamen et tibi. quantum nos lusissemus, risissemus, studuissemus! potes apparatius coenare apud multos, nusquam hilarius, simplicius, incautius. in summa experire et, nisi postea te aliis potius excusaveris, mihi semper excuse. vale.
Gaius Pliny to his Septicius Clarus, greeting.
Hey, you! You promise to come to dinner, then you don’t come! Your sentence has been handed down: to the last penny you must reimburse my expenditure (and it’s not small). For each guest I had had a lettuce prepared, three snails, two eggs, spelt mixed with honey and snow (and you will also add this to the account, in fact making it the main thing, since it melts in the dish), olives, beetroots, cucumbers, onions, and a thousand other things no less sumptuous. You would have listened to a comedian or a reciter or a lyre-player or – such is my generosity – all of them. But you preferred to have oysters, sows’ wombs, sea-urchins and Spanish dancing-girls, at the house of I know not who. You’ll pay the price; I’m not saying what! You’ve acted harshly: you’ve begrudged this to me for sure, and maybe to yourself. Yes, definitely yourself as well. How we would have had fun, laughed, thrown ourselves into it! You can dine at many men’s houses in better style, but nowhere with better cheer, more frankness and less inhibition. In short, give it a try and if after that you don’t prefer to excuse yourself to others, you may always excuse yourself to me. Best wishes.