I kept encountering a certain gripe as I started, threw aside, and re-started The Letters of Pliny the Younger.
Pliny chose which of his letters to publish, and I suspect that he inserted, in his lawyerly manner, the one excerpted here as evidence for a pet argument of his that re-emerges like a trickle in the dry prose: that he is, in fact, a funny guy.
Who are you, to accept my invitation to dinner and never come? I have a good case and you shall pay my costs in full, no small sum either. It was all laid out, one lettuce each, three snails, two eggs, barley-cake, and wine with honey chilled with snow (you will reckon this too please, and as an expensive item, seeing that it disappears in the dish), besides olives, beetroots, gherkins, onions, and any number of similar delicacies. You would have heard a comic play, a reader or singer, or all three if I felt generous. Instead you chose to go where you could have oysters, sow's innards, sea-urchins, and Spanish dancing-girls. You will suffer for this—I won't say how."
Reading the letters of the Younger Pliny, we start to understand that Pliny was not only Pliny, but also flinty, and wily—and thus we read on.