24 Festive Tasks: Door 3 – Saturnalia, Task 1:
According to imperial Roman sources, the Saturnalicius princeps (“Ruler of the Saturnalia”) ruled as master of ceremonies during the holiday. His role was possibly a satire on that of the emperor; and he has been compared to the medieval Lord of Misrule at the Feast of Fools: his capricious commands had to be obeyed by the other guests … he created and (mis)ruled a chaotic and absurd world.
Appoint a character from one of the books you read this year “Ruler of the Saturnalia” and name a funny / capricious command you think (s)he might give!
In view of Lord Peter Wimsey’s harlequinade in Murder Must Advertise, it would seem proximate to use him again for this task — however, I’m going to go with Lizzy Bennet’s father from Pride and Prejudice, who remarks at one point,
“For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?”
Now, Mr. Bennet is not actually a particular friend of balls and other forms of large-scale social gatherings; he much prefers his library. (A gentleman after my own heart.) And he gets particularly annoyed whenever his excessively talkative (and stupid) wife and youngest daughters are showering him with details of the lace and other finery worn by the ladies and gentlemen they have encountered while attending such a gathering. So I imagine if made to attend, himself, and appointed Saturnalicius princeps, he would swiftly seize the opportunity to take his revenge … and order that every attendee be compelled to use a piece of lace, silk, satin, or other finery as a gag … and during the entirety of the festivities, communicate solely by way of their hands and fans!
“No lace. No lace, Mrs. Bennet, I beg you!”