Since earliest times, opium has been used to relieve pain, stop diarrhea, and induce sleep. In The Deadliest Lie, Miriam takes some to induce sleep after a traumatic attack.
“I remember Phoebe’s preparing me for bed, bathing me and mixing for me a sleeping draft of chamomile tea fortified with opium before unrolling the pallet so she could sleep beside my couch.”
In The Deadliest Hate, to locate her brother after the games, Miriam wanders through the hypogeum, the vast network of cells and chambers beneath the arena. She finds him by following the rich, sickly sweet, floral-like odor of opium. As she approaches the gladiators’ cages, she hears the whistles and wheezes of men thick with sleep. And from around the corner, she listens to the banter of cronies: their rollicking guffaws and gusty backslaps, their Vulgar Latin spiked with lewd slang, and their wine-logged voices exchanging ribald jests and bawdy anecdotes. That’s when she recognizes her brother’s voice, common like the others but with softer consonants.
Opium and other closely related opiates are made from the latex that exudes from the seed pod of the plant. The latex is collected today as it was in Miriam’s time. The pods are cut to let the latex leak out and dry. The residue is then scraped off the pods and dehydrated.
But the effects of opium are unpredictable. After taking it to induce sleep, Miriam relives the attack, this time in her dreams, and it is more horrible than ever. To be at her side, to soothe her, just click here.