The Roses of Heliogabalus

Short story in The Pleasure in Pain: An Anthology of Erotic Queer Horror (April 2024). Artwork by Nadhir Nor.

‘The Roses of Heliogabalus’ is inspired by the spellbinding painting of the same name by the artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. It follows the tyrant emperor, Heliogabalus, as he starves a city of his people so that he can grow thousands of roses for a banquet. The banquet is filled with poetry and Bacchic opulence, and its apex depicts the moment in the painting where he smothers his guests to death under petals of roses.

Its themes relate to violent excess as commentary on climatic problems.