In Saturnalia, Falco has to track down an important prisoner that no-one must know has escaped from custody. His rival Anacrites kidnaps Falco's brother-in-law to use as bait, since they are the only two people who really know what the fugitive looks like. Anacrites holds Justinus at his mansion, and after visiting him, his family are content to send him reading matter and let him wait it out there. Then, Falco, whilst attending the vigiles' Saturnalia party (which includes two guests dressed as a carrot and a turnip), hears that some of the fugitive's countrymen also know of the connection between Justinius and the fugitive, and decide to kidnap him again. So Falco and Petro go to Anacrites' mansion first with a handful of vigiles, set fire to some garden waste, and force their way in under the pretext of their official duty as firefighters. The entire place ends up on fire, with many valuable ornaments removed permanently by the vigiles, Justinus is rescued, and Anacrites' major domo has the situation explained to him by a vigile dressed as a carrot, who Anacrites orders the arrest of as soon as he hears. Naturally the vigiles have no idea who he's talking about, so Anacrites heads to the vigiles' party with a squad to search for Falco and Justinius. The vigiles swear Falco and Petro haven't left all evening, and Anacrites leaves when a man dressed as a turnip keeps drunkenly barging into him. Falco and Petro then take the turnip back to Falco's old apartment, where it's revealed that it's Justinius now in the turnip costume.
The scene in Last Act In Palmyra where the players bump into some Christians, get preached to and end up beating them up and running for their lives (and souls) made this troper laugh.
Or the introduction of each chapter, which is written in the form of a play.
In the first book, Falco and Helena are on the run. Falco tells her 'Stay here and try to look like an amphora.' Helena then does her best to imitate a wine jug.
Becomes a Brick Joke in the fifth book when Falco, in a funk, declares that maybe he'd be certain Helena belonged to him if they were actually married. Helena replies that she is not a set of wine jugs.
Shadows in Bronze. The amorous adventures of Nero the (supposedly castrated) ox. That eventually gets Falco arrested for blasphemy (for giving the ox an Emperor's name, for the record).
"We called Nero "Spot" and were ignored. We tried calling Nero "Nero" and the fool ignored that too, but apparently that didn't count."
While this may not be politically correct, the reveal in Shadows in Bronze of Aemilius Rufus being homosexual—and Falco's reaction to his attempts at seducing him.
I even spotted in rather shy, small letters on a temple column an impassioned mutter of:
Aelia Annaea has three brothers. All of them have long names starting with 'Lucius Annaeus'. She, however, refers to them as 'Spunky, Dotty and Ferret', and the narration dutifully calls them that.
From the same book:
Falco: He's an idiot! I should have found out earlier-
Helena: How could you? He never would have just admitted, Yes, Your Honour, I'm an idiot.
Falco and Helena formulate a phrasebook for Albia which has many useful phrases in other languages. These range from the icebreaker 'Do you suffer many earthquakes here?' to such gems as 'Please excuse my husband farting at the dinner table, he has a dispensation from the Emperor Claudius' (which is actually true).
Helena's clusterfuck of a birthday party in Time To Depart. It features the arrival of Aelianus, who hates Falco and has no problem telling him so, Helena introducing the rubbish-skip baby to her family and then casually admitting that she's pregnant, Falco having to deal with Helena's mother, who naturally hates him, and to crown it all, Justinus comes home drunk and ends up falling into a pile of sweetmeats.
The marriage of Smaractus and Lenia. He gets so hammered that he can barely stand and she throws a massive shit fit when he shows up drunk. All the guests get equally hammered, and while the two of them are consummating, the bed and floor catch fire (though nobody gets hurt). Smaractus, when he's rescued, gets arrested for arson, and all the wedding presents are stolen. They spend about five books screaming at each other over their divorce proceedings.
Thanks to a wager Falco had made in Shadows in Bronze, Titus Caesar had promised to send him a turbot. Falco half-jokingly invites Titus to get a sampling taste of it after it arrives and he's had a chance to cook it, but doesn't make too much of the occasion. Then, in Venus in Copper, the turbot arrives—and it is huge. Falco doesn't have any pots or pans of the requisite size, so he ends up using a bronze round shield—a cheap knockoff souvenir his brother Festus had previously acquired—as poaching pan. Soon, however, he realizes it is too shallow—just when his mother arrives with a huge washbasin from Lenia's laundry (Falco is apprehensive, because who knows what has been washed in that basin). After a brief discussion with his mother, Falco invites a few of his sisters, along with Petro and his family, to sample the fish. Falco's brothers-in-law, naturally, follow along even without being invited. At the party itself, many of the ingredients for the sauce used to poach the fish are either misplaced or substituted for something else due to confusion, Falco's sisters are advising him left and right about how to cook the fish, and an old couch from Camillus Verus's house gets delivered at just that moment so Falco's in-laws start shifting it about and trying to arrange it properly with much ado and fuss. Things then take a turn for the dramatic when Helena arrives; Falco had not expected her to come, and she came packed and ready to stay. Things naturally lead to a lover's spat in private, so Falco has to cheer up his unexpected guest. Then a couple of Praetorians come knocking; Titus himself has arrived...
This wonderful line from Saturnalia:
Anacrites also owned the biggest statue of the ripe god Pan copulating with a goat in heat that I had ever seen. And I am the son of an antique-dealer.
Vinius' commentary in Master and God:
Narrator: The following year Domitian awarded himself his seventeenth consulship. Statius wrote a poem.
Vinius: Oh go on, surprise me!
Lucilla: I knew you would mock.
Vinius: Grovelling bastard.
The narrator's extremely sarcastic rendition of how a possible affair between Paris and Domitia Longina could have played out:
Domitia: I must tell you my delight for your wondrous and moving performance.
The official agenda of the conspiracy to kill Domitian:
2. Where, when, how, who?
3. Which unlucky bugger do we choose to go next?
Falco and Petro gave the guy who became their banker a nickname. What nickname? Nothokleptes, which everyone ends up accepting as his real name. It means thieving bastard.
During The Course Of Honour, Caenis and Veronica go to a Triumph, where Vespasian (among others) is being honoured as a hero of the Empire, and the people of Rome will hail him and the others as heroes, call their names and throw flower-garlands and petals at them. At one point, Vespasian ends up directly in front of Caenis: he's delighted and she's horrified, but her reaction is to throw at him not some petals, since they've run out, but a sausage. Vespasian, being Vespasian, thinks it's hilarious.
Petro's advertisement in Three Hands In The Fountain:
Petro: Shut up a minute. Falco & Partner: a select service for discerning clients.
Falco: Sounds like a cheap brothel.
Petro: Have faith, lad.
Falco: Or an overpriced shoemaker. Falco & Partner: try our triple-stitched calfskin slipperettes. As worn by all decadent layabouts, sheer luxury at the arena and the perfect lounging shoes for orgies-