The Cabildo was the seat of colonial government in New Orleans. Originally named after the "Illustrious Cabildo", or city council.
The original building was destroyed in 1788 in the Great Fire of New Orleans. It was rebuilt between 1795 and 1799.
By 1895 the building was in severe disrepair and under consideration for demolition. However, following a campaign, it was preserved and restored. It reopened in 1911 as the home of the Louisiana State Museum. The Museum suffered serious fire damage in 1988 but was reopened in 1994 and remains open today.
A famous quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth. It comes when Macbeth hears of his wife's death:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
— Macbeth Act V, Scene 5
Chrysanthemums are commonly associated with death in some European countries, and also in Japan, Korea and China. They are often used to decorate graves.
In Greek mythology Erebus, meaning "darkness" or "shadow", has two possible connotations: either Erebus the being, son of Chaos; or Erebus the place, the lower half of Hades, the underworld.
In this instance, Lestat is referring to the place, comparing their world of darkness and death to Hades.
Claudia is quoting a biblical verse:
And they brought young children to Him, that He should touch them: and His disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Although in the original context this is a positive and much-loved phrase, when uttered by the vampire child Claudia it takes on an altogether different and quite chilling meaning: especially when the reader discovers what she plans to do with these "little children."
Botticelli was an Italian Renaissance painter. Much of his work was religious, and he frequently depicted angels in his art.
Describing Claudia as resembling a Botticelli angel implies an appearance of purity and innocence. Incidentally, it is a favourite simile of Rice's, occurring in later books when she describes the vampire Armand.
Absinthe is a highly alcoholic spirit, usually 45-75% alcohol. It was considered an extremely addictive and dangerous psychoactive drug. Traditionally, it contained a chemical called thujone, which can be blamed for these properties; thujone is not present in modern absinthe.
Absinthe is famously linked to New Orleans because of a building there called the Old Absinthe House, which Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain are said to have visited.
Laudanum is a preparation containing opium and morphine. Although it was, and still is, used as a medicine, as with any drug it is harmful if consumed in the wrong quantity. It is a poison, and can kill.