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Caupōna


1.

An inn, where travellers obtained food and lodging; in which sense it answered to the Greek words πανδοκεῖον, καταγώγιον, and κατάλυσις.


2.

A shop, where wine and ready-dressed meat were sold; in Greek, καπηλεῖον. The person who kept a caupona was called caupo or copo; a hostess is copa, rarely caupona.

I. Greek Inns.—In the earliest ages of Greece, as in the East at all times and in newly settled colonies, there was no provision for the entertainment of travellers, and the duty of hospitality was universally acknowledged. (See Hospitium.) The growth of traffic rendered inns necessary, and in later times they appear to have been very numerous. The great number of festivals which were celebrated in the different towns of Greece, besides the four great national games, to which persons flocked from all parts of the Hellenic world, must have required a considerable number of inns to accommodate strangers, not only in the places where the festivals were celebrated, but also on the roads leading to those places.

The accommodation provided was, however, far from luxurious, and the character both of the houses and of their landlords was very indifferent. Inns were regarded as little better than brothels: πανδοκεῦσαι καὶ πορνοβοσκῆσαι are joined together (Theophr. Char. 6); καπηλεῖα κἁὶ πορνεῖα (Poll.ix. 34). The orgies of Demetrius Poliorcetes in the Acropolis suggest to a comic poet that “he took it for an inn”:
τὴν ἀκρόπολιν πανδοκει_ον ὑπολαβὼν
καὶ τὰς ἑταίρας εἰσαγαγὼν τη? παρθένῳ

Philippid. fr. 25 M. ap. Plut. Demetr. 26). Moreover, besides the charges of fraud and adulteration to which they were liable in common with other κάπηλοι or retail dealers, the hosts were often accused of more serious crimes. Two stories told by Cicero, but taken from Greek life, both turn on murders committed by innkeepers for the sake of gain (De Inv. ii. 4.14; De Div. i. 27.57). The higher classes used these πανδοκεῖα as little as possible; yet, in default of other accommodation, the public ambassadors of Athens were sometimes constrained to lodge and even to transact diplomatic business in them (De F. L. 97; De F. L. p. 390.158=175).

The word καπηλεῖον signified, as has been already remarked, a place where wine and ready-dressed provisions were sold. Κάπηλος signifies, in general, a retail trader who sold goods in small quantities. The term, however, is more particularly applied to a person who sold ready-dressed provisions, and especially wine on draught (Schol. Plut. p. 1156; Plat. Gorg. p. 518 B). When a retail dealer in other commodities is spoken of, the name of his trade is usually prefixed. These καπηλεῖα were not resorted to as clubs (λέσχαι, ἑταιρεῖαι), or for purposes of good-fellowship, but merely for sottish drinking; and hence were extremely disreputable. Isocrates tells us that in the “good old times” (i. e. the democracy of Solon and Cleisthenes) no respectable slave would have ventured to eat or drink in a καπηλεῖον: whereas in his own time young men of the greatest respectability, driven by an absurd prejudice from the schools of philosophy and rhetoric, spent their whole time in these and similar establishments, in drinking, gambling, and debauchery (Isocr. Areop. 49; Antid. 287). We are therefore not surprised to read of the low estimation in which innkeepers were held.

II. Roman Inns.—A Roman wayside inn for the reception of travellers was called not only caupona, but also taberna, deversorium, and taberna deversoria (the last in Plaut. Men. ii. 3.81; Varr. R. R. i. 2, 23). Along all the great roads of Italy there were inns, as we see from the description which Horace gives of his journey from Rome to Brundusium ( Sat. i. 5). They were built as a speculation by neighbouring proprietors, and either let to a landlord or managed by slaves. They usually included a stabulum for horses and mules; hence, in the Digest, caupones and stabularii are more than once mentioned together. Where the traffic was greatest, there might be several in the same place. To take the Appian Way alone, we find the station Tres Tabernae (Ad Att. ii. 12, 13), Forum Appii differtum cauponibus ( Hor. l.c. 4), Tabernae Caediciae near Sinuessa (Epit. p. 45 M), Caudi cauponas ( Hor. l. c. 51). From Plautus downward, these hostelries occur repeatedly in Latin literature. Ambassadors were usually received at the public expense in decent lodgings; but the Rhodian embassy of B.C. 167 was driven to a sordidum deversorium ( Liv. xlv. 22). Cicero mentions a copo de via Latina suborned as a false witness (Pro Cluent. 59.163), and the discreditable tippling of Antonius in a cauponula a few miles from Rome on the Via Flaminia ( Phil. ii. 31.77). Cynthia drove past a taberna on her way to Lanuvium, and the remarks of the tavern-brawlers disgusted her poet-lover (Propert. v. 8, 19). The sprightly Vergilian Copa (q. v.) shows us, in a very modern fashion, the competition between rival establishments and the advertiser's art in full operation. The accommodation at these places was generally of a poor kind, but extremely cheap. In Polybius's time in Cisalpine Gaul there were no items in the bill; the inclusive charge (inquired beforehand, it should be added) rarely exceeded half an as (Polyb. ii. 15). For the early imperial period we have the record of the well-known relief at Aesernia, representing a hostess reckoning with a parting guest. The dialogue between the two is given at length, and the charges are: bread and a pint of wine, 1 as; meat (pulmentarium), 2 asses; mule's provender, 2 asses; and another less decent item, for which we refer the curious to the inscription itself. (This relief is figured in the Bullettino Napolitano, vi. 1, and thence in Daremberg and Saglio; the inscription is in Mommsen, Inscr. Regn. Neap. 5078=Orelli-Henzen, 7306).

At Rome there must have been many inns to accommodate strangers, but they are hardly ever spoken of. We, however, find frequent mention of houses where wine and ready-dressed provisions were sold, and which appear to have been numerous in all parts of the city. The houses where people were allowed to eat and drink were called, almost indiscriminately, cauponae, popinae, thermopolia, and tabernae vinariae. The specialty of the thermopolia is noticed under Calda. These places were principally frequented by slaves and the lower classes, and are qualified by such epithets as nigra, fumosa, immunda, uncta (probably “greasy,” though it has also been taken in a good sense). Among other discomforts, they were only furnished with stools to sit upon, instead of couches. This circumstance is illustrated by a painting found at Pompeii in a wine-shop, representing a drinkingscene in which there are four persons sitting on stools

A Wine-shop. (From a Painting at Pompeii.)

around a tripod table. The dress of two of the figures is remarkable for the hoods, which resemble those of the capotes worn by Italian sailors and fishermen at the present day. They use cups made of horn instead of glasses, and from their whole appearance evidently belong to the lower orders. Above them are different sorts of eatables hung upon a row of pegs.

From the moral point of view the Roman inns, whether lodging-houses or mere drink-shops, were no better than the Greek. Hence we find salax taberna, fornix joined with uncta popina, and the legal aspect in Dig. xxiii. 2, 43.9. Nor are other records wanting. Behind the wine-shop at Pompeii, where the painting described above was found, is the celebrated brothel, the contents of which are now carefully preserved in the Naples Museum. The Aesernian inscription already mentioned tells the same tale. Wine or eating shops used for immoral purposes were called ganeae, and are often classed with the lustra. Naturally, therefore, persons who kept houses of public entertainment of any kind were held in low estimation. The common opinion as to their honesty is expressed by the epithets perfidus and malignus, which Horace gives to them (I. Sat. i. 29; v. 4).

Under the emperors many attempts were made to regulate the popinae, but apparently with little success. Tiberius forbade all cooked provisions to be sold in these shops (Suet. Tib. 34); and Claudius commanded them to be shut up altogether. They appear, however, to have been soon opened again, if they were ever closed; for Nero restricted them to the sale of cooked vegetables, and prohibited meat (Suet. Ner. 16); and an edict to the same effect was also published by Vespasian. See Zell, Die Wirthshäuser der Alten, in his Ferienschriften (Freiburg, 1826); Becker-Göll, Gallus, iii. 27-45.

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