Originally a board or plank, and then a table, which the ancients had in all varieties and
shapes. The simplest table
Three-legged Table. (Pompeii.)
was one with three legs and a round top (cilliba
), used in
wineshops. The Greek table was originally four-legged, as the name τράπεζα
implies. Tables were made of white marble (Hor.
Sat. i. 6, 16
) and of wood, and in the houses of the rich at Rome
were very costly, being regarded as heirlooms. The most valued woods were the maple (acerna
) and the citrus
, whose roots and tubers
were used, displaying when cut a great variety of markings and curling veins. These were
from their spots,
and also pavoninae
suggesting the “eyes” in a peacock's tail. Enormous sums were paid for
fine tables. Pliny (Pliny H. N. xiii. 91
speaks of Cicero as paying 500,000 sesterces ($20,000) for one, and Pollio as giving
1,000,000 sesterces ($40,000). A table with a single leg was called monopodium; orbis
denotes any round table. The feet were often of ivory, beautifully
carved; and the tables themselves were often overlaid with plates of gold, silver, or bronze
; Mart.iii. 31
), and were
inlaid with jewels.
The table was a little lower than the couches surrounding it. Among the Greeks and later
Romans it was covered by a cloth (mantele
), and was cleaned by sponges
or woollen cloths.
Mensa prima (πρῶτη τράπεζα
the first course at dinner. In early times, the whole table was
Marble Table. (Overbeck.)
carried away at the end of each course, whence the expressions mensam ponere, auferre, tollere, removere.
Mensa secunda (δεύτερα
), the last course of a meal, i. e. the dessert. See Cena
Mensa Delphĭca, an ornamental table as a part of the
furniture of a house. See Abacus
Mensa sacra, a table used as an altar (Verg. Aen. ii. 764
Mensa argentaria, a broker's counter.
Mensa Publĭca, a bank (In Pison.
A square flat gravestone laid over a grave and with a hole in the centre for sacrificial
oils, etc. (De Leg.