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CENA less correctly COENA (δεῖπνον), the principal meal of the Greeks and Romans, corresponding to our dinner rather than supper. As the meals are not always clearly distinguished, it will be convenient to give a brief account of all of them under the present head.

1. Greek.

The materials for an account of the Greek meals, during the Classical period of Athens and Sparta, are almost confined to incidental allusions of Plato and the comic writers. Several ancient authors, termed δειπνολόγοι, are mentioned by Athenaeus; but, unfortunately, their writings only survive in the fragments quoted by him. His great work, the Deipnosophistae, is an inexhaustible treasury of this kind of knowledge, but ill-arranged, and with little attempt to distinguish the customs of different periods.

The poems of Homer contain a real picture of early manners, in every way worthy of the antiquarian's attention. As they stand apart from all other writings, it will be convenient to exhibit in one view the state of things which they describe. It is not to be expected that the Homeric meals should at all agree with the customs of a later period; indeed it would be mere waste of time to attempt adapting the one to the other. Athenaeus (i. p. 8), who has entered fully into the subject, remarks on the singular simplicity of the Homeric banquets, in which kings and private men all partake of the same food. It was common enough for royal personages to prepare their own meals (Il. 9.206-218; compare Gen. 27.31), and Ulysses (Od. 15.322) declares himself no mean proficient in the culinary art:-- “ πῦρ τ᾽ εὖ νηῆσαι, διὰ δὲ ξύλα δανὰ κεάσσαι
δαιτρεῦσαί τε καὶ ὀπτῆσαι καὶ οἰνοχοῆσαι.

Three names of meals occur in the Iliad and Odyssey--ἄριστον, δεῖπνον, δόρπον or δόρπος. The word ἄριστον uniformly means the early (ἅμ̓ ἠοῖ, Od. 16.2) as δόρπον does the late meal; but δεῖπνον, though generally meaning the mid-day meal, is sometimes used where we should expect ἄριστον (Od. 15.397, 19.320) or [p. 1.392]even δόρπον 17.170). We should be careful, however, how we argue from the unsettled habits of a camp to the regular customs of ordinary life.

In the Homeric age it was usual to sit at table (καθέζονται δ᾽ ἐν τοῖς συνδείπνοις οἱ ἥρωες, οὐ κατακέκλινται, Ath. i. p. 17 f); and this custom, we are told, was kept up in historical times by the Cretans (Heracl. Pol. 100.3.6, ap. Müll. Fragm. 2.212; Pyrgion ap. Ath. iv. p. 143 e). Each guest had generally his own table (but see Od. 1.138; Il. 24.625, 9.216), and an equal share of food was placed before each (hence δαὶς ἐΐση), except when a specially distinguished guest was honoured by getting a larger portion (Il. 7.321; Od. 14.437, 20.280, 293). What strikes us as peculiar in the Homeric dinners is their religious character. They partake more or less of the nature of a sacrifice, beginning with an offering of part of the meat to the gods (Od. 14.446; Il. 9.219), and both beginning and ending with a libation of wine (Od. 3.40, 19.447), while the terms for slaughtering animals for a meal (ἱερεύειν, θύειν) and for the slaughtered animals (ἱερήϊα) are borrowed from the language of religious ceremony.

The description of Eumaeus's dinner to Ulysses gives us a good picture of a dinner in the Homeric age in humble society (Od. 14.420 sqq.): “Therewithal he cleft logs with the pitiless axe, and the others brought in a well-fatted boar of five years old; and they set him by the hearth, nor did the swineherd forget the deathless gods, for he was of an understanding heart. But for a beginning of sacrifice, he cast bristles from the head of the white-tusked boar upon the fire, and prayed to all the gods that wise Odysseus might return to his own house. Then he stood erect, and smote the boar with a billet of oak which he had left in the cleaving, and the boar yielded up his life. Then they cut the throat and singed the carcase, and quickly cut it up, and the swineherd took a first portion from all the limbs, and laid the raw flesh on the rich fat. And some pieces he cast into the fire after sprinkling them with bruised barley-meal, and they cut the rest up small, and pierced it, and spitted and roasted it carefully, and drew it all off from the spits, and put the whole mess together on trenchers. Then the swineherd stood up to carve, for well he knew what was fair, and he cut up the whole, and divided it into seven portions. One, when ne had prayed, he set aside for the nymphs and for Hermes, son of Maia, and the rest he distributed to each. And he gave Odysseus the portion of honour, the long back of the white-tusked boar . . . and made burnt offering of the hallowed parts to the everlasting gods, and poured the dark wine for a drink offering, and F.t the cup in the hands of Odysseus, the waster of cities, and sat down by his own mess. And Mesaulius bare them wheaten bread . . .So they stretched forth their hands upon the good cheer spread before them.”

It does not much differ from the description of a dinner in a higher rank of society given by Achilles to Ulysses (Il. 9.219 sqq.): “He cast down a great fleshing-block in the fire-light, and laid thereon a sheep's back and a fat goat's, and a great hog's chine rich with fat. And Automedon held them for him, while Achilles carved. Then he sliced well the meat, and pierced it through with spits, and Menoitios' son, that godlike hero, made the fire burn high. Thea, when the fire was burned down and the flame waned, he scattered the embers and laid the spits thereover, resting them on the spit-racks, when he had sprinkled them with holy salt. Then when he had roasted the meat and apportioned it in the platters, Patroklos took bread and dealt it forth on the table in fair baskets, and Achilles dealt the meat. And he sate him over against godlike Odysseus by the other wall, and bade his comrade Patroklos do sacrifice to the gods; so he cast the first fruits into the fire. Then put they forth their hands to the good cheer lying before them.”

In the palace of Telemachus, before eating, a servant brings Athena, who is habited as a stranger, the χέρνιψ, or lustral water, “in a golden pitcher, pouring it over a silver vessel” (Od. 1.136). At the marriage feast of Hermione in the palace of Menelaus, music and dancing (μολπή τ̓ ὀρχηστύς τε: τὰ γάρ ἀναθήματα δαιτός, Od. 1.152) are introduced: “Among them a divine minstrel was singing to the lyre, and as he began the song two tumblers (κυβιστητῆρε in the company whirled through their midst” (Od. iv. init.).

Beef, mutton, swine's and goat's flesh were the ordinary meats, generally eaten roasted, though sometimes boiled (Il. 21.363). Fish (see below, p. 394 a) and fowls were almost unknown (Eustath. ad Hom. Od. 12.330). Many sorts of wine are mentioned, notably the Maronean and the Pramnian. Nestor had wine eleven years old (Od. 3.391). A small quantity was poured into each guest's cup to make a libation with (ἐπαρξάμενοι δεπάεσσιν), before the wine was regularly served out for drinking. The guests drank to each other (δειδίσκεσθαι. Od. 3.40; Il. 9.225); and a second libation to the gods closed the repast (Od. 3.332).

(For a fuller account of the meals in the Homeric age, see Brosin, De coenis homericis.

The Greeks of a later age usually partook of three meals, called ἀκράτισμα, ἄριστον, and δεῖπνον. The last, which corresponds to the δόρπον of the Homeric poems, was the evening meal or dinner; the ἄριστον, was the luncheon; and the ἀκράτισμα, which answers to the ἄριστον of Homer, was the early meal or breakfast.

The ἀκράτισμα was taken immediately after rising in the morning (ἐξ εὐνῆς, ἕωθεν, Aristoph. Birds 1286). It usually consisted of bread dipped in unmixed wine (ἄκρατος), whence it derived its name. (Plut. Symp. 8.6.4; Schol. ad Theocr. 1.51; Athen. 1.11.)

Next followed the ἄριστον, or luncheon. The time at which it was taken is uncertain, though we may conclude from many circumstances that it was about the middle of the day, and that the meal answered to the Roman prandium, as Plutarch (Symp. 8.6.5) asserts. The time of the πλήθουσα ἀγορά, at which provisions seem to have been bought for the ἄριστον, was from nine o'clock till noon. In Aristophanes (Aristoph. Wasps 605-612) Philocleon describes the pleasure of returning home after attending the courts, and partaking of a good ἄριστον. It was usually a simple meal, but of course varied [p. 1.393]according to the habits of individuals. Thus Ischomachus, in describing his mode of life to Socrates, who greatly approves of it, says, Ἀριστῶ ὅσα μήτε κενὸς μήτε ἄγαν πλήρης διημερεύειν (Xen. Occon. 11.1. 8).

The principal meal, however, was the δεῖπνον. It was usually taken rather late in the day, frequently not before sunset (Lysias, de Caed. Eratosth. § 22). Aristophanes (Aristoph. Eccl. 652) says: “ σοὶ δὲ μελήσει
ὅταν δεκάπουν τὸ στοιχεῖον λιπαρὸν χωρεῖν ἐπὶ δεῖπνον
”:that is, towards sunset.

The Athenians were a social people, and were very fond of dining in company (Plut. Symp. 7). Entertainments were usually given, both in the Heroic ages and later times, when sacrifices were offered to the gods, either on public or private occasions; and also on the anniversary of the birthdays of members of the family, or of illustrious persons, whether living or dead. Plutarch (Symp. 8.1.1) speaks of an entertainment being given on the anniversary of the birthdays both of Socrates and Plato.

Dining clubs were very common, the members of which contributed each a certain sum of money, called συμβολή, or brought their own provisions with them. When the first plan was adopted, they were said ἀπὸ συμβολῶν δειπνεῖν, and one individual was generally entrusted with the money to procure the provisions and make all the necessary preparations. Thus we read in Terence (Eunuch. 3.4)-- “ Heri aliquot adolescentuli coimus in Piraeo,
In hunc diem ut de symbolis essemus. Chaeream ei rei
Praefecimus: dati annuli: locus, tempus constitutum est.

When the second plan was adopted, they were said ἀπὸ σπυρίδος δειπνεῖν, because the provisions were brought in baskets (Athen. 8. 365). This kind of entertainment is spoken of by Xenophon (Xen. Mem. 3.14.1). In Homer the word ἔρανος corresponds with the later ἀπὸ συμβολῶν δεῖπνον (e.g. Od. 1.226), while εἰλαπίνη, which is opposed to ἔρανος (Od. l.c.), denotes a public entertainment on a festival, or some such occasion (Athen. 8.362 e; Il. 18.491; Eur. Med. 193, Hel. 1337).

The most usual kind of entertainments, however, were those in which a person invited his friends to his own house. It was expected that they should come dressed with more than ordinary care, and also have bathed shortly before; hence, when Socrates was going to an entertainment at Agathon's, we are told that he both washed and put on his shoes--things which he seldom did. (Plato, Symp. 174 A.) As soon as the guests arrived at the house of their host, their shoes or sandals were taken off by the slaves, and their feet washed (ὑπολύειν and ἀπονίζειν). In ancient works of art we frequently see a slave or other person represented in the act of taking off the shoes of the guests, of which an example is given, from a terra-cotta in the British Museum. After their feet had been washed, the guests reclined on the κλῖναι or couches. (Καὶ μὲν ἔφη ἀπονιζειν τὸν παῖδα, ἵνα κατακεοιτο, Plato, Symp. 175 A.)

Sitting at meals was, as has already been remarked, the practice of the Heroic age, but in the Classical period was confined to Crete (see p. 392 a). Women, however, when admitted to banquets on extraordinary occasions, such as

Slave taking off the shoes of a guest. (British Museum.)

a marriage (for they were generally excluded from table when guests were invited), took the sitting posture (Lucian, Conv. 13), and so did children (Xen. Symp. 1.8; Aristotle, Aristot. Pol. 7.17, p. 1336 b, 9). A very common representation on funeral monuments is the family meal, with the husband reclining, and the wife and children sitting at his side. Where women are represented as reclining at a meal, they are meant for Hetaerae (Becker-Göll, Charikles, ii. p. 302).

It was usual for only two persons to recline on each couch. Thus Agathon says to Aristodemus, Σὺ δ̓, Ἁριστόδημε, παῤ Ἐρυξίμαχον κατακλίνον, and to Socrates, Δεῦρο, Σώκρατες, παῤ ἐμὲ κατάκεισο. (Plat. Symp. p. 175 A, C.) Also at a banquet given by Attaginus of Thebes to fifty Persians and fifty Greeks, we are told that one Persian and one Greek reclined on each couch. In ancient works of art we usually see the guests represented in this way; but sometimes there is a larger number on one long κλίνη: see the cut under the article SYMPOSIUM The manner in which they reclined--the σχῆμα τῆς κατακλίσεως, as Plutarch (Symp. 5.6) calls it--will be understood by referring to the woodcut already mentioned, where the guests are represented reclining with their left arms on striped pillows (ὑπαγκώνια), and having their right free; whence Lucian (Lexiph. 100.6) speaks of ἐπ̓ ἀγκῶνος δειπνεῖν. (Compare Aristoph. Wasps 1210.)

After the guests had placed themselves on the κλῖναι, the slaves brought in water to wash their hands (ὕδωρ κατὰ χειρὸς ἐδόθη); and then the dinner was served up, the expression for which was τὰς τραπέζας εἰσφέρειν, as in Aristoph. Wasps 1216:-- “ ῞γδωρ κατὰ χειρός: τὰς τραπέζας εἰσφέρειν:
Δειπνοῦμεν: ἀπονενίμμεθ̓: ἤδη σπένδομεν.

By τὰς τραπεζας εἰσφέρειν we are to understand not merely the dishes, but the tables themselves (Philoxen. ap. Athen. 4.146 f). It appears [p. 1.394]that a table, with provisions upon it, was placed before each κλίνη: and thus we find in all ancient works of art which represent banquets or symposia, a small table or tripod placed before the κλίνη: and when there are more than two persons on the κλίνη, several of such tables. These tables are evidently small enough to be moved with ease.

In eating, the Greeks had no knives or forks, but made use of their fingers only, except in eating soups or other liquids, which they partook of by means of a spoon (μύστρον), or a piece of bread scooped out in the shape of a spoon (μυστίλη, Pollux, 6.87, 10.89; Aristoph. Kn. 1164; Suidas, s. v. μυστίλη). After eating, they wiped their fingers on pieces of bread, called ἀπομαγδαλιαὶ (Pollux, 6.93), which were then thrown to the dogs (Aristoph. Kn. 415). Napkins (χειρόμακτρα) were not used till the Roman period.

It appears that the arrangement of the dinner was entrusted to certain slaves (Plato, Symp. p. 175 B). The one who had the chief management of it was called τραπεζοποιός or τραπεζοκόμος (Athen. 4.170 e; Pollux, 3.41, 6.13). The Greek word for a menu was γραμματίδιον (Athen. 2.49 d).

It would exceed the limits of this work to give an account of the different dishes which were introduced at a Greek dinner, though their number is far below those which were usually partaken of at a Roman entertainment. The most common food among the Greeks was the μάζα (Dor. μάδδα), a kind of frumenty or soft cake, which was prepared in different ways, as appears by the various names which were given to it (Pollux, 6.76). The μάζα is frequently mentioned by Aristophanes. The φυστὴ μάζα, of which Philocleon partakes on returning home from the courts (Aristoph. Wasps 610), is said by the Scholiast to have been made of barley and wine. The μάζα continued to the latest times to be the common food of the lower classes. Wheaten or barley bread was the second most usual species of food; it was sometimes made at home, but more usually bought at the market of the ἀρτοπῶλαι or ἀρτοπώλιδες. The vegetables ordinarily eaten were mallows (μαλάχη), lettuces (θρίδαξ), cabbages (ῥάφανοι), beans (κύαμοι), lentils (φακαῖ), &c. Pork was the most favourite animal food, as was the case among the Romans; Plutarch (Symp. 4.5.1) calls it τὸ δικαιότατον κρέας. Sausages also were very commonly eaten. It is a curious fact, which Plato (de Rep. 3.100.13, p. 404) has remarked, that we never read in Homer of the heroes partaking of fish. In later times, however, fish was one of the most favourite foods of the Greeks, insomuch so that the name of ὄψον was applied to it κατ̓ ἐξοχήν. (Athen. 7.276 e.) A minute account of the fishes which the Greeks were accustomed to eat is given at the end of the seventh book of Athenaeus, arranged in alphabetical order.

The ordinary meal for the family was cooked by the mistress of the house, or by the female slaves under her direction; but for special occasions professional cooks (μάγειροι) were hired, of whom there appear to have been a great number (D. L. 2.72). They are frequently mentioned in the fragments of the comic poets; and those who were acquainted with all the refinements of their art were in great demand in other parts of Greece besides their own country. The Sicilian cooks, however, had the greatest reputation (Plato, Rep. iii. p. 404 D), and a Sicilian book on cookery by one Mithaecus is mentioned in the Gorgias of Plato (p. 518 B; compare Maxim. Tyr. Diss. 4.5); but the most celebrated work on the subject was the Γαστρολογία of Archestratus (Athen. 3.104 b).

A dinner given by an opulent Athenian usually consisted of two courses, called respectively πρῶται τράωεζαι and δεύτεραι τράπεζαι. Pollux (6.83) indeed speaks of three courses, which was the number at a Roman dinner; and in the same way we find other writers under the Roman empire speaking of three courses at Greek dinners; but before the Roman conquest of Greece and the introduction of Roman customs, we only read of two courses. The first course embraced the whole of what we consider the dinner,--namely, fish, poultry, meat, &c. (ἐδέσματα); the second, which corresponded to our dessert and the Roman bellaria, consisted of different kinds of fruit, sweetmeats, confections, &c. (τρωγάλια). The Roman first course of salads, vegetables, &c. was unknown to the Greeks in the time of their independence.

When the first course was finished, the tables were taken away (αἴρειν, ἐκφέρειν, βαστάζειν τὰς τραπέζας), and water was given to the guests for the purpose of washing their hands. Crowns made of garlands of flowers were also then given to them as well as various kinds of perfumes. (Philyll. ap. Athen. 9.408 e.) Wine was not drunk till the first course was finished; but as soon as the guests had washed their hands, unmixed wine was produced in a large goblet, called μετάνιπτρον or μετανιπτρίς, of which each drank a little, after pouring out a small quantity as a libation. This libation was said to be made to the “good spirit” (ἀγαθοῦ δαίμονος), and was usually accompanied with the singing of the paean and the playing of flutes. After this libation mixed wine was brought in, and with their first cup the guests drank to Ζεὺς Σωτὴρ. (Xen. Symp. 2.1; Plat. Symp. p. 176 A; Diod. 4.3; Suidas, s. v. Ἀγαθοῦ Δαίμονος.) With the σπονδαί, the δεῖτνον closed; and at the introduction of the dessert (δεύτεραι τράπεζαι) the πότος, συμπόσιον, or κῶμος commenced, of which an account is given in the article SYMPOSIUM (Becker-Göll, Charikles, ii. pp. 335361.)

[B.J] [W.M.L]

2. Roman.

The Roman meals were jentaculum (ἀκράτισμα), prandium (ἄριστον, merenda, and cena (δεῖπνον).

Jentaculum, also called silatum (Festus, p. 346) because the wine used was sometimes perfumed with seselis or silis, was a slight morning meal taken at different times by early and late risers. Thus we find it taken by schoolboys at cockcrow (Mart. 14.233); but generally the Romans used to take it about the third hour (Galen, vi. p. 332, ed. Kuhn), certainly not later than the fourth (Mart. 8.67, 9). The schoolboys got a kind of pancake (adipata); but usually the meal consisted of bread seasoned with salt (Vopisc. Tac. 11) or with honey (Galen, l.c.), or dipped in wine (Festus, l.c.); or of dates and olives (Galen, 6.412). Alexander Severus used to have milk, eggs, and mulsum (Lampr. Alex. Sev. 30). Bread and cheese (Apul. Met. 1.18), [p. 1.395]and even meat, appear to have been sometimes taken (Mart. 13.31); but to make jentaculum a heavy meal was not in accordance with simple manners.

If one gets up early and eats only a slight breakfast, hunger begins to assert itself about noon or a little later. And as with our own fathers this was the time for the principal meal of the day, viz. dinner, so with the primitive Romans this was the time for cena (Fest. 54: “cena apud antiquos dicebatur quod nunc est prandium; vesperna quam nunc cenam appellamus;” cf. p. 338). It was only in later times that prandium became customary (Isid. Orig. 20.2, 14). We may fairly translate this word “luncheon.” When city-life pushed the dinner-hour later and later, a mid-day meal became essential. It was taken about the sixth hour (Anth. Pal. 10.43, and Scholiast), not so early as the fifth (Mart. 8.67, 9) or as late as the seventh ; for C. Caninius Rebilus was nominated Consul suffectus at that hour on Dec. 31, 45 B.C.; and Cicero says (Fam. 7.30, 1), “Ita Caninio consule scito neminem prandisse.” But if one took no jentaculum, he must needs take prandium earlier, and this is the reason why we find Ausonius taking his prandium a little after the fourth hour (Ephemeris in Corp. Poet. Lat., ed. Walker, p. 1070; ed. Weber, p. 1217). Prandium seems to have been properly the name of the soldier's morning meal (Isid. Orig. 20.2, 11; cf. Liv. 28.14, 7). For the ordinary citizen the meal varied from a piece of bread eaten in the hand (Senec. Ep. 83, 6) to an elaborate entertainment with hot and cold fish, fowl and meat, with vegetables and fruit (cf. Mayor on Plin. Ep. 3.5, 11). The meats were rather savoury dishes than solids: e. g. they were kernels of pork (glandulae, glandia, “sweetbreads” ? cf. Paley on Mart. 7.20), ham, pig's-head, &c. (Plaut. Men. 1.3, 27; Curc. 2.3, 44). Often, as at our luncheons, the meat of the previous day's dinner was served cold or warmed up (Plaut. Pers. 1.3, 25). Wine (Tac. Ann. 14.2; cf. Cic. Phil. 2.41, 104), hot wine and water (Mart. 8.67, 7), and mulsum (Cic. Cluent. 60, 166) were drunk at it. This latter passage refers to a large wedding breakfast which, is called prandium.

Merenda was in ancient times an afternoon meal, given to workmen, also called antecenia (Isid. Orig. 20.2, 12; 3, 3; Nonius, p. 59). “Merenda ἄριστον δειλινόν: δειλινή” is a gloss in Steph. Thes., ed. Lond., 9.278. This gloss shows the real nature of the meal. If prandium was not taken at mid-day, merenda was a late prandium taken in the afternoon. Thus Calpurnius (Ecl. 5.60) says :-- “ Verum ubi declivi iam nona tepescere sole
Incipiet seraeque videbitur hora merendae,
Rursus pasce greges.

The principal meal of the day was cena, “dinner.” The eighth hour in summer and the ninth in winter was sometimes the time for the bath (Plin. Ep. 3.1, 8), and after that came dinner, but probably the bath was usually a little earlier. The ninth was considered the normal dinner hour (Cic. Fam. 9.2. 6; Mart. 4.8, 6), though business must have often deferred it till after the tenth (Mart. 2.7, 33; 7.51, 11), and even later (Mart. 3.36, 5). These were homely repasts: for the more fashionable banquets were the earlier they began (see Palmer on Hor. Sat. 2.8, 3). Banquets which began earlier than the ninth hour were called tempestiva convivia (for this phrase, see Marquardt, Privatleben, 291, note 3, and Reid on Cic. Sen. 14, 46) or de die cenare (Catull. 47, 5). The cena always lasted for what would seem to us a very long time. Even Pliny the Elder, who was so miserly of his time, used to spend three hours over his dinner (Plin. Ep. 3.5, 13), Spurinna longer (ib. 3.1, 9), and old Cato used to remain conversing over this meal till late at night (Cic. Sen. 14, 46). The business of the day was done and the time for enjoyment had arrived (Anth. Pal. 10.43); there was accordingly no necessity to break into the meal till bed-time, which was much earlier than with us, as the Romans got up at daybreak. Symposia of course lasted till midnight, and even morning (Hor. Od. 3.21, 23, et passim). The ancient Romans, like the ancient Greeks, used to sit at dinner (Isid. Orig. xx. 11, 9), and Columella (11.1, 19) thinks the vilicus should not recline except on holidays; and Cato the Younger, in sign of mourning, always sat at meals after the battle of Pharsalia (Plut. Cat. Mi. 56). However, in the times with which we are best acquainted, the Romans dined in the atrium (Serv. on Aen. 1.730), in the circle of the family, the men reclining, the wife sitting on the lectus (V. Max. 2.1, 21), the children beside the couches ( “ad fulcra lectorum,” Suet. Cl. 32), or on a lower couch (Suet. Aug. 64), and with a separate and more frugal table (Tac. Ann. 13.16); the subordinate persons (Plaut. Capt. 3.1, 11; Suet. Vit. Ter. p. 292, ed. Roth) and slaves (Senec. de const. Sap. 15, 1) on benches (subsellia). It was customary for the wife and children to dine with the men, except apparently in times of mourning (Suet. Cal. 24); though of course there were gentlemen's dinner-parties. (e. g. Hor. Sat. 2.8).

On the other hand, we find cases of women reclining, where there was conceived to be nothing bold or indelicate in their posture. Thus, in the following cut, taken from Montfaucon (Ant. Exp. Suppl. 3.66), which seems intended to represent a scene of perfect matrimonial felicity, the husband and wife recline on

A family Feast. (Montfaucon.)

a sofa of rich materials. A three-legged table is spread with viands before them. Their two sons are in front of the sofa, one of them sitting, in the manner above described, on a low [p. 1.396]stool, and playing with the dog. Several females and a boy are performing a piece of music for the entertainment of the married pair.

The very wealthy Romans built separate dining-rooms [TRICLINIUM], and to this article and that on LECTUS and PULVINUS the reader is referred for the arrangement of the couches and of the guests at table. For the tables, see MENSA

A Feast. (Vatican Virgil MS.)

During the later republic and empire the number of guests at a private dinner-party was usually nine, sometimes less (Gel. 13.11, 2), but to have more was considered unseemly (Cic. Pis. 27, 67). Generally uninvited guests (umbrae) were brought by one of the invited guests to make up the nine (Hor. Sat. 2.8, 22 ; Epist. 1.5, 28), or perhaps a client was asked, in order not to leave a place empty (Juv. 5.17). The guests used to dress for dinner; the dinner dress (vestis cenatoria, Mart. 10.87, 12, 14.135; στολὴ δειπνῖτις, D. C. 69.18) being generally a light highly-ornamented coloured tunic (prasina synthesis, Mart. 10.29, 4; χιτώνιον ἄνθινον, D. C. 63.13). It cannot be supposed that the changing of one's synthesis during dinner was other than vulgar ostentation (Mart. 5.79, 2); but it was sometimes required by religious ceremonials [ARVALES]. Dress sandals (soleae) were generally worn in the house of the host, but were taken off (demere soleus) before reclining for the meal. They were taken charge of by the guest's own slave whom he brought with him: for each guest had his own footman (a pedibus) to wait on him at table (Plaut. Truc. 2.4, 16; Petron. 58 and 62 ; Mart. 12.88, 2; Senec. de Benef. 3.26, 27). If the guest did not come in a litter but walked, he often came in boots (calcei, Plin. Ep. 9.47, 3). The regular expression for rising from table was soleas poscere (Hor. Sat. 2.8, 77).

The places were pointed out to the guests by the nomenclator (Ath. ii. p. 47 e); and when they had taken up their reclining position (accumbere, discumbere) at table, water was brought round and poured over the hands of each guest (Plaut. Pers. 5.1, 17), and the hands wiped in a towel or napkin [MANTELE, MAPPA] provided by the host, though sometimes brought by the guest, in order to carry away the presents that the host frequently gave [APOPHORETA]. Later mnantele was used for a table-cloth (Isid. Orig. 19.26, 6; cf. Fest. 133). It was not till towards the end of the 1st century A.D. that table-cloths began to be used. Martial appears to be the first to allude to them (9.59, 7; 12.29, 11). There was plainly no table-cloth in the banquet of Nasidienus (Hor. Sat. 2.8, 11). Sometimes apparently grace was said (Quintil. Declam. No. 301, p. 583, ed. Burmann: “adisti mensam ad quam cum venire coepimus invocamus deos” ), and then the first of the three parts of the meal was proceeded with.

This was called promulsis or gustatio, gustus; also frigida mensa (ψυχραὶ τράπεζαι). The cold dishes of this part of the meal used in early times to occupy a place at the conclusion (Plut. Quaest. Conviv. 8.9, 28; Mart. 13.14; Verg. Moret. 76). It consisted rarely of substantial meats (Macr. 2.9, 12), mostly of hors d‘œuvre which whetted the appetite, and also served the purpose of the modern dinner-pill (Galen, 6.333), e. g. shell-fish (Hor. Sat. 2.4, 28), vegetables with savoury sauces (Mart. 3.50, 4; 10.48, 7), olives (Hor. Sat. 2.2, 46), mushrooms (Juv. 5.147), also eggs; from which came the expression ab ovo ad mala (Hor. Sat. 1.3, 6), to signify from the beginning to the end of the meal: cf. Cic. Fam. 9.2. 0, where the end of the meal is represented by roast veal (assum vitulinum). See further for the edibles which constituted the gustus, Apicius, 4, 5; Plin. Ep. 1.15; Macrob. Sat. l.c.; Celsus, 2.29; Mart. 10.48, 7-12; 5.78, 3-5. The drink was mulsum, mead, a mixture of wine and honey; plain wine was too strong (Hor. Sat. 2.4, 26). Hence the term promulsis, i.e. the mulsum taken before the chief portion of the meal. Compare Martial's (5.78, 3) calling the gustus προπίνειν.

After this followed the cena proper, which in early times (Serv. on Aen. 1.641), and even later in simple families, was the whole dinner (Mart. 10.48, 3). It is from Lucullus that Athenaeus (vi. p. 274 e) dates the beginning of extravagance in dining. When this part of the meal consisted of several courses (fercula, missus)--we hear of six, Augustus never had more (Suet. Aug. 74), and seven (Juv. 1.94, and Mayor's note), but the usual number was three (Mart. 11.31)--the separate courses were called prima, altera, tertia cena (Mart. l.c.), and appear to have followed in a regular order (Lucian, de Merc. Cond. 15). Each course was brought in on a tray (repositorium, Petron. 33), which was generally of wood, but sometimes of silver (Plin. Nat. 33.146); and the arrangement of the viands on each dish and of the dishes on these trays was a branch of art (Juv. 7.184; cf. Petron. 35 and 69), the artist being called structor. Indeed, the arranging of the whole dinner was such an important function that it required a special major-domo called tricliniarcha (Henzen, Index, p. 189; cf. Petron. 23), with his “decuries” of special servi tricliniarii (Henzen, 6367 ; cf. Plaut. Pseud. 1.2, 30). It was probably only at the imperial court that there were tasters (praegustatores, Tac. Ann. 12.66). Between the [p. 1.397]promulsis and the cena, as well as after each course of the cena, the repositorium was carried away and brought back with the following course, the table having been previously wiped down (Hor. Sat. 2.8, 11), and the bits that had fallen having been gathered up by the analecta (Mart. 7.20, 17). Occasionally the carver (carptor, diribitor, scissor), whose function the structor sometimes fulfilled (Mart. 10.48, 15), carved the meat (Petron. 36 and 40) at the open side of the table, and it was carried round by slaves (Petron. 33 and 40; Mart. 7.48; Ath. iii. p. 100 f). Carving, too, was a branch of art and had its learned professors (docti Trypheri, Juv. 11.137; cf. 5.120). Sometimes the course was put on the table and the guests themselves took what they desired, and in the way they did so it was easy to see what guests had the manners of good society (Lucian, de Merc. Cond. 15). There appear to have been menus (γραμματίδια, Ath. ii. p. 49 d); and to point out the peculiarity of each dish was a part of the nomenclator's duty (Petron. 47; Plin. Nat. 32.63); so that we need not suppose that it was utter vulgarity when Nasidienus and his hanger--on Nomentanus did so (Hor. Sat. 2.8, 43, &c.). Between each course the guests washed their hands (Lampr. Heliog. 25): for it must be remembered that the Romans used to eat with their fingers (Mart. 5.78, 6), except in the case of soup, eggs, and shell-fish, for which a COCHLEAR and a LIGULA were used.

The viands served up at luxurious dinner-parties are far too numerous to be described. Elaborate descriptions will be found in Hor. Sat. 2.8; Macrob. Saturn. 2.9, 12; Petron. 33 ff.; also in Becker-Göll, Gallus, chap. 8. They contained, as Philo says (de Vita contempl. 6 = ii. p. 479 M.), “all the products of land and sea, rivers and air.” Copious accounts of the different kinds of foods and drinks are given in Gallus, 3.331-367, 412-442; Marquardt, Privatleben, 398-448; Daremberg and Saglio, s. v. Cibaria. To admit of the gluttony required to consume such dinners, vomiting was resorted to, rules for which were laid down by physicians (Celsus, 1.3, p. 29, ed. Krause; Galen, 6.391), an indirect proof of the prevalence of over-eating among the wealthy. But such extravagance must have been confined to the upper classes, and can give us no idea of ordinary fimily meals (cf. Marquardt, Privatl. 318). The bill of fare of a plain dinner is to be found in Martial (10.48, 13 foll.). The main course consisted of kid, cutlets (ofellae), beans, early sprouts (prototomi), chicken and cold ham. A similarly frugal dinner is mentioned in Hor. Sat. 2.2, 120-125 ; Juv. 11.64-76. While eating, wine was usually drunk (Petron. 34), but in small quantities, for it was thought to blunt the taste (Hor. Sat. 2.8, 38).

After the cena proper “was taken away, and the tables were removed, the offerings to the gods (the mola salsa, &c.) were thrown into the hearth; and when a slave announced that the gods were propitious, silence for a short time was observed in respect for the gods. The Greeks called this θεῶν παρουσίαν” (Serv. on Aen. 1.734). The gods were the Lares. If they were not in the dining-room, they used to be carried in and placed on the table (Petron. 60; cf. Hor. Od. 4.5, 21), or a special table with a salt-cellar and some meat was placed before their shrine (Arnob. adv. Gentes, 2.67).

Thereafter followed the dessert, mensae secundae (Hor. Sat. 2.2, 122), also called bellaria (Gel. 13.11, 7), just as “second course” and “sweets” signify to us the same part of the meal. Other names were impomenta, Fest. 108 ἐπιδειπνίς, Mart. 11.31, 7. It consisted of all sorts of pastry (for various kinds, see Becker-Göll, Gallus, 3.363-367), fresh and dried fruits, apples, grapes, &c. (Mart. ll. cc.). The mensae secundae formed the transition to the COMISSATIO

At distinguished dinner-parties the company used to be amused in various ways. These amusements were called ACROAMATA (see Reid on Cic. Arch. 9, 20). Respectable and cultivated hosts used to afford readings by their anagnostae (Mart. 5.78, 25; Mayor on Juv. 11.180), often of their own works, and we can well believe that this was an insufferable nuisance (Mart. 3.44, 15; 50, 4 foll.). It was no doubt a note of culture to ask for some charming poetry (Pers. 1.30). The practice of reading during meals is still kept up in Roman Catholic colleges. Music, too, used to be introduced, sometimes choral and orchestral performances (symphonia, Cic. Ver. 3.44, 105; and Wilkins on Hor. Ars Poet. 374); with reference to which the sound sense of Martial (9.78, 6) declares that the best banquet is that where there is no musician. There used to be actors also (Plin. Ep. 1.15, 2), and story-tellers (aretalogi, Suet. Aug. 74). At “fast” entertainments there used to be all kinds of girls to play, sing, and dance (Liv. 39.6; Hor. Sat. 1.2, 1; Mayor on Juv. 11.162; Plin. l.c.), gymnasts (petauristae, Petron. 53), fools (moriones), “amusing vagabonds” (scurrae), &c.: cf. Plin. Ep. 9.17, and Marquardt, Privatleben, 327-8. Formal speech-making was happily unknown. These amusements were produced during the cena and continued on into the COMISSATIO if such followed.

On Roman meals see especially Marquardt, Privatleben der Römer, 257-60, 289-321; Becker-Göll, Gallus, 3.311-370; Daremberg and Saglio, s. v. Coena, in which works all the literature on the subject is collected.


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