Roman dining rooms – the triclinium

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A barmaid brings a drink to two men sitting on chairs. The words show the men arguing about whose drink it is.

Poor people often ate their meals in bars or fast food restaurants. Here a barmaid brings a drink to two men sitting on chairs. The words show the men arguing about whose drink it is.

Poor Romans (which was most people) ate sitting at a wooden table, the way you do, on wooden stools (Most people didn’t have chairs with backs). Or, if they were slaves, they just sat on the floor or on a straw mat.

A fresco painting of a triclinium, from Pompeii (now in the Naples Archaeological Museum)

A fresco painting of a triclinium, from Pompeii (now in the Naples Archaeological Museum)

Rich people, at least when they had company, ate in a more formal way, lying down on couches around a table. Because there were usually three couches in a room, these formal dining rooms were called triclinia (tri = three, and cline = down). (One triclinium, two triclinia).

Roman Silverware and Dishes
Roman Kitchens
And Roman Food
Roman Houses
Roman Bedrooms

Bibliography and further reading information on triclinia:

 

Ancient Roman Homes, by Brian Williams (2002). Easy reading.

A Roman Villa: Inside Story, by Jacqueline Morley (American edition 1992). For kids, with lots of pictures.

Ancient Rome (Eyewitness Books), by Simon James (2004). Also for kids, with lots of great photographs.

The Roman Banquet : Images of Conviviality, by Katherine Dunbabin (2004). By a specialist, for interested adults. What Roman dinner parties were like, and how they were different from Greek ones.

Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum, by Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (1996). By a leading expert in ancient architecture.

Roman Architecture
Ancient Rome
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By | 2017-08-27T21:20:16+00:00 August 27th, 2017|Romans|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Roman dining rooms – the triclinium. Quatr.us Study Guides, August 27, 2017. Web. December 13, 2017.

About the Author:

Karen Carr

Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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