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Whose pupils, with blunt knife and pompous air, Slice down the wooded boar, the kid, the hare; His matchless art the oryx and gazelle And huge flamingo, oft dismember'd, tell, While through the clattering feast he goes his rounds, And the elm banquet through Suburra' sounds.2 The dining-halls of Lucullus, a Roman celebrated for his love of splendour, were distinguished by the different names of the gods ; and it is a well-known circumstance in his biography, that when Cicero and Pompey attempted to surprise him by an unexpected visit, they were perfectly astonished at the extreme costliness of a feast which had been speedily prepared for them upon the simple announcement of Lucullus that he would dine in the Hall of Apollo'. Asarotos Ecus, or the unswept room, was a name once given to a triclinium, on account of the singularity of the design of the mosaic pavement, which by the caprice of the artist was made to represent all kinds of fragments of a feast, carelessly disposed, as if they had actually fallen from the tables, and conveying an idea that the floor of the room had not been swept since the last repast'.
i One of the streets of Rome.
2 Dr. Badham has here very happily expressed the sense of the original, although the particular items of the Roman bill of fare were most untractable for a translator.
3 Plutarch's Life of Lucullus.
Around the upper part of the dining-room, to a certain height, the walls were hung with rich drapery: it was this kind of hanging, which by its fall, it will be remembered, disturbed the feast of Nasidienus, described by Horace. The embellishment of the remaining part of the room had an air of considerable grandeur, being at the same time of a character perfectly suitable to the use and peculiar destination of the apartment. Chaplets and wreaths surrounded by ivy and vine branches divided the walls into compartments, bordered with every variety of fanciful ornament.
1 Pliny's Natural History, lib. xxxvi. cap. 25.
9 Lib. ii. sat. 8.;-a description of a miser acting extravagance.
centre of each panel or large square division of the walls of the room, were exquisitely painted the graceful figures of young Fauns and Bacchantic females bearing thyrsi, vases, cups, and all the accompaniments of elegant festivity'. The deep frieze above the columns was divided into pictures, each of them surmounted by one of the signs of the zodiac, and representing the viands most esteemed in the particular month indicated by the sign. Under Sagittarius were painted prawns, shell-fish, and birds of passage ; beneath Capricornus, lobsters, sea-fish, the wild boar and game; below Aquarius, ducks, plovers, pigeons and water-rails, &c. &c. In a triclinium placed beneath a trellis-work, at Pompeii, a frieze was discovered the decorations of which were composed of all sorts of eatables”.
The couches of the dining-room were called
i Pittura d'Ercolano and the Pompeiana contain engravings of very many examples of these beautiful figures.
Now scarcely discernible. See the house of Acteon, in Mazois' Ruines de Pompeii.
Triclinaria, to distinguish them from the Cubicularia used for sleeping on, and were made of bronze inlaid with ornaments of pure gold and silver : the tortoise-shell was also employed in the manufacture of these sumptuous seats of repose. Upon the enriched frames of the couches were spread mattresses of Gaulish wool, and cushions stuffed with feathers and covered with embroidery of variegated flowers in gold and silver thread, chiefly manufactured at Babylon.
The Triclinaria, as their name implies, originally accommodated three persons on each, and in the dining-room all the couches were of the same form and decoration. The ladies used the same mode of reclining at table as the
Suetonius relates that at an entertainment given by Caligula, the emperor placed all his sisters, one by one, below himself, the empress his wife lying above him'.
· After the round citron tables became fashionable, the triclinia were changed for a stibadium, one single large couch in the shape of a crescent, or of the Grecian sigma, whence it sometimes borrowed its name. These couches
'The size of the table, as well as of the couches, was proportioned to the number of guests, and incredible luxury was exhibited in these articles of furniture, although in the earlier periods of history the Romans were deemed frugal. Juvenal exclaims,
Those times, those simple times, no tables knew,
In the remote times of the republic, there was so little even of silver in the city of Rome, that the senators mutually lent their plate whenever they gave an entertainment. “The Romans, it appears, live
upon a very familiar footing together,” once said the ambassadors from Carthage ; "we have been treated at all the great tables in Rome, and everywhere
also were named from the number of guests that they held, as the hexaclinon for six persons, the heptaclinon for seven, &c.-Kennet's Roman Antiquities.
| Badham's Translation. Sat. 11.