A triclinium (plural: "triclinia") is a formal dining room in a Roman building. The word is adopted from the Greek τρικλίνιον, "triklinion", from τρι-, "tri-" and κλίνη, "klinē", a couch. It was characterized by three couches, the klinai, on three sides of a low square table, those surfaces sloped away from the table at about 10 degrees. Diners would recline on these surfaces in a semi-recumbent position. The fourth side of the table was left free, presumably to allow service to the table. [Durant, Will. Caesar and Christ. New Tork: Simon and Schuster, 1971 p. 376.]

In Roman Era dwellings, particularly wealthy ones, triclinia were common. [Durant, Will. Caesar and Christ. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1971. p. 343.] Used to entertain company, the hosts and guest would recline on pillows while feasting on the flesh of lesser beasts and other refreshments. For an example of an accurately reconstructed triclinium, visit the Museum of Archeology in Arezzo, Italy, or the House of Caro in Pompeii.

Dining was the defining ritual in Roman domestic life, lasting from late afternoon through late at night. Typically, 9-20 guests were invited, arranged in a prescribed seating order to emphasize divisions in status and relative closeness to the dominus. As static, privileged space, dining rooms received extremely elaborate decoration, with complex perspective scenes and central paintings (or, here, mosaics). Dionysus, Venus, and still lifes of food were popular, for obvious reasons. Middle class and elite Roman houses usually had at least two triclinia; it's not unusual to find four or more. Here, the triclinium maius (big dining room) would be used for larger dinner parties, which would typically include many clients of the owner.

Smaller triclinia would be used for smaller dinner parties, with a more exclusive set of guests. Hence their decoration was often at least as elaborate as that found in larger triclinia. As in the larger triclinia, wine, food, and love were always popular themes. However, because of their association with patronage and because dining entertainment often including recitation of high-brow literature like epic, dining rooms could also feature more "serious" themes, as in this instance the wounding of Aeneas from the Aeneid. As in many houses in Pompeii, here the smaller dining room (triclinium minus) forms a suite with the adjoining cubiculum and bath.The triclinium, or dining room, took its name from the three couches called klinai, on which family members and their guests lounged to take their meals. Each couch was wide enough to accommodate three diners who reclined on their left side on cushions while some household slaves served multiple courses rushed out of the culina, or kitchen and others entertained guests with music, song or dance.


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  • triclinium — [ triklinjɔm ] n. m. • 1605; mot lat. d o. gr., proprt « lit de table pour trois » ♦ Antiq. rom. Salle à manger à lits en pente, autour d une table ronde ou carrée. Des tricliniums. ● triclinium nom masculin (latin triclinium, du grec triklinion …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Triclinium — Triclinium, dessin du XIXe siècle …   Wikipédia en Français

  • TRICLINIUM — Graece τρίκλινον, a lectis, in quibus vescebantur olim, dictum est. Sic autem Lipsius; Antiqq. Lection. l. 3. In conaculo collocabatur mensa rotunda, humilis: inferiorum quidem hominum tripes et ex simplici ligno: lautiorum citrea aut acerna aut… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • triclinium — TRICLÍNIUM s.n. v. tricliniu. Trimis de LauraGellner, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DEX 98  TRICLÍNIUM s.n. v. tricliniu. Trimis de LauraGellner, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DN …   Dicționar Român

  • Triclinium — Tri*clin i*um, n.; pl. {Triclinia}. [L., from Gr. ?, ?; ? (see {Tri }) + {?} a couch.] (Rom. Antiq.) (a) A couch for reclining at meals, extending round three sides of a table, and usually in three parts. (b) A dining room furnished with such a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Triclinĭum — (röm. Ant.), 1) Sitz, worauf drei Personen Platz haben; 2) Speisestube, worin drei, je drei Personen fassende Sophas (Lecti) so um einen Tisch (Abacus) standen, daß die vierte Seite für die aufwartenden Sklaven frei blieb. Daher die Sklaven,… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • triclinium — [trī klin′ē əm] n. pl. triclinia [trī klin′ēə] [L < Gr triklinion, dim. of triklinos < tri ,TRI + klinē, a couch < klinein: see LEAN1] 1. a couch extending around three sides of an ancient Roman dining table, for reclining at meals 2. an …   English World dictionary

  • Triclinium — Rekonstruiertes Triclinium aus Caesaraugusta (Saragossa) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • triclinium — (tri kli ni om ) s. m. Terme d antiquité romaine. Salle à manger à trois lits, sur chacun desquels se plaçaient trois convives. •   Un des côtés restait libre pour le service, et le long des trois autres on rangeait trois lits : ce qui fit nommer …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • triclinium — noun (plural triclinia) Etymology: Latin, from Greek triklinion, from tri + klinein to lean, recline more at lean Date: 1646 1. a couch extending around three sides of a table used by the ancient Romans for reclining at meals 2. a dining room… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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