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Reconstructed triclinium from Caesaraugusta ( Saragossa )

The triclinium (pl. Triclinia ) was a stone or wooden three-tier dining sofa in ancient times . It was especially widespread in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire . After him, however, the ancient dining room, in which three individual Klinen or the Triclinia were set up, was named Triclinium.

The dining sofa

Semicircular dining sofa, painting from the Catacomb of Calixtus in Rome

The frame of the wooden dining sofas was covered with straps with cushions on them. On each seat there was a pillow on which you supported yourself with your left arm. The legs of the furniture could be turned. Metal fittings and inlays were part of the decoration of the dining sofas . Up to three people could be seated on a dining sofa, supporting themselves there with their left hand while reaching for food and drink with their right hand. This was possible because less cutlery was used for eating than today. One ate on the dining sofa with one's hands or with a spoon and generally in a half-lying position.

The dining room

Scheme of the distribution of seats in a triclinium for a maximum of nine people

In the Roman Empire , the dining room consisted of three dining sofas (Klinen), which were arranged in a horseshoe shape around the table ( mensa ). Thus the ideal banquet in the Roman Empire consisted of nine people. In ancient Greece this numerical method was not very common. A seating arrangement for the Roman triclinium (see diagram) has been handed down in detail by the ancient author Plutarch . After that, there were two places of honor reserved for the host and a guest of honor. The wife and a child could sit on the host's sofa.

In the early days of the Roman Empire, only men were allowed to sit on the triclinia, while women on armchairs took part in the meal ( cena ). However, over the course of history, the Romans adapted to the Etruscan custom, in which women and men were equal.

Other forms of dining sofa and dining room

In addition to the triclinium, semicircular (sigma-shaped) dining sofas ( stibadium ) also appeared in the Roman Empire . Images of meals on these couches can be found in Roman catacombs , for example . The place of honor here is in the middle.


  • Joachim Marquardt : The private life of the Romans. 2nd edition, Leipzig 1886, p. 302 ff.

See also

Web links

Commons : Triclinium  - Collection of Images