Classical Rome: Food in Roman Society

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Romans tended to eat little during the first part of the day: a breakfast, ientaculum, was a snack that many did not trouble to take at all, and only the greedy wanted a big lunch, prandium. There was no better preparation for a big evening meal, cena, the one big meal of the day, than a couple of hours at the baths. These were fashionable meeting places, ideal locations for informal business discussions. One could easily spend a whole evening at the baths, for food and wine were available: as Jérôme Carcopino said rather censoriously in Daily Life in Ancient Rome (1940), ‘many congregated there to overeat and drink and indulge other disreputable tastes’.