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Late Roman Convivium

Convivium LaPuebla COH_02.jpg

  The term convivium refers not only to the nuance of nourishment, but also to conviviality. In other words, it would be a social act in which the body and spirit were nourished.

  A convivium could be between friends, between people of the same social hierarchy... but it could also be a way of doing business, of building connections. The aim could be to strengthen ties, to ask for favours, political support...

  This unique banquet took place in the room known as the triclinuim, but by this time the triclinium had been replaced by the stibadium: a large semi-circular bed where the guests ate while reclining.

 

  This room, where the dinner took place, was a richly decorated performance space: walls with mural paintings, mosaic floors, vaulted ceilings, cookers, fountains, tableware and valuable utensils... 

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Cohors I Gallica´s convivium

Photograph by Idoia Eletxigerra

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  Numerous servants and professionals in the culinary arts would prepare, organise and serve the various dishes and wines offered by the host to flatter his guests. 

  The archimagirus, or chief cook, was responsible for cooking the food.

 

  The structor was in charge of cutting up the food and plating it.

  The vini minister will be in charge of serving the wine. He will offer it mixed with hot water from the Authepsa, so that long conversations and interactions between the guests can take place throughout the dinner.

 

  The tricliniarcha will manage all the servants and assistants like a great hall manager, so that the service runs smoothly and no guest is without food and wine. 

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The structor cutting and plating the food

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Vini Minister filling the authepsa with water to heat it.

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Authepsa found at Augst.

Photograph by Museum of Augusta Raurica

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Replica of Cohors I Gallica

  The convivium was a spectacle in itself, with a multitude of well-dressed servants, the parade of culinary delicacies and drinks, luxurious tableware, sumptuous shows...

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Scene of the myth of Pelops and Hippodamia.

Noheda mosaic (Cuenca)

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Ministratores, what today we would call waiters/waitresses, waiting for orders to carry out their duties.

Photograph by Idoia Eletxigerra

  The Cohors Prima Gallica reconstructs a late-period convivium in which Aradius Valerius Proculus organises a grand banquet in great detail to entertain his prestigious guest, the governor of the province of Tarroconensis. Alongside the main guest, other personalities chosen by the host to ensure the success of the banquet were also present.

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Vini minister serving the dominus wine and hot water

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A guest washing his hands

  In this large scene we can see the stibadium, an essential element where the actions of the convivium take place. This structure could be made of masonry or wood, and would be covered with a variety of rich fabrics.

 

  In addition to the guests, decked out for the occasion, we can also see the other characters with specific and significant functions: nomenclator, analecta, lavamanos, ministratores, structor, vini minister, tricliniarcha...

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Late 4th-5th century painting from the hypogeum tomb.

Tomis-Constanza, Romania

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Reconstruction and representation of the Cohors Prima Gallica´s convivium

Photograph by Idoia Eletxigerra

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Stibadium from the Roman Villa "El Ruedo" (Almedenilla, Cordoba).

3rd-4th centuries.

  In this reconstruction of a late Roman convivium, the aim is not only to give importance to the form and objectives of this type of event, but also to show the Roman culinary culture: the food that was consumed, its preparation, the presentation of the dishes, etc., in order to show a part of Roman life that has survived to the present day.

  We have taken as a reference the writings of Apicius, mosaics and paintings, and we use objects based on this period (cups, cutlery, plates, etc.) as well as reconstructions that the group itself has made specifically for this event with the corresponding historical rigour, such as the stibadium, knives, etc., among which the authepsa stands out.  

"Bonum vinum laetificat cor homini"

(Good wine gladdens the heart of man)

 

"¡Gaudeamus!"

(¡Let´s enjoy!)