Ancient Roman Meals

About the names and times of the ancient Roman meals.

Roman Triclinium
Image ID: 1619879[Roman triclinium, or dining room, with table and couches.]. New York Public Library Digital Gallery

Not all Romans ate all the ancient Roman meals -- many probably could only afford a single meal (cena) a day, but there were meals that correspond approximately with the modern, western, light morning and noon meals, and a main meal later in the day. For reasons of changing fashions, over time, the names and times of the Roman meals changed. Here are the names of the ancient Roman meals and their approximate times.

  1. The Ancient Roman Breakfast Meal

    The breakfast meal, which was eaten very early, is called jentaculum.

  2. The Ancient Roman Noon Meal

    The lunch meal is called prandium or cibus meridianus 'noon food.' It was a quick noontime lunch, but in the early days of Rome, the main meal, eaten around noon, was called cena.

  3. The Ancient Roman Main Meal

    In the city in early days, there had been a light evening meal known as vesperna. The heavier meal, the noon-time cena was pushed, over time, to later in the day. The vesperna was no longer needed. (In its place the prandium was added at midday.) Cena, eaten at sunset, is the name of the ancient Roman dinner meal you're most likely to encounter.

For more details and sources, see Roman Meals.

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Your Citation
Gill, N.S. "Ancient Roman Meals." ThoughtCo, Feb. 24, 2016, Gill, N.S. (2016, February 24). Ancient Roman Meals. Retrieved from Gill, N.S. "Ancient Roman Meals." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 18, 2017).