A banquet in Troy


“[…]But when the twain had bathed and anointed them richly with oil, they sate them down at supper, and from the full mixing-bowl they drew off honey-sweet wine and made libation to Athene.[…]” Iliad, Book X

Banquets paid an important role in Homer’s poems. The two most ancient and precious tapestries held in the Alberoni museum are decorated with stories from the Roman de Troie, a Medieval retelling of the Iliad, which was quite popular in northern European aristocratic circles at the end of the 14th century. One of the tapestries features a banquet with Priam and Hecuba celebrating Helen and Paris’s arrival in Troy. The four regal figures – two of them young and two elderly – are dressed in keeping with early 16th century Dutch fashion. The table is set with dishes, cups, and cutlery and covered with a fine tablecloth. To the left of the diners are several shelves stocked with exquisite crockery. Among the figures that decorate the scene is a servant bearing a bowl for washing one’s hands. In the foreground, and below the diners, a lute player entertains the guests.