The Sevso Plate * (27.8 inches in diameter) may also reference a hunting feast describe by the roman writer Philostratus. But the iconography is Christian. The Chi-Rho situated at the apex of the legend on the plate’s circumference is a symbol for Jesus Christ Dunbabin correctly calls this a picnic because it looks like a picnic, and there is no other Roman name for it.

The inscription reads in English, “Seuso, may these dishes endure through many ages, so that they may be worthy of and of use to your descendants.”

The picnic scene in the center medallion shows five diners, four hunters, and a woman sitting on a stibidium (a thick bolster) facing a table on is a single fish, another Christian symbol.  The game includes a boar, deer, and fish. Servants serve beverages. Dunbabin’s conclusion that the stibidium was originally used for outdoor meals and then redesigned as the triclinium, a dining couch or chaise longue, for indoor dining rooms among the wealthy by the late 1st Century BCE.

“Central Medallion, The Sevso Plate (Mid-to-late 4th Century CE)

The Cesena Plate also includes at least one woman who shares the picnic with the male hunters. This suggests the woman might have been a hunter or that she met the hunters at a prearranged location for a picnic luncheon. Though the patron goddess of hunting is Diana, it is a male-dominated sport, and Richard Almond finds that few women were known to be hunters in the Middle Ages.

Censo Hunting Plate. The central medallion depicts the hunter’s feast.

The key factor in these picnics on the hunt is that they celebratory and not working meals important essential in the tradition that a picnic is play and not work.

*Sevso is also aka Seuso

See Katherine M. D. Dunbabin. The Roman Banquet: Images of Conviviality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003); Marlia Mundell Mango. “The Sevso Treasure Hunting Plate.” Apollo Magazine. (July 1990); Zoltán Pallag, Reading the Seuso Hunting Plate: Text, Image, and Identity in the Later Roman Empire

Featured Image: Sevso Hunting Plate. Central Medallion (late 4th century)