Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 September 2022
This chapter focuses on dining as a key social ritual in which emperors and courtiers articulated and negotiated relationships among themselves. It also includes a briefer discussion of hunting and related activities as contexts for such negotiations, attested for at least a few emperors. The chapter discusses where imperial banquets (convivia) were staged, which kinds of courtiers were present, and how participants interacted. Conviviality was a central mode of communication among emperors and their courtiers. Our sources offer many moralizing accounts about convivial practices that reveal participants’ attempts to control one another, to enhance their own status, and to seek advantage relative to other participants. Imperial hunting in the wild is attested for some emperors (especially Hadrian), and some others hunted in the arena. Representations of imperial hunting are ideologically charged, assuming that ‘the hunt is the emperor’, just as the sources assume that ‘the dinner is the emperor’.