Scala/Art Resource, NY

Sharing a meal in the afterlife? Seven young men recline on a semicircular stibadium, dining on fish and surrounded by baskets of bread, in this fresco from a third-century C.E. Christian tomb chamber in the Catacomb of Callistus in Rome. Banquet scenes are often found adorning ancient burials, both Christian and pagan. For pagans, such scenes recalled the domestic joys of this world. This particular fresco is often identified as an illustration of the New Testament meal that followed Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and fishes. But because banquets are frequently used as a metaphor for the joys of the afterlife in the New Testament, and the fresco appears in a funerary context, it may also represent a meal in heaven, where bread and fish and good company abound.