Though in modern times he’s acquired a reputation for Spartanism, Frederick the Great (1712-1786) did himself proud at table.The image above shows Frederick at ‘dinner’ (actually lunch, since the meal began at one o’clock in the afternoon) with a circle of friends in the beautiful Marble Hall at Sans Souci. Frederick is seated at centre, and Voltaire is sitting at far right. Dinner could last for several hours if the company was convivial, and it was the main meal of Frederick’s day. The Prince de Ligne, visiting in 1780, records dinner as having lasted 5 hours. Towards the end of his life, Frederick ate nothing but a bit of fruit in the evenings.