Symposium

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  • Created by: MaaB
  • Created on: 02-06-16 13:00

Preparations

  • Means 'drinking together' and was an elaborate dinner party.
  • Started days before the event as kyrios had to send out invitations via slave. These invitations were usually small statues made from limestone showing people walking to a party or feasting.
  • The women were also involved in preparing the party by making garlands for the guests to wear and decorating the andron with flowers.
  • The kyrios would hire a professional cook to produce the meal and would discuss the menu with him. If the kyrios wanted a certain type of dish served, he would get a cook who had expertise in the field. The cook would normally bring his own equipment.
  • The host had to organise the wine too, it was often brought from far away.
  • Entertainers would be hire too, musicians and dancers were the most common but acrobats could appear too.
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Arrival And Dinner & Courtesans (Hetairai)

  • Started in early evening and continued late into the evening.
  • After arriving, guests were taken into the andron where they would lie on the coaches.
  • Usually between 7-11 couches at dinner parties. 2/3 people could it on a couch, laying down and leaning on cushions with their left elbows with their right arms free for eating and drinking.
  • Dinner was brought in by slaves and served on a small 3-legged table.
  • Normally three courses: a starter of olives, dates or onions; main course of meat or fish; a sweet dessert of fruit, honey or pastry.
  • At the end, slaves removed the table and swept the floor.
  • The guests washed their hands in water before being given flowers.
  • High-class prostitutes but were hired for their conversational or musical skills.
  • They were not from Athens, they would be slaves or foreigners who wanted to make money.
  • Hetairai tended to be the most educated women in Athens and could earn a lot of money for attending dinner parties.
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Drinking

  • At the start of drinking, a hymn was sung and a toast drunk to the gods.
  • One member would be elected head and be held responsible for how strong the wine was. He would also pick the size of cups, the number of toasts and the frequency of the rounds.
  • This is when musicians, dancers, singers, acrobats etc. would arrive.
  • The guests would join with the singing and dancing, telling stories and playing games.
  • Some guests may sing skolia or drinking songs.
  • A popular game was kottabos where after finishing their drinking, guests tried to flick the dregs of wine at a target and player would utter the name of the object of his affection. Sometimes, the target was a disc balanced on a stand or a cauldron or bowl that would hiss when the wine landed on it. To win the game, the style of the throw was as important as hitting the target.
  • Intellectual discussion was also important at symposia.
  • Guests might listen to poetry/music and then discuss philosophical matters - the guests would agree at the start whether they wanted to discuss philosophy.
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