This is an online event.
Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
The symposium was a small, all-male drinking party held in a private home, and it was most popular from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period with some significant changes in form and meaning along the way.
The symposium focused on the shared consumption of wine. Men gathered in a small room, reclined on their left elbows, and participated equally in both the drinking and activities. All men were expected to speak on topics of philosophy and politics in turn or contribute to songs and stories. The wine loosened inhibitions and made it easier for the drinkers to form bonds.
Sympotic drinking required specialized ceramic equipment, designed only for use in the symposium. This paper will discuss the sympotic set from an Athenian house near the Classical Agora. It is the first well-preserved sympotic set from an individual house, so it provides the first evidence for the importance of the symposium in a real Athenian house. In fact, the sympotic pottery accounted for nearly 50% of this house’s crockery. The iconography on the sympotic pottery tells us something about the homeowner who chose the pots: he had a sense of humor, and he had an interest in cattle.
*This is the subject of the author’s AIA 2013 Wiseman Award publication, The Symposium in Context.
Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:
J.McK. Camp, “Excavations in the Athenian Agora 1994 and 1995.” Hesperia 65 (1996): 231-61.
A. Dalby, Siren Feasts: A History of Food and Gastronomy in Greece, Routledge, 1996.
J. Davidson, Courtesans and Fischakes: Consuming Passions of Classical Athens, Fontana Press, 1998.
K. Lynch, The Symposium in Context, Hesperia Supplement 46, Princeton: ASCSA, 2011.
B. Sparkes, Greek Pottery: An Introduction, Manchester University Press, 1991.
B. Sparkes, The Red and the Black: studies in Greek Pottery, Routledge, 1996.