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date: 20 March 2023



  • Oswyn Murray


The Roman convivium was modelled on the Etruscan version of the Greek *symposium. These Italian feasts differed from their Greek prototypes in four important respects: citizen women were present; equality was replaced by a hierarchy of honour; the emphasis was on eating and the cena, rather than on the comissatio, or later drinking session; the entertainment was often given by one man for his inferior amici and clientes (see cliens). The Roman convivium was therefore embedded in social and family structures, rather than largely independent of them; the difference is captured by the remark of *Cato (Censorius) in *Cicero, Sen. 13. 45, that the Romans were right to emphasize the aspect of ‘living together’ by calling a group of reclining friends a convivium rather than a symposium.The differences between Greek and Roman customs produced some tensions. The presence of respectable women is archaeologically attested in Etruria (see etruscans) and early Rome, and was already denounced by *Theopompus (3) (Athen.


  • Roman Material Culture

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