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date: 25 February 2024



  • Oswyn Murray


Commensality in Greece was focused both on the public civic or sacrificial meal and on the activities of smaller exclusive groups. The warrior feast was already central to the Homeric image of society (see homer); under the influence of the near east in the period 750–650 bce more complex rituals of pleasure arose. The time of ‘drinking together’ (symposion) was separated from the meal before it (deipnon) and became the main focus of attention. The male participants wore garlands (see crowns and wreaths), and libations and prayers began and ended the proceedings. The Greeks adopted the practice of reclining on the left elbow (one or two to a couch); from this evolved a characteristic shape of room, and a standard size for the drinking group of between fourteen and thirty: the andrōn or men's room was square, arranged with a door off centre to fit usually seven or fifteen couches; larger sizes (though known) tended to destroy the unity of sympotic space. Many such rooms have been recognized archaeologically, but the best representation is the painted Tomb of the Diver at *Paestum.


  • Greek Material Culture

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