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Encyclopedia > Symposium

Symposium originally referred to a drinking party (the Greek verb sympotein means "to drink together") but has since come to refer to any academic conference, whether or not drinking takes place. The sympotic elegies of Theognis of Megara, two Socratic dialogues, Plato's Symposium and Xenophon's Symposium all describe symposia in the original sense. An academic conference is a conference for researchers (not always academics) to present and discuss their work. ... Drinking is the act of consuming a liquid through the mouth. ... Theognis of Megara (6th century BC) was an ancient Greek poet. ... Sokratikoi logoi is a prose literary form developed in Greece at the turn of the fourth century BCE, preserved today in the dialogues of Plato and the Socratic works of Xenophon, either dramatic or narrative, in which characters discuss moral and philosophical problems. ... A fresco taken from the north wall of the Tomb of the Diver featuring an image of a symposium The Symposium is a Socratic dialogue by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, student of Socrates, focusing on Eros (love) and its place in the philosophic path. ... Xenophons Symposium records the discussion of Socrates and company at a dinner given by Callias for the youth Autolycus. ...

Symposium sceneFresco from the Tomb of the Diver. 475 BCE. Paestum Museum, Italy.
Symposium scene
Fresco from the Tomb of the Diver. 475 BCE. Paestum Museum, Italy.

Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (1393x442, 130 KB) Description Description: Ancient Greek same-sex love. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (1393x442, 130 KB) Description Description: Ancient Greek same-sex love. ...

Symposium as a social activity in ancient Greece

Greek symposia were a key Hellenic social institution. They were a forum for men to debate, plot, boast, or simply to party. They were frequently held to celebrate the introduction of youths into aristocratic society, much like debutante balls today. Symposia were also held by aristocrats to celebrate other special occasions, such as victories in athletic and poetic contests. It has been suggested that Debutante ball be merged into this article or section. ...


Symposia were usually held in the men's quarters of the household. Singly or in pairs, the men would recline on couches arrayed against the walls of the room. Food, wine (usually mixed with water and served, and entertainment was provided, and depending on the occasion could include games, songs, flute-girls, and hired entertainments. A symposium would be overseen by a symposiarch who would decide how strong or diluted the wine for the evening would be, depending on whether serious discussions or merely sensual indulgence were in the offing. Certain formalities were observed, most important among which were the libations by means of which the gods were propitiated. In Roman Era dwellings (particularly those of the wealthy), triclinia were standard issue. ... Offerings given to the gods in Ancient Greece. ...


One of the more popular games at symposia was kottabos, in which drinkers swished the dregs of their wine in their kylixes (platter-like stemmed drinking vessels) and flung them at a target. Also popular at symposia were skolia, drinking songs of a patriotic or bawdy nature, which were also performed in a competitive manner with one symposiast reciting the first part of a song and another expected to finish it. Kottabos (Gr. ... Kylix may mean: Kylix (drinking cup), a type of drinking cup used in ancient Greece Kylix programming tool This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...



Symposiasts could also compete in rhetorical contests, for which reason the term symposium has come to refer to any event where multiple speeches are made.


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The Internet Classics Archive | Symposium by Plato (8543 words)
Commentary: Quite a few comments have been posted about Symposium.
Recommend a Web site you feel is appropriate to this work,
I said, "O thou stranger woman, thou sayest well; but, assuming Love to be such as you say, what is the use of him to men?" "That, Socrates," she replied, "I will attempt to unfold: of his nature and birth I have already spoken; and you acknowledge that love is of the beautiful.
Symposium [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy] (230 words)
"Symposium" is the Greek term for a drinking-party.
The symposium must be distinguished from thedeipnon; for though drinking almost always followed a dinner-party, yet the former was regarded as entirely distinct from the latter, was regulated by different customs, and frequently received the addition of many guests who were not present at the dinner.
The guests at a symposium reclined on couches, and were crowned with garlands of flowers.
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