MEN BEHAVING BADLY: CONDUCT AND IDENTITY AT GREEK SYMPOSIA
AbstractIntroduction From later prose writings on the ancient Greek symposion (for example, Plato's Symposion, Xenophon's Symposion and Athenaeus' Deipnosophistai) one gains the general impression that the symposion was a gathering of aristocrats with similar interests, who, induced by moderate consumption of wine, indulged in intellectual discussions and pursuits and exercised their reputed sophrosyne.1 This is, however, a literary construct, an ideal, which is undercut by the evidence of the poetry sung and pottery used at these functions. Both the sympotic poetry and the painted pottery offer evidence from inside the symposion of less than ideal behaviour. The mere fact that the vase-painters or their aristocratic clients felt it necessary to warn symposiasts against over-indulgence (cf. for example, the "message" of the Brygos-calyx),z suggests that the behaviour after (or even at) symposia was perhaps not always as moderate as one might at first be led to believe. The evidence is particularly damning in the case of komasts after the symposion (cf. Lissarrague 1990:96, fig. 77). Likewise, the poets' appeals for calm and self-control, promotion of the moderate consumption of wine, and warnings against its dangers presuppose situations where in fact these elements were absent.
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