Dionysos in Classical Athens: An Understanding Through Images (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World)

Ancient Greek Religion
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His role was to decide on the concentration of wine in the krater or how many cups each guest ought or ought not to drink. The Greeks did not drink pure wine. It was first mixed with water in the krater before being served in the communal cup. Generally speaking, the mixture was two parts wine to five parts water, or one part wine to three parts water. Wine was sometimes mixed in a special vessel, a psykter, filled with cold water or even snow, to chill the drink.

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Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, Volume: Dionysos, with his following of satyrs and women, was a major theme in a big part of the figure painted. Dionysos in Classical Athens: An Understanding Through Images (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World) [Cornelia Isler-kerényi, Anna Beerens] on.

Usually a single cup was passed among the guests from left to right, and a young slave filled the krater each time. During the symposium guests nibbled on snacks called tragemata —dried fruit, toasted beans, or chickpeas—which both absorbed the alcohol and built up a thirst for more. Most symposia, however, would have been of a somewhat less philosophical intensity. Its guests typically chatted, telling each other riddles or drawing caricatures of one another.

The third-serving rule seems to have been breached regularly.

DIONYSOS CULT 1

The most common after-dinner activity was the singing of skolia, sung to the accompaniment of a lyre. These short songs typically celebrated friendship or the pleasures of wine, recounting historic events or exalting the social values of the aristocracy from whose ranks most guests were drawn.

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One of the most popular games was known as kottabos. After finishing his cup, the guest picked it up by the handle and flicked the dregs at a target, usually another cup. As he did so, he uttered the name of his beloved, as it was believed that hitting the target boded well for his love life. There were more elaborate variants of the game: In one of them, the guests tried to sink small clay vessels floating in a large cup; in another, they shot at a saucer balanced on a metal bar.

Xenophon writes how in B.

Mystery Cults in the Greek and Roman World

Female flautists, known as auletrides, were brought in for the later stages. Pictures of symposia on vases show these women performing semi-naked between the reclining guests who, hands behind their heads, seem mesmerized by the sensuality of the moment. At the end of the evening, the dancers performed a kind of erotic dance, a pantomime of the wedding of Ariadne and Dionysus, the god of wine.

Other women who often attended symposia were hetaera, courtesans who became the regular companions of men who could pay for their services. They dazzled the men with their beauty and entertained them with their wit and refined conversation. The symposium gave them the opportunity to show off their charms and meet generous protectors. There were no illusions about their role in the proceedings.

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When the rowdier symposia ended, the guests went out to the street, wearing their garlands, and forming a drunken procession called a komos. Sometimes these got out of hand. The playwright Aristophanes, offering Athenians comic relief through his plays during the grim years of the Peloponnese wars, depicted a character in his play The Wasps who defied all the conventions of a good feast-attender: Ignoring the lighthearted attempts to restrain him, his komos takes the form of threatening to punch passersby.

Despite attempts by city authorities to curtail such excesses, symposia continued to play a central role in aristocratic social relations until Roman times. They are still identifiable in the drinking societies of British universities or in fraternities in the United States.

Read Caption. Wining and Dining A fifth-century B.

Attic kylix drinking cup from the Berlin State Museum, showing guests at a symposium drinking wine. Not only an occasion for thinking and philosophizing, the symposium was also a place for enjoying women, wine, and song. By Francisco Javier Murcia. Depicted on a tetradrachm, the Olympian Dionysus was the god of wine, an important part of the revelry at Greek feasts. A host might invite guests to a feast after bumping into them in the public meeting place of classical Athens known as the agora, reconstructed in this illustration.

Sensual Music An auletris flautist performs at a symposium, as depicted on a fourth-century B. At some informal banquets, the flautists may have also offered sexual favors.

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Photograph by Erich Lessing, Album. In these lavish rooms, men would hold their symposia. As he did so, he uttered the name of his beloved, as it was believed that hitting the target boded well for his love life. There were more elaborate variants of the game: In one of them, the guests tried to sink small clay vessels floating in a large cup; in another, they shot at a saucer balanced on a metal bar.

Xenophon writes how in B. Female flautists, known as auletrides, were brought in for the later stages. Pictures of symposia on vases show these women performing semi-naked between the reclining guests who, hands behind their heads, seem mesmerized by the sensuality of the moment.

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At the end of the evening, the dancers performed a kind of erotic dance, a pantomime of the wedding of Ariadne and Dionysus, the god of wine. Other women who often attended symposia were hetaera, courtesans who became the regular companions of men who could pay for their services. They dazzled the men with their beauty and entertained them with their wit and refined conversation.

The symposium gave them the opportunity to show off their charms and meet generous protectors. There were no illusions about their role in the proceedings. When the rowdier symposia ended, the guests went out to the street, wearing their garlands, and forming a drunken procession called a komos. Sometimes these got out of hand. The playwright Aristophanes, offering Athenians comic relief through his plays during the grim years of the Peloponnese wars, depicted a character in his play The Wasps who defied all the conventions of a good feast-attender: Ignoring the lighthearted attempts to restrain him, his komos takes the form of threatening to punch passersby.

Despite attempts by city authorities to curtail such excesses, symposia continued to play a central role in aristocratic social relations until Roman times. They are still identifiable in the drinking societies of British universities or in fraternities in the United States. Read Caption. Wining and Dining A fifth-century B. Attic kylix drinking cup from the Berlin State Museum, showing guests at a symposium drinking wine. Not only an occasion for thinking and philosophizing, the symposium was also a place for enjoying women, wine, and song.

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By Francisco Javier Murcia. Depicted on a tetradrachm, the Olympian Dionysus was the god of wine, an important part of the revelry at Greek feasts. A host might invite guests to a feast after bumping into them in the public meeting place of classical Athens known as the agora, reconstructed in this illustration. Sensual Music An auletris flautist performs at a symposium, as depicted on a fourth-century B. At some informal banquets, the flautists may have also offered sexual favors.

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Photograph by Erich Lessing, Album. In these lavish rooms, men would hold their symposia. To impress his guests, an aristocratic owner would have the walls painted with brightly colored frescoes and would commission intricate mosaics for the floors, as seen in this re-creation. The couches and side tables were well-crafted pieces of furniture.

The divans klinae and cushions were placed next to the walls on raised platforms. There the guests would recline while they ate and debated all night. There were normally 7, 11, or 15 couches, each about the size of a single bed. Two guests could recline on each one, so a symposium could range in size from 14 to 30 men. Androns have been found in some houses near the acropolis in Athens and in other locations such as Olynthus in northern Greece. Its central design depicts Pegasus ridden by the Greek hero Bellerophon, slaying the monstrous chimera.

Not only was fish a much cheaper source of protein, it was also prized in this seafaring culture.

Dionysos in Archaic Greece: An Understanding Through Images by Cornelia Isler-Kerényi

Below, three fish adorn a ceramic plate from the fourth century B. Two naked young men, depicted on a krater from the sixth century B. Handling Their Cups One of the cups used to drink watered-down wine at symposia was the kantharos, with two raised handles and a tall base. The vessel below portrays a woman with African features. Continue Reading.