Ancient Greece – pt. 2

“The rise and fall of Ancient Greece revealed.”

I’ll just be calling the book IEAG for short, as the full title is The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ancient Grece, an Authoritative Account of Greek Military and Political Power, Architecture, Sculpture, Art, Drama, and Philosophy; (Written by Nigel Rodgers.)

As per Locklyn’s comment on my first blog post of the year, I will be talking about art, love, war and society in this post. We start on page 476, titled Drinking Together, Symposia and Bars. Symposion literally means ‘drinking together,’ by the way. Anyway, a symposium was an event catered to socialization and drinking. (The only alcohol the Ancient Greeks consumed was wine, so that was what they drank.) Symposiums could be started with celebrations of sporting events- or simply a friend coming by uninvited. The nights’ entertainment at the most luxurious symposiums were dancers, flute girls, and serving boys. Sex was shown to be common throughout these parties, and I cannot continue past that because this blog will not be posted if I do. 

“A symposium otok place in a house’s andron (‘men’s room’), a special windowless room on the ground floor. Its floor was raised at the walls, against which couches were arranged.” We’re ignoring the weird windowless room thing; I assume that was for ambiance. What we will instead focus on are the reclining couches. If you have ever seen images painted, drawn, or reconstructed still-lifes, you will see Greek men reclining back on couches. (The Romans and Etruscans also copied this dining method.) Many things would happen if you were to attend one of these symposiums. First, your sandals would be removed by slaves. You might be adorned with flowers and have oil smeared onto your body before being shown to a couch, which you would share with another man. You would eat the food mainly with your fingers, throwing your scraps to the floor where the dogs would eat them. 


That entire scenario only happens if you’re a male born into an important, rich Greek family. What would you do if you did not have the funds to throw a grand party? You would socialize in a bar/tavern called a kapeleion. “Citizens could eat snacks and buy wine in flasks to take away along with torches to light their way home through Athens’ unlit streets.” If I were to equate these kapeleions to anything, it would be to a modern British pub. Brawls and riots broke out often, if not at least small disturbances. 


I can’t fully discuss the topic of sexuality within the Ancient Greek world, but I can give you this quote from IEAG; “Ancient Greece was once seen as a sexual arcadia where happy pagans, free from Christain restraint, enjoyed sex in ways damned by the Bible or law. In particular, homosexuality, male and female, was openly celebrated. Such views of Greece as a homosexual paradise owe as much to fantasy as to reality.” In simple words, the Greeks didn’t have the same ideals about sexuality that we do now. Bisexuality was the unspoken norm, but not how we might think. Please look this up further, as I cannot discuss it. 

I swear we’ll move to happy topics sometime.

Author: Morgan Douglas

Morgan Douglas is a senior literary attending the Mississippi School of the Arts. She is greatly inspired by the Greek and Roman classics, world mythology, and worldbuilding. Her main focal points are poetry, fiction, and historical-fiction pieces.