Symposium in Ancient Greece

At a glance it may seem that symposium was just a drinking party where men could abandon their wives just to enjoy themselves, but there was more to symposium than just this aspect, and they were to some extent fundamental to Athenian life.First of all, the symposium would commence with serious discussion about politics, business and important issues affecting Athens, the oikos and everybody’s welfare in general. This discussion could have led to production and development of the Greek society and physical aspects of the city such as buildings and monuments. Aside from this, they also could have discussed wedding arrangements for their sons and daughters, so they were an important aspect in family life and the continuation of the oikos.The symposia were a very important source of relaxation in a society without modern technology and modern forms of communication and leisure.

It was a chance for the men to wind down after a long day at work in the city, which the woman would not have had to do. It was also the only time that men from other households got together and catch up on how everyone else was getting on business-wise and socially.However, the women were excluded from these parties, when they were actually the ones who did not get to see or meet anyone else other than their family and were forced to stay at home. This seems rather unjust as the men would have got around much more and known much more people, as well as enjoyed being in the company of friends other than their family. Women were left at home to look after the children and to cook and clean, and did not get a chance to relax and enjoy themselves every once in a while as the men did at these parties.More to the point, concubines and prostitutes were also present at symposia, only being there for the entertainment of married men and to have sex. Was this really needed? Why were symposia so important if men were having sex with women who they might not even have known and not been married to? It would appear to be like the men did only use symposia as and excuse for having sexual pleasure and for drinking whilst their wives were not there to stop them from doing so.

In addition, they also played ridiculous games such as ‘kottabos’ where they flicked wine at each other. They wasted their time on unimportant things to pass the time, when they could have been at home with their wives and family or doing something productive.To conclude, I think that some aspects of symposium were important and were needed such as essential discussion and business-talk, but most aspects were a waste of time and were not required to lead a full and good life in Athenian times.