Explain the Stages of a Symposium with Close and Detailed Reference to Vase Paintings You Have Studied.

Explain the stages of a Symposium with close and detailed reference to
vase paintings you have studied.

The symposium was an all male drinking party that was very popular during the Archaic and Classical periods. It was an aristocratic activity used to cement friendships, and each member in a group of friends would take it in turns to host this event. The participants would also take it in turns to supply the drink, although it was up to the Symposiarch to decide how fast his guests got drunk and to what extent.

There was a lot of preparation involved in this event and it was almost definitely the most important part, especially if the host had to supply the alcohol for the evening. An early classical red-figure kylix by Douris shows a young man in a wine shop, dipping a sponge into a large amphora. Normally, the product would have to be tasted before an order was made, and so a ‘transport’ amphora was filled for this purpose. However, we can assume that the man is intent on making a purchase by the purse he holds in his left hand. Those taking part in the symposium would also often contribute to the festivities, as we can see in an early classical red-figure amphora by the Berlin painter. Here we can see a young man carrying a ‘transport’ amphora and, judging by his upward stance, is on his way to the party, as opposed to returning for a refill.

At the location of the symposium, we assume that the special dinning room also had to be prepared quite carefully.   This involved a lot of work for the host, or at least for his servants and slaves, as we can see on a Pelike painted by the Pan painter. Here we can see a slave carrying a kline, where the symposiats reclined, and a trapeza for the food and drink of the symposiats. We assume that he is moving these pieces into position in the dinning room, as the furniture was arranged around the edge of the room, with the most honoured seat being to the right of the door.

As the Greeks did not drink they’re wine...