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Athenian Cookery and the Symposium

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Page 14

Conversation at the Symposium

 

    After this the symposium will proceed according to certain general rules which it is Eunaius's duty to enforce; but in the main a "program" is something to be avoided. Everybody must feel himself acting spontaneously and freely. He must try to take his part in the conversation and neither speak too seldom nor too little. It is not "good form" for two guests to converse privately among themselves, nor for anybody to dwell on unpleasant or controversial topics. Aristophanes has laid down after his way the proper kind of things to talk about.[15] "[Such as]'how Ephudion fought a fine pancratium with Ascondas though old and gray headed, but showing great form and muscle.' This is the talk usual among refined people [or again] 'some manly act of your youth; for example, how you chased a boar or a hare, or won a torch race by some bold device.' [Then when fairly settled at the feast] straighten your knees and throw yourself in a graceful and easy manner upon the couch. Then make some observations upon the beauty of the appointments, look up at the ceiling and praise the tapestry of the room."

    As the wine goes around, tongues loosen more and more. Everybody gesticulates in delightful southern gestures, but does not lose his inherent courtesy. The anecdotes told are often very egoistic. The first personal pronoun is used extremely often, and "I" becomes the hero of a great many exploits. The Athenian, in short, is an adept at praising himself with affected modesty, and his companions listen good-humoredly, and retaliate by praising themselves.

 

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Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-Greece/old-athens-symposium.asp?pg=14