Athenian Cookery and the Symposium
All that afternoon the home of Prodicus is in an uproar. The score of slaves show a frantic energy. The aula is cleaned and scrubbed: the serving girls are busy handing festoons of leaves and weaving chaplets. The master's wife—who does not dream of actually sharing in the banquet—is nevertheless as active and helpful as possible; but especially she is busy trying to keep the peace between the old house servants and the imported cook. This Sicilian is a notable character. To him cookery is not a handicraft: it is the triumph, the quintessence of all science and philosophy. He talks a strange professional jargon, and asserts that he is himself learned in astronomy—for that teaches the best seasons, e.g. for mackerel and haddock; in geometry,—that he might know how a boiler or gridiron should be set to the best advantage; in medicine, that he might prepare the most wholesome dishes. In any case he is a perfect tyrant around the kitchen, grumbling about the utensils, cuffing the spit-boy, and ever bidding him bring more charcoal for the fire and to blow the bellows faster.
By the time evening is at hand Prodicus and his house are in perfect readiness. The bustle is ended; and the master stands by the entrance way, clad in his best and with a fresh myrtle wreath, ready to greet his guests. No ladies will be among these. Had there been any women invited to the banquet, they would surely be creatures of no very honest sort; and hardly fit, under any circumstances, to darken the door of a respectable citizen. The mistress and her maids are "behind the scenes." There may be a woman among the hired entertainers provided, but for a refined Athenian lady to appear at an ordinary symposium is almost unthinkable.
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Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-Greece/old-athens-symposium.asp?pg=9