Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Redefining "Symposia"

In an earlier blog, probably in February when we began reading "The Symposium," I wrote that the definition of a "symposia" was a drinking party. But while reading Eva Keul's "The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens" she writes although symposia literally means a drinking party, "the symposium was the most characteristic feature of Athenian sexual and social life...dedicated to a varying blend of eating, drinking, games of all sorts, philosophical discourse, and public sex with prostitutes, concubines, and other men, but never with wives...the symposia normally took place in the men's quarter's [homes were segregated for the males and females] of private houses...[this area] was entered through a vestibule which was directly accessible from the street[and] was usually the the largest and most luxurious part of the house...the symposium played a part in the sexual indoctrination of the young man. His contact with older prostitutes seemed to have served to liberate him from any vestige of awe of his mother and other female authority figures of his childhood, which he might still be carrying around from his early years in the women's quarters." A little different than just a few men getting together to drink and talk.

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