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Athenian red-figure stamnos. Ashmolean Museum 1965.127The drinking party at which men (rarely women on their own) recline on beds (klinai). This is an eastern habit, learned about 600 BC, by which time special rooms are being made for the symposion to accommodate a fixed number of beds (the andron). The practice was for the middle class and élite, but also for festivals and there are symposion rooms at many sanctuaries. As a social occasion a symposion may be the setting for political or philosophical discussions. Entertainment was musical or sexual, and there were party games, such as kottabos. Eating is completed before the drinking, for which 'second tables' are laid, and what follows may be the drunken dance (komos).

Above: Athenian red-figure stamnos. Ashmolean Museum 1965.127 © Beazley Archive, Ian Hiley

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