Symposium

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“Symposium” is a word derived from the Greek language, which means “drinking together”. The communal consumption of wine was an important social ritual for the Greeks; it took place both on public and in private occasions, and often constituted a fundamental part of religious ceremonies. The symposium owes its importance to the drink that was consumed: wine was considered to be a special gift from the god Dionysus, which manifested itself in the overwhelming effects of intoxication. These meetings were also occasions for entertainment: people played, danced, and listened to music and poetry about myths; they discussed literature, poetry and philosophy. Following a tradition of eastern origin, they drank while lying down on a bed (the kline), resting against cushions and soft covers.

The Greeks exported their wine all over the Mediterranean basin and, with it, their way of drinking. In Italy the Etruscans adopted these customs and gave them a strong significance of social prestige, which is manifest in their use of luxury objects. Other signs of distinction are the dances, the music and the recital of myths, which contributed to the spread of Greek civilization and culture.

It was a typically Etruscan custom for the wife to participate in the symposium together with her husband, either lying next to him or seated at the foot of the bed. The symposium was also part of the ceremonies for the burial of the dead, who were believed to be destined for an eternal banquet in the afterlife.

Evidence of the full acquisition of the symposium ritual is provided by the grave goods which include bronze and ceramic.

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