Dining in a Classical Context

William J. Slater, Editor
An investigation of the role of the feast as a cultural focus for the classical world


The dinner table has been the focus of much of Western culture. Socrates and Oscar Wilde propounded their philosophies there to their friends. The Last Supper and its iconography trace the tradition of Christianity, as the feast of the Tabernacles does for Judaism. It was the classical world that first deliberately recognized the symposium or the convivium as its cultural center, as the scholars of the Renaissance realized when they sought to document it.

Dining in a Classical Context is a mine of information on the practice of giving and attending parties in the ancient world. The contributors move form the pubs of the Near East to the male bonding of the hoplites, and then to the socialization of Roman boys. Other essays illustrate the oddities of dress or manners that were sometimes a part of dining habits, the origins of the peculiar habit of reclining at dinner, and the accommodation of dining to life in wartime or to the needs of religion. The authors examine how people in the Greek and Roman worlds ate and drank, treated their servants, and watched or listened to musicians, actors, clowns, and acrobats.

Plans and pictures have been chosen that best illustrate the archaeological evidence for dining, particularly in its most developed phase at Rome. A wealth of illustrations reveals the often luxurious surroundings in which Romans frequently dined, and the conscious integration of a dining room's decorations with the foods and entertainments to be served up within it.

Look Inside


Introduction (William J. Slater)-1
Oriental Symposia: Contrasts and Parallels (Walter Burkert)-7
The Betrothal Symposium in Early Greece (Noel Robertson)-25
Foreigners at the Greek Symposium? (Margaret Miller)-59
War and the Symposium (Oswyn Murray)-83
The Age for Reclining and Its Attendant Perils (Alan Booth)-105
Triclinium and Stibadium (Katherine M.D. Dunbabin)-121
The Symposium in Roman Elegy (John C. Yardley)-149
Symposia and Deipna in Plutarch's Lives and in Other Historical Writings (George Paul)-157
Slaves at Roman Convivia (John H. D'Arms)-171
Dinner Theater (Christopher P. Jones)-185
Convivium and Villa in Late Antiquity (Jeremy Rossiter)-199

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 264pp.
  • 53 photographs, 18 illustrations.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1991
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10194-8

Add to Cart
  • $80.00 U.S.