Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
I wish to state here briefly something of the limits and aims of my study. Most importantly, it has not been possible to include within its scope any discussion concerning the origin and development of sympotic procedure. Nor have I examined social organizations, such as clubs or schools of philosophy, which regularly held symposia for their members. As a result, I have not attempted any evaluation of the institution in cultural or historical terms. Its social significance for the Greeks must therefore necessarily remain implicit, though in one or two places I have indicated the widespread nature of its appeal.
Instead, my main center of interest is with the functioning of the symposium, and the question which I have been chiefly concerned to answer in the first three chapters is simply, "What exactly happened when a symposium took place?" The bulk of the evidence is drawn from Greek rather than Roman sources, and it is to be understood that what I have to say is primarily with reference to Greek procedure. On the other hand, two of my principal sources, Athenaeus and Plutarch, are Roman antiquarians seeking to recover a lost tradition, with the result that it is not always wise to insist upon a firm dividing line between the two.
The final chapter, however, which forms a kind of appendix to the work as a whole, views the symposium in purely literary terms, as a setting for various poetic topoi, and draws from Greek and Roman verse without discrimination. It includes references from epic, tragic and comic sources, as well as lyric and elegiac.
All abbreviations have been taken from the Oxford Classical Dictionary.
Garland, Robert, "Studies in the Symposium" (1973). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5052.
McMaster University Library