Did you hoist a few on New Year’s? Of course, getting together with friends over a few adult beverages has a long history. Here’s the University of Cincinnati’s Kathleen Lynch, on the ancient Greek symposium:
“And the symposium is an all-male drinking event. It’s a time where a small group of men get together, usually at the home of a friend. And the focus is on drinking. And so they may have had some food earlier, but the focus is on drinking together. And the drinking together forms bonds.”
On January 7th, Lynch lectures at the meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America on the types of cups used at symposia over the centuries and how they give us clues to what was going on in Greece at particular times.
As for the symposium, it had a couple of definite rules. First, participants reclined and arranged themselves in a circle or square. There was thus no obvious head of the table, and everyone involved had an equal status. Second, everyone drank together in rounds, so everyone got drunk at about the same rate. This communal and equitable inebriation led to a common loss of inhibitions and the building of, well, a fraternity.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]