previous next

“But Cleomenes was a man of eminent wisdom in his discernment of matters, (although he was but a young man,) and also was exceedingly simple in his manner of life. For he, being king, and having such important affairs intrusted to his management, displayed such behaviour to any who were invited to any sacrifice, as to make them see that what they had daily prepared at home for themselves was in no respect inferior to what he allowed himself. And when many embassies were sent to him he never made a banquet for the ambassadors at an earlier hour than the regular time; and there never was anything more laid than a common pentaclinum; and when there was no embassy, what was laid was a triclinium. And there were no orders issued by the regulator of the feasts, as to who should come in or who should sit down first: but the eldest led the way to the couch, unless he himself invited any one else to do so; and he was generally seen supping with his brother or with some of his friends of his own age. And there was placed on a tripod a brazen wine-cooler, and a cask, and a small silver cup holding two cotyle,1 and a cyathus;2 and the spoon was [p. 231] made of brass. And wine was not brought round to drink unless any one asked for it; but one cyathus was given to each guest before supper: and generally it was given to himself first; and then, when he had thus given the signal, the rest also asked for some wine. But what was served up was placed on a very common-looking table; and the dishes were such that there was neither anything left, nor anything deficient, but just a sufficient quantity for every one; so that those who were present should not feel the want of anything. For he did not think it right to receive guests as sparingly, in respect of soup and meat, as men are treated at the phiditia; nor again, to have so much superfluity as to waste money for no purpose, exceeding all moderation and reason in the feast; for the one extreme he counted illiberal, and the other arrogant. And the wine was of rather a better quality when he had any company. But while they were eating they all kept silence; but a slave stood by, holding in his hand a vessel of mixed wine, and poured out for every one who asked for it. And in the same manner, after supper there was given to each guest not more than two cyathi of wine, and this too was brought to each person as he made a sign for it. And there was no music of any kind accompanying the meal, but Cleomenes himself conversed all the time with each individual, having invited them, as it were, for the purpose of listening and talking; so that all departed charmed with his hospitality and affability.”

But Antiphanes, ridiculing the Lacedæmonian banquets, in the style of the comic poets, in his drama which is entitled Archon, speaks as follows:—

If you should live in Lacedæmon's walls,
You must comply with all their fashions there.
Go to their spare phiditia for supper,
And feast on their black broth; and not disdain
To wear fierce whiskers, and seek no indulgence
Further than this; but keep the olden customs,
Such as their country doth compel.

1 A cotyla held about half a pint.

2 A cyathus held about a twelfth part of a pint.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Kaibel)
load focus Greek (Charles Burton Gulick, 1927)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: