previous next

And the feasters of that time sat at the table; at all events, Homer very often says—
Sitting in order on the chairs and couches.
For the word θρόνος, which he uses in this line, when taken by itself, is a seat such as is used by free men, with a footstool, the name of which being θρῆνυς, from thence they came to call the seat itself θρόνος, from the verb θρήσασθαι, which they used for, to sit; as Philetas says—
To sit (θρήσασθαι) on the ground under a plane-tree.
But the couch (κλισμὸς) was more adapted for reclining on; and the δίφρος is something simpler than these things. Accordingly, in the book where Ulysses appears as a beggar the servants place for him, as Homer tells us,
A humble chair (δίφρος), and spread a scanty board.
But their goblets, as their name (κρατῆρες) indicates, were supplied full of wine mixed with water (κεκραμένοι); and the youths ministered to them from the larger goblets, always, in the case of the most honourable of the guests, keeping their small cups full; but to the rest they distributed the wine in equal portions. Accordingly Agamemnon says to Idomeneus—
To thee the foremost honours are decreed,
First in the fight, and every graceful deed;
1 2 [p. 308] For this in banquets, when the generous bowls
Restore our blood, and raise our warrior souls,
Though all the rest with stated rules are bound,
Unmix'd, unmeasured are thy goblets crown'd.
And they used to pledge one another, not as we do, (for our custom may be expressed by the verb προεκπίνω rather than by προπινω,) but they drank the entire bumper off—
He fill'd his cup, and pledged great Peleus' son.
And how often they took meat, we have already explained —namely, that they had three meals, because it is the same meal that was at one time called δεῖπνον, and at another ἄριστον. For those men who say that they used to take four meals a day, are ridiculously ignorant, since the poet himself says—
But do thou come δειελιήσας.
And these men do not perceive that this word means, “after having remained here till evening.” But, nevertheless, no one can show in the poet one instance of any one taking food even three times in the day. But many men are led into mistakes, placing these verses in the poet all together—
They wash; the tables in fair order spread,
They heap the glittering canisters with bread,
Viands of various kinds allure the taste,
Of choicest sort and savour; rich repast.3
For if the housekeeper placed the meats on the table, it is plain that there was no need for the carver to bring in more, so that some of the above description is superfluous. But when the guests had departed the tables were removed, as is done at the feasts of the Suitors and of the Phæacians, in whose case he says—
The servants bore away the armour of the feast.
And it is plain that he means the dishes, for the word he uses is ἔντεα; and it is that part of the armour which covers a man, such as his breastplate, his greaves, and things like them which men call ἔντεα, as being in front (ἄντια) of the parts of the body. And of the rooms in the palaces of the heroes, those which were larger Homer calls, μέγαρα, and δώματα, and even κλισίας (tents). But the moderns call them ἀνδρῶνες (rooms to receive men) and ξενῶνες (strangers' apartments).

1 Odyss. ix. 5.

2 Iliad, iv. 262.

3 Odyss. i. 131; vii. 175.

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.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: