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COMISSA´TIO

COMISSA´TIO (derived from κῶμος, according to Varr. de Ling. Lat. 7.89, but more exactly from κωμάζειν, comissari: Roby, Lat. Gr. § 189, 2.3), the name of a drinking entertainment, which took place after the CENA from which, however, it must be distinguished. Thus Demetrius says to his guests, after they had dined in his own house, “Quin comissatum ad fratrem imus?” (Liv. 40.7, 5); and when Habinnas comes to Trimalchio's house after taking his cena elsewhere, it is said that “Comissator intravit” (Petron. 65). It appears to have been the custom to partake of some food at the comissatio (Suet. Vitell. 13), but usually only as a kind of relish to the wine.

The comissatio was frequently prolonged to a late hour at night (Suet. Tit. 7); whence the verb comissari means “to revel” (Hor. Carm. 4.1.11), and the substantive comissator a “reveller” or “debauchee.” Hence Cicero (Cic. Att. 1.16) calls the supporters of Catiline's conspiracy comissatores conjurationis. (Becker-Göll, Gallus, i. p. 203.)

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