We are at a symposium in the house of Lysiteles of Athens in the last month of the 111th Olympiad, 328 BCE. The guest of honour is Charicles, a handsome and athletic young Athenian of good family, lately returned from abroad. Dinner has been lavish – the finest Copaic eels and the largest sea pike, Boeotian in their luxury – but this has now been cleared away. The slaves have distributed garlands of myrtle and roses, the pretty flute-girls have struck up their tune, and the symposiarch, master of festivities, has declared his rules for the mixing and drinking of the wine (old Chian, and chilled with snow). Next comes the question of entertainment. The company immediately rejects philosophy and gambling, but Ctesiphon's proposal is taken up with enthusiasm: they will play at riddles, each expressed in the form of a short and witty poem. These, then, are epigrams.