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Did ‘Respectable’ Women Attend Symposia?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2012

SEAN CORNER
Affiliation:
SEAN CORNER is Assistant Professor of Classics, McMaster University. corners@mcmaster.ca
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In her article, ‘Women's Commensality in the Ancient Greek World', which appeared in this journal in 1998, Joan Burton set out to correct scholars’ neglect of ‘the topic of women's part in the history of ancient Greek dining and drinking parties’. She argued that the proposition that citizen women never participated in symposia is a broad generalization. Based on classical Athenian evidence, it misses variation over time and in different places. Even in the case of classical Athens it is overstated, overlooking the male bias of our sources. Moreover, scholars' concentration on the symposium has led to the neglect of other occasions of commensality and so of the important role played by women in Greek commensality more broadly:

the participation of women in the history of Greek commensality does not depend solely on female presence at male-defined symposia. Just as men had a wide range of venues in which they might socialize with one another, including public banquets (many of them religious), so too women.

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Copyright © The Classical Association 2012
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