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In ancient Greece, an aristocratic banquet at which men met to discuss philosophical and political issues and recite poetry. It began as a warrior feast. Rooms were designed specifically for the proceedings. The participants, all male aristocrats, wore garlands and leaned on the left elbow on couches, and there was much drinking of wine, served by slave boys. Prayers opened and closed the meetings; sessions sometimes ended with a procession in the streets. In Plato's famous Symposium, an imaginary dialogue takes place between Socrates, Aristophanes, Alcibiades, and others on the subject of love. Aristotle, Xenophon, and Epicurus wrote symposium literature on other subjects.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on symposium, visit Britannica.com.