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Look Inside The Imagery of the Athenian Symposium

The Imagery of the Athenian Symposium


  • Date Published: January 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107011021

£ 80.00

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About the Authors
  • The late sixth and early fifth centuries BC were a dynamic time in the history of the symposium, and hundreds of vase paintings from this period show people engaged in sympotic activities. Most scholars have understood these images as illustrations of contemporary Athenian practices, but such an interpretation cannot account for the enormous variety of settings, costumes and participants in the images, nor is it easily reconciled with recent methodological developments in the study of vase painting. Noting the close link between the symposium and the polis in ancient thought, this book approaches the images not as documents of contemporary sympotic practice but as vehicles for exploring what it meant to be a Greek community. It argues that many of the images depict imagined ancestral symposia and that they thus shed new light on how the Athenians envisioned the history of the symposium and its importance to their city.

    • Offers new interpretations of well-known sympotic images
    • Shows how sympotic imagery functioned as a vehicle for exploring concerns about age, gender, ethnicity and community
    • Engages with current debates about the interpretation of vase paintings and about the place of the symposium in Athenian society
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… a timely reappraisal of the contents, meanings and effects of depictions of drinking on Athenian figured pottery.' Fiona Hobden, The Classical Review

    '… [A] meticulously researched book … The overarching emphasis on the imagined 'pastness' of the symposium makes for a refreshing antidote to other recent approaches … This all makes for a great teaching resource - a carefully argued 'position-piece' backed up with sixty-four good-quality images.' Michael Squire, Anglo-Hellenic Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107011021
    • length: 233 pages
    • dimensions: 260 x 185 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • contains: 64 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: vase painting and the symposium in Athens
    1. Ancient visions of the sympotic past
    2. Symposia of the primitive
    3. Eros, service, and the oinochoos
    4. The symposium and its foreign pasts
    5. Female symposiasts and the limits of civilization
    6. Symposia of the present?
    Conclusion: vase painting and the construction of the sympotic past.

  • Author

    Kathryn Topper, University of Washington
    Kathryn Topper was educated at Bryn Mawr College and Harvard University. She is Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Washington. She has held fellowships from the Center for Hellenic Studies, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, the American Journal of Archaeology and Hesperia.

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