The symposium begins with a propoma (a drink served as an appetizer), a glass of sweet, flavored wine. Then, dinner is served, consisting of appetizers such as olives or onions, meat or fish cooked in various ways, and desserts.

Often, at banquets, the host would also display the luxurious utensils of his household, such as glasses, wine jugs, plates, and kraters, all decorated with beautiful representations.

Red figure kilyx, 480 π.Χ.

On the inside of the vase, a young man is taking wine from a large vase to serve in the kylix, the glass in his hand.

At banquets, the host would used kraters (form the verb “κεράννυμι» meaning to mix), i.e. large clay vessels used to mix wine and water. The ancient Greeks drank diluted wine at banquets because they wanted to avoid excessive drinking and drunkenness so that they could discuss and have fun with musicians and dancers. The return from the banquet is represented on this krater. Two young men are depicted, one holding a cup, a glass of wine, and the other an amphora. The young men are accompanied by two musicians, a young women playing the double flute and a young man holding the seven-stringed barbitos, a kind of lyre.

Red figure krater despicting the return from a symposium. 5th century BC.

The outer side of the vase depicts men taking part in a banquet. They are seated on recliner holding kylikes, i.e. wine glasses, and preparing to play the kottavos. In this game, they were trying to aim at a large vase and throw the wine left in their glasses into it from a distance. A good omen followed the success of the goal, a sign that something good would happen in the future, which is why kottavos was a particularly popular game at banquets. Banquets were one of the most common forms of entertainment in ancient times. Male groups would gather to have fun and discuss, and they always drank their wine diluted with water.

Red figure kilyx, 480 π.Χ.


  • Kylix: Kylikes (pl.) were cups with a high base and two handles. Ancient people used them to drink their favorite drink, wine.
  • Symposium: Banquets were informal gatherings of friends belonging to the aristocracy who gathered to have have fun and to discuss. It was an exclusively male entertainment that strengthened the bonds between friends.

Invitation to a symposium:

Invite your friends to your house for a symposium like the ancient Greeks! Ask your parents or another grown-up to help prepare and serve a meal. Of course, you will only drink fruit juice not wine!