Rituals of commensality are fundamental to the understanding of human societies; the symposion or male drinking group of archaic and classical Greece was an institution whose effects can be detected in the painted pottery and the poetry created for its use, and in many areas of ancient Greeksocial life, from politics and warfare to sexual attitudes and conceptions of pleasure; Greek sympotic customs spread to other cultures throughout the Mediterranean, with important consequences for their development. Sympotica is the first book to be published on the symposion as a whole. It is the record of a symposium held in Oxford in 1984; the contributions discuss the importance of Greek drinking customs for anthropology, archaeology, art history, literary studies, history, and philosophy, and demonstratethe need for an inter-disciplinary approach. The editor provides a historical introduction to the field of sympotic studies, and a general bibliography. Twenty-four plates illustrate the art of the symposion, and three concluding chapters consider the influence of Greek commensality on the Roman world. The work opens up a new field ofresearch into the cultures of the ancient world.