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Banquets in Ancient Greece


Greek Words Related to Banquets

  1. ‘dā : də-, and dāi- : dəi-, dī̆-‘, ‘to share, divide’ from the Indo-European Lexicon. Related words in Greek:
    1. δαίνυμι — give a banquet. Homer, Iliad, 1.424, 1.468
    2. δαίς — meal, banquet. Homer, Iliad, 1.225
    3. δαίτη — feast, banquet. Homer, Iliad, 1.579
  2. εἶδαρ — food, Homer, Odyssey, 1.140
  3. εἰλαπίνη — solemn feast, Homer, Odyssey, 1.226
  4. ἔρανος — meal to which each contributed his share, picnic, Homer, Odyssey, 1.226
  5. εὐνή — bed, Homer, Odyssey, 8.249, from Indo-European ‘2. eu-‘, ‘to dress, put on’ and ‘3. nei-, ni-, ‘in’

Banquets in Homer

Iliad4.343: “…for ye are the first to hear my bidding to the feast, whenso we Achaeans make ready a banquet for the elders. Then are ye glad to eat roast meat and drink cups of honey-sweet wine as long as ye will.”

Iliad1.448: “Then Chryses lifted up his hands, and prayed aloud for them: [450] ‘Hear me, god of the silver bow, who stands over Chryse and holy Cilla, and rules mightily over Tenedos. As before you heard me when I prayed—to me you did honour, and mightily smote the host of the Achaeans—even so now fulfill me this my desire: [455] ward off now from the Danaans the loathly pestilence.’

So he spoke in prayer, and Phoebus Apollo heard him. Then, when they had prayed, and had sprinkled the barley grains, they first drew back the victims’ heads, and cut their throats, and flayed them, and cut out the thighs and covered them [460] with a double layer of fat, and laid raw flesh thereon. And the old man burned them on stakes of wood, and made libation over them of gleaming wine; and beside him the young men held in their hands the five-pronged forks. But when the thigh-pieces were wholly burned, and they had tasted the entrails, they cut up the rest and spitted it, [465] and roasted it carefully, and drew all off the spits. Then, when they had ceased from their labour and had made ready the meal, they feasted, nor did their hearts lack anything of the equal feast. But when they had put from them the desire for food and drink, the youths filled the bowls brim full of drink [470] and served out to all, first pouring drops for libation into the cups. So the whole day long they sought to appease the god with song, singing the beautiful paean, the sons of the Achaeans, hymning the god who works from afar; and his heart was glad, as he heard.

Iliad, 1.596: “Then he poured wine for all the other gods from left to right, drawing forth sweet nectar from the bowl. And unquenchable laughter arose among the blessed gods, as they saw Hephaestus puffing through the palace. [600] Thus the whole day long till the setting of the sun they feasted, nor did their heart lack anything of the equal feast, nor of the beauteous lyre, that Apollo held, nor yet of the Muses, who sang, replying one to the other with sweet voices.”

Odyssey, 8.98: “…already have we satisfied our hearts with the equal banquet and with the lyre, which is the companion of the rich feast.”

Odyssey, 8.247: “and ever to us is the banquet dear, and the lyre, and the dance, and changes of raiment, and warm baths, and the couch.”

Odyssey, 1.136:”Then a handmaid brought water for the hands in a fair pitcher of gold, and poured it over a silver basin for them to wash, and beside them drew up a polished table. And the grave housewife brought and set before them bread, [140] and therewith dainties in abundance, giving freely of her store. And a carver lifted up and placed before them platters of all manner of meats, and set by them golden goblets, while a herald ever walked to and fro pouring them wine. Then in came the proud wooers, and thereafter [145] sat them down in rows on chairs and high seats. Heralds poured water over their hands, and maid-servants heaped by them bread in baskets, and youths filled the bowls brim full of drink; and they put forth their hands to the good cheer lying ready before them. [150] Now after the wooers had put from them the desire of food and drink, their hearts turned to other things, to song and to dance; for these things are the crown of a feast.”


  1. Dinos Painter’s stamnos, depicting a feast of Dionysos: drawing of side A
  2. Dinos Painter’s stamnos, depicting a feast of Dionysos: drawing of side B