Classical Greece: The Social Context of Food

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

In classical Athens, and in much of the rest of Greece in the 5th and 4th centuries bc, women who were present at men’s dinners and symposia were in the categories of hetairai (‘girl friends’ and prostitutes) and hired entertainers. Celebrations and family parties might be held at home or might take place at a temple, either out of doors or in purpose-built dining rooms. When not entertaining, a man might be served with food by his wife or household women. Slaves and children of both sexes ate with the women. In all these cases it was the rule that free men ate apart from the rest of the household, whether at a different time, in a different place, or from different dishes.