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syssitia


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The generic name for mess‐companies of citizens, in various Greek cities, but esp. in Sparta and Crete. In Classical Sparta the messes, each some fifteen strong, were located in separate structures by the Hyacinthian Way. Membership of a mess, obtainable only by unanimous vote of its members, was a requirement of citizenship. Each member had to supply a fixed monthly amount of produce on pain of disfranchisement; from the later 5th cent. many poor citizens defaulted, thus becoming Inferiors. Prestigious additional donations came from hunting or from richer messmates; but the prohibition of excessive drinking and eating, and the range of ages within each mess, inhibited the violent behaviour attendant upon symposia elsewhere. Different messes probably combined into the basic army unit. Spartan boys had separate messes, but sometimes attended the adults' messes. A public mess housed both kings, who received double rations for sharing with honoured guests.See rhetoric, latin.

See rhetoric, latin

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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