The Krater and the Symposiarch

The krater was large bowl that stood as the centerpiece in any symposium and held great importance for many sympotic traditions.  It was particularly important as the vessel for mixing the wine with water because this dilution was thought to separate the sympotic society for barbarians (Lissarague 1990; 7). However, despite the regularity with which dilution occurred, there was no set formula dictated for it, but rather it was chosen according to the activities of the night.

In this way the members of the symposium participated even with the most fundamentally consistent part of the symposium, the drinking of wine. For this purpose a symposiarch, or master of ceremonies, was chosen at the beginning of the symposium, and he was responsible for prescribing the entertainments for the evening.

This included deciding the ratio of wine to water as well as the number of kraters of alcohol that would be drunk and the entertainments the guests would have (Lissarague 1990; 8).  He was responsible for maintaing the intoxication of symposium participants at an acceptable level for the activities of the evening. The symposiarch, in command of the proceedings at a symposium, was to be obeyed, because without him there was no controlling or regulating influence which kept dangerous aspects of wine and intoxication at bay (Lissarague 1990; 9)

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Wine and Drinking
The Krater and the Symposiarch