The Ancient Library

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unmarried women as well as of the men. (Comp. Pindar, Pytli. ix. 18.) All the adult citizens partook of the public meals amongst the Cretans, and were divided into companies or " messes," called 'Eraipiat, or sometimes avfipz'ia. (Athen. iv. p. 143.) These divisions were perhaps originally confined to persons of the same house and kindred, but afterwards any vacancies in them were filled up at the discretion of the members. (Hoeck, vol. iii. p. ] 26.) The divinity worshipped under the name of Zei>s 'Ercupetos (Hesych. s. v.) was consi­dered to preside over them.

According to Dosiadas, who wrote a history of Crete (Athen. I.e.), there were in every town of the island (TravrocxoC) two public buildings, one for the lodging of strangers (Koi^r^pLOf), the other a common hall (avfipziov} for the citizens. In the latter of these the syssitia were given, and in the upper part of it were placed two tables for the en­tertainment of foreign guests (£evutai rpd-rr^ai), a circumstance deserving of notice, as indicating the extent to which the Dorians of Crete encou­raged mutual intercourse and hospitality. Then came the tables of the citizens. But besides these there was also a third table on the right of the en­trance dedicated to Zeus £eVjos, and perhaps used for the purpose of making offerings and libations to the god. .

The Syssitia of the Cretans were distinguished by simplicity and temperance. They always sat at their tables, even in later times, when the custom of reclining had been introduced at Sparta. (Cic. pro Mur. 35,) The entertainment began with prayer to the gods and libations. (Athen. iv. p. 143, e.) Each of the adult citizens received an equal portion of fare, with the exception of the " Archon," or " Master of the Tables," who was perhaps in ancient times one of the Koo^ot, and more recently a member of the yepcoz/ia or council. This magistrate received a fourfold portion ; " one as a common citizen, a second as President, a third for the house or building, a fourth for the furni­ture " (rS>v cr/cevwz', Heraclid. Pont, iii.) : an ex­pression from which it would seem that the care of the building and the provision of the necessary utensils and. furniture devolved upon him. The management of all the tables was under the super­intendence of a female of free birth (y Trposo'T'rjKv'ia ttjs crvcrariTias 71;^), who openly took the best fare and presented it to the citizen who was most eminent in council or the field. She had three or four male assistants under her, each of whom again was provided with- two menial servants (Ka\'fj(p6-pot, or wood-carriers). Strangers were served before the citizens, and even before the Archon or President. (Heracl. Pont. I. c.) On each of the tables was placed a cup of mixed wine, from which the messmates of the same company drank. At the close of the repast this was replenished, but all intemperance was strictly forbidden by a special law. (Plat. Minos, p. 265.)

Till they had reached their eighteenth year, when they were classed in the ctyeAcw, the youths accom­panied their fathers to the syssitia along with the orphans of the deceased. (Hoeck, vol. iii. p. 185.) In some places the youngest of the orphans waited on the men ; in others this was done by all the boys. (Ephor. ap. Strab. x. p. 483.) When not thus engaged, they were seated near to the men on a lower bench, and received only a half portion of meat: the eldest of the orphans appear to have


received the same quantity as the men, but of a plainer description of fare. (Athen. iv. p. 143.) The boys like the men had also a cup of mixed wine in common, which however was not reple­nished when emptied. During the repast a general cheerfulness and gaiety prevailed, which were en­livened and kept up by music and singing. (Ale-man, ap. Strab. 1. c.) It was followed by conversa­tion, which was first directed to the public affairs of the state, and afterwards turned on valiant deeds in war and the exploits of illustrious men, whose praises might animate the younger hearers to an honourable emulation. While listening to this con­versation,, the youths seem to have been arranged in classes (avSpem), each of which was placed under the superintendence of an officer (TrcuSoj/tfyios) especially appointed for this purpose ; so that the syssitia were thus made to serve important political and educational ends.

In most of the Cretan cities, the expenses of the syssitia were defrayed out of the revenues of the public lands and the tribute paid by the Perioeci, the money arising from which was applied partly to the service of the-gods, and partly to the main­tenance of all the citizens both male and female. (Arist. Pol. ii. 7. 4) ; so that in this respect there might be no difference between the rich and the poor. From the statement of Aristotle compared with Dosiadas (Athen. I. c.), it appears probable that each individual received his separate share of the public revenues, out of which ^he paid his quota to the public table, and provided* witE the rest for the support of the females of his family. This practice however does not appear to have prevailed exclusively at all times and in all the cities of Crete. In Lyctus, for instance, a colony from Sparta, the custom was different: the citizens of that town contributed to their respective tables a tenth of the produce of their estates ; a practice which may be supposed to have obtained in other cities, where the public domains were not sufficient to defray the charges of the syssitia. But both at Lyctus and elsewhere, the poorer citizens were in all probability supported at the public cost.

In connection, with the accounts given by the ancient authors>respecting the Cretan syssitia there arises a question of some difficulty, viz. how could one building accommodate the adult citizens and youths of such towns as Lyctus and Gortyna? The question admits of only two solutions : we are either misinformed with respect to there being.only one building in each town used as a common hall, or the number of Dorian citizens in each town must have been comparatively very small.

The Spartan Syssitia were in the main so similar to those 'of Crete that one was said to be borrowed from the other. (Arist. Pol. ii. 7.) In later times they were called faib'iTia, or the " spare meals," a term which is probably a corruption of </>i\tTta, the love-feasts, a word corresponding to the Cretan eratpeia. (Gb'ttling, ad Arist. Oecon. p. 190; Mul-ler, Dor.iv. 3. § 3.) Anciently they were called d*/5/36?a, as in Crete, (Plut. Lyeur. 12.) They differed from the Cretan in the following respects. Instead of the expenses of the tables being defrayed out of the public revenues, every head of a family .was obliged to contribute a certain portion at his own cost and charge ; those, who were not able to do so were excluded from the public tables. (Arist. Pol. ii. 7. 4.) The guests were divided into com­panies generally of'fifteen persons each, and all

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