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The common messes

Van Wees, JGB; (2017) The common messes. In: powell, A, (ed.) A Companion to Sparta. (pp. 236-268). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken, NJ, USA.

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Communal dining was at the heart of the classical Spartan lifestyle. Some ancient sources suggest that austere dinners in public messes served primarily military purposes: they organized men for war and prepared them for its hardships. Modern scholars have often followed suit and interpreted the creation of common messes as part of a process of militarization which Sparta supposedly underwent sometime between 650 and 550 bc. Most ancient authors called the public messes either syssitia, the generic Greek word for 'dining groups', or phiditia, if they used the technical Spartan term. Philitia were 'groups of friends', so if Xenophon was right the name referred not to drinking or eating or austerity but to the forging of harmonious relationships. From the late fifth century onwards, at the latest, it seems clear that a single mess group did indeed form the citizen core of a 'sworn band', the rest of which was made up of perioikoi.

Type: Book chapter
Title: The common messes
ISBN: 1119072395
ISBN-13: 9781119072393
DOI: 10.1002/9781119072379.ch9
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119072379.ch9
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: classical messes, classical Sparta, classical Spartan lifestyle, dining culture, Greek drinking group, Greek symposium party, phiditia, Philitia, sworn band, Xenophon
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10051785
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