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Fame and InfamyEssays on Characterization in Greek and Roman Biography and Historiography$
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Rhiannon Ash, Judith Mossman, and Frances B. Titchener

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199662326

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662326.001.0001

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Basanos Kai Paidia

Basanos Kai Paidia

Image, Characterization, and Individuation in Sympotic Literature

(p.1) 1 Basanos Kai Paidia
Fame and Infamy

David Gribble

Oxford University Press

The chapter examines the role of the symposium as a form of social communication. Character presentation in the symposium, in keeping with its primary purpose as entertainment (paidia), is playful. Self-presentation is typically about the speaker ‘risking his image’, agonistically, in a competition of self-image. Thus Archilochus and Alcaeus depict themselves throwing away their shields, and Plato’s Alcibiades describes his attempted seduction of Socrates. This is part of that wider testing of the individual through competitive exposure to the temptation of pleasure before one’s peers, which Plato in the Laws sees as central to the symposium. The individual’s self-image must survive the testing in the sympotic environment, just as modern drinking games test the drinkers’ endurance and compliance with group values.

Keywords:   symposium, Plato, Archilochus, self-presentation, drinking games, characterization, individuation

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