Abstract: This essay analyses conversation at archaic and classical Greek banquets and symposia, using first epic, then elegiac and lyric poetry, and finally Old Comedy. Epic offers few topics, mostiy arising from the situation of a guest. Those of sympotic poetry, from which prose exchanges may cautiously be inferred, are more numerous: reflection, praise of the living and the dead, consolation of the bereaved, proclamations of likes and dislikes, declarations of love, narrative of one's own erotic experiences or (scandalously) of others', personal criticism and abuse, and the telling of fables. Many of these verbal interventions are competitive. Comedy reinforces the prevalence of an ethos of entertainment, corroborating the telling of fables and adding creditable anecdotes about one's career, singing skolia, and playing games of "comparisons" and riddles.
- Copyright 1993, The International Society for the History of Rhetoric