Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In ancient Greece, notably among peoples of Dorian blood, and most conspicuously among the Spartans and Cretans, the custom that full citizens-should eat the chief meal of the day in a public mess. In Crete the expense was met from the public revenues, in Sparta by a contribution levied upon the heads of families. The food was, until the decadence, in general plain, and sobriety of drinking was enforced. The chief object of the syssitia was to unite the members of the ruling class by bonds of intimacy, and to give them a cohesion which furthered greatly their civil and military enterprise.
“Then at the age of 20, they joined military organizations called syssitia”
“In winter they retired into houses on the north of the hill, in which they held their syssitia.”
“Tell me — were not first the syssitia, and secondly the gymnasia, invented by your legislator with a view to war?”
“Men of military age lived away from their wives in barracks and ate at common messes (syssitia).”
“The number of full citizens who could contribute to their mess-tables (syssitia) had fallen to 700.”
“They were exercised in hunting and in drills; took their meals together in the _syssitia_ (the public mess), where the fare was rough and scanty; slept in dormitories together; and by every means were disciplined for a soldier's life.”
“The general arrangements were divided into syssitia, according, perhaps, to the number of families, and correspondent to the divisions or obes acknowledged by the State.”
“Homosexuality would have been the only option for the men, as they were not allowed to have wives, or even to leave their syssitia on their own.”
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