The Greek House
Greek city houses of the 6th and 5th century b.c. were usually modest in scale
and built of relatively inexpensive materials. They varied from two or three
rooms clustered around a small court to a dozen or so rooms. City house exteriors
presented a plain facade to the street, broken only by the door and a few
small windows set high. In larger houses the main rooms included a kitchen,
a small room for bathing, several bedrooms which usually occupied a second
floor, the men's andron for dining, and perhaps a separate suite of rooms
known as the gynaikonitis for the use of women.
The private lives of the ancient Greeks are only dimly reflected in the archaeological
remains of their sanctuaries, cities and houses. But painted scenes on Black
Figure and Red Figure pottery made in Athens during the 6th and 5th centuries
b.c. offer glimpses of daily life taking place inside Greek homes.
The evening meal might be followed on special occasions by a symposium, a
drinking party organized by the host for his male guests. The participants
reclined on couches arranged around the sides of the room. Low tables for
food were set in front of each couch. Symposia were normally attended by the
host and his male guests, but could also include female entertainers and servants.
Custom dictated that the wives and daughters of the guests and host always
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