Deipnon

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Ἑξῆς δὲ λεκτέον καὶ περὶ τῶν Λακωνικῶν συμποσίων. Ἡρόδοτος μὲν οὖν ἐν τῇ ἐνάτῃ τῶν ἱστοριῶν περὶ τῆς Μαρδονίου παρασκευῆς λέγων καὶ μνημονεύσας Λακωνικῶν συμποσίων φησί· Ξέρξης φεύγων ἐκ τῆς Ἑλλάδος Μαρδονίῳ τὴν παρασκευὴν κατέλιπε τὴν αὑτοῦ. Παυσανίαν οὖν ἰδόντα τὴν τοῦ Μαρδονίου παρασκευὴν χρυσῷ καὶ ἀργύρῳ καὶ παραπετάσμασι ποικίλοις κατεσκευασμένην κελεῦσαι τοὺς ἀρτοποιοὺς καὶ ὀψοποιοὺς κατὰ ταὐτὰ καθὼς Μαρδονίῳ δεῖπνον παρασκευάσαι. ποιησάντων δὲ τούτων τὰ κελευσθέντα τὸν Παυσανίαν ἰδόντα κλίνας χρυσᾶς καὶ ἀργυρᾶς ἐστρωμένας καὶ τραπέζας ἀργυρᾶς καὶ παρασκευὴν μεγαλοπρεπῆ δείπνου ἐκπλαγέντα τὰ προκείμενα κελεῦσαι ἐπὶ γέλωτι τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ διακόνοις παρασκευάσαι Λακωνικὸν δεῖπνον. καὶ παρασκευασθέντος γελάσας ὁ Παυσανίας μετεπέμψατο τῶν Ἑλλήνων τοὺς στρατηγοὺς καὶ ἐλθόντων ἐπιδείξας ἑκατέρου τῶν δείπνων τὴν παρασκευὴν εἶπεν· “ἄνδρες Ἕλληνες, συνήγαγον ὑμᾶς βουλόμενος ἐπιδεῖξαι τοῦ Μήδων ἡγεμόνος τὴν ἀφροσύνην, ὃς τοιαύτην δίαιταν ἔχων ἦλθεν ὡς ἡμᾶς οὕτω ταλαίπωρον ἔχοντας.” φασὶ δέ τινες καὶ ἄνδρα Συβαρίτην ἐπιδημήσαντα τῇ Σπάρτῃ καὶ συνεστιαθέντα ἐν τοῖς φιδιτίοις εἰπεῖν: “εἰκότως ἀνδρειότατοι ἁπάντων εἰσὶ Λακεδαιμόνιοι· ἕλοιτο γὰρ ἄν τις εὖ φρονῶν μυριάκις ἀποθανεῖν ἢ οὕτως εὐτελοῦς διαίτης μεταλαβεῖν.”
(Athenaeus, Deipn. 4.138b-e)

The next topic that requires discussion is Spartan symposia. Now Herodotus in Book IX (82) of his Histories describes Mardonius’ personal property and mentions Spartan symposia, saying: When Xerxes was fleeing Greece, he left his personal property to Mardonius. So when Pausanias saw Mardonius’ property, which was adorned with gold and silver and embroidered tapestries, he ordered the bakers and cooks to prepare a dinner exactly as they did for Mardonius. They did what they were told; and when Pausanias saw the gold and silver couches covered with bed-clothes, the silver tables, and the ostentatious preparations for dinner, he was astonished at what lay before him, and as a joke he ordered his own attendants to prepare a Spartan dinner. When it was ready, Pausanias laughed and sent for the Greek generals. When they arrived, he showed them how each dinner had been prepared and said: “Greeks sirs, I assembled you because I wanted to show you the folly of the Median commander who, although he lives like this, attacked us, who are so poor.” Some authorities also report that a Sybarite who had spent time in Sparta and eaten with them in the public messes said: “It’s no surprise that the Spartans are the bravest men there are; anyone with any sense would rather die a million times than share such a miserable life!” (tr. Stuart Douglas Olson)

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