In the ancient world, the symposium was a way to make politics. Consequently, it is also
a reflection of ancient society and its inherent conflicts. There is a very curious case that
surprisingly has not attracted much attention from specialists: Plutarch’s mention of
Macedonian banquets. These banquets were very much influenced by the Homeric tradition,
and very different events happened there, for example, singers sang and the king gave gifts.
But it was even a suitable place to denigrate an enemy or to plan his murder. It was also a way
to win the support of the Macedonians, to introduce literary discussions or to talk politics.
It was even present in funeral rites. The versatile character of Macedonian banquets was due
to the fact that there were no assemblies or councils that met periodically. Moreover, the
Macedonians drank pure wine in their banquets, which was considered a barbarian act by
the Greeks. Many times Plutarch shows his condemnation of Macedonians’ drunkenness.
For example, in his Lives he condemns Philip and Demetrius when they get drunk. By
contrast, he defends Alexander when he does it. This is because of the sources, but also, and,
above all, because of the admiration Plutarch feels for Alexander. Let us remember that
in one of his first works (Moralia 329C) Plutarch had presented Alexander as a supporter
of Greek culture and philanthropy. All that had led to contradictions in his biography of