The History of the Symposium: The Evolution of Private Drinking in a Social Setting

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The secret drinking club or sexy house party is also known as a symposium, a time-honored tradition still in use today. This tradition was first popularised by Greeks such as Socrates and Plato and is predominately European in origin- back when the rest of the world only had public taverns- ha!- how crude.

The Greek Symposium or drinking party was a way for Greek citizens to get together, drink wine and discuss philosophy. Slaves and woman were not allowed to participate in the symposium discussions except Hetaira, who brought entertainment along with intellectual and sexual stimulation. Click here to read more.

However, the drinking party might have origins elsewhere like Egypt where beer became a substitute for water. The Festival of Drunkenness was held on the first month of the Egyptian calendar. Read Here for More.

The Greeks had a similar festival to Dionysus, the God of Wine, Food, Entertainment and sexual mania. Today, we still celebrate these party hard festivals with Mardi Gras, and living up to the Greek passion of turning every holiday towards alcoholism, celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday, Halloween, Your Cats Death, whatever.

But let’s put it this way- the Greeks, which should just leave out the r because like geeks, those freaks took that shit to the next level. Let’s just say the Egyptians were like Rich White Conservatives and the Greeks were the Fuck crazy party lovers found in a college near you. A Greek joke says it best:

Two men lay down after a night of heavy drinking. One of them begins to fondle the other one who rejects his advances- at first. “You do that again and I’m getting my dad” he shouts. The other man tries again but this time the other man takes charge. Round after round he entices the man for more sex. But after the third round, exhausted, the man looks at him and says “If you try that again, I’m calling your dad”.

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Egyptian Secret Drinking clubs could have existed an thekeep.org article shines some light on the fact that Egyptian masons were given five pints of beer a day; and it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that Egyptian Masons got together in secret, during times when religion and literary studies were illegal activities for the working class and discussed things they picked up from the High Priests. This could very well be the origins of Freemasonry which will later have a profound impact on the evolution of drinking privately in a social setting- you know for social reason, like not getting your cut chopped for forming your own opinion. Which is probably the reason why the next entry came about:

The Calves Head Club began sometime after the death of Charles the First of England around 1694. The club met in secret every year where they held a festival consisting of animal heads which represented the beheading of the king and his entourage where they sang songs in commemoration of the death of a tyrant. Click here to read more.

The Calves Head I must agree is a weird transition from the assumption that Free Masonic Drinking Clubs have their origins in Egypt. But it shows how entrenched politics are in any drinking club. Plus it’s quirky. And no since were on the theme of politics, lets look a little deeper down this tap beer hole.

According to the blog Lord of the Drinks, when Peter the Great was a young man, he ran around the countryside with an entourage of heavy drinkers who called themselves the Jolly Company. This is similar to the Greek tradition of komastai where symposium attendees would roam the streets in drunken groups.

This Jolly Company of Peter’s would go on to become the elite secret society All Joking, All-Drunken Synod of Jesters and Fools where members were given titles like Pope, Cardinal and Bishop as a parody on the Catholic church.  Read this article here.

It seems that Peter the Great didn’t just like to party but understood the importance of alcoholism in political affairs. Nothing more manly for public affairs than out drinking the Prime Minister as he stumbles to the bucket for relief.

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Image of the famous Green Dragon Tavern in Boston.

The American Revolution was invoked by a Symposium located on Bostons Northside called the Green Dragon. The Secret Society Sons of Liberty is believed to have met here along with the Committee of Correspondence both led by Samuel Adams.  Warontherock.com has an article titled Colonial Tavern: Crucible of the American Revolution that mentions another important tavern, like The Tun Tavern of Philidelphia which is the birthplace of The first American Grand Free Masonic Lodge and also of the Marine Corps. Click here to read.

It’s fun to imagine the Fore Father’s grabbing skirts, maybe each other? as Benjamin Franklin tells another long winded story that ends with a witty retort- drunk on Sam Adams bootlegged whisky.

However, the American tradition of the Symposium doesn’t end in colonial times with the American Revolution but continues into the twenty-first century. The Secret Society Bohemian Grove with its 2,700-acre headquarters (why so big?), and according to the Washington Post is where the world’s rich and elite go to play”- and piss outside. Read that article Here.

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The Bohemian Grove is just an elite drinking club and not a new age power cult.

College fraternities also play a pivotal role in the Symposium tradition. The most famous being the highly secretive Skull And Bones Society of Yale University (not to be mistaken for the Bones and Skulls Society of Laye Technical School for the Homoerotic and Hearing Impaired) whose origins seem to stem from ancient Death cults, mystery schools like the Free Masons and college drinking fraternities. The Kappa Beta Pi is a secret society of elite bankers according to this article, who feel that the current financial crisis is a joke”- where every punchline is stupid poor people.

The oldest surviving pornographic film according to filmsite.org, click here to read more on the early history of sex in cinema, was a French film produced in 1908. The significance of this is that these films were shown in brothels before finding their way in the backrooms of parlors and drinking clubs back when such explicit material was still illegal. The prohibition era a decade later would lead to even more corruption of the drinking club and the rise of the mafia in America. This infiltration of the criminal underground into the political sphere of powerful drinking clubs affect are still relevant leading to the rise of the Kennedy’s among other rum runners.

Finally, the last entry into this tradition is a private sect of Free Masons and Shiners called the Royal Order of Jesters who ran into legal troubles back in 2009 when several members were caught in Brazil trying to hook up with underage girls. The non-profit organisation has also run into other financial issues. Read this article to learn more.

My Thoughts on the Secret Drinking Club.

I’m not much of a drinker, so my opinion on the subject is quite biased although I do enjoy an IPA with my meal from time to time. From the article I read about the Greek Symposium, their tradition is the most inspired with individuals like Socrates leading conversations on the great mysteries of life.

This is far different than the corruption of these institutions found in the scandals of many of these organizations such as The Royal Order of Jesters and Skull and Bones. Many elite college clubs only offer membership built on certain economic and social standards that create an organization, similar to a barbaric horde; out to rob, cheat and loot anyone not part of their inner circle, leading to conspiracies on a massive scale like The Bohemian Club, whose members wealth accumulate to that of entire governments.

I also don’t understand why alcohol serves as the common recreational drug among such secret societies when they could just as well make hash readily available for their get together’s, or reserve a private resort in the Amazon for an Ayahuasca experience. The drinking club as the dominate secret society demonstrates a public consciousness dominated by materialism and building stronger bonds between those on the top of the social manure pile over spiritual revitalization and social enlightenment has led, in part, to the social erosion of our infrastructure and widespread corruption in our institutions.

Alcohol itself is a dangerous drug that can lead to long-term dependence and health effects. It also leads to an escapist mentality where bad habits turn to serious issues like greed and lack of empathy that’s only elevated in a social environment where such behaviour is promoted and often elevated. This is a dangerous reality when in the hands of men with the power to influence entire nations, institutions, .corporations, governments and economies.

I understand that these people need to build strong connections for political purposes that affect all of us and their’s been many enlightened and admirable players through the history of drinking clubs like that of the American Founding Fathers who made compromises where everyone, even the little guy, came out ahead. And many of these gatherings probably stay away from politics altogether, and members simply use these events to bring powerful people together.

Whatever the reason, rich snobs standing around drinking in private is far scarier than a bunch of broke jokes sitting around arguing about whose wife has the smallest boobs. So lets drop a few down the ole gullet and hash this out once and for all.

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