9-3 | A Gag at the Bottom of a Bowl?


A Gag at the Bottom of a Bowl?
Perceptions of Playfulness in Archaic and Classical Greece

Thomas Banchich


The author uses the inscriptions and images on several ancient Greek vases to consider how social context, the meanings of play-related words, and particular features of the Greek language contributed to the ability to signal and perceive playfulness. He emphasizes the importance of the lexical range of some Greek words and how expectations linked to specific social settings—
especially to the Greek symposium—could promote the perception of play. He maintains that the historical, cultural, and linguistic perspectives of the ancient Greeks warrant the attention of modern students of play. Key words: ancient Greece; lexical range; personification of play; playfulness; symposium