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In the blog of Vivanco, we understand wine as a way of life, from an innovative and energetic perspective, offering you a unique experience around the Culture of Wine.

Shall we play coconut?

If you were Greeks of the 5th or 4th century BC, the answer would be a resounding yes. As I am convinced that you are not, because if you were, you could have warned me and I would not have to spend hours looking for documentation to write this story, I will tell you what the game of coctabo (or coctabos) is, so that your answer will be informed.

First of all, let me warn you that it is a Dionysian game for adults that was played in ancient Greece during the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Although it could also be played in the street in a more decaffeinated version, the cocktail party was closely linked to the symposium - according tothe historian and philosopher Xenophon, "in the symposiums, sorrows are lulled to sleep and the amorous instinct is awakened...".

simposio banquete grecia

The symposium or banquet, very popular celebrations in Greece that consisted of food, drink and entertainment such as shows, riddles or the famous game of "coctabo".


The game consisted of, at the end of the meal, the servants adorned the guests with wreaths of ivy, the wine began to circulate from the crater (a vessel made of clay in which water and wine were mixed for the guests) and the rest of the earthly pleasures unfolded: perfumes, songs, music, dances, games, carefree conversation... and the eroticism of the hetairas (great dancers, excellent flute players and the best lovers). When the wine had had its way with the guests at the symposium, everyone shouted in unison:

"Cockscomb, cockscomb, cockscomb..."

cratera banquete dionisiaco vivanco

Crater with Dionysian banquet of the Museum Vivanco of Wine Culture

Red-figure pottery. Greek culture. 4th century BC.

The host ordered the slaves to prepare the room and arrange the necessary utensils for the climax of the feast. Are you ready? Well, let's get to it: the players had to finish their glasses of wine but leave the last sip to throw it into a saucer or jug placed at a certain distance (the distance and the container used determined the difficulty). When you flicked your wrist to throw the liquid element, you pronounced the name of the person, man or woman, with whom you wanted to sleep, frolic or copulate. If you hit the container, the person alluded to could be taken for... If not, "another time" or "keep on playing".

Normally, the names pronounced were those of slaves, dancers and/or hetairas, and never those of other participants. When the hetarias were of the stature of Friné - the one who was accused of being impious and when she undressed in front of the judges they were unable to condemn her when they saw her statuesque body - they could also participate and choose the lucky one.


cotabo game

Representation of the game of cocotte


Now that you know what this game is all about, what is your answer?

Javier Sanz
Storyteller through his blog, books, collaborations in the press and radio with the sole aim of bringing history in an entertaining and entertaining way to those who have left it aside. Director of the digital and interactive magazine "iHstoria". Collaborations in the newspaper Diario de Teruel, the magazine Iberia Vieja and the magazine Clío. Radio collaborations in La Rosa de los Vientos (Onda Cero), Gente Despierta (RNE) and La Noche es Nuestra (EuropaFM).


  1. How entertaining and to think that I still get invitations to play candy and a thousand other games, learn from the Greeks.

  2. I think it is not "hetarias", but "hetairas".

    Very interesting little game. I nominate... Kate Moss, for example....

    There goes my wine....!

  3. Let's see who's up for a game of cards tonight 😉 that was partying and not playing cards :p


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