Courtesans & Fishcakes
The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens
By James N. Davidson
(University of Chicago Press, Paperback, 9780226137438, 372pp.)
Publication Date: June 2011
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As any reader of the "Symposium" knows, the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates conversed over lavish banquets, kept watch on who was eating too much fish, and imbibed liberally without ever getting drunk. In other words, James Davidson writes, he reflected the culture of ancient Greece in which he lived, a culture of passions and pleasures, of food, drink, and sex before and in concert with politics and principles. Athenians, the richest and most powerful of the Greeks, were as skilled at consuming as their playwrights were at devising tragedies. Weaving together Greek texts, critical theory, and witty anecdotes, this compelling and accessible study teaches the reader a great deal, not only about the banquets and temptations of ancient Athens, but also about how to read Greek comedy and history.