Courtesans and Fishcakes
The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens
By James N. Davidson
(University Of Chicago Press, Paperback, 9780226137438, 400pp.)
Publication Date: May 2011
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.
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.
James Davidson is professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Warwick. He is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books and the author of the award-winning The Greeks and Greek Love.