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Courtesans and Fishcakes

The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens

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.

400 pages | 8 halftones, 2 maps | 6 x 9 | © 2011

Ancient Studies

History: Ancient and Classical History

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Part I ∙ Feasts
1 Eating
2 Drinking

Part II ∙ Desire
3 Women and Boys
4 A Purchase on the Hetaera

Part III ∙ The Citizen
5 Bodies
6 Economies

Part IV ∙ The City
7 Politics and Society
8 Politics and Politicians
9 Tyranny and Revolution


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