Courtesans and Fishcakes has ratings and 51 reviews. Cooper said: James Davidson’s plus rather dense pages about the ancient Athenians can be bo. A brilliantly entertaining and innovative history of the ancient Athenians’ consuming passions for food, wine and sex. As any reader of the Symposium knows, the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates conversed over lavish banquets, kept watch on who was.

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I have discovered the secret of eternal life; men already dead I make to walk again, once they but smell it in their nostrils. Some men would throw away their patrimonies in pursuit of a hetaera.

In fact, that’s a central point of the author’s argument; trying to take court cases and plays and histories and dialogues that talk about food and sex, and treating them as if they’re ONLY about food and sex, A fine scholarly work that takes its subject–sex and food–quite seriously, while digging down at it in a lively manner.

This book is probably my chief go-to book for my own stories set in the same era specifically for the “useless” or arcane factoid–if I had to study it for its own sake or, heaven forbid, and exam or big paper, it would not be fun.

The Greeks mixed their wine with water, and during symposia the amounts and the process were ritualized to ensure moderation for example, the wine-water ratio was fixed, and the wine was sipped from very shallow cups. By parodying tragic forms, by setting up a heroic context and then infiltrating it with incongruous and anachronistic images from the modern city, comic poets gave resonance to their representation of the present, a greater consciousness of being contemporary.

But Davidson never states anything clearly here, and he comes back to certain events over and over again, without adding anything new. Our ideas about fluid sexuality are charmingly provincial 4. You bow down before the cow, I sacrifice her to the gods.

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Courtesans and Fishcakes – James Davidson – Google Books

Showing of 18 reviews. Amazon Drive Cloud storage from Amazon. The rule that excludes fish from sacrificial offerings to the gods is often transgressed for comic effect in a very similar way. Many of hetaera lived with men as courtesand wives, before, or after, or sometimes instead of their citizen wives.


Courtesans and Fishcakes

The book brings a strange, foreign people to life. There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

This is more than a marginal question. Euthydemus, a writer on diet of the Hellenistic period, even wrote a treatise on the subject although the encomium of salt-fish, which he ascribed to Hesiod and quoted in support of his cause, was strongly suspected of being a forgery. For Plutarch is quite categorical: I also fishxakes to courgesans props for the catchy title, even if the book wasn’t as lively as I hoped it would be. Even the Pythagoreans, who were famous for their vegetarianism, felt the need to participate in sacrifice occasionally to avoid a charge of disrespect.

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Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens, Davidson

Within the exalted ranks of the piscifauna, distinct hierarchies were recognized, if not always with universal agreement. Withoutabox Submit to Film Festivals. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. It was clearly not fitting for heroes of the calibre couryesans Achilles and Diomedes to be seen eating such poor fare, unless the poet wanted to show them pushed to extremes of deprivation.

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A typical example is from Antiphanes’ play the Pro-Theban: Be the first to discover new talent! Books by James Davidson.

Each week, courtfsans editors select the one author and one book they believe to tishcakes most worthy of your attention and highlight them in our Pro Connect email alert. For this reason, the rich tended toward inconspicuous consumption—and to hide their ffishcakes there were scant public records of wealth. Being much closer to the time of reading and having involved some note-taking, it was better than this brief appreciation will be. It is hard to say who it was who first put the marine into cuisine.

Its a window into cuortesans peoples’ lives and serves to humanize them. Reciprocity meant an obligation to sacrifice, which few could ignore. A really interesting slice of micro-historical text that explores virtue and vice as consumption in coourtesans classical Hellenic world.


About a month ago, in a thread chronicling the adventures of Governor Spitzer, the following editorial comment was quoted: Something about fishfakes way the boy was eating fascinated Socrates.

So, seeing prostitutes or even being a prostitute wasn’t so bad as long as one could control one’s anc on such hedonistic pleasures. Eating meat was a religious duty, and ultimately indispensable. When the Greeks sacrificed an animal to one of their gods say, Athenathey afterward divided the portions of meat equally among the citizens, without regard to quality of cut.

The Greeks, to be sure, recognized as delicacies some foods which had nothing to do fisncakes the sea: This seemed decisive proof that the two epics had different authors. Fish were also absent from another important fishcaakes, noted by a character in a comedy of Eubulus: A fragment of Timocles’ comedy, Epichairekakos He Who Enjoys Other Men’s Difficultiesfollows the gate-crasher known as Lark in the, for him, rather novel exercise of shopping.

Their consuming passions for food, wine and sex drove their society, as well as generating the rich web of privilege, transgression, guilt and taboo for which they are remembered today. There was a problem adding your email address. In this cultural history of Athens in its heyday, ie the High Classical period, Davidson explores what drove the Athenians.

Certain parts were especially prized: The book itself is a good balance of details to satisfy historians and a playful tone that makes it accessible to another reader.

And the delicate art of a hetaera, a companion, who received gifts from her friends — a delicate art there, to avoid a quid pro quo, and still more to avoid charging a set fee. Intense devotion to such women betrayed a want of self-control.

May 02, Megan Creel rated it it was amazing.