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 finished this book through sheer force of will. The staple was eating with the left hand, the ‘opson’ from the right. They are all far beyond the range of the four bronze coins he is carrying.

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I’m not invested in whether he is ‘Right’ as some reviewers seem to be and I enjoyed the book a lot. Amazon Rapids Fun stories for kids on the go.

In comedies, jokes are made comparing fish-scales with the small change that Athenians carried in their mouths. And the danger of damage is less at a symposium since there are rich men who can buy off the problem. Apr 14, Erik Graff rated it really liked it Recommends it for: The tavern gets decried as commercial but they were unquestionably local taverns and comedies talk about the tavern keeper knows how he likes the wine, and the mark of a deeply in debt man is that the taverns won’t extend credit.

Athenians, the richest and most powerful of the Greeks, were as skilled at consuming as their playwrights were at devising tragedies. Showing of 18 reviews. The dissection and rejection of the phallocentric method of reading Athenian culture isn’t the main point of this book, but it’s done with skill and verve. It’s almost never dry, and there’s a lot of great stuff in here. The rule that excludes fish from sacrificial offerings to the gods is often transgressed for comic effect in a very similar way.

The Greeks had a lot of anxiety about turning these necessities into pleasures. Account Options Sign in. It was not a serious or venerable activity.


Pleasure alone sorted out the most highly regarded species, the finest specimens, the most succulent parts, selected on their own terms according to the opsophagos ‘ taste. It was not an easy read, but a very informative one, and will make an excellent reference book. Furthermore, a large spectrum of people afforded enough leisure time to contribute to democratic institutions, the main divide wasn’t between Athenians but from them and women, slaves and foreignerswealth was recognized in individuals and not families since people would take on their father’s name and did not have a family name.

I found this an amazing and very, very satisfying book. Being much closer to the time of reading and having involved some note-taking, it was better than this brief appreciation will be. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. But in that case how to explain the fact that fishing and fish-eating did occur in the Odyssey? The comic poet Epicharmus, who worked in Syracuse, the island’s greatest and richest city, at the beginning of the fifth century, seems to have been preoccupied with sea-food, judging from the surviving fragments, although later writers were not always sure what he was referring to: In many ways its government was minimalist: It was educational and at moments very funny.

Outside comedy, courtesabs to fish-consumption are somewhat fewer in number, but fishcakew present even more direct and striking testimony to the citizens’ obsessions.

The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens. Preview — Courtesans and Fishcakes by James Davidson. Apparently you could get paid to be a “Party Girl” at the Symposium.

Wash it and cut into slices. Get to Know Us. Instead of the traditional rich-poor distinction, the main distinctions were young-old, country-urban and speakers-spoken to – all making modern class analysis useless in regards to understanding classical Athens. He seemed to make his arguments well and his sense of Athens will remain with me.

Courtesans & Fishcakes

When the Greeks sacrificed an animal to one of their gods say, Athenathey afterward divided the portions of fishcakea equally among the citizens, without regard to quality of cut. Conspicuous consumption — not so much.

The writing, when Davidson has the discipline to eschew the cute, is strong and the argument rishcakes the Greeks, lacking the clear cardinal directions of the proscriptive Judeo-Christian moral compass, were extremely anxious about moderation and self-control courtesqns nothing radically new for the most part solid, but the book feels bloated.


Davidson is able to illuminate this world by analyzing the plays of the Ancient Greeks that were written during this time. Withoutabox Submit to Film Festivals. This book, however, goes into the culinary pleasures of the ancients, a topic rarely tr I reviewed this book for the journal, The Ancient World, but cannot find a digital text version of it. Down he goes, gasping what seems to be his last gasp, lying prone amongst his fish.

This marks a substantial divergence from the way animals are butchered today, with very careful differentiation of the cuts according to relative tenderness, sliced along or against the grain.

Wine, he shows, was central to Athenian merry-making, though the ancients appear not to have recognized the addictive and destructive powers of drink. If you can get through the first chapter on Greek attitudes towards food, especially bread, and gluttony without tossing t Wow, this kid knows from Greek, I tell ya. Good read if this is your kind of thing. Comic authors made use of this notion of piscine irresistibility to create spoof imprecations and oaths.

I never actually finished reading this book, as I got bored with the last quarter and it was due back at the library, but what I enjoyed what I got to read about the world of food, drink, and sex in Ancient Athens, especially since I’ve just finished my summer digging at one of the ancient Athenian sites mentioned in the book.

Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens

For this reason, the rich tended toward inconspicuous consumption—and to hide their money there were scant public fiehcakes of wealth. East Dane Designer Men’s Fashion. Finally realizing he is outclassed he scuttles off in the direction of the membradasthe anchovies or sprats. There is nothing new under the sun.

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