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Courtesans and Fishcakes has ratings and 51 reviews. Cooper said: James Davidson’s plus rather dense pages about the ancient Athenians can be bo. J. N. DAVIDSON: Courtesans and Fishcakes: the Consuming Passions of Classical Athens. Pp. xxvi + , map, pls. London: HarperCollin. Cased,? Athenians, the richest and most powerful of the Greeks, were as Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens.

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Courtesans and fishcakes James N.

Intense devotion to such women betrayed a want of self-control. Customers who viewed this item also viewed. To ask other readers questions about Courtesans and Fishcakesplease sign up.

Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens

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. Athenians, the richest and most powerful of the Greeks, were as skilled at consuming as their playwrights were at devising tragedies.

The text as a whole ranges from the hilarious to the nigh-pedantic, depending on what the immediate argument is. One of my favourite non-fiction books ever! When men were criticized for squandering their patrimony, they were said to spend it on hetaera and fishmongers.

Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens by James Davidson

Moreover, he claimed there was a dourtesans dispensation that eel-sellers and eel-fishers should pay no tax. In aboutSmindyrides, distinguished even among the Sybarites for his decadence, had made a great impression when he came over to mainland Greece to seek the hand of the daughter of Cleisthenes the ruler cpassical Sicyon near Corinth.


He decided to passipns the debate in a new direction: 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. This ancient world is obviously foreign to our own, they had very different views about addiction for instance, but it still feels incredibly familiar and its interesting to think about our own anxieties regarding desires, consumption and social hierarchies.

Where I did have a little trouble with what he was saying was his attempt to reconstitute traditional scholarly views on socio-economic class tensions by saying that degrees corutesans luxury were available to everyone, thus negating the existence of an ‘upper’ class. Davidson will frequently back up a point with six to eight evidentiary quotes, which ends up feeling more insecure than thorough. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Rhetoricians argue from large spending that ans man was obviously poor, and from lack thereof, that a man was obviously rich.

Socrates deliberately lists nothing but non-seafood when talking about what the ideal republic would eat. In this cultural history of Athens in its heyday, ie the High Classical period, Davidson explores what drove the Athenians.

I learned all about quail-tapping, which I now believe is the most hilarious gambling method ever devised. But these wenches were far too uncouth for the private dinner parties symposia so popular with the Athenians; the symposia required women who not only looked good but knew how to comport themselves. courtesane

Books by James Davidson. Sep 04, George rated it liked it. The new laws were then literally chiseled in stone, and the stone tablets placed prominently in public.

Looking forward to reading his book on Greek Love. Although I love ancient Greece, I am about sick of fish and floozies after this. Davidson is able to illuminate this world by analyzing the plays of the Ancient Greeks that were written during this time.


Illuminating, intelligent and hilarious at times, I thoroughly enjoyed the read in the sense of a student getting a happy “belly”-full of knowledge enthusiastically delivered.

Those with no interest in Ancient Greece to start with are unlikely to find it rewarding as a whole, but I’d strongly recommend it to anyone who’s already interested in the topic.

Courtesans and Fishcakes

Much more of an academic book than a popular reader, Davidson draws upon vast amounts of historical citations and Classic literature to reinforce his views as he seeks to dissect Athenian culture through Fish, Sex, and Wine.

The Athenians classicxl had courts of law: See and discover other items: The book itself is a good balance of details to satisfy historians and a playful tone that makes it accessible to another reader.

The author is faced with the incredibly difficult dilemma of determining the genuineness of scenes that represent sincerity or comic parody. The comic poet Epicharmus, who worked in Syracuse, the island’s greatest and richest city, clsasical 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: The writing aims to be more descriptive than analytical or philosophical.

The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens.