Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens

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9780006863434: Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens

A brilliantly entertaining and innovative history of the ancient Athenians’ consuming passions for food, wine and sex.

Sex, shopping and fish-madness, Athenian style.

This fascinating book reveals that the ancient Athenians were supreme hedonists. Their society was driven by an insatiable lust for culinary delights – especially fish – fine wine and pleasures of the flesh. Indeed, great fortunes were squandered and politicians’ careers ruined through ritual drinking at the symposium, or the wooing of highly-coveted, costly prostitutes.

James Davidson brings an incisive eye and an urbane wit to this refreshingly accessible and different history of the people who invented Europe, democracy and art.

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Review:

‘Davidson is the best thing to happen to ancient history writing for decades’
Andrew Roberts, Mail on Sunday

‘There are pleasures and authors who lie dormant for a century or more until a new kind of vividness, a super-freshness descends on them. James Davidson has that skill.’
Spectator

‘If little boys are still being made to learn dead languages, and expected to enjoy them, I hope their Greek master reads Davidson’s fascinating and witty book, and tells them the best stories from it. This certainly ought to wake them up at the back of the class.’
Sunday Times

From the Back Cover:

“A most enjoyable book about enjoyment.”
PETER STOTHARD,'The Times'

“James Davidson’s concern is with ancient appetites: food, drink and sex in classical Athens. At one level, he provides a guided tour from bordello to Billingsgate; at another, an essay on the politics of consumption. Fish did loom large: it was the gourmet food, and therefore the social indicator. Literary critics found it extraordinary that the heroes of the Iliad lived on kebabs, though they were camped near the rich fishing grounds of the Dardanelles. This is a book of many pleasures, both in analysis and in anecdote. You can meet heroes of hedonism and martyrs of sensuality: Melanthios, who prayed for a neck like a heron’s, so that he could linger long on the delicious mouthfuls; Philoxenos, who consumed a three foot octopus (except for the head), and nearly died of dyspepsia; the anonymous alcoholic immortalised by Aristotle, who put eggs under his mat and sat on them and drank continuously until they hatched. Davidson presents a superior class of hedonist … His invigorating book paints the scene with polished scholarship and fine Hellenic gusto.”
PETER PARSONS'London Review of Books'

“Davidson blows away a whole heap of cobwebs, and at the same time shows up with merciless clarity the dissimulation and hypocrisy at the heart of some modern attitudes. We learn about where tarts took their clients, their tarifs and repertoire of sexual positions (the one called ‘lion on the cheesegrater’ is a puzzler); about the quaint games of kottabos (flicking the remains of one’s wine at a target) and quail tapping (you rapped a quail on the head and bet on whether it stood its ground or backed off); about the price of fresh eels and barracuda; about plonk and best vintage Chian wine. All students of antiquity will have to have this book.”
CHRISTOPHER STACE, 'Daily Telegraph'

“If little boys are still being made to learn dead languages, and expected to enjoy 'Everyday Life in Ancient Greece', I hope their Greek master reads James Davidson’s fascinating and witty book, and tells them the best stories from it. This certainly ought to wake them up at the back of the class.”
HUMPHREY CARPENTER,'Sunday Times'

“An excellent and learned exploration of a subject which for 50 years has crumbled to dust whenever touched. There are pleasures and authors who lie dormant for a century or more until a new kind of vividness, a super – freshness descends on them. James Davidson has that skill.”
PETER LEVI, 'Spectator'

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. 196 x 128 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. A brilliantly entertaining and innovative history of the ancient Athenians consuming passions for food, wine and sex. Sex, shopping and fish-madness, Athenian style. This fascinating book reveals that the ancient Athenians were supreme hedonists. Their society was driven by an insatiable lust for culinary delights - especially fish - fine wine and pleasures of the flesh. Indeed, great fortunes were squandered and politicians careers ruined through ritual drinking at the symposium, or the wooing of highly-coveted, costly prostitutes. James Davidson brings an incisive eye and an urbane wit to this refreshingly accessible and different history of the people who invented Europe, democracy and art. Bookseller Inventory # AAW9780006863434

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. 196 x 128 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. A brilliantly entertaining and innovative history of the ancient Athenians consuming passions for food, wine and sex. Sex, shopping and fish-madness, Athenian style. This fascinating book reveals that the ancient Athenians were supreme hedonists. Their society was driven by an insatiable lust for culinary delights - especially fish - fine wine and pleasures of the flesh. Indeed, great fortunes were squandered and politicians careers ruined through ritual drinking at the symposium, or the wooing of highly-coveted, costly prostitutes. James Davidson brings an incisive eye and an urbane wit to this refreshingly accessible and different history of the people who invented Europe, democracy and art. Bookseller Inventory # AAW9780006863434

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