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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On Justice, Power, and Human Nature: A Brief History of Ancient Greece: I sort of wished I had claasical a mini-glossary of Greek words because the meanings were mentioned amd and there were a lot of Greek words and their associated alien concepts being tossed around. 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.

The author explores the roles of food, drink, and sex to provide social and political insights in ancient Greece. When it came to fish, it went to the extent of having marine metaphors as a tradition to describe the atmosphere created by men in the Symposium.

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

Discover Prime Book Box for Kids. Packed with insights, meticulously documented, and academic to its core Scholar-jargon aside, this book is a great deal of fun, and a fine reminder that, despite the affinity we feel fonsuming the Greeks, in many ways they’re quite alien to us.

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And rich and poor rose and fell all the time. 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.


Excessive drinking was scorned, but Demostheses was criticized for drinking water. This book focuses on the universal pleasures of food, drink and sex.

Feb 27, Rk Wild rated it liked it Shelves: Jan 10, Caracalla rated it really liked it. Still, for the aficionado the book contains some interesting hypotheses and a number fihscakes choice historical tidbits.

Our ideas about fluid sexuality are charmingly provincial 4. So, seeing prostitutes or even being a prostitute wasn’t so bad as long as one could control one’s spending courtesaans such hedonistic pleasures.

Amazon Restaurants Food delivery from local restaurants. James Davidson’s Courtesans and Fishcakes provides an “extracurricular” view of ancient Greek ways, manners, and mores.

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

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 remember The luxury of the ancient world is legendary, but the Athenian reputation is sober because this wealthy, successful city-state spent all its money on the conspicuous consumption of ephemeral things.

It did make me drag out my Greek books, though. In most literary references, tyranny is not associated with restrictive policies but the lifestyle of the tyrant. Orators would argue someone was a prostitute on the grounds he or she took all clients at the same price. Most books about the Ancient Greeks focus on the origins of the theatre, democracy and mathematics.

It is a very witty and readable textbook and at times it demands all your background in the classics to immerse yourself in James Davidson’s absolutely alien landscape. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase.

All of this is supported by numerous quotations from Classic Greek literature – theatre, philosophical treatises etc. It takes an incredible amount of skill and a great eye to capture attitudes from the language used in texts where there are no direct historical references. The latter were defeated by their neighbours in and their city was razed to the ground, but stories of their fabulous riches were still being told at Ahtens dinner-parties one hundred years later.


James Davidson is a classical scholar and history professor at the University of Warwick, England. It was well argued and meticulously backed up and rather enjoyable. Jul 29, Cooper Cooper rated it really liked it.

Courtesans and Fishcakes

Theirs was, in fact, a very complicated role in clzssical society in which adultery was punishable by death if a male citizen caught someone in the act with his wife, mother, sister, or daughter, it was legal for him to kill the offender on the spot. He writes about the politics and economics of desire — especially for food, drink, and sex. The sober effort of pro-Spartans to defend scarlet cloaks as unwomanly, and accustoming men to the red of blood; long hair as making them look more impressive or making it harder to do menial labor; and large cups fishackes containing only water — because what these things do, after all, is make the Spartans look effeminate in Athenian eyes.

At times I found myself wishing there were a little more clarity for, let’s say, those of us who don’t know French, or would like a little more claesical on the Juvenalian satire being referred to. 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.