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CX 252


Autumn Term 2003
Mondays 6-8.00 S1.14



General Bibliography

Lectures Term 1: General introduction to Food and Drink

1:Thinking about Food

2: The study of food and drink: semiotics, anthropology and sociology –

3: The environment: The Greek landscape, agriculture, trade

4. Food: an overview of the cultural context

5: Drink in Greek culture: an overview

6: Reading Week.

7: The Symposium

8: Food and Difference: Other Peoples

9: Distinction: Democracy and Class

10: Politics and Power.

Essay Titles for Term 1


This course uses the notion of the Material Body as a site for the thematic study of some areas of ancient culture, which are sometimes treated separately in modern scholarship, but which are closely related symbolically and structurally in the ancient world: food supply and nutrition, commensality, the body.

Foucault while writing his History Of Sexuality was happy to concede that to the ancients food was overwhelmingly more of a concern than sex, and over the past decade a number of scholars have shown an interest in this important area of study. This concern is manifested most obviously in four particular areas: the Symposium, with all its social and cultural practices, Religion, the Body and Medicine.

A course focussed on food and drink provides the most natural environment, therefore, for the study of some central issues in ancient Greek history, society and culture. Food, drink and the body constituted a privileged zone for constructions of identity and difference: differences between Greeks and Barbarians, gods and men, men and women, humans and animals, social and political distinctions. Practices of equal participation in the sacrificial banquet and medical anxiety about maintaining balance (isonomia) informed political ideologies, while the private symposium, the drinking-party, was a pre-eminent site for the forging of social bonds in the Greek world. The agricultural cycle complemented the cycle of waging war and trading overseas. An inability to maintain control of the routes of the grain-trade led to Athens’ defeat in the Peloponnesian War and remained a critical concern of foreign policy thereafter.

The relevant material is diverse and includes some important corpora: sympotic vases, medical writings, sympotic literature. The diversity of the material and the centrality of the subject mean that students will be able to deploy a particularly diverse range of approaches: comparative anthropology, reconstructions of the ancient environment from economic models, the study of skeletal remains, structuralist approaches to myth, cultic practices and death, Foucauldian approaches to regimen and self-discipline, new approaches to iconography.

Aims and Objectives


The course is intended to give students knowledge of:

* the foodways of the ancient Greeks

* the diverse materials which allow us to know about the foodways of the Greeks

* comparative material and anthropological and sociological theories relevant to the contextualization and analysis of the foodways of the Greeks

Analysis and Critique

The course is intended to enable students:

* to critically assess a wide range of diverse materials as a source of information

* to construct their own arguments based on their assessment of modern debates and ancient materials

* to communicate their ideas in the form of written essays, and in oral presentations to the group
* to work with other members of the group, identifying differences of approach and emphasis, defending and/or modifying their arguments, and cooperating to produce a new synthetic analysis

Structure and Course Requirements

The course will be loosely structured around a two-hour session including a lecture and a seminar/discussion. Students will be expected to have looked at some of the primary and / or secondary materials listed for each week. Much of this will be available on the world wide web. All will be expected to take some time to study the material and each member of the group will have to be in a position to lead discussion on issues connected with it if necessary. The primary material will play an important role in the examinations at the end of the year when students will be asked to comment on several short passages.

There will be two assessed essays. This term's essay-titles are listed at the back of this booklet together with the bibliography. To ensure fairness, late submissions will be awarded zero marks except in exceptional circumstances, with advance-warning and backed up with e.g. a doctor's note covering the relevant period. Unfortunately inaccessibility of books cannot be considered an acceptable excuse, nor will computer mishaps. Candidates are therefore advised to begin work on assessed essays in good time, to reserve books which are out and to make use of books when they have them, before they are recalled by other students. There will also be a two hour exam in the summer term.

Assessment Criteria

The two essays count towards fifty percent of the final mark for the course and the exam for the other fifty percent. The essays will be assessed according to the following criteria to make marking more transparent and to enable you to measure your progress. However, although the assessors will use these criteria as a guide, they are not bound to follow them mechanically and the final mark will be based on an overall impression of the quality of the work.

1. Presentation: Points will be awarded for good English expression; points will be deducted for poor presentation, including illegible handwriting and poor spelling. All books used must be presented in a bibliography.

2. Clarity of analysis: Points will be awarded for work which is organised coherently on the basis of arguments and deducted for work which is incoherent or presents a mass of amorphous material. The case the student is arguing should be clear to the assessor in every paragraph - don't fall automatically into a chronological arrangement of your material, unless you are making a specific point narrowly argued about development or change over time.

3. Primary data: Points will be awarded for good use of a wide range of ancient texts and other material and deducted for unsubstantiated arguments and opinions. All texts must be properly cited in footnotes.

4. Secondary material: Points will be awarded for isolating the main issues and debates in modern scholarship on the subject. Points will be deducted for overdependence on a single unquestioned authority.

5. Originality and Sophistication: points will be awarded for thoughtfulness, well-founded scepticism and original ideas which attempt to surpass the issues and debates found in modern discussions in order to take the argument in a new direction.


A very large number of Greek texts and some Roman, as well as plentiful images, a directory of archaeological sites and many other things are available at Perseus (TUFTS). The very useful list of authors and texts can be accessed by clicking 'Classics' - it should lead you here - http://www.

Theoretically there are 'mirror-sites' in Berlin and Oxford, but the latter especially seems no longer to function. The TUFTS site now has a very good search engine. You can search the whole text of Pausanias, say, for 'Sacrifice': Perseus Search. However Perseus is not the most straightforward site to use, and you need to spend time working out is eccentricities. A full search of the database requires you to select 'English' [or 'Greek' if you want to search the original language] and then select 'Greek and Roman materials'.

Project Muse and JSTOR - A very large number of journals are now on-line also. Project Muse has a few Classics journals, such as Arethusa, TAPA, AJP and is up-to-date. The backnumbers of these and many more are at JSTOR. You need to know how to access these using Athens password, and how to search, which needs practice. Get into the habit of reading a few reviews of textbooks, by ticking the 'reviews' box at the bottom of the search page.

John Porter’s Food Course website:

Sue Alcock’s Food Course web-site:

And her very large and comprehensive bibliography

There are also useful sites on Gods whose sphere relates to Food and Drink: Dionysus, Demeter and Eleusis:

Web-sites are constantly changing, so by far the best thing you can do is learn how to use Google to find what you are looking for. More academic web-pages should include a 'Bibliography', for instance. If you know the name of an author or a book 'Garnsey' 'famine', you will find what you are looking for that much more quickly.

And on Ancient Medicine:

Ancient Medicine/Medicina Antiqua, maintained by Dr. Lee T. Pearcy

Nancy Demand's Asclepion

Introductory essay on some basic issues of rationality, a health-system etc.

More, useful essays on Greek medicine including...

Illness of Maidens, very interesting passage, note especially the reference to Brauron and dedications to Artemis of clothing

On influence of pre-Socratics

On Asclepius' healing-cults

On Hippocratic Epidemics, not the same as what we call 'epidemics', interestingly.

Historical Collections - Antiqua Medicina: From Homer to Vesalius excellent on-line exhibition from Universty of Virginia. Don't miss, among many other things....

Antiqua Medicina: Gynaecology

Antiqua Medicina: healer cults a nice introduction to cult of Asclepius

General Bibliography

Primary Sources

Apart from Athenaeus who at the turn of the second century AD anthologized a vast array of Classical and Hellenistic material to do with Food and Drink, there is no fundamental source, but there is good material in the following. Sorry if the links are out-of-date, but you should be able to find them yourself using Perseus or Google:


Xenophon, SymposiumConversations with Socrates


Homer, Odyssey, Iliad

Plutarch ‘Table Talk’


Apicius Some fragments translated as part of an ongoing private project

Aristophanes – Issues of War and Peace and Political Power are often figured in terms of food in Wasps, Knights,Peace, Acharniansetc.

Sample Bibliography

Susan E. Alcock and Robin Osborne eds. Placing the Gods: Sanctuaries and Sacred Space in Ancient Greece (Oxford, 1994)

*Roland Barthes, `Lecture de Brillat-Savarin', introduction to Brillat-Savarin: Physiologie du goût, (Paris, 1975), translated in M.Blonsky ed. On Signs (Oxford, 1985)

*W.Burkert, Homo Necans: The Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth (Berkeley, 1983)

*Walter Burkert Greek Religion, (Oxford, 1985)

Dalby, A. Siren Feasts (London 1996)

*Davidson, J. Courtesans and Fishcakes (London 1997)

*M.Detienne and J-P.Vernant etc., The Cuisine of Sacrifice Among the Greeks (London, 1989)

P.Garnsey, Famine and Food Supply in the Greco-Roman World (1988)

idem, Food and Society in Classical Antiquity (1999)

Emily Gowers, The Loaded Table (Oxford,1993)

David Lewis, `The King's Dinner' in Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg and Amélie Kuhrt edd. Achaemenid History Workshop II The Greek Sources (Leiden, 1987)

François Lissarrague, The Aesthetics of the Greek Banquet (Princeton, 1990)

*Murray, O. Sympotica (Oxford 1990)

J.R.Sallares, The Ecology of the Ancient Greek World (London, 1992)

Schmitt Pantel, P. La cité au banquet (1990)

Slater, W. J. Dining in a Classical Context (Ann Arbor 1980)

Visser, M., The Rituals of Dinner: the origins, evolution, eccentricities and meaning of table manners (1991)
J.Wilkins etc, edd., Food in Antiquity, (Exeter, 1995)

D Braund and J Wilkins (eds) Athenaeus and his World (Exeter, 2000)

Lectures Term 1: General introduction to Food and Drink

2:Thinking about Food

Free your mind and liberate your prejudices:

Are there any profound implications in the following terms: Les Rosbifs, Mad Cow Disease, The Frogs, Krauts, Spanish tummy, Dutch Courage, Montezuma's revenge, English breakfast, French Restaurant, Australian wine, South African Grapes, Claret, Black Pudding, Vegetarian, Jellied eels, Chip-butty, Beluga, Gin-and-Tonic set, wine-snob, Port and Cigars, Port and Lemon, Balsamic Vinegar, Foodie, `Where's the Beef?', Quiche, T.V. Dinner, Chianti-shire, Champagne Charlie, Champagne Socialist, Babycham, Milk of human kindness, Beer-belly, ... a man's stomach..., Fat-head, Sherry, British sherry, Guinness, `A nice Chianti', `Have him for breakfast', Pound of Flesh, Piece of Meat, Lunch-box, Sauce, Cheesecake, Beefcake, Man-eater, Cream, Peach, Bananas, Banana republic, Fruitcake, Fruit, Old fruit, Fatcat, Gravy-train, Piece of cake?

Some food for thought:

Think of how food is used in films, soap operas, television programmes, books, how the kitchen is used, what kind of things happen over meals at home or in restaurants in Comedy and Drama.

Content: Why do we consume some things and not others? In what sense are we what we eat (size, character, strength, gender, class, nationality, culture)? In what ways is food symbolic? How does the food they serve characterize the hosts of a dinner party? Do we have special foods for special times (of day, week, month, year)? What is their significance? Do we have different foods and drinks for different spaces (town, country, parts of the city, parts of the house, etc.)? What is their significance? Are sex and food connected at a deep level?

Context: Why do we have table-manners? What is peculiar about the way we eat in comparison with other cultures? What rules of behaviour do we apply when we go out to dinner in a restaurant or at someone's house? What rules of generosity are involved in paying for meals or drinks? How does consuming together define groups? How do we categorise food-types on a day-to-day basis? Are there rules about mixing certain types of food? What is their significance? Why do we drink out of glasses? What do we drink out of glasses?

3: The study of food and drink: Semiotics, anthropology and sociology - Structures, Commensality, Symbolism, Distinction

R. Barthes `Wine and Milk', `Steak and Chips', `Ornamental Cookery' Mythologies (transl. A. Lavers, London, 1972) pp.65-71, 85-87

id. `Lecture de Brillat-Savarin' transl. in M.Blonsky ed. On Signs (Oxford, 1985) very brief and fun

*A. Gopnik, `Is there a crisis in French Cooking?' in New Yorker, 28.4/5.5 1997, 150-161, journalistic but well-written and clever

*P.Bourdieu, Distinction (transl. R.Nice, London, 1984), pp.179-200, more serious but quite readable, considering the author

*Mary Douglas `Deciphering a meal' in Implicit Meanings: Essays in Anthropology (London, 1975), pp.249-275, a classic

*Mary Douglas, Constructive Drinking. Perspectives on Drink from Anthropology (Cambridge, 1987) c.1

M.Sahlins, `Food as Symbolic Code' in J.C.Alexander, S.Seidman edd., Culture and Society( Cambridge, 1990), pp.94-101, brief, but quite difficult at first

Intro. to S. Mennell, A. Murcott, A.H. van Otterloo, The Sociology of Food (London, 1992), a survey of approaches

M. Visser, Much Depends on Dinner (London, 1990) and The Rituals of Dinner (London, 1992) are wide-ranging and very readable. You may have copies; the Library only has the first.


Would you answer the questions under week 1 differently after reading these articles? What are the main issues in modern studies of food and society? How important is food as a marker of cultural difference? How can we assess the significance of food in a particular culture (cf. Foucault's comments in the introduction to this booklet)? Do anthropologists tend to overestimate the ritualism of eating-habits of other cultures?

4: The environment: The Greek landscape, agriculture, trade

Reading: Fik Meijer and Onno van Nijf, Trade, transport and society in the ancient world : a sourcebook (London, 1992)

Xenophon, Oeconomicus 15-21

Lysias XXII, Against the Corn-dealers

Cyrene sends grain to Greece, P.Harding, Translated Documents of Greece and Rome II.116

*R.Osborne, Classical Landscape with Figures (London, 1987) c.2

O.Rackham, `Ancient Greek Landscapes' in O.Murray and S.Price edd. The Greek City from Homer to Alexander (Oxford, 1990)

*Claude Mossé, `The Economist' in J-P. Vernant ed. The Greeks (Chicago, 1995)

P.Garnsey, Famine and Food Supply (Cambridge, 1988)

*M.Jameson `Sacrifice and Animal Husbandry in Classical Greece' in C.R.Whittaker ed. Pastoral Economies in Classical Antiquity (Cambridge 1988) = Proceedings of Cam. Philological Soc. Supp. 14

What are the peculiarities of the Greek environment? In what sense were Greek eating-habits determined by their environment? How is use of the land affected by the peculiarities of Greek culture and society? How can we know what the Greeks actually ate?

5. Food: an overview of the cultural context

*One of the main features to emerge from a look at the agricultural cycle is that it is very different from that with which Northern Europeans are familiar: Note especially that First Ploughing Festivals are at the end of the Summer and First Grains are offered at the Thargelia at the end of May.

Greek Months

Rhythms: agricultural year, famines, tuna-schools, sacrifice, festivals and symbolic food

Spaces: distinctions between kinds of food: drink, sitos, opson. Food and gender, the dinners, the andron, the Athenian tholos, deipnon vs. ariston

Reading: Xenophon Memorabilia 3.14

Hymn to Demeter Gregory Nagy’s translation:

Menander, Dyskolos, esp. Act III

Some fragments concerning symbolic cakes:

Heraclides of Syracuse Peri Thesmon, ap. Ath.14.647a: `in Syracuse on the day of Completion (Panteleia) in the festival of Thesmophoria cakes of sesame and honey are moulded in the shape of the female pudenda. They are called, throughout the whole of Sicily, `mylloi' and carried about in honour of the goddesses.'

Iatrocles On Cakes ap. Ath. 14.647bc: `the pyramous, as it is called, is not different from the so-called pyramid cake; for this is made from wheat roasted and soaked in honey. They are offered as prizes to he who has stayed awake during the night festivals.'

Sosibios On Alcman book three ap. Ath. 14.646: On Kribanai (Pot-baked cakes) `in shape they resemble breasts, and the Spartans use them at women's feasts (hestiaseis), carrying them around whenever the girls who follow in the choir are ready to sing the hymn of praise prepared for the maiden.'

Philitas on Irregular Words ap. Ath. 14.645d. On the kreion, a cake or loaf which the Argives carry from the bride to the bridegroom: `It is baked on charcoal and the friends are invited to partake of it. It is served with honey'

Ath. 14.645a: Amphiph n (Light-about cake) `A plakous (flat-cake) dedicated to Artemis, having lighted candles all about it. Philemon in Beggarwoman or Woman of Rhodes: "Artemis, my dear mistress, this amphiphon I bring for you, o mistress and offerings for a libation." It is mentioned also by Diphilus in Hecate. Philochorus attests the name amphiphon and says it was carried to the temples of Artemis and also to the crossroads, because on that day (Munichion 16) the moon, just as it sets, is overtaken by the rising sun, so that the sky is lighted doubly (amphiph s).'

Secondary Material

A. Dalby, Siren Feasts chapter 1

*idem `Food and Sexuality in Classical Athens' in G.Mars and V.Mars edd. Food, Culture and History I (London, 1993), 165-190

*W. Burkert, Greek Religion (Oxford, 1985) II.1 On sacrifice III.2.6, 9, 10 on Demeter, Dionysus, Artemis

*J.Davidson, Courtesans and Fishcakes (London, 1997) c.1

*M.Jameson `Sacrifice and Animal Husbandry in Classical Greece' in C.R.Whittaker ed. Pastoral Economies in Classical Antiquity (Cambridge 1988) = Proceedings of Cam. Philological Soc. Supp. 14

*M.Detienne `Violence of Well-born Ladies' in Cuisine of Sacrifice

*O.Murray in J-P. Vernant ed. The Greeks

Questions: In what ways do the Greeks differ from us in their appetites and tastes? In what ways was food symbolic? In what ways was consumption ritualised? How did they separate potos, sitos and opson? What role did food play in Greek culture and society? How does the study of myth help us to understand the meaning of Greek food?


6: Reading Week

7: Drink in Greek culture: an overview, different kinds of wine, alcoholism?, the system of cups, bars in Athens and Thasos

Sources: Xenophon, Conversations with Socrates 3.13,3, 2.1,30, Symposium

Alexander's Royal Diaries ap. Aelian VH 3.23: `They say on the fifth day of the month Dius [October/November] he was drinking at Eumaeus' house, then on the sixth he slept it off, and for as much of that day as he was conscious (ez sen) he rose from his bed and did business with the generals concerning the following day's journey, saying it would start early. On the seventh he feasted with Perdiccas and drank again and on the eighth slept. On the fifteenth day of the same month he was at it again, drinking and on the following day he did the usual things that follow drinking [i.e. he slept?] He dined at Bagoas' on the twenty-fourth and two days later was still sleeping --Accordingly one of two conclusions must be true, either Alexander damaged himself through drinking so many days in a month, or those who wrote this are lying. For you can have an idea of what happened the rest of the time from these extracts, since they say the same things.'

Theopompus Philippica book 8: `The fact that they had been practising democracy for what was by now a long time together with the fact that their city was situated at a trading post, not to mention the fact that the entire populace spent their time around the agora and the harbour, meant that the people of Byzantium lacked self-discipline and were accustomed to get together in bars for a drink. And the people of Chalcedon, before they came to share with the Byzantines in their government all used to pursue a better way of life. But when they had tasted Byzantine democracy they fell to decadence and from having been the most self-controlled and moderate in their daily life, they became drink-lovers and squanderers.'

Secondary material

*Davidson, J. Courtesans and Fishcakes (London 1997) c.2

François Lissarrague, The Aesthetics of the Greek Banquet (Princeton, 1990)

*Murray, O. Sympotica (Oxford 1990)

How does wine-drinking in Greece differ from our own experience? What do Greek vases tell us about the Greek culture of drinking? Why did the Greeks mix wine with water? In what ways was the consumption of food differentiated from the consumption of wine?

8: The Symposium

Sources: Xenophon, Symposium

Plato, Symposium

Timaeus FrGrHist 566 F149: ` Agrigentum there is a house called `the trireme' for the following reason. Some young men were getting drunk in it, and became feverish with intoxication, off their heads to such an extent that they supposed they were in a trireme, sailing through a dangerous tempest; they became so befuddled as to throw all the furniture and fittings out of the house as though at sea, thinking that the pilot had told them to lighten the ship because of the storm. A great many people, meanwhile were gathering at the scene and started to carry off the discarded property, but even then the youths did not pause from their lunacy. On the following day the generals turned up at the house, and charges were brought against them. Still sea-sick, they answered to the officials' questioning that in their anxiety over the storm they had been compelled to jettison their superfluous cargo by throwing it into the sea.'

Secondary material:

M. Jameson in O.Murray and S.Price edd. The Greek City from Homer to Alexander (Oxford, 1990)

François Lissarrague, The Aesthetics of the Greek Banquet (Princeton, 1990)

*Murray, O. Sympotica (Oxford 1990)

*J.Davidson, Courtesans... c.2, index sv symposium

9: Food and Difference: the sources, ethnography, histories of livelihood, food in Homeric world, feasts, meat-eating, rhyta.


Pausanias in Herodotus 9.82

Hippocrates On Regimen in Penguin Hippocratic Writings

Heraclides ap Ath. 4.145a-146a, On Persian banquets

Antiphanes 145 Kassel-Austin: `They say the Egyptians are clever, not least because they recognize that the eel is equal to the gods; in fact she has a much higher value than gods, since to gain access to them we just have to pray, whereas to get within sniffing distance of eels we have to pay at least a dozen drachmas, maybe more, so absolutely sacred a creature is she.'

Anaxandrides 40 K-A: `I would never be able to make an alliance with you; there is no common ground for our manners and customs to share, and great differences to separate them. You bow down before the cow, I sacrifice her to the gods. The eel you consider the greatest divinity, and we the very greatest dish.'

Arrian Indica 26-32 on Ichthyophagoi: `For these Fish-Eaters, fish is the staple, hence their name. Few of them, however, actually go fishing, for few of them have any fishing-boats or have discovered the art of hunting them. For the most part it is the ebbing sea that keeps them supplied.... At low tide the land is exposed again. There are virtually no fish to be found where the land is dry, but where there are hollows and some water has been left behind the fish are abundant... The most tender of them they eat raw, pulled straight from the water; larger and tougher specimens are laid out to dry in the sun until they are quite desiccated, then ground into flour to make loaves and, in some cases, cakes. Even their herds are fed on this dried fish, for the country has no pasture not even any grass.... In fact there are some who live in desert regions without trees or crops; their entire diet consists of fish. A few, however, manage to cultivate a little land which provides them with corn they can add to the fish as a relish. For fish is their staple.'

Secondary Material

F.Hartog, Le Miroir d'Hérodote: Essai sur la représentation de l'autre (Paris,1980), Eng. transl. The Mirror of Herodotus (Berkeley, 1988) chapters 4 and 5

*J.Davidson, Courtesans... c.1

P.Schmitt-Pantel, La cité au banquet, Part 4

*J-P. Vernant et al., The cuisine of sacrifice esp. cc.7, 8

How significant is food and drink in Greek self-definition? What role is played specifically by the consumption of fish? What attributes of foreigners are indicated by their eating/drinking habits apart from their foreigness? Specifically, what is different about Persian banquets? How is savagery marked by eating/drinking habits?

9: Distinction: Prices, expenditure and class, opsarion as salary, crime in the marketplace.


The Democracy

Aristophanes Acharnians, 65ff.: Ambassador: `They entertained us as guests, and often we were forced to drink sweet wine from cups of glass and cups of gold, neat wine!... The Barbarians, you know, consider only those who eat and drink in huge quantities to be men of account'

Dicaeopolis: `And here we consider them to be cocksucking degenerates.'

Ambassador: `Then the King entertained us, and set before us whole oxen pot-roasted.'

Aristophanes, Wasps, 493-502, Bdelycleon:`If someone buys a grouper but turns his nose up at the sprats, straightaway the sprats-seller next to him declares "This man here would appear to be on a spree for tyranny". And if then you order a leek to give flavour to the small fry, the vegetable-woman says, "Tell me then, so you're after a leek; I suppose it's with a view to tyranny, or maybe you think Athens should be taxed to supply you with flavourings?"'

Plato, Defence of Socrates, 36de: `What do I deserve for behaving in this way? Some reward, gentlemen, if I am bound to suggest what I really deserve, a reward that best suits the services I have performed. Well what is appropriate for a poor man who is also a public benefactor and who needs leisure-time for giving you moral encouragement? Nothing could be more appropriate for such a person than being fed for free at the city's expense. For he deserves it much more than any victor in the races at Olympia, whether he wins with a single horse or a team of four. These people give you the semblance of success, but I give you the reality; they do not need free food, but I do.'

Plutarch Cimon, c.10: `Cimon took away the fences from his fields, so that strangers and strangers in need might have it in their power to take fearlessly of the fruits of the land; and every day he gave a dinner at his house, - simple, it is true, but sufficient for many, to which any poor man who wished came in and so received sustenance which cost him no effort and left him free to devote himself solely to public affairs. But Aristotle says that it was not for all Athenians, but only for his demesmen, the laciadae, that he provided free dinner.'

Athenaeus 1.3df: `Conon, too, after he defeated the Spartans in the sea-battle off Cnidus and surrounded the piraeus with a wall, offered a hecatomb - a real one, and not one falsely so-called - at which he feasted all Athens. And when Alcibiades won first second and fourth places at Olympia in the chariot-race (416 BCE) he sacrificed to Olympian Zeus and entertained the entire assemblage.... Again Ion of Chios, when he won a victory with a tragedy at Athens gave every Athenian a jar of Chian wine.'

  • Plutarch, Alcibiades c. 12: Moreover this splendour of his at Olympia was made even more conspicuous by the emulous rivalry of the cities on his behalf. The Ephesians equipped him with a tent of magnificent adornment; the Chians furnished him with provender for his horses and with innumerable animals for sacrifice; the Lesbians with wine and other provisions for his unstinted entertainment of the multitude.
  • Passion for fish

    Antiphanes 188 K-A:`Euthynus, with a ring on his finger and sandals on his toes and anointed with perfumed oils was settling some little fish business I don't know what; but then two veteran fish-lovers came along, the kind of men who gulp down fish-slices in the marketplace. When they saw what he was doing they almost died, outraged at the fishlessness he had created, terribly outraged. They gathered crowds around them and made a speech to the effect that they could not live with such a situation, that it was unendurable that some of you should be spending great sums of money on the fleet to fight for naval supremacy, while not even a bit of fish was making it into port. What was the point of controlling the Aegean? It should be possible to pass laws to force compliance, a naval escort should be provided for the fish. As it was, one man had monopolized the fishermen and another, in heaven's name, had persuaded them to bring the catch to him. It's simply not democratic for them to eat so many fish.'

    Strabo 14.2.21: `A lyre-player was giving a demonstration of his art. Everybody was listening, until at a certain point the fish-bell rang and they abandoned him and went off to the fish-stalls, except for one man, who happened to be hard of hearing. So the musician went up to him and said "I must express my gratitude, sir, for your courtesy and appreciation; all the others disappeared the moment they heard the fish-bell." To which the other responded "What's that? has the bell rung already?" and when the musician said that it had, he quickly said goodbye and went to join the others.

    Philemon, The Soldier: `For a yearning stole up on me to go forth and tell the world, and not only the world but the heavens too, how I prepared the dish - By Athena, how sweet it is to get it right every time - What a fish it was I had tender before me! What a dish I made of it! Not drugged senseless with cheeses, nor window-boxed with dandifying herbs, it emerged from the oven as naked as the day it was born. So tender, so soft was the fire I invested in the cooking of it. You wouldn't believe the result. It was just like when a chicken gets hold of something bigger than she can swallow and runs around in a circle, unable to let it out of her sight, determined to get it down, while the other chickens chase after her. It was just the same: the first man among them to discover the delights of the dish leapt up and fled taking the platter with him for a lap of the circuit, the others hot on his heels. I allowed myself a shriek of joy, as some snatched at something, some snatched at everything and others snatched at nothing at all. And yet I had merely taken into my care some mud-eating river-fish. If I had got hold of something more exceptional, a "little grey" from Attica, say, or a boar-fish from [Amphilochian] Argos, or from dear old Sicyon the fish that Poseidon carries to the gods in heaven, a conger-eel, then everyone would have attained to a state of divinity. I have discovered the secret of eternal life; men already dead I make to walk again, once they but smell it in their nostrils.'

    Archestratus on `boar-fish':`But if you go to the prosperous land of Ambracia and happen to see the boar-fish, buy it! Even if it costs its weight in gold, don't leave without it, lest the dread vengeance of the deathless ones breathe down on you; for this fish is the flower of nectar...'

    ... on Rhodian dogfish:`It could mean your death, but if they won't sell it to you, take it by force... afterwards you can submit patiently to your fate.'

    ... on eels:`There you have the advantage over all the rest of us mortals, citizen of Messina, as you put such fare to your lips. The eels of the Strymon river, on the other hand, and those of lake Copais have a formidable reputation for excellence thanks to their large size and wondrous girth. All in all I think the eel rules over everything else at the feast and commands the field of pleasure, despite being the only fish with no backbone.'

    Lynceus of Samos, How to shop: `One thing you will find useful, when standing at the fish-stalls face to face with the unblinking fishmongers, is abuse. Call Archestratus to the stand, the author of the Life of Luxury, or another one of the poets and read out a line, "the striped bream is an awful fish, completely worthless' and in Spring try the line "only buy tuna in winter", and in summer "the grey-mullet is wonderful when winter has arrived", and many other lines of that sort. For you will scare off all the shoppers and force the fishmonger to accept a price you think is right.'

    Antiphanes 217 K-A:`Is it not strange, that if someone happens to be selling fish recently deceased, he addresses us with a devilish scowl and knotted brow, but if they are quite past their sell-by date, he laughs and jokes? It should be the other way round. In the first case the seller should laugh, and in the second go to the devil.'

    Antiphanes 69 K-A: `Well then, Philumenus, what's your favourite fish?' `I like them all' `Go through them one by one, which fish would you like to taste?' `Well, once a fish-monger came to the country, and he had sprats with him and little red-mullets, and by Zeus he was popular with all of us!' `So, now you would like some of them?' `Yes, and if there is any other small one; for it is my opinion that all those large fishes are man-eaters'

    Hegesander of Delphi ap. Ath.8.343d: `Plato objected to Aristippus returning from a shopping-spree with a large number of fish, but Aristippus answered that he had bought them for only two obols. Plato said he himself would have bought them at that price, to which Aristippus replied "Well, then, in that case, my dear Plato, you must realise that it is not I who am a fish a holic, but you who are a cheapskate."'

    Secondary material

    *J.Davidson, Courtesans... c.6, with caution

    *J. Wilkins, `Fish-heads...' in G.Mars and V.Mars edd. Food, Culture and History I (London, 1993)

    *O. Murray, `Democracy and the Drinking-group' in Sympotica

    How does consumption differentiate peasant and city-dweller, rich and poor, present and past? How could consumption of food and drink be seen as a threat to property? How does communal feasting function within the power politics of the democracy?

    10: Politics and Power.



    Homeric Feasts of Merit - Sarpedon to Glaucus: `Glaucus, why do the Lycians at home distinguish you and me above all with marks of honour, the best seats at the banquet, the best meat, never-empty cups? Why do they all look upon us as gods? And why were we granted that great estate on the banks of the Xanthus, with its lovely orchards and its splendid fields of wheat? Does not all this oblige us now to take our places in the front line of the ranks of Lycia and fling ourselves into the heat of battle? Then our armoured Lycians will say this about us: "So they are not inglorious after all, our Kings who rule Lycia, eating fat sheep and drinking the sweetest wine. Indeed they are mighty warriors who fight in the front line of the Lycian ranks."' Iliad 12.310-321

    The King's Dinner, Herodotus 7.118-120: `Things were even worse for the Greeks who had to entertain the Persian army and provide a dinner for the king. They were utterly ruined, and were obliged to leave house and home. For instance, when the Thasians, on behalf of their towns on the mainland billeted and fed the army, Antipater, the son of Orgeus, a citizen of the highest repute, to who the arrangements had been entrusted, proved that the meal cost 400 talents of silver. And similar accounts were returned by the officers in the other towns. A great deal of fuss had been made about the meal, and orders for its preparation had been issued a long time in advance; accordingly, the moment that word came form the officers who carried out the king's commands, people in every town distributed their stores of grain and employed themselves for months on end in making barley and wheat flour, in buying up and fattening the best cattle they could find and feeding poultry in coops and waterfowl in ponds, to be ready for the army when it came. In addition to this they ordered the manufacture of drinking-cups and mixing-bowls of gold and silver, and of everything else that is needed to adorn the table. All this, of course, was for the king himself and those who dined with him; for the troops themselves the preparations were confined to food. On the arrival of the army,there was always a tent ready for Xerxes to rest in, while the men bivouacked in the open; but it was when dinner-time came that the real trouble began for the unfortunate hosts. The guests ate their fill, and after spending the night in the place, pulled up the tent the next morning, seized the cups and table-gear and everything else it contained, and marched off without leaving a single thing behind. A man of Abdera, called Megacreon, spoke to the point on this subject when he advised all the people of the town to take their wives to the temples and pray heaven to continue to spare them one half of their troubles, with proper gratitude for the blessing received, that King Xerxes was not in the habit of taking two meals a day.'

    Theopompus FGrHist 115 F113: Whenever the king visits any of his subjects twenty talents are spent on his dinner, sometimes thirty, in some cases more. For the dinner, like the tribute, has from ancient times been imposed on all cities in proportion to their size.

    Alexander, Plutarch Alexander 23: `As for delicacies, Alexander was so restrained in his appetite that often when the rarest fruits or fish were brought him from the sea coast, he would distribute them so generously among his companions that there would be nothing left for himself. His evening meal, however, was always a spendid affair, and so did his expenditure on hospitality until it reached the sum of ten thousand drachmae. At this point he fixed a limit and those who entertained Alexander were told that they must not exceed this sum.' cf. Diodorus Siculus 17.108,4

    Secondary material

    *J.Davidson, Courtesans... c.7-9

    David Lewis, `The King's Dinner' in Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg and Amélie Kuhrt edd. Achaemenid History Workshop II The Greek Sources (Leiden, 1987)

    Essay Titles for Term 1

    1. How does anthropology help us to understand food and drink in ancient Greece?

    Use bibliography for week 2. For the use of anthropology in other contexts see the articles with bibliography on `anthropology' and `anthropology and the Classics' in the third edition of The Oxford Classical Dictionary.

    J-P. Vernant, Mortals and Immortals (Princeton, 1991) intro. and c.17

    idem , Myth and Society in Ancient Greece (Bristol 1980)

    2. How important were banquets in the cementing of social relations in Greece?

    *Davidson, J. Courtesans and Fishcakes (London 1997)

    *O.Murray in J-P. Vernant ed. The Greeks

    *O. Murray ed., Sympotica (Oxford 1990)

    P.Schmitt-Pantel, La cité au banquet

    *J-P. Vernant et al., The cuisine of sacrifice

    3. What role is played by food and drink in Greek self-definition and the idea of the Other?

    Use bibliography for week 8

    4. What role is played by food in Greek religion?

    *W. Burkert, Homo Necans

    *idem, Greek religion

    *J-P. Vernant et al., The cuisine of sacrifice

    J-P. Vernant, Mortals and Immortals (Princeton, 1991) c.17

    5. What use can be made of archaeology and material artefacts in the study of food and drink?

    Use bibliography for week 3 +

    M. Jameson in O.Murray and S.Price edd. The Greek City from Homer to Alexander (Oxford, 1990)

    *Murray, O. Sympotica (Oxford 1990)

    François Lissarrague, The Aesthetics of the Greek Banquet (Princeton, 1990)

    © James Davidson 28.9.01