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Lecture 8: Food and Difference: Other Peoples


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?