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Saints and Symposiasts
The Literature of Food and the Symposium in Greco-Roman and Early Christian Culture

$129.00 (C)

Part of Greek Culture in the Roman World

  • Date Published: October 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521886857

$ 129.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Greek traditions of writing about food and the symposium had a long and rich afterlife in the first to fifth centuries CE, in both Greco-Roman and early Christian culture. This book provides an account of the history of the table-talk tradition, derived from Plato's Symposium and other classical texts, focusing among other writers on Plutarch, Athenaeus, Methodius and Macrobius. It also deals with the representation of transgressive, degraded, eccentric types of eating and drinking in Greco-Roman and early Christian prose narrative texts, focusing especially on the Letters of Alciphron, the Greek and Roman novels, especially Apuleius, the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles and the early saints' lives. It argues that writing about consumption and conversation continued to matter: these works communicated distinctive ideas about how to talk and how to think, distinctive models of the relationship between past and present, distinctive and often destabilising visions of identity and holiness.

    • Extends our understanding of the symposium beyond the Archaic and Classical periods
    • Discusses the Greco-Roman and early Christian literature of the Roman Empire side by side
    • Provides a cultural-historical approach to the literary material discussed, setting it against the background of the social history of dining in the Roman Empire
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "König’s Saints and Symposiasts is very rich and complex … The work is extremely well documented, very current in its scholarship, and quite carefully composed. An impressive range of primary sources and modern scholarship is marshaled and the topic is analyzed in great breadth and depth. … this is a wonderful book which should be able to spark interest in a neglected genre of Roman literature as well as provide much food for thought for modern symposiasts."
    Bryn Mawr Classical Review

    "This valuable work brings together the Greco-Roman symposium, the literary forms that engaged with it, early Christian engagements and Christian debate in later antiquity over reuses of pagan forms or rejection of earlier luxurious ways. This excellent volume sets the "social knowledge" of Athenaeus and Plutarch (matched with the inscriptions of the Greek cities of Asia Minor) against the purity and separateness of some early Christian thought; it richly explores "talking with the dead" in pagan and Christian contexts (the great Greek past of Plato and Aristotle in Galen and Tertullian). Unmissable."
    John Wilkins, The Journal of Roman Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2012
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521886857
    • length: 430 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 157 x 28 mm
    • weight: 0.77kg
    • contains: 9 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Conversation and Community:
    1. Locating the symposium
    2. Voice and community in sympotic literature
    3. Plutarch
    4. Athenaeus
    5. Early Christian commensality and the literary symposium
    6. Methodius
    7. Sympotic culture and sympotic literature in Late Antiquity
    8. Macrobius
    Part II. Consumption and Transgression:
    9. Philosophers and parasites
    10. Food and the symposium in the Greek and Latin novels
    11. Food and fasting in the Apocryphal Acts
    12. Food and fasting in early Christian hagiography

  • Author

    Jason König, University of St Andrews, Scotland
    Jason König is a Senior Lecturer in Greek at the University of St Andrews. He is the author of Athletics and Literature in the Roman Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and Greek Literature in the Roman Empire (2009). He has also edited Ordering Knowledge in the Roman Empire (with Tim Whitmarsh, Cambridge University Press, 2007) and Greek Athletics (2010).

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