Courtesans & Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens (Paperback) - Common
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As any reader of the "Symposium" knows, the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates conversed over lavish banquets, kept watch on who was eating too much fish, and imbibed liberally without ever getting drunk. 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--poli...
abstention, as the story of the Centaurs reveals. Socrates sometimes gets close to that position, but he seems to have backed off from it, renouncing the world only when the hemlock gave him no other choice. Following Nietzsche, Foucault concluded from this that the pecul-arity of Greek morality lay in the freedom it granted citizens to make their own rules, a kind of DIY morality which today’s religious leaders so publicly abhor. The major constraints on this freedom were aesthetic, the life
off his entitlement to any who cared to see. One of the many beneficiaries of the pair’s riotous visitations was Chabrias of Aixone who was holding a banquet at Colias to celebrate his victory in the chariot-race at Delphi … And there while Phrynion was asleep and Neaera lay in a drunken stupor she was visited by a whole host of men, including the attendants who had served the meal. Apollodorus appends the statements of some other guests who happened to be present and who ‘noticed people getting
must make full use of the possibilities of discretion to avoid being seen as common prostitutes, while their enemies use all the language of the market-place to bring them back into line. Specifying is itself an issue in the sexual economy. If ancient men and modern scholars find it difficult to get a purchase on the hetaera this is not simply because the world of women is complicated. The hetaera goes to great lengths to avoid having herself and her relationships with men made explicit.
fragment of comic Plato, Bent-back gets a drachma, Bent-over three obols (half a drachma) and Racehorse the derma or skin, almost certainly a satire on a prostitute’s price range. Apart from the obvious possibility of obscene allusion, the skin of a sacrificed animal was the most valued prerogative and ‘racehorse’ certainly seems to have been the most expensive position. Bent-over, on the other hand is the cheapest kind of sex, often priced at three obols. It is found as a commodity in one of
peirōnta, the tempter, but also tēn peirōsan, the temptress. The comic poet Anaxilas in his play The Chick manages to get all the complexity of the hetaera’s strategy into a single metaphor, blending her notorious euphemistic language, her ballooning demands, the ambiguity of the gift and a sense of great danger in a version of the riddle famously answered by Oedipus: And all the whores can be labelled Theban Sphinx; nothing they babble is straightforward, but it’s all in riddles, of how they