Buy Used
$6.99
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by TheBookendShop
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Eligible for FREE Super Saving Shipping! Fast Amazon shipping plus a hassle free return policy mean your satisfaction is guaranteed! Tracking number provided with every order. Book has been read, but remains in great condition. Slight wear on edges and covers; otherwise item is in very good condition. Recycle a Book!
Add to Cart
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens Paperback – July 7, 1999


See all 13 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback, July 7, 1999
$9.91 $0.19
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Image
Looking for the Audiobook Edition?
Tell us that you'd like this title to be produced as an audiobook, and we'll alert our colleagues at Audible.com. If you are the author or rights holder, let Audible help you produce the audiobook: Learn more at ACX.com.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (July 7, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060977663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060977665
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #386,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Desire is a dangerous thing, and the relationship between the citizens of ancient Athens and their desires was a complex and troubled one. James Davidson's Courtesans and Fishcakes is a brilliant and kaleidoscopic examination of daily life in classical Athens, and the life he reveals is simultaneously more alien and more familiar than we might have imagined. From fish-guzzling gourmands to the ambiguous eroticism of vase paintings, the cradle of Western culture is artfully, and frequently amusingly, anatomized. Davidson believes that many historians, under the influence of Foucault, are guilty of imposing modern views of desire, and particularly sexuality, on Greek culture, resulting in a simplistic interpretation of what was an extremely complicated issue. He refutes the prevailing opinion that sex in Athens was a simple binary opposition of penetrator and penetrated, drawing on a remarkable number of sources to show how sexuality was a slippery commodity rooted in intricate social negotiations, a characteristic shared with many other objects of desire, from eels to undiluted wine. Davidson sometimes assumes a little too much knowledge on the part of his audience--some basic information about the size of the Athenian population would have been helpful--but in spite of this Courtesans and Fishcakes is both accessible and provocative, offering a fascinating portrait of the private and public lives of ancient Athenians. --Simon Leake --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

British historian Davidson takes us inside classical Greece's brothels, bedrooms, drinking parties and banquets in this rarefied scholarly inquiry. His aim is not merely to depict Athenians as pleasure seekers but to overturn the current notion, purveyed by Michel Foucault and others, that Athens was a "phallocratic" society permeated with an ethos of penetration and domination, a homosexual-leaning culture polarized between adult male citizens and all others?slaves, women, boys, foreigners. He largely succeeds on all counts, bringing to convivial life a predominantly heterosexual society where classes mingled easily; cultured courtesans bedded leading figures like Pericles and Alcibiades; and wives participated fully in sexual pleasures. Drawing on ancient treatises, pamphlets, comic plays, poems and speeches, Davidson investigates the classical Greeks' indulgences, including their mania for eating fish?a luxury viewed as hedonistic?and their tolerance for booze and sex (though sex addicts were considered to have a lower capacity to resist the natural pleasures). His intriguing study serves up a banquet of arcane lore. Illustrations.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
5 star
14
4 star
5
3 star
6
2 star
1
1 star
0
See all 26 customer reviews
An extraordinary book offering amazing insights.
Andrew M. Klein
After reading this book I am never going to look at radishes in the same way again.
The Emperor
This is about the best book I have ever read about classical antiquity.
Richard R. Wilk

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Richard R. Wilk on October 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is about the best book I have ever read about classical antiquity. Davidson focusses on consumption habits, and the morality of eating, drinking, and sex. It is both very revealing about the lives of the Greeks, and an absolutely key step in understanding the origins of modern styles of consumer culture. This is by far the most theoretically sophisticated thing written about consumption in prehistory - Davidson brings some of the best of modern consumption theory to bear, but never in a pedantic way. The text remains lively, fun, and enlightening.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John F Gilks on April 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
While I would grant that this is a scholarly work by a serious historian I found it an engaging read and quite fascinating. It is one of the few books I have read that really helps one get into the mindset (mentalite) of another civilization, far distant in time and space. I don't think one needs an encyclopaedic knowledge of ancient Greece to appreciate this book but some exposure to other studies of mentalites might be helpful.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Andrew M. Klein on April 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
A marvelously written, intricate weave from an incredible array of sources that illuminates the significance of Greek appetites (especially for fish -- yes, fish -- and for sex, in multiple forms and layers) and attitudes toward them, and thus, on the way, as it were, what was regarded as virtuous, that the author convincingly shows were central to social, philosophical and poltical life in classical Athens. An extraordinary book offering amazing insights. One awaits the next set of revelations, if there are more to be delivered to us, by Mr. Davidson, with something resembling opsophagia. A tour de force!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 28, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Although I think that the general reader may find some difficulty with the use of transcribed Greek words, the writing is both intelligent,articulate and amusing.
Davidson has delved into some of the lesser known aspects of Classical Athens, although perhaps has ignored the (already well documented) enthusiasms for theatre, war & politics that also engrossed the Greeks This gives the impression that all the Greeks were interested in was fish, wine and sex. Obviously, he has wanted to create an interesting and sale-able book, but no reader should forget that, as in the modern world, such pursuits formed only a part of most people's lives or indeed of the lives of a small section of society. And, as today, they are by far the most interesting things to read and write about, but they are only a part of the whole.
His arguments provide a neat counterbalance to the rather one-sided products of recent years. I could detect quite a few axes being ground, quietly, in the background against many of his scholarly contemporaries. Such disputes are always gratifying to the non-combatants.
I would recommend the book to any reader interested in a wider appreciation of Ancient Greek society or just for an amusing read.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ricky Hunter on November 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
James Davidson's Courtesans and Fishcakes is a marvelously complex book that is at times fun, at times dull, but always filled with new insights strung through as pearls in the verbiage. The book is not as accessible as it is claimed by some to be. I have a bit of background in classical studies and I needed every scrape of it to plow through this book. The historical framework necessary to understand what the Athenians were passionate about was never given and would have been a help for the non-classical studies buff. In the end, this book is definately worth the ride and the reader will appreciate the struggle. A very intelligent book that requires much from the reader but will also deliver even more back.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
A book that can take preconceived notions of history, stand them on their heads, and at the same time open up new areas for further research by professional historians while entertaining lay readers is a necessary book. "Courtesans and Fishcakes" is a witty, rational, eminently readable social history of ancient Athens. You won't ever be sorry you read it.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Former Naval Person on July 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a most welcome addition to my Ancient History bookshelf, and while a knowledge of Athenian history lets you get the most out of this book, those without any background in the subject may find that Davidson will prompt them to dig further into the lives and times of a most intriguing people. I found myself thinking "Aha!" more than once as some facets of Athenian culture were put more firmly into place for me, and the rich fullness of Athenian life put on display.
Granted this is not the most entertaining 'read', but neither is it a dry scholarly tome. Some tables (regarding currency and what it would buy, for example) would have been nice to make some comparisons easier, but that is a minor matter. Any student of Greek drama or history should find this book invaluable in gaining a deeper understanding of their coursework, not to mention the fun to be had in throwing references from this admirable book in to jazz up your next paper.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
With a elegant style, this book modified my view about some aspects of private life and habits of the ancient Athenians. Davidson goes direct to the point without much philosophical considerations. I strongly recommend it.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?