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.
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; Conclusion.