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Athenaeus

(fl. c. 200)


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(fl. c.ad 200),

of Naucratis. His only extant work, Deipnosophists (‘Doctors at Dinner’), was probably completed soon after the death of Commodus in 192. It belongs to the learned variety of the symposium form (see symposium literature). It is now in fifteen books; there is also an Epitome, which covers existing gaps. At the dinner, which extends over several days, philosophy, literature, law, medicine, and other interests are represented by a large number of guests, who in some cases bear historical names (most notably Galen); a Cynic philosopher is introduced as a foil. The Roman host, Larensis, probably the author's patron, is attested epigraphically. The sympotic framework, if not devoid of occasional humour, is subordinate in interest to the collections of excerpts which are introduced into it. They relate to all the materials and accompaniments of convivial occasions; they are drawn from a vast number of authors, esp. of the Middle and New Comedy, whose works are now lost; they are valuable both as literature and as illustrating earlier Greek manners. Athenaeus cites some 1,250 authors, gives the titles of more than 1,000 plays, and quotes more than 10,000 lines of verse.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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