Athenaeus (1), of Naucratis, author of Δειπνοσοφισταί, fl. c. 200 CE

Walter Manoel Edwards, Robert Browning and Nigel Wilson

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics

Published online December 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI:

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Athenaeus (1) (fl. c. 200 ce), of *Naucratis in Egypt. His only extant work, Δειπνοσοφισταί (‘The Learned Banquet’), was probably completed in the years immediately following the death of *Commodus in 192 ce; other chronological inferences are uncertain. It belongs to the polyhistoric variety of the symposium form (see symposium literature), practised earlier by *Aristoxenus and *Didymus (1). It is now in fifteen books (originally perhaps 30); there is also an Epitome, which covers existing gaps. At the ‘banquet’, 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 (CIL 6. 212). The sympotic framework, if not devoid of humour and (sometimes heavy-handed) characterization, is subordinate in interest to the collections of excerpts which are introduced into it. These relate to all the materials and accompaniments of convivial occasions; they are drawn from a vast number of authors, especially of the Middle and New *Comedy, whose works are now lost; they are valuable both as literature and as illustrating earlier Greek manners.

Article.  405 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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