In The Web of Athenaeus, Christian Jacob produces a completely fresh and unique reading of Athenaeus’s Sophists at Dinner (ca. 200 ce). Jacob provides the reader with a map and a compass to navigate the unfathomable number of intersecting paths in this enormous work: the books, the quotations, the diners, the dishes served, and—above all—the wordplay, all within the simulacrum of an ancient Greek library. A text long mined merely for its testimonies to lost classical poets, the Sophists at Dinner has now received a full literary re-imagining by Jacob, who connects the world of Hellenistic erudition with its legacy among Hellenized Romans. The Web of Athenaeus simultaneously offers a literary history of the rarest and finest of Greek culture along with a creative anthropology of a Roman imperial world obsessed with the Greek past.
Jacob surveys Athenaeus’s characters and themes; the role of libraries and Athenaeus’s relation to the past; the intersection of Greek symposium with Roman dinner party; how people read; why they were so passionate about words, many of them obsolete or arcane; what such a work might have meant to the original readership; and how the whole farrago hangs together…The book is a welcome introduction to a type of literature that has had a great influence.
- 150 pages
- 6 x 9 inches
- Center for Hellenic Studies
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