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The Web of Athenaeus

The Web of Athenaeus

Christian Jacob

Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Johnson
Translated by Arietta Papaconstantinou

ISBN 9780674073289

Publication date: 05/27/2013

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.

    —D. Konstan, Choice


  • Christian Jacob is a Faculty Member, Anthropologie et histoire des mondes antiques, at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris.
  • Arietta Papaconstantinou is a Reader in Ancient History in the Department of Classics at the University of Reading.
  • Scott Fitzgerald Johnson is Dumbarton Oaks Teaching Fellow in Postclassical and Byzantine Greek in the Classics Department at Georgetown University.

Book Details

  • 150 pages
  • 0-9/16 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Center for Hellenic Studies