Synopses & Reviews
Highly acclaimed on the other side of the Atlantic, Courtesans and Fishcakes is an illuminating reappraisal of vice and excess in the cradle of democracy
The lifestyle of the classical Greeks often seems disappointingly modest when compared to those of other legendary civilizations. Where are the marbled floors, the pillared halls, the gilded rooms? Even the Athenians, the richest and most powerful of the Greeks, were said by one contemporary to dress no better than slaves.
Athenians, however, were as skilled at spending as their playwrights were at devising tragedies.Vast estates vanished overnight, squandered not on material luxury but on eating, drinking, and sex, ephemeral pleasures that left no monuments but are recounted in numerous ancient texts.
Davidson masterfully unravels these texts, casting new light not only on ancient pleasures but on the Ancient World as a whole. Crammed with intriguing detail, Courtesans and Fishcakes takes swipes at the old scholarship (Freud, Nietzsche, Focault), lays the groundwork for the new, and delivers a fascinating and engagingly written study of the hedonism that ruled Athens.