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date: 17 September 2019


  • Warren Anderson
  • , revised by Thomas J. Mathiesen


(b Naucratis, Egypt; flc200 ce). Greek grammarian and encyclopedist. He settled in Rome at the beginning of the 3rd century ce. None of his works has survived except the Deipnosophistai, a vast compendium in 15 extant books, probably written after 192 ce. Its generic form is that of the literary symposium; as a species, it deals with antiquarian lore rather than such ‘higher themes’ as philosophy. Its main topic is food; the mock-academic title, often translated as ‘The Sophists at Dinner’, properly describes specialists whose learning centres tirelessly upon the joys of the kitchen. The work is not, however, a cookery book.

Many characters engage in this marathon after-dinner conversation; they include representatives of every profession thought to be consequential, among them musicians, both professional and amateur. It has been rightly noted that the diverse themes are related to the banquet itself with but indifferent success. The unified structure of Plato's ...

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