Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome

By Amy Richlin | Go to book overview

12
The Edible Woman: Athenaeus's Concept of the Pornographic

Madeleine M. Henry

Now she had a blank white body. It looked slightly obscene, lying there soft and sugary and featureless on the platter. She set about clothing it, filling the cake- decorator with bright pink icing. . . . Her creation gazed up at her, its face doll- like and vacant except for the small silver glitter of intelligence in each green eye. While making it she had been almost gleeful, but now, contemplating it, she was pensive. All that work had gone into the lady and now what would happen to her?

"You look delicious," she told her. "Very appetizing. And that's what will happen to you; that's what you get for being food."

-- Margaret Atwood, The Edible Woman ( 1983)

Athenaeus the rhetorician ( Athenaeus sophistês) is an author more often consulted than read. His extravagant work Sophists at Dinner discusses the minutiae of the classical symposium (drinking party) in nearly unreadable detail, giving recommendations for correct arrangement (taxis). In the last 150 years, almost no attention has been paid to investigating Athenaeus's thought, with the exception of Barry Baldwin, who considers that Athenaeus's intent was at least partly satirical. 1 While other scholars have acknowledged Athenaeus's contribution to our knowledge of the lost texts of classical Greek comedy and to cookery and other Realien, they generally have failed to find any unity of thought in his work. Gulick, the Loeb Library editor- translator through whom most readers of English come to know the Deipnosophistae, does little more than apologize for the object of his scholarly labor, claiming that the work is too long and that its author's powers can't sustain it (I, x, xii); he also holds that Athenaeus did not appreciate the literary merits of the works he quotes (I, xv). His remarks largely echo and rephrase the remarks of other classical scholars of the last two centuries. 2 Nor has Athenaeus fared better under the scrutiny of nonclassicists. Michel Foucault, one of the most provocative and

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Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Time Line of Events, Sources, and Persons Discussed xxiv
  • 1: Pornography and Persuasion on Attic Pottery 3
  • Notes 34
  • 2: Tragedy and the Politics of Containment 36
  • Notes 51
  • 3: Eros in Love: Pederasty and Pornography in Greece 53
  • Notes 72
  • 4: The Mute Nude Female Characters in Aristophanes' Plays 73
  • Notes 88
  • Appendix Texts Relating to the Writers of Sexual Handbooks 108
  • Notes 109
  • 6: The Body Female and the Body Politic: Livy's Lucretia and Verginia 112
  • Notes 129
  • 7: The Domestication of Desire: Ovid's Parva Tabella and the Theater of Love 131
  • Notes 155
  • Notes 158
  • Notes 178
  • Notes 179
  • 9: Death as Decoration: Scenes from the Arena on Roman Domestic Mosaics 180
  • Notes 208
  • 10: Callirhoe 212
  • 11: Sweet and Pleasant Passion: Female and Male Fantasy in Ancient Romance Novels 231
  • Notes 249
  • 12: The Edible Woman: Athenaeus's Concept of the Pornographic 250
  • Conclusion 266
  • Notes 269
  • Notes 269
  • Notes 283
  • Bibliography 285
  • Contributors 313
  • Index 315
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