Naucratis (/ˌæθəˈniːəs/; Ancient Greek:
Ἀθήναιος Nαυκρατίτης or Nαυκράτιος,
Athēnaios Naukratitēs or Naukratios; Latin:
was a Greek rhetorician and grammarian, flourishing about the end of
the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd century AD. The
Suda says only that
he lived in the times of Marcus Aurelius, but the contempt with which
he speaks of Commodus, who died in 192, shows that he survived that
emperor. He was a contemporary of Adrantus.
Several of his publications are lost, but the fifteen-volume
Deipnosophistae mostly survives.
1.1 The Deipnosophistae
3 First patents
4 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
Athenaeus himself states that he was the author of a treatise on the
thratta, a kind of fish mentioned by Archippus and other comic poets,
and of a history of the Syrian kings. Both works are lost.
The Deipnosophistes belongs to the literary tradition inspired by the
use of the Greek banquet. Banqueters playing
Kottabos while a musician
plays the Aulos, decorated by the artist 'Nicias'/'Nikias'
The Deipnosophistae, which means "dinner-table philosophers," survives
in fifteen books. The first two books, and parts of the third,
eleventh and fifteenth, are extant only in epitome, but otherwise the
work seems to be entire. It is an immense store-house of information,
chiefly on matters connected with dining, but also containing remarks
on music, songs, dances, games, courtesans, and luxury. Nearly 800
writers and 2500 separate works are referred to by Athenaeus; one of
his characters (not necessarily to be identified with the historical
author himself) boasts of having read 800 plays of Athenian Middle
Comedy alone. Were it not for Athenaeus, much valuable information
about the ancient world would be missing, and many ancient Greek
authors such as
Archestratus would be almost entirely unknown. Book
XIII, for example, is an important source for the study of sexuality
in classical and Hellenistic Greece, and a rare fragment of
Theognetus' work survives in 3.63.
Deipnosophistae professes to be an account given by an individual
Athenaeus to his friend Timocrates of a banquet held at the
house of Larensius (Λαρήνσιος; in Latin: Larensis), a wealthy
book-collector and patron of the arts. It is thus a dialogue within a
dialogue, after the manner of Plato, but the conversation extends to
enormous length. The topics for discussion generally arise from the
course of the dinner itself, but extend to literary and historical
matters of every description, including abstruse points of grammar.
The guests supposedly quote from memory. The actual sources of the
material preserved in the
Deipnosophistae remain obscure, but much of
it probably comes at second-hand from early scholars.
The twenty-four named guests include individuals called Galen and
Ulpian, but they are all probably fictitious personages, and the
majority take no part in the conversation. If the character
identical with the famous jurist, the
Deipnosophistae may have been
written after his death in 223; but the jurist was murdered by the
Praetorian Guard, whereas
Athenaeus dies a natural death.
The complete version of the text, with the gaps noted above, is
preserved in only one manuscript, conventionally referred to as A. The
epitomized version of the text is preserved in two manuscripts,
conventionally known as C and E. The standard edition of the text is
Kaibel's Teubner. The standard numbering is drawn largely from
The encyclopaedist and author
Sir Thomas Browne
Sir Thomas Browne wrote a short essay
upon Athenaeus which reflects a revived interest in the Banquet of
the Learned amongst scholars during the 17th century following its
publication in 1612 by the Classical scholar Isaac Casaubon.
One of Athenaeus' friends, Timocrates, wrote about the untimely death
Athenaeus in the Athenaeum. It describes the tale of angry peasants
who believed that Athenaeus' writings directly contradicted their
personal beliefs of the
Mithras cult. One night in 191 A.D., they
kidnapped him and threatened to kill him if he did not stop writing.
When they discovered that he continued writing the Deipnosophistae,
twenty-three men stormed into his home and strangled him to death. It
is unclear whether
Athenaeus finished his work on his own or
Timocrates finished it for him, as most of the Athenaeum is lost.
Athenaeus described what may be considered the first patents (i.e.
exclusive right granted by a government to an inventor to practice
his/her invention in exchange for disclosure of the invention). He
mentions that in 500 BC, in the Greek city of
Sybaris (located in what
is now southern Italy), there were annual culinary competitions. The
victor was given the exclusive right to prepare his dish for one
Swallow song of Rhodes
^ Smith, William (1867), "Adrantus", in Smith, William, Dictionary of
Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1, Boston, p. 20
^ Kaibel, Georg (1890). Athenaei Naucratitae Dipnosophistarum Libri
XV, Vol. 3. Leipzig: Teubner. pp. 561–564.
^ Sir Thomas Browne, From a Reading of Athenaeus
^ "Athenaeus." LacusCurtius •. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.
^ M. Frumkin, "The Origin of Patents", Journal of the
Society, March 1945, Vol. XXVII, No. 3, pp 143 et Seq.
David Braund and John Wilkins (eds.),
Athenaeus and his world: reading
Greek culture in the Roman Empire, Exeter: University of Exeter Press,
2000. ISBN 0-85989-661-7.
Christian Jacob, The Web of Athenaeus, (Hellenic studies, 61),
Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies at Harvard University,
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Athenaeus
Athenaeus Project - University of Leipzig
Athenaeus - Casaubon-Kaibel reference converter
Works by Athenæus at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about
Athenaeus at Internet Archive
LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
The Deipnosophists, translated by C. D. Yonge, at The Literature
The Deipnosophists, long excerpts in searchable HTML format, at
The Deipnosophists, translated up to Book 9 with links to complete
Greek original, at LacusCurtius
The Deipnosophists, open source XML version by the University of
Leipzig, at Open Greek & Latin Project
ISNI: 0000 0001 2103 3635
BNF: cb12155359b (data)