Non-Fiction Books:

The Loaded Table

Representations of Food in Roman Literature


Paperback / softback

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The Loaded Table by Emily Gowers
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This book offers a novel and unconventional approach to Roman culture through food as it is represented in literature. Although food is not generally thought of as the noblest of literary subjects - and this view is a legacy from the Romans - it is curious that Roman writers chose so persistantly to depict their society at the dinner table. Why this was so, and what effect the inclusion of food had on the status of the literary texts that contained it, are among the questions discussed. The author also looks into many of the problems that arise when a material subject is translated into words, and interprets afresh many Latin texts, such as comedy, satire, epigrams, letters and iambics, that have been unjustly undervalued. She reaches the conclusion that, while often regarded as something trivial and gross, food was in fact one of the most suggestive images for Roman civilisation. 'a feast in every sense' Joint Association of Classical Teachers Review; 'clever and elegantly written book...revealing the multi-valent significance of food in the works of various Roman authors' Religious Studies Review; 'In exploring the many possibilities for artifice in the relationship between language, literature and eating, this impressive book is itself an elegant, cross-cultural construction' Classical Review; 'The persistence and ingenuity with which she seeks out underlying meanings, symbolisms,"codes", and all suchlike phenomena in her chosen texts is admirable. ..and her own writing is clear and sometimes witty' PPC; 'The book lives up to its promise of offering new interpretations of food in Roman literature...G's well-researched and wide-ranging bibliography (a major strength of this book) shows just how much work has been done on the cultural significance of food in general and on food in antiquity in particular' Journal of Roman Studies.
Release date NZ
December 1st, 1996
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Clarendon Press
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