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Athenaios ( Greek Ἀθήναιος Ναυκράτιος Athḗnaios Naukrátios , Latin Athenaeus Naucratita , rarely Naucratitus ) was a Greek poikilographer from Naukratis in Egypt . Athenaios worked during the rule of the Severan emperors (193 to 235) and initially lived in Alexandria , later in the capital Rome .


Deipnosophistae , 1535

Athenaios is said to have written a work On the Syrian kings that has not survived ( The Fragments of Greek Historians No. 166), as well as other now lost treatises to which he himself repeatedly refers. His main work, however, are the Deipnosophistai (Greek Δειπνοσοφισταί ; German Banquet of the Scholars ) in originally 30 books, which are shortened to 15 in the tradition, of which the first three have only survived in excerpts. Following the literary model of Plato's symposium , Athenaios reports to his friend Timocrates about his participation in a meal that lasted several days in Rome. The host Publius Livius Larensis and his total of 29 guests discuss ancient Greek manners and customs, everyday life , political history, contemporary art (including Attic comedy) and science, but less philosophy , which Athenaios is not very fond of was. More than 700 ancient authors are cited, most of them would otherwise be unknown without the citation from Athenaeus. It is not always clear, however, whether Athenaeus read the relevant works himself or whether he partly drew from intermediate sources. In any case, the collection of quotations is of great value precisely because of the loss of many of these works.

Some of the participants in the banquet are based on real personalities, such as the host. Fictional elements play a role in other people. The criticism of Emperor Commodus (180 to 192) expressed in the work suggests that the work was written soon after 193.

The tradition is based primarily on a codex brought to Italy from Constantinople in 1423. In 1514 Aldus Manutius published an edition edited by Marcus Musurus, which in 2012 achieved a sales price of 45,000 Swiss francs.

The standard edition of the text is that published by Georg Kaibel . When citing, the page numbering going back to the edition of Isaac Casaubon is mostly used, which is supplemented by a section counting using lowercase letters. The full text is preserved in only one manuscript (A), the excerpts are preserved in two manuscripts (C and E).



Web links

Wikisource: Athenaios  - Sources and full texts


  1. Cf. introductory Ewen Bowie: Athenaios [3]. In: The New Pauly . Vol. 2 (1997), col. 196-199.
  2. ^ Antiquariat Hellmut Schumann Zurich: Fine and rare books catalog 600, pp. 8–9.