A significantly updated examination of public feasts in the Rome empire—now available in paper
On its initial publication, The Roman Community at Table during the Principate broke new ground with its approach to the integral place of feasting in ancient Roman culture and the unique power of food to unite and to separate its recipients along class lines throughout the Empire. John F. Donahue’s comprehensive examination of areas such as festal terminology, the social roles of benefactors and beneficiaries, the kinds of foods offered at feasts, and the role of public venues in community banquets draws on over three hundred Latin honorary inscriptions to recreate the ancient Roman feast. Illustrations depicting these inscriptions, as well as the food supply trades and various festal venues, bring important evidence to the study of this vital and enduring social practice. A touchstone for scholars, the work remains fresh and relevant.
This expanded edition of Donahue’s work includes significant new material on current trends in food studies, including the archaeology and bioarchaeology of ancient food and drink; an additional collection of inscriptions on public banquets from the Roman West; and an extensive bibliography of scholarship produced in the last ten years. It will be of interest not only to classicists and historians of the ancient world, but also to anthropologists and sociologists interested in food and social group dynamics.
John F. Donahue is Professor of Classical Studies at the College of William and Mary.
Praise for the hardcover edition:
“This book is indispensable both for ancient history and for food history. . . . Donahue offers fascinating reflections on public and private dining, doing for Roman politics what Pauline Schmitt did for the Greek polis. [He] brilliantly ties meal times into the practices of Rome’s Hellenistic predecessors and richly reflects the religious and cultural contexts of eating.”
—John Wilkins, University of Exeter
"First published in 2004, this volume shone an important light on Roman feasting practices (e.g. epulum, cena, convivium and prandium). With a sharp focus on inscriptions, Donahue was able to provide an insightful and well-argued exploration of banquets in the Roman west. The enthusiastic examination of the evidence, and the willingness to draw upon a wide pool of scholarship, made this an essential work for anyone approaching food and feasting in the ancient world." Anthony Smart, CJ-Online- Anthony Smart