The Web of Athenaeus

  Jacob, Christian. 2013. The Web of Athenaeus. Hellenic Studies Series 61. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

Chapter 8. Forms of Collection

There are words that allow one to obtain a view from above the labyrinth, to seize one of its principles of structural coherence. For example sunagōgē, which means “collection”. It is one of those keywords that invite one to unravel Ariadne’s thread in Athenaeus’ labyrinth. Indeed, not only does the activity of collection appear, it is one of its constitutive elements.

Collecting, gathering, and accumulating are essential gestures in Athenaeus’ universe. Larensius’ guests are a gathering of scholars that recalls the Museum of Alexandria. Larensius’ library, that prodigious collection of books, constitutes the horizon of the banquet. It is also the horizon of Athenaeus’ text, a text that is at the same time a compendium and a map of the library. The Deipnosophists contains collections of facts, of quotations, of texts, but also of words and of things. Athenaeus’ text is at the same time a symposium, a library, a collection of curiosities, and a lexicon.


[ back ] 1. On “assembling” a dinner party or a banquet, see also 4.143a; 5.186b, 187a, 187f, 211c 216f; 6.246c; 10.420e.