Mageiros sofistis: The Learned Cook in Athenaeus' Deipnosophistai


  • Magdalena Stuligrosz Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland



cook, philosopher, parody, Athenaeus, Epicurus, Middle and New Comedy, culinary art, sophist, quadrivium, canon of sciences


Mageiros sofistis: The Learned Cook in Athenaeus' Deipnosophistai

Within the category of “cultural humour” applied by Athenaeus in his Deipnosophistai, a special place is assigned to the speeches of stock mageiroi, who seek to obtain theoretical knowledge in various disciplines and to apply it to culinary art. By drawing on fragments from Middle and New Comedy of the 4th century BC, Athenaeus creates a specific “canon” of sciences and of “high” arts, which the cook, who pretends to the title of a sage or a philosopher, has to study, consisting of philosophy, geometry, arithmetic, medicine, music, astronomy, architecture and military strategy. The way the author of Deipnosophistai casts the mageiros as an intellectual can be read as a play on the definition of a sophist. The learned cook, who appears to be a product of the sophistic model of education, based on the mathematical quadrivium introduced by Plato, resembles Athenaeus’ characters, who practice some of the very same disciplines he has studied.


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How to Cite

Stuligrosz, M. “Mageiros Sofistis: The Learned Cook in Athenaeus’ Deipnosophistai”. Classica Cracoviensia, vol. 18, Sept. 2015, pp. 363-76, doi:10.12797/CC.18.2015.18.21.