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Dipnosophistarum [Le Banquet des Savants],

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Athénée, Dipnosophistarum, 1556.

« This Banquet must find its place in a food lover’s library » (Vicaire).

First Latin version of the famous Savants Banquet, a genuine encyclopedia of Greek texts
and renowned treaty on Greek gastronomy, preserved in its contemporary limp vellum.

Venice, 1556.


Athénée. Dipnosophistarum sive Coenae sapientum Libri XV. Natale de Comitibus veneto nunc primum e Graeca in Latinam linguam vertente…
Venise, Arrivabenus, 1556.

Folio [300 x 208 mm] of (6) ll., 288 pp. and (6) ll. of index.Limp vellum, handwritten title on spine, marginal waterstains. Contemporary binding.

First Latin translation of Athenaeus’s famous “Savants Banquet”, “a genuine encyclopedia of Greek texts and renowned treaty on Greek gastronomy”.The first edition of this work was published in Venice, by Alde, in 1514.
Vicaire, 50-52 ; Adams, A 2098 ;  Oberlé, p.21 ; K. Mengis, Die scriffistellerische Technik im Sophistenmahl des Athenaios, Paderborn, 1920 ; Ch. B. Gulick, Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists, London, Cambridge (Mass.), 1927-1941.

“The guest’s digressions reveal all of ancient Greek’s society”
(G. Oberlé).

“This Banquet must find its place in a food lover’s library. Athenaeus broaches a number of topics having to do with gastronomy. The names of the most famous food lovers and chefs are mentioned ; the virtues and qualities of vegetables, fish and animals make up broad dissertations, as do discussions on wines and proper etiquette during meals and parties” (Vicaire).

Noël Conti was the first who undertook the difficult task of translating this fundamental work of Greek civilization into Latin. That same year, in Paris and Lyon, that same Latin version was published in 8vo format.

“The Savants Banquet” can be linked back to the symposia tradition, illustrated by Plato’s “Banquet” and which Xenophon carried on with his “Banquet”. A grammarian born in Egypt under Marcus Aurelius, Athenaeus was still alive under Alexander Severus in 228 CE. The author has left us an important work, a genuine treasure of knowledge. His compilation is all the more precious because most of the texts he mentions have disappeared. It is an encyclopedia of Ancient Greece, rich, diverse, astonishing. Grammarians, philosophers, doctors, musicians are all invited to a banquet at the beautiful house of the Roman Larensis. The guests talk about the customs of the banquet, the dishes, the drinks, the utensils, the courtesans and the ephebes, the dances, the music and are always making references to literary and savant texts.

“The Savants Banquet” is a genuine treaty on gastronomy but is also a fundamental source relating to a large number of lost ancient works. It contains 800 extracts of plays, quotes from 1500 works and more than 700 authors of Ancient times.

“This text contains a large number of fragments and information allowing us to get a general idea of the considerable literary and scientific production of the time, of which we would know nothing about or would only have a vague idea, such as a simple list of titles and names. This is a treasure trove for our knowledge of the social and cultural spheres that played such an important part in Greek civilization : the sphere of pleasure, whether of a fine meal, wines, eros, music. It also gives us insight on the symposium itself, its poetic genres, rules of verbal engagement, its hedonist concept of culture and knowledge. Athenaeus gives us important material, not only for the study of Greek language and literature, but also for the study of archeology, of ancient religions and civilizations and natural history” (A. Lukinovich).

Rabelais, in Pantagruel and Gargantua, quotes Athenaeus and draws inspiration on the Dipnosophistarum when writing his “burlesque banquets”. “The parodic freedom, the guest’s garrulousness, their poetic creativity are topical of Rabelais’ Banquet. The food lovers are also great talkers and the great talkers are philologists in love with language who fill up on words as well as dishes. The savants present at Athenaeus’ table are interested in words ; their bulimia of knowledge goes hand in hand with an active philological curiosity” (M. Jeanneret).

A precious and beautiful copy preserved in its contemporary limp vellum.



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