In this course we will look at ancient Greek eating habits, sacrificial customs, and dietary restrictions in relation to heir religious and philosophical beliefs. Which animals were killed and eaten, which not--and which kinds or parts of animals were especially significant for religious purposes? What vegetables and fruits were sacred or specially valued? How were foods to be cooked, for religious or non-religious purposes? Which foods were forbidden? Why? What was the relationship between medicine and religion in the realm of diet and food-preparation? What kinds of mythical narratives were told to "explain" Greek eating habits and sacrificial practices? How healthy and sustainable was the classical Greek diet? And why did certain religious/philosophical sects advocate vegetarianism?
We will read short excerpts from major Greek authors (all in English translation), including Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus, Hippocrates, Plato, Plutarch, Porphyry; and we'll look at some visual material (vase paintings, archaeological remains, etc.). We'll also look at other ancient Near Eastern societies for comparison.