Therapeutic Tables and Healthy Tables: Platonic Texts in Dialogue with Hippocratic and Gastronomic Literature

Carmen Soares


The focus of this paper concerns two domains
of daily life related to the care of the body (ἡ τοῦ σώματος
θεραπεία) – cooking and medicine – both sharing a
common field of intervention: food. The main goal of the
inquiry is to identify points of convergence and disruption
concerning those technai in a comparative study of selected
passages of the Platonic dialogues and its contemporary
Hippocratic treatises and gastronomic literature. The On
Ancient Medicine presents the key for our analysis, by
establishing that the founding principle of medicine as
techne is to conceive the patient’s diet (ἡ τῶν καμνόντων
δίαιτα) as a different diet from the healthy people’s diet (ἡ
τῶν ὑγιαινόντων δίαιτα). Based on that distinction, we
approach the perception of the several nuances of meaning
assumed in distinct literary, sociological and theoretical
contexts by both dietetic models (which we accordingly
named “therapeutic table” and “healthy table”). The study
proceeds through the analysis of passages from the following texts: Plato’s Gorgias, Protagoras, Alcibiades and Ion;
Hippocratic On Ancient Medicine, On Affections, Aphorisms
and On Regimen; Archestratus’ Hedypatheia; Culinary
Books from the IV and III BC.


Plato; Corpus Hippocraticum; cooking; medicine; philosophy


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