Norman Douglas (1868-1952), Good-Bye to Western Culture: Some Footnotes on East and West
(New York: Harper & Brothers, 1930), pp. 112-114:
Or try Athenaeus, for a change. Another compilation! Open him where you please——
The Sybarites were not only luxurious; they were absurdly sensitive, and had such a dislike to work that the mere sight of manual labour, and even the mere thought of it, made them feel unwell. One day a citizen imprudently ventured outside the town walls, and there, to his horror, he saw a man ploughing a field. He felt as if "all the bones in his body were broken," but managed, nevertheless, to crawl back and consult a medical friend of his.
"Good God," said the doctor, "you—you saw a man working..."
The doctor had fainted away.
Athenaeus has many such tales and is always diverting, whether he discourses of eels or harlots or pigs' trotters or towels or turnips or grammar or perfumery or fishmongers or cheesecakes or flutes. I daresay he was personally a dull dog, a bookworm, a collector of scraps. It is fortunate that these scraps have survived. They give us glimpses into a state of refinement such as no longer exists. In that Alexandrian conglomerate is embedded the residue of civilization.
T.R. Glover (1869-1943), "The Gastronomers," in The Challenge of the Greek and Other Essays
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1942), pp. 131-154 (at 136, footnote omitted):
[O]ur knowledge of antiquity would have been much less, if among the 238 Greek MSS. brought to Cardinal Bessarion by Aurispa from Constantinople in 1423 there had not been the Gastronomers of Athenaeus. No one will call him a great man or a great writer, and many will wish he had thought of other matters than dishes and lexicography when he was quoting. But, as Sir Walter Scott once said, "the character of a nation is not to be learned from its fine folks"; and the curious picture of the ancient Greek world produced by this amazing massing of commonplace details has, with all the limitations of its author, a singular interest for any one to whom a people's life and mind are of importance.