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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Deipnosophistae


published in Vol. IV
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

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(Vol. IV) Athenaeus

Book IX
(Part 2 of 5)

 p205  (376c) Once a shoat was brought in for us, one half of which had been carefully prepared as a roast, while the other half was as soft as though it had been boiled in water, and all of us admired the skill of the chef. He, with great pride in his art, said: "But, let me tell you, not one of you can show where his throat was cut, or how his belly has been stuffed with all sorts of goodies. For he has thrushes inside him, as well as other small birds; portions of pork paunches, cuts from the matrix, yolks of eggs, and also bird's 'bellies, matrix and all, and full of lovely sauces';​1 also the stuffing of meats grated into fine bits and concocted with pepper; I describe it thus because 'I am ashamed to mention'​2 hash​3 before Ulpian, although I know that he likes to eat it. Yet my own authority, Paxamus, mentions​4 hash,​5 and I don't bother about Attic usage. Do you, then, show me how the pig's throat was cut, and how it comes to be roasted on one half but boiled on the other." While, therefore, we were still trying to find out, the chef continued: "Do you really think that I am less well trained than the famous cooks of  p207 old mentioned by the comic poets? Take Poseidippus, for example, in Dancing-girls.​5 There a cook has these words to say to his pupils: 'My pupil Leucon, and all you fellow-assistants! Every place is suitable for talking about one's profession; of all possible seasonings, effrontery​6 is best in the art of cookery. In fact in all the arts you will see this generally taking the lead. Here, for example, is a captain of free lances, who wears a coat of mail with scale armour, or carries a dragon-standard wrought in iron; he seemed a Briareos, but if it comes to an issue, he is a hare. Now if the cook enters with a train of underlings and pupils into the house of a common citizen, and calls everybody a skinflint or starveling, everyone soon cowers before him. But if you show yourself merely as you are, you will find yourself thoroughly trimmed when you depart. To repeat, then, what I admonished you, let yourself go in boastful pretence, and study the mouths of the guests. It's like steering into the harbour of a great market; this is the finishing touch to our art,​7 if you can run safely into the harbour's mouth. To‑day we are serving a wedding-feast; the animal to be slaughtered is an ox. The father of the bride is distinguished, distinguished too is the groom. The women of this company are priestesses to goddess and to god; there will be drunken revellers, pipes playing, all-night vigils, a riot. This is the course your cook's art must run. So remember  p209 that! And concerning another cook (his and is Seuthes), the same poet says:​8 'Seuthes is just a big private soldier in their eyes? Don't you know, my friend, that he is evidently not a whit different from a good general? The enemy are upon him; the general of profound genius stands his ground and receives the attack. The whole drinking rabble is his foe. It moves its forces on in a body; it has entered after waiting for fifteen days in expectation of the dinner; it is full of desire, all aflame, waiting for the moment when things will be brought within its reach. Study with care the massed surge of a mob like that.'

D"Listen now to the advice given by the cook in Euphron's Comrades:​9 'Whenever you serve members of a club, Carion, you must not play any tricks or do the things which you have learned. Yesterday you took too many risks; there wasn't a single goby, in fact, that had a liver in it; they were all empty. The calf's brains were purloined.​10 No, Carion, when you go to serve that kind of rabble, a Dromon or a Cerdon, or a Soterides,​11 who pay you all that you demand, you've got to be unqualifiedly honest; but where we are going to‑day to prepare the wedding-feast, you must be blood-thirsty. If you get my idea, you are my true disciple and no mean cook. Our opportunity is just what we prayed for. Help yourself! The old gentleman is a miser, your pay is small. If I catch you to‑day failing to eat up everything,  p211 even to the coals, you are a dead man. March in! For here comes the old man himself. And what a stingy look he has, too!'

F"A mighty sophist, too, and one not to be beaten even by physicians in boastfulness, is the cook who appears in The False Accuser of Sosipater​12 saying: 'A. This profession of ours is not to be altogether despised if you study it carefully, Demylus; but to‑day the business is washed out,​13 and they all say they are cooks when they know nothing about it. Through such persons our profession loses its reputation. For, once you get a genuine cook, rightly inducted from childhood into the business, one who grasps the possibilities of the profession and knows all the subjects of our curriculum from a to z, the business will perhaps take on a quite different appearance in your eyes. There are only three of us left to‑day, Boidion, Chariades, and myself. You may snap your fingers at the rest. DEM. You mean it? A. I? I tell you that we alone preserve the school of Sicon. He was the founder of the art. He taught us, first, to practise astrology; to follow that up immediately by architecture. He had by heart all the treatises on nature. Capping it all, he used to say, came the science of strategy. Before we studied the art itself he was eager that we should learn these subjects. DEM. You're like to tire me out, dear friend, aren't you? A. No, but while my slave is coming up  p213 from market, I'm going to put you through a little examination on the business, that we may seize a guy opportunity for talking. DEM. Heavens, this is getting tiresome! A. Listen, good sir. The cook must know, first and foremost, all about the heavenly bodies, the setting of the stars, their risings, when the sun reaches the long day and returns again to the short day, and in what part of the Zodiac he is. For all our dishes​14 and foods virtually take on a flavour that is different at different times, in the revolution of the universal system. The man, then, who has grasped these facts sees the proper time and will make use as he should of all his materials. But he who is ignorant of them naturally gets mired. Again, you must have wondered, perhaps, what architecture can contribute to our profession. DEM. I must have wondered? A. Yes; still, I will tell you. To lay out the kitchen correctly, to have it receive all the light it should, to understand where the draft of air comes from, have great importance in promoting the business. Whether the smoke is carried this way or the other is apt to make some difference to the dishes. What next? I will now explain the strategic elements. . . . There I have the true cook, at least. Order is a wise thing everywhere and in every art, but in ours it practically takes command. For to serve and then remove each course in order and to understand the proper time for them, when to lead  p215 them on more quickly, when slowly, how the guests eel toward the dinner, when it is the proper moment in their eyes to serve some dishes hot, others partly cool, others moderate, others entirely cold, all these points, you see, are carefully considered by military methods of study. DEM. Now that you explained to my satisfaction what are the essentials, leave me and keep quiet yourself.'

"Again, the cook in The Milesians of Alexis is not far removed from this one when he says:​15 'A. Don't you know that in most arts it is not merely the master-craftsman who is responsible for the pleasure they give, but some portion is contributed also by those who make use of the art, provided they use it aright?​16 B. What do you mean by that? I, too, who am a stranger to these things, should learn. A. Your cook simply has to prepare the dish nicely — nothing else. Now if the man who is to eat and judge happen to arrive at the right time, he does his part in furthering the art. But if he comes later than the appointed moment, so that the cook must warm up again what he has roasted before, or must finish too quickly the preparation of what he has not roasted yet, the guest robs the art of its pleasure. B. I hereby enroll the cook in the sophists' guild. A. You fellows stand lingering; meanwhile my fire is burning; already, thick and fast, the watch-dogs of Hephaestus17  p217 spring up lightly to the sky; for them alone some invisible law of necessity has bound together their birth and their passing from life in the self-same instant.'

"Now Euphron, whom I mentioned a little while ago, Judges (for I should not hesitate to call you judges,​18 while I await the judgement of your senses), has portrayed a cook in his play, Brothers, who is erudite and well-educated, and who mentions the artists before his own day; he tells what special excellence each one possessed, and wherein he showed to advantage over the others; nevertheless he has mentioned none possessing the qualities of those whom I, as it chances, have often brought to your notice. However, this is what he says:​19 'Though I have had many pupils, Lycus, you, because of your constant good sense and spirit,​20 depart from my house a perfect cook, made so in less than ten months, and much the youngest of them all. Agis of Rhodes was the only one who could bake a fish to perfection; Nereus of Chios could boil a conger to suit the gods; Chariades, who came from Athens, could make an egg mosaic with white sauce; black broth began to exist with Lamprias first, Aphthonetus cooked sausages, Euthynus lentil-soup, Aristion gilt-heads for club assemblies.​21 After the famous sophists of old, these men have become our second group of Seven Sages. As for myself, seeing that most specialities were preëmpted, I was the first to invent thieving in such a way that nobody dislikes me for that, but they all hire me. Then, when you saw that this had  p219 been preëmpted by me, you added an invention of your own, and that is yours. Four days ago the Tenians were offering sacrifice: people a‑plenty present, who had sailed the salt sea long. The victim was a kid, thin and tiny. "No meat was to be taken away"​22 on that occasion for Lycus or his teacher.​23 You made them produce two more kids; for while they were looking intently at the liver,​24 you lowered one hand secretly and tossed the kidney quickly into the cistern. Then you raised a big hullabaloo. "It hasn't any kidney!" they cried. The Tenians there poked about to find the missing member. So they slaughtered another kid. Again, as I saw, you gulped down the heart of this second one.​25 You have long been a great man, be sure of the t. You alone have discovered the art, how not to be a wolf​26 vainly gaping. Yesterday you chucked two spits of entrails, lightly balanced, into the fire to put out the blaze before they were cooked, and kept whistling to the accompaniment of this two-stringed lyre.​27 I saw you! The other trick was a tragedy, but this was a vaudeville skit.'

"It isn't possible, is it, that anyone of this second group of Seven Sages, so named, devised anything  p221 so wonderful as this with a pig,​28 how could it be stuffed with these things inside it, and having one part of it roasted, the other boiled, while it showed, itself, no sign of being cut?" When, therefore, we begged and entreated him to explain his skill, he replied," "I won't tell you this year, 'by the men who faced danger at Marathon, or, what is more, by those who fought the sea-fight at Salamis.' "​29••a So we all agreed, because of an oath as strong as that, not to force the fellow, but to lay hands on something else among the viands passed round. And Ulpian said" 'By the men who faced danger at Artemisium,'​29••b nobody shall taste anything before I am told where that word 'passed round'​30 is used. For I am the sole authority on light luncheons (geumata)."​31 And Magnus said: Aristophanes says in The Rehearsal:​32 'Why haven't you ordered the cups to be passed round?' But Sophron, in Mimes of Women, has used the word in the more extended sense:​33 'Hand me the bowl full, Booby!' Plato, too, said in The Laconians:​34 'Let him hand me all the cups.' Alexis in Pamphila:​35 'He placed the battle beside us, and then, handing us cartloads of goodies . . . .' Now as to the 'tastes' (geumata) which you pledged to yourself in your toast, Ulpian, it is high time to explain that to you. For we have the verb geuo (taste) in The Goats of Eupolis:​36 'Take and taste this now.' " Then Ulpian said: "Ephippus in The  p223 Peltast37 has: 'Where there are stalls for asses and horses, and tastes of wine.' Antiphanes in The Twins:​38 'Wine he tastes, and strolls among the booths where wreaths are sold.' "

Upon this the cook spoke: " 'So, then, I will tell of a device not old,'​39 but my own invention. Not that I want the flute-player to get a beating; for Eubulus said in The Laconians or Leda:​40 'But we once heard at home this — the goddess of the hearth be my witness! — that for all the mistakes made by the cook, the flute-player, as the saying goes, gets a beating in our house.' Philyllius, too, or whoever wrote The Island-towns, says:​41 'Whatever wrong a cook happens to commit, for that the flute-player gets a beating.' Well, as to my invention of the stuffed pig which is half-roasted, half-boiled, and shows no cut: the pig was killed by a short incision under the shoulder." Thereupon he showed us. "Then, after most of the blood had flowed out, I carefully washed with wine, many times, all the insides along with the offal (yes, for the word offal is used, ye babbling Dinnervillians),​42 and I hung the pig up by the feet. Then I soaked it again in wine, and after a preliminary boiling I crushed the aforesaid tid-bits, with a lot of pepper, through its mouth, pouring  p225 on them abundance of gravy very nicely made.​43 And after that I plastered half of the pig, as you can see, with a lot of barley meal, having made a batter of it with wine and olive oil. Then I set it in an oven, placing under it a bronze tray; and so I roasted it at the fire in such a way as not to scorch it, nor yet have it underdone when taken off. After the skin had been crisply roasted I guessed that the remaining part of the animal was done, so I removed the barley meal from it and brought it in and served it to you. As for the word 'offal,' my good Ulpian, the comic poet Dionysius in his play, Namesakes, represents a cook conversing with his pupils, and he says:​44 'Come now, Dromon, whatever cunning, clever, or subtle trick you know in your profession, bring it to light for the benefit of your teacher. To‑day I demand of you an exhibition of your skill. I am taking you into the enemy's country; charge right in without fear. They give out the cuts of meat carefully counted, and they keep their eyes on you Boil the cuts well and make them tender, and mix up the count as I have told you. They are going to have a fine large fish; the inwards are yours. And if you can dislodge a nice slice from it, that also is yours so long as we are in the house; once outdoors, it is mine. As for the offal and other accompaniments which by their nature can't be counted or tested, but which have only the rank or station of mince-meat,  p227 to-morrow we'll cheer ourselves, you and I, with them. By all means give a share to the master of the booty,​45 that you may find a more friendly passage through the front door. Why need I say too much to one who understands as well as I? You are my scholar, I am your teacher. Remember the rules I have given you, and step this way with me.' "

FSo we all applauded the cook for his ready speech and the ingenuity of his art. Then our noble host, Larensis, spoke up: "How much better it is that our cooks should learn such things as these, rather than the things they learn at the house of a certain compatriot of ours! He, puffed up with wealth and luxury, used to compel the cooks to learn the dialogues of the most admirable Plato, and, as they brought in the dishes, to say:​46 'One, two, three; but where, my dear Timaeus, is he who was the fourth among our guests of yesterday, who to‑day are our hosts?' Then another answered: 'Some illness has fallen upon him, Socrates.' And so the slaves would go through with most of the dialogue in this manner. The result was that the feasters were bored, and that pedantic fellow was insulted every day, and for that reason many men of nice taste solemnly declined to attend the entertainments at his house. These cooks of ours, on the other hand, when they learn the things they do, perhaps afford you at the same time no little delight." And the slave, after being applauded for his skill in cookery, said: "What have my predecessors discovered or declaimed that is like what I have done? Or may I weigh myself against ordinary  p229 cooks without boasting out of highly of my own success? And yet, even the first man to tie on the wreath of victory at the Olympic contest, Coroebus of Elis, was a cook, and he did not puff himself up over his art so much as did the cook in Straton's phoenicides, of whom the man who hired him says the following:​47 'I have taken into my house a male Sphinx,​48 not a cook. Really, I understand absolutely not one thing, the gods are my witness, of all that he says. He has come with a stock of strange expressions. For the moment he entered he looked at me and loudly asked, "How many articulates​49 have you invited to dinner? Tell me." "I have invited Articulates to dinner? You're mad! Think you that I am acquainted with these Articulates? Not one of them is coming. That, by Zeus, is really the last straw — inviting Articulates to dinner! "And so there is going to be no Epulator​50 present at all? "Epulator? No, at least I think not." I began to count up. There'll be Philinus, Moschion, Niceratus, Mr. What's-his-name, and Mr. Thingumbob. I ran over them all by name. I couldn't find even one named Epulator. "No," I said; "no Epulator will be here." "What do you mean? Not even one?" He became very indignant, as if he were wronged because I hadn't invited an Epulator. It was very strange. "Are you, then slaughtering a 'voracious​51 swine'?"  p231 "No," I replied. "Nor 'broad-browed beef'?" "I'm not slaughtering a beef, you poor fool." "Perchance you have an oblation of mutton?"​52 "Not I, by Zeus, neither one of them; I'm killing a sheep."​53 "Well, then," said he, "is not mutton sheep?" "mutton sheep? I don't take you at all I don't know any of these things and I don't want to. I am too countrified. So talk to me simple." "Don't you know that Homer used these words?" "He might have used whatever he wanted to, cook, for all I care. But what has that to do with us, in the name of Hestia?" "Do thou now, as Homer would say, give heed to what I still have to tell." "So you really mean to kill me in Homeric fashion?" "That's my way of talking." "Well, don't talk in that way when you are in my house." "What, for your paltry four shillings, I am to throw away," says he, "my scholastic principles? Hand me the sacrificial groats." "What's that?" "The barley." "Why, then, you paralytic, do you talk in tangled circumlocutions?"​54 "Have you any precipitate?"​55 "Precipitate! Get you into a bagnio, won't you, and speak out more plainly what you want to say to me." "Unrecking of thy words​56 art thou, old man," says he; "hand me the salt!" "So that is a precipitate?" "Now show me the lustral water." It came. He slaughtered and kept on saying other words of such a nature that nobody, by Mother Earth, could have understood them: cuttings,​57 portions, double-folds, spits.  p233 I had to get some of Philitas's books and look up the meaning of every single word; but I entreated him to change his ways forthwith, and talk like a human being. However, not Peitho, by Earth, could have soon persuaded him, I'm sure of the t.' "

As a matter of fact, the great majority of cooks have inquiring minds in matters of history and the use of words. The most learned among them, at any rate, say "the knee is nearer than the shin,"​58 and "I have traversed Asia and Europe." When criticizing someone they say he must not turn Oeneus into Peleus.​59 I have myself looked with admiration upon one cook of old by whose device, invented by him, I have profited by personal experience. Alexis introduces him in The Cauldron,​60 saying: "A. He cooked, I thought, a dish of stewed pork. GL. That's nice, certainly. A. But then he scorched it. GL. Don't worry; for that accident is easily remedied. A. How? GL. Just take some vinegar, pour it cold into a shallow pan, you understand, then put the pot, when still warm, into the vinegar; for if the pot is still hot, it will draw the moisture through itself, and in this ferment it will take on porous passages through it, like pumice, and through these will absorb the moisture. And so the pieces of meat will not be completely dried up, but will be nice and savoury, and of moist condition. A. Apollo! No physician could cure better. Glaucias, I will do that very thing.  p235 GL. Yes, and serve them, my boy, when you serve them, thoroughly cooled, you understand. For in that way no steam will leap to the nostrils, but will surely go up and be lost in flight.​61 A. You're a much better speech-writer, as it now turns out, than cook. What you say you unsay. You bring your art into disrepute." And now enough of cooks, gentlemen of Dinnerville; for I fear that one of them may take umbrage and bawl these words from Menander's Peevish Man:​62 "Not a single person has ever escaped scot-free after he wronged a cook. Our profession is somehow sacrosanct." But I, in the words of sweetest Diphilus,​63 "serve you with a sheep integral, folded and skewered in the middle, stuffed with dressing, and little pigs roasted entire with their skins on; having done that, I now bring on a goose so puffed out with stuffing that it is like the wooden horse."64

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Kock III.489.

2 Eurip. Or. 37.

3 jjj, hash, is the Lat. insicium.

4 F. H. G. IV.472.

5 Kock III.342.

6 The slang "cheek" answers best the Greek jjj.

7 Cf 290b.

8 Kock III.344.

9 Ibid. 322, cf. Athen. 7d.

10 Or, "the mullet was entirely altered" (see critical note).

11 These are names of the newly-rich.

12 Kock III.314, cf. Athen. 102a‑103b, Hor. Sat. II.4.

13 A slang term for "has been abused" or "prostituted," Aeschin. III.178; cf. the similar complaint about philosophy in Plat. Rep. 495C‑E.

14 Perhaps specifically, "fishes."

15 Kock II.351; the title was given in 240c as The Milesian Woman.

16 Cf. Love's Labour's Lost, V.ii.871, "A jest's prosperity lies in the ear of him that hears it, never in the tongue of him that makes it."

17 Cf. Athen. 108b, where sparks from the fire are so described by Eubulus.

18 Cf. Plato, Apol. 40a.

19 Kock III.317.

20 i.e., courage, impudence, cf. 376e‑for.

21 See 365c.

22 jjj was the proclamation of the priest if the meat was to be consumed at the altar, not carried home or to the butchers' shops; see Aristoph. Plut. 1138, where the phrase is used ironically, as here.

23 Meaning himself.

24 To observe the omens.

25 So that a third kid was required.

26 His name was Lycus, "wolf." Theocritus makes the same pun, XIV.22 ff. Cf. Aristaenetus: jjj.

27 Text and meaning are very doubtful. See critical note. He evidently puns on the two senses of jjj, "entrail" and "harp-string." The two spits were so carelessly supported that he easily dropped them into the fire, from which he purloined the entrails on them for his own use. The whistling to string-accompaniment is compared to a single act in vaudeville, while the exploit with three kids was a long drama.

28 The cook here returns to the subject begun at 376c.

89••a 89••b Demosth. De Cor. 208.

30 The word had been used substantively meaning "food." So the American tramp calls a dole of food a "hand-out."

31 Lit. "tastes"; cf. Modern Greek jjj, "luncheon."

32 Kock I.511.

33 Kaibel 156.

34 Kock I.621.

35 Kock II.360.

36 Kock I.260.

37 Kock II.261.

38 Ibid. 45.

39 Aristoph. Nub. 961.

40 Kock II.184; a case of the "innocent bystander." Cf.  Hor. Ep. I.2.14 "quicquid delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi."

41 Kock I.784; see the curious remark about Cadmus, Athen. 658f.

42 This apostrophe may be a quotation from Aristophanes, Demiańczuk, Supp. Com. 115; yet see Kock I.454.

43 This description, as Meineke saw, is made up of fragments from some iambic poet; note especially the Ionic and poetic form jjj.

44 Kock II.425; Kock thinks that the speaker is not a cook but the doorkeeper of the house to which the cook has been summoned.

45 The jjj bought up booty to sell at retail, Xen. Anab. VII.7; here, I think, the master cook is speaking of the doorkeeper, who is to be bribed by the thief.

46 Plato, Timaeus 17a; Socrates counts.

47 Kock III.361, cf. Athen. 659b.

48 i.e. one who speaks in riddles.

49 The Homeric jjj, sc. jjj, "articulate-speaking," was used in the poets for "mortals," "men." The master takes this and the following for proper names.

50 He uses the Homeric and archaic word jjj, "feaster," for "guest."

51 Lit. "an Erysichthon-swine." Erysichthon was noted for his appetite, Athen. 416b.

52 Using for sheep the poetic word jjj.

53 The prose word is jjj.

54 See 459a.

55 Meaning salt, precipitated from sea water.

56 He uses again a Homeric word, jjj (Athen. 12D and note c), with reference to the insulting jjj above.

57 Homer has the verb jjj, "cut up (meat)," but the noun used here is an jjj.

58 A proverb equivalent to "charity begins at home," "blood is thicker than water"; Theocrit. XVI.18.

59 i.e., "don't turn good wine (jjj) into muddy wine or lees (jjj)."

60 Kock II.341.

61 The text is not certain. See critical note.

62 Kock III.39, Allinson 346.

63 Kock II.570.

64 Cf.  Macrob. Sat. III.13.13 "nam Titius in suasione legis Fanniae (Athen. 274c) obicit saeculo suo quod porcum Troianum Mensis inferant, quem illi ideo sic vocabant quasi aliis inclusis animalibus gravidum, ut ille Troianus equus gravidus armis fuit."

Page updated: 27 Apr 20