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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Deipnosophistae


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

The text is in the public domain.

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(Vol. I) Athenaeus

Excerpts​a from Book II
(Part 3 of 3)

 p263  (60B) Mushrooms. — Aristias:​1 "With champing of champignons the stony ground resounded." Poliochus:​2 "Both of us broke a bit of black barley bread, with chaff mixed in the kneading, twice a day, and had a few figs; Csometimes, too, there would be a braised mushroom, and if there were a little dew we'd catch a snail, or we'd have some native vegetables or a crushed olive, and some wine to drink of dubious quality." Antiphanes:​3 "Our dinner is a barley cake bristling with chaff, cheaply prepared, and perhaps one iris-bulb or a dainty dish of sow-thistle or mushroom or any other poor thing Dthat the place affords us poor creatures. That is our mode of life, without heat, without excitement.​4 Nobody eats thyme when meat is to be had, not even they who profess to be Pythagorean vegetarians." And going on he says: "For who among us knows the future, or what any of our friends is doomed to suffer? Take then these two mushrooms gathered from the ilex and bake them quickly."

 p265  Cephisodorus, disciple of Isocrates, in his Animadversions on Aristotle E(a work in four books), blames the philosopher for not having thought it worth while to collect proverbs, whereas Antiphanes wrote a whole play entitled Proverbs. From this the following verses are cited:​5 "For if I should touch any of your food, I should feel as if I had eaten raw mushrooms or puckery apples or whatever food there is that chokes."

Mushrooms grow on the ground, and few of them are edible. Most of them cause death by choking. Hence Epicharmus said​6 in jest: F"You are like mushrooms: you will dry me up and choke me to death." Nicander in the Georgics7 gives a list of the poisonous varieties in these lines: "Deadly pains are laid up in store for the olive-tree, the pomegranate, the ilex, and the oak, the choking weight of swelling mushrooms which adhere to them." But he also says that 61"when you hide deep in dung the stalk of a fig-tree and water it with ever-running streams, mushrooms will grow at the base and be harmless; from it cut not away at the root the mushroom thus grown." (The rest was illegible.)8

"And at the same time you shall steam some amanita mushrooms," says the same Nicander in the same work. Ephippus​9 has a line running: "That I, like a mushroom, might choke you." Eparchides says​10 that the poet Euripides, on a visit to Icaros, wrote an epigram Bon a woman who, with her children,  p267 two grown-up males and an unmarried daughter, ate some poisonous mushrooms in a field, and died by asphyxiation along with her children. This is the epigram:​11 "O god of the sun, who dost traverse the eternal vault of the sky, have thine eyes ever beheld like woe? A mother and her daughter unwed, with brothers twain, dead on the same fateful day!" CDiocles of Carystus, in Book I of his Health, says: "Wild vegetables fit to boil are the beet, mallow, sorrel, nettle, orach, iris-bulbs, truffles, and mushrooms."

Marshwort. — Speusippus, in Book II of Similars, says that this grows in water and has a leaf like marsh celery. Hence Ptolemy II Euergetes, once ruler of Egypt, thought that in Homer we ought to write:​12 "And all about soft meadows bloomed of marshwort and celery." For marshwort, he maintained, grows where there is celery, but violets do not.

Diphilus says that mushrooms have a good taste, Dare laxative and nourishing, but may cause indigestion and flatulence. Such especially are those which come from the island of Ceos. "Many, however, cause death, but those seem to be proper to eat which are very thin, tender, and friable, growing on elms and pine-trees. Unfit to eat are those which are black, livid, and hard, or which become tough after boiling and serving; when these are eaten they are often fatal. A good antidote is a draught of hydromel, or honey-vinegar, or soda and vinegar. EVomiting should follow the drink. Hence mushrooms ought to be prepared in the first instance with  p269 vinegar, or with honey and vinegar, or honey and salt alone, since in this way the choking element is removed." And Theophrastus, in the History of Plants,​13 writes: "Such plants grow in some cases under­ground, in other cases on the ground; among the latter are what some call peziae ('puff-balls'), which occur among mushrooms. For they also, as it happens, have no roots; but the mushroom has a lengthy stalk like​14 an adherescent growth, and roots extend from it." He also says​15 Fthat in the region of the sea round the Pillars of Heracles, whenever it rains copiously, mushrooms grow by the sea which are turned into stone by the action of the sun. And Phaenias, also, in Book I of his Plants,​16 says: "Other plants, again, produce not even so much as a blossom, nor is there any trace of a club-like bud containing a seed, or any seed process whatever; such are the mushroom, truffle, fern and helix-ivy." The same author speaks of "the fern, which some call blachnum." Theophrastus in the Plants,​17 again: "Smooth-skinned flora, like the truffle, mushroom, puff-ball, and crane-truffle."

62Truffles. — These also grow spontaneously in the ground, chiefly in sandy places. And Theophrastus says of them:​18 "The truffle (which some call crane-truffle) and any other under­ground plant." And again:​19 "This is also the mode of growth and the physical habit of these under­ground plants, such as the truffle, and the fungus which grows in Cyrene and is called misy. This is regarded as very good, and it has the odour of meat, like the oiton which  p271 grows in Thrace. BConcerning these a singular fact is mentioned; it is said, namely, that they grow when the autumn rains come with severe thunderstorms; the more thundering there is, the more they grow, the presumption being that this is the more important cause. They are not perennial, but come up every year, and the proper time to use them is in the spring, when they are at their height. Nevertheless some suppose that they have a seed origin. For on the coast of Mitylene, they say, truffles do not grow until a heavy rain comes and the seed is washed down from Tiarae. Now this is a place in which they grow plentifully. And they are more apt to occur on the seashore and wherever the ground is sandy, Cas it is in Tiarae. They also grow in the Abarnis district near Lampsacus, in Alopeconnesus, and in Elis." Lynceus of Samos says that "the sea produces a nettle, the dry land truffles," and Matron the parodist, in the Banquet, has, "He brought oysters, which are the truffles of the Nereid Thetis." Diphilus says that truffles are not easy to digest, but they are juicy and lenitive, and aid evacuation; yet some of them, like mushrooms, cause death by choking. DHegesander of Delphi says​20 that on the Hellespont occurs neither truffle nor glauciscus​21 nor thyme; which caused Nausicleides to remark that neither is there springtime nor friend in that region. Pamphilus, in his Dialect Lexicon, uses the term hydnophyllum of the grass which grows over truffles, by which they are detected.

 p273  The Nettle. — Among Attic writers this name (akalêphê) is given both to the herbaceous plant​22 and the weed which stings. Aristophanes in the Phoenician Women:​23 "In the beginning grew spike-lavender, and after that rock-nettles."

Asparagus. — The varieties of this vegetable go under the name of swamp and mountain asparagus. EThe finest of these do not grow from seed. They have healing power over all internal complaints. Those which are sown grow to an extraordinary size, and it is said that in Gaetulia, a district of Libya, they have the thickness of the Cyprus reed, and a height of twelve feet; in mountain regions or near the ocean they have the thickness of large fennel, and a height of about twenty cubits. Cratinus​24 spells the name with a phi, "aspharagus." So, too, Theopompus:​25 "And then, spying some aspharagus in a thicket . . ." FAmeipsias:​26 "No squill and no aspharagus, no boughs of bay." Diphilus declares that cabbage-asparagus, known by the special name of ormenos ("shooting stalk") is more wholesome and easier to pass, but is bad for the eyes. Moreover, it is bitter, acts as a diuretic, and injures the kidneys and bladder. Only Attic writers employ the term ormenos for the stalk which springs up out of the cabbage. Thus Sophocles in the Ichneutae:​27 "The stalk shoots forth and never more pauses in its growth," from the notion of "bursting forth" and "growing." 63For the spelling with pi, "asparagus," see Antiphanes:​28 "Asparagus was in its glory, and  p275 pulse was in full bloom." Aristophon:​29 "Capers, pennyroyal, thyme, asparagus, pitch,​30 thorn, sage, and rue."

The Snail. — Philyllius:​31 "I'm not a cicada nor yet a snail, woman!" And again: "Sprats . . . . mackerel, snails, crow-fish." Hesiod​32 calls the snail "carry-house." So Anaxilas:​33 B"You are very much more suspicious than snails, which in distrust carry their houses about with them." Achaeus:​34 "Does Aetna nourish such large horned snails?" A saying, too, which ranks as a conundrum is propounded at symposia concerning snails as follows: "Born in the wood, yet having no thorns and no blood, moving in a slimy trail." Aristotle, in Book Five of The History of Animals,​35 remarks: "Snails are observed to be in spawn in autumn and spring;" and further:​36 "They are the only testaceous animals which have been seen in the act of copulating." CAnd Theophrastus, in his work on Animals which Live in Holes,​37 says that "snails seek their holes even in winter, but to a greater degree in summer. Hence, also, they appear in greatest numbers during the autumn rains. Their retreat in summer is either on the ground or in trees." Some snails soldier called sesili. Epicharmus:​38 "A. I'll trade all this stuff for locusts, and for mussels I'll take the snail. — B.  p277 Be off to the devil!" DBut Apollas says the Lacedaemonians call the snail semelus, while Apollodorus, in the second book of Etymologies, says that some snails go by the name of "dinner-delayers."

Bulbs. — Heracles declines to eat these in Eubulus's Amaltheia,​39 saying: "Be it hotter or crisper or something in between, this is more important for any man than capturing Troy. As for me, I have not come here to browse on kale or silphium or sacrilegious bitter dishes or bulbs. But on what counts first as real food, promoting health and the full vigour of physical strength, EI have always been wont to feed — beef boiled and unspoiled, in huge quantity, with a generous portion of foot and snout, and three slices of young pork sprinkled with salt." Alexis, dwelling on the aphrodisiac properties of bulbs, says:​40 "Pinnas, crayfish, bulbs, snails, buccina, eggs, extremities, and all that. FIf anyone in love with a girl shall find any drugs more useful than these . . ." Xenarchus in Bucolion:​41 "That house perisheth whose master's fate it is to lose his virile powers, and upon which the avenging angel of the Pelopidae hath burst in full force. Impotent is that house, and even the bung-necked comrade of the goddess Deo, the earth-born bulb, so helpful to its friends when boiled, has no power to save it now; 64all in vain, too, does the polyp, nurtured in the dark  p279 eddies of the sea and stirring the blood to passion, when caught in the coiled constraints of the net, fill the strong-bodied hollow of the dish, daughter of the potter's wheel." Archestratus:​42 "Good-bye, say I, to sauce-dishes filled with bulbs and kale, and to all other cheap relishes."

Heracleides of Tarentum, in the Symposium: "Bulbs, snails, eggs, and the like are supposed to produce semen, not because they are filling, but because their very nature in the first instance has powers related in kind to semen." BDiphilus: "Although bulbs are not easy to digest, yet they are nourishing and wholesome; further, they are purgative, they dull the eyesight, and they rouse sexual desire." But, as the proverb​43 has it, "A bulb will do you no good unless you have the qualities of a man." As a matter of fact, the so‑called regal bulbs, which are better than all others, do excite passion. After them come the red varieties. The white and Libyan kinds are like squills; poorest of all are the Egyptian. Those called bulbinae are more juicy, but are not so healthful because of a rather sweetish quality; they are, moreover, very fattening, being very hard, and they are easily passed. CThe bulbina is mentioned by Matron in his Parodies: "But sow-thistles, that plant full of marrow, which wears its long hair in prickles,​44 I will not mention or name;​45 the bulbinae, too, theme​46 of Olympian Zeus's song, which Zeus's child, the infinite rain, breeds on the dry land, whiter than snow, looking like cakes of fine meal;​47 for these as they grow the august belly yearns."48

 p281  DNicander recommends "Megarian bulbs,"​49 and Theophrastus, in the seventh book of Plants,​50 says that "in some places bulbs are so sweet that they may be eaten raw, as in the Tauric Chersonesus." Phaenias records the same.​51 Theophrastus adds that there is a variety of wool-bearing bulbs which grows on the sea-shore. The wool is contained underneath the first layers, between the inner edible part and the outer skin. From it are woven socks and other articles of wear; and according to Phaenias, the Indian bulb is hairy. EOn the mode of preparing bulbs Philemon says:​52 "Look, if you please, at the bulb, and see what lavish expense it requires to have its reputation — cheese, honey, sesame-seed, oil, onion, vinegar, silphium. Taken by itself alone it is poor and bitter." And Heracleides of Tarentum, restricting the use of bulbs at a symposium, says: "Too much eating must be eliminated, especially in the case of foods which contain sticky, glutinous matter, such as eggs, bulbs, beef-extremities, snails, and the like. FFor they stay too long in the stomach, and becoming entangled they check the flow of the humours."

Thrushes. — Of these, as well as of other birds, whole flocks were served up in the appetizers before dinner. Telecleides:​53 "Roast thrushes served up with milk-cakes were flying into his gullet." Syracusans call thrushes kichelae. Thus Epicharmus:​54 "kichelae, too, which like to eat the olives." Thrushes  p283 are mentioned also by Aristophanes in the Clouds.​55 Aristotle records​56 three varieties of thrush, 65of which the chief and largest is about the size of a jay; it is called missel-thrush, because it eats mistletoe-berries. The second is as large as a blackbird, and is called the hairy thrush (Turdus ericetorum). The third, smaller than the two just mentioned, is called illas.​57 But others call it tylas, "tufted," as Alexander of Myndus tells us; it is as fond of flying in flocks as the swallow, and builds its nest in the same way.

The little epic poem ascribed to Homer, entitled Epikichlides, Bgot this name from the fact that when Homer sang it to children he received a present of thrushes; Menaechmus records this in his work on Artists.58

Beccafichi.º59 — Alexander of Myndus records the following: "The second variety of titmouse is called by some elaios, by others pyrrhias; but it has the name of sykalis when the figs (syka) are ripe." There are two varieties of it, the fig-pecker and the black-cap. Epicharmus:​60 "shiny fig-peckers;" and again: "And there were also many herons with long curving necks, seed-picking pheasants, and shiny fig-peckers." The last are caught in the fig season, Cfor which reason the name would better be spelled with one l; for the sake of the metre Epicharmus spells it with two.

Finches. — Eubulus:​61 " 'Twas at the feast of the  p285 Amphidromia,​62 when the custom is to toast a slice of Gallipoli cheese, to boil a cabbage glistening in oil, to broil some fat lamb chops, to pluck the feathers from ring-doves, thrushes, and finches withal, Dat the same time to devour cuttle-fish and sprats, to pound with care many wriggling polyps, and drink many a cup not too diluted."

Blackbirds. — Nicostratus (or Philetaerus) says:​63 "A. What, then, shall I buy? tell me, pray. — B. Not too extravagantly, but tidily; get some hares, if you find any, and ducklings as many as you like; thrushes, too, and blackbirds, and a lot of these wild fowl. For that will be nice."

EAntiphanes​64 also names starlings among articles of food: "Honey, partridges, ring-doves, ducks, geese, starlings, a jay, a jackdaw, a blackbird, a quail, a hen."

You​65 demand of us a reason for everything, and we can't speak a word that you do not question.

Mention of the sparrow occurs in Eubulus​66 as well as in other authors: "Buy four or five partridges, three hares, sparrows to gobble greedily, some goldfinches and parrots, chaffinches, and kestrels, and anything else that you find."

FPigs' Brains. — The wise would not allow us to eat  p287 these, quoting,​67 of those who partake of them, that "to eat beans amounts to the same thing as eating" not merely the "heads of one's parents," but the heads of anything else that is unhallowed. At any rate, none of the ancients ate pigs' brains because in them reside virtually all the senses. 66Apollodorus of Athens even says that none of the old writers so much as mentions them. Sophocles, for example, when he makes Heracles in The Trachinian Women68 throw Lichas into the sea, does not mention the brain, but only the white marrow, avoiding a word which may not be spoken: "He spilled the white marrow from the hair, when the head was split in the middle and blood spurted forth with it." All the other horrors he expressly mentions, but nothing about the brains. Similarly Euripides, when he introduces Hecuba singing her dirge over Astyanax, who has been dashed to the ground by the Greeks, says:​69 "Poor babe, how cruelly have these ancestral walls, Bthe towers reared by Loxias, shorn from thy head those locks which thy mother oft tended and covered with kisses; but now from thy shattered bones grins — murder, that I may not say the shameful word." Now the proper interpretation of both these quotations requires attention. For Philocles​70 does use the word: "He would not even leave off eating brains;" and so does Aristophanes:​71 "I should lose two portions of brain," to say nothing of the other poets. Sophocles, therefore, must have said "white marrow" euphemistically, Cwhile Euripides,  p289 preferring not to set before us the loathsome and unseemly too vividly, hinted at it as seemed to him good. That people regarded the head as sacred is clear from the fact that they swore by it and did obeisance to the sneezes which came from it, as if they were sacred. What is more, even as the Homeric Zeus says:​72 "Come now, I will bow my head in assent to thee."

Into the appetizer these ingredients also were put, — pepper, a salad leaf, myrrh, sedge, and Egyptian perfume. DAntiphanes:​73a "If, then, a man just buys some pepper and brings it home, they denounce him as spy fit for the rack." Again:​73b "Now must I go round looking for a peppercorn and a blite-berry." Eubulus:​74 "Take, woman, a seed of Cnidian bay or pepper, pound it together with myrrh and sprinkle over the path." Ophelion:​75 "Libyan pepper, fragrant incense, and a lunatic book of Plato's." ENicander in the Theriaca:​76 "or even the downy leaves of than flea-bane — often again, chopping up fresh pepper or Median cress." Theophrastus in the History of Plants:​77 "Pepper is a berry, and there are two kinds of it. The one is round as a pea, with a reddish shell, the other is oblong and  p291 black, with poppy-like seeds. The latter is much stronger than the former, but both are hot and therefore serve as antidotes to hemlock." And in the chapter On Suffocation78 he writes: F"Their resuscitation is effected by an infusion of vinegar and pepper or nettle pounded with the pepper-berry." We should observe, by the way, this fact, that there is no neuter noun in Greek ending in i, with the sole exception of meli ("honey"); for peperi, kommi ("gum"), and koiphi79 are foreign words.

Oil. — Samian oil is mentioned by Antiphanes​80 (or Alexis): "Here you have ten gallons of Samian oil, whitest of all." 67And the Carian is mentioned by Ophelion:​81 "He anoints himself with Carian oil." Amyntas in the Persian Itinerary says:​82 "The mountains produce turpentine, squills, and Persian nuts, from which much oil is made for the king." But Ctesias says​83 that in Carmania an oil of thorns is produced which the king uses. He also gives a list of all articles prepared for the king's table in this book of his on the Tributes paid throughout Asia, but he includes neither pepper nor vinegar, "which is the one best requirement in condiments."​84 BBut neither does Dinon in his Persian History,​85 although he mentions the salt called ammoniac,​86 saying that both it and Nile water were regularly sent to the king from Egypt. Another oil, the so‑called "raw-pressed,"  p293 is mentioned by Theophrastus in the work on Odours,​87 wherein he says that it is made from unripe olives and almonds. Amphis also mentions​88 the oil produced in Thurii as being excellent: "In Thurii oil, in Gela lentil-soup."

Pickled Fish.89 — Cratinus has this:​90 C"Your pannier will be chock full of fish-pickle." Pherecrates:​91 "He has fouled his beard in the fish-pickle." Sophocles in Triptolemus:​92 "The pickle made of dried fish." Plato:​93 "They will souse me and suffocate me in rotten fish-pickle." That the noun is masculine is proved by the masculine article which Aeschylus uses when he says:​94 "the pickle made of fish."

Vinegar. — This is the one condiment called by Attic writers "delight."​95 The philosopher Chrysippus says that the best vinegar is the Egyptian and the Cnidian. But Aristophanes in the Plutus96 has D"diluting with Sphettian vinegar," and Didymus, in expounding the verse says, "perhaps because the Sphettians are sharp." Aristophanes also somewhere mentions​97 as excellent the vinegar of Cleonae: "There are vinegar-cruets in Cleonae too." And Diphilus:​98 "A. He has crawled into a corner and is eating his dinner (can you imagine it?) in Laconian  p295 style: a cupful of vinegar.B. Enough! — A. What do you mean by 'enough'? — B. A vinegar-cruet such as the Cleonaeans use as a measure holds just that much." Philonides:​99 "Their sauces have no vinegar."

Heracleides of Tarentum in the Symposium says: E"Vinegar causes some things exposed to the air to curdle, and it acts similarly on the contents of the stomach; yet it also dissolves things in the mass, because of course there are different humours mingled within us."

The vinegar of Deceleia was also esteemed highly. Thus Alexis:​100 "After compelling me to drain four cups of Decelean home-made vinegar, you now drag me straight through the market."

The word oxygaron101 should be pronounced with a y, like the vessel which holds it, oxybaphon. FLysias, too, in a speech​102 Against Theopompus, the charge being assault and battery, says, "I drink oxymel." In the same way, then, we will also say oxyrhodinon.103

Seasonings are found mentioned in Sophocles:​104 "And the nice seasonings of food." Also in Aeschylus:​105 "You soak the seasoning." And Theopompus also says:​106 "Many bushels of seasoning, many sacks and bags of books, and all other necessities of life." 68The verb is also found in Sophocles:​107 "I, being the cook, will season skilfully." Cratinus:108  p297 "It isn't given to every man to season a sea-lizard nicely." Eupolis:​109 "With a vile entrée expensively seasoned."

The following are listed as seasonings somewhere by Antiphanes:​110 "Raisins, salt, boiled must, silphium, cheese, thyme, sesame-seed, soda, cummin, cashew-nut,​b honey, marjoram, chopped acorns,​111 vinegar, olives, young greens for sour dressing, capers, eggs, smoked fish, cress, fig-leaves, rennet."

BThe ancients were acquainted with the Aethiopian spice called cummin.112

"Thyme" and "marjoram" are masculine. Thus Anaxandrides:​113 "Cutting some asparagus, squills, and marjoram, which, as everyone knows, when mixed with coriander, gives distinction to smoked fish." Ion:​114 "But he quickly hides the marjoram in his hand." Plato,​115 however (or is it Cantharus?), makes it a feminine word: "Or such very pungent marjoram from Arcadia." On the other hand, Epicharmus​116 and Ameipsias​117 make it neuter. CAs for "thyme," Nicander in Bee-Keeping118 treats it as masculine.

Cratinus calls melons "seeded cucumbers" in the Odysseis:​119 "A. Where, pray, did you see the man, Laertes' dear son? — B. In Paros, buying a  p299 huge seeded cucumber," Plato in the Laius:​120 "Don't you see that Leagrus, scion of Glaucon's mighty race, wanders about like a silly gaping cuckoo with legs Das fat as a ripe seedless melon?"​121 Anaxilas:​122 "His shins were swollen larger than a ripe melon." Theopompus:​123 "She is more luscious than a ripe melon to me."

Phaenias says:​124 "The cucumber and the melon may be eaten raw when the outer flesh is tender and the seeds have been removed; when cooked only the outer flesh is eaten. A pumpkin is not edible when raw, but is good to eat when boiled or baked." And Diocles of Carystus, in the first book of his work on Health, says that the wild plants fit to cook are lettuce (the dark variety being the best), Ecress, coriander, mustard, onion (of this there is the variety known as scallion, and also the leek), garlic, clove-garlic, cucumber, melon, and poppy. A little further on he says: "But the melon is better for the heart and stomach. The cucumber, when boiled, is tender, innocuous, and diuretic. The melon is more laxative if cooked in syrup." Speusippus, in his Similars, calls the melon sikya, but Diocles, after mentioning the melon,​125 omits this term, while Speusippus speaks of the sikya, but not the pepon. FDiphilusº says: "The melon is more juicy and astringent . . . is poorer in flavour and is also of little nourishment, being easily digested and easily eliminated."

 p301  Lettuce. — Attic writers call this by the longer term thridakinê. But Epicharmus​126 uses the shorter, thridax: Lettuce with its stalk peeled off." 69A still longer form (thridakinis) is used by Strattis:​127 "Ye leek-devouring grubs, which go up and down the leafy gardens in tracks made by fifty feet, and lay hold with your feet upon the long-tailed satyr-plant, winding your choral bands in and out among the leaves of basil and lettuce and fragrant celery."

Now Theophrastus​128 says that "the white variety of lettuce is the sweeter and more tender. There are three kinds — the flat-stalk, the round-stalk, and the Laconian. The last has a leaf like that of the cardoon, but it is erect and strong-growing, and sends forth no side-shoots from the stalk. Some specimens of the flat variety are so flat-stalked Bthat some people actually use them as gates to protect their gardens." He also says​129 that when the stalks have been broken the new shoots are sweeter.

Nicander of Colophon, in the second book of his Dialect Lexicon,​130 explains the word brenthis as the Cyprian term for lettuce; in this Adonis sought refuge from the wild boar which killed him. And so Amphis in the Lamentation says:​131 "It was among the lettuce-plants, plague take them! Why, if a man not yet sixty should eat them Cwhen he desires commerce with a woman, he might twist and turn the whole night long without once accomplishing his desires, wringing his hands against stern fate instead  p303 of acting like a man." Callimachus, too, says​132 that Aphrodite hid Adonis in a lettuce-bed, since the poets mean by this allegory that constant eating of lettuce produces impotence. So also Eubulus, in The Defectives, says:​133 "Don't put lettuce on the table before me, wife, Dor you will have only yourself to blame. In that plant, the story goes, Kypris once laid out Adonis when he died; therefore it is dead men's food." And Cratinus says​134 that Aphrodite, when she fell in love with Phaon, hid him away in "fair lettuce-beds," while the younger Marsyas​135 declares that it was in a field of unripe barley. According to Pamphilus, in the Dialect Lexicon, Hipponax​136 uses the form tetrakine for thridax ("lettuce"), and Cleitarchus says that this is the Phrygian term.E Lycus​137 the Pythagorean says that the naturally flat-leaved lettuce, smooth and stalkless, is called "eunuch" by Pythagoreans, but "impotent" by women; for it causes urination and relaxes desire; but it is the best to eat.

Diphilus says that the lettuce stalk is full of nutriment, and less easy to eliminate than the leaves; but the latter, while more apt to cause flatulence, are even more nutritious and eliminant. In general, however, lettuce is wholesome, cooling, a good regulatory and soporific, juicy, Fand checks sexual desire. And the more luxuriant plants are more wholesome and more capable of indu­cing sleep, but the tougher and more flabby are less wholesome and  p305 digestible, but they also cause sleep. Dark lettuce is more cooling, and is digestible as well. Lettuce grown in summer is juicier and more filling, while the autumn lettuce lacks nourishment and is less juicy. The stalk of the lettuce is supposed to cure thirst. When lettuce is cooked in a saucepan, like the stalks of kale, it is superior, as Glaucias says, to all the other boiled vegetables. Elsewhere​138 70Theophrastus says that the name epispora ("sown for a second crop") is given to the beet, lettuce, rocket, mustard, sorrel, coriander, anise, and cress. Diphilus declares that, broadly speaking, all green vegetables give little nourishment, produce no fat, are poor in flavour, remain on the surface of the stomach, and are hard to assimilate. "Summer vegetables" is a term used by Epicharmus.139

The artichoke. — This is called kynara by Sophocles in the Colchian Women,​140 but in the Phoenix141 he has kynaros: "The thorn of the artichoke fills all the glebe." Hecataeus of Miletus, in the Description of Asia (granting that this book is a generous work of the historian, since Callimachus ascribes​142 it to Nesiotes; Bwhoever, then, the author may be), has the following:​143 "Round the Hyrcanian​144 Sea, as it is called, are high mountains covered with forests, and on the mountains grows the prickly artichoke." And continuing: "East of the Parthians live the Chorasmii, possessing plain and mountain alike; and on the mountains are forest trees and the prickly artichoke, the willow, and the tamarisk." He also says that the artichoke grows in the region of the Indus river. Scylax, too (or Polemon),​145 writes: "Now the country  p307 is watered by springs and aqueducts, Cand on the mountains grow artichokes and other herbaceous plants." And in continuation he says: "From that point a high mountain range extends on both sides the Indus river, covered with virgin forest and with the prickly artichoke." But the grammarian Didymus, in expounding the words "prickly artichoke" in Sophocles, says: "Perhaps he means the dog-thorn (wild rose), since that plant is prickly and rough. What is more, the Delphic priestess called it 'wooden-dog,' and when Locrus received an oracle Dcommanding him to build a city wheresoever he should be bitten by a wooden dog, he founded the city​146 in the region where he had scratched his leg on a dog-thorn." Now the dog-thorn is something midway between a shrub and a tree, according to Theophrastus,​147 and its fruit is red, like that of the pomegranate. Its leaf, moreover, is like that of the willow."

Phaenias, in the fifth book of his work on Plants, speaks of a certain Sicilian plant which he calls cactus, having prickly thorns, and Theophrastus also says in the sixth book of his treatise on Plants:​148 "The cactus, as it is called, occurs only in Sicily, and does not exist in Greece. EIt sends forth straight from the root stalks which spread on the ground; the leaf is flat and prickly, and what are called cacti are strictly stalks. When the peel is removed they are edible even though slightly bitter, and people preserve them in brine. But there is another kind which sends up an erect stem, called pternix, and this also is edible. And the fruit-vessel, after the downy prickles have been removed, resembles the 'brain' of  p309 the palm-tree, and is likewise fit to eat. They call it askaleron ('the head')." Now who, if he accepts this description, would not confidently say that this "cactus" is what the Romans, who live near Sicily, call "cardus,"​149 Fand that it is obviously what the Greeks call kinara? For by a change of only two letters cardus and cactus would be the same word. Epicharmus also plainly indicates to us that the cactus belongs among edible vegetables when he mentions it thus:​150 "Poppy . . . fennel, and rough cactuses to eat among other vegetables." Then he goes on: "If one serves it after seasoning it well, it is a pleasant dish, but alone by itself — away with it!" And again he says:​151 71"Lettuce, palm-buds, squills . . . radishes, cactuses." Still again: "Another, belike, brings from the field fennel and cactuses, spike-lavender, sorrel, silphium-seed, cardoon, chicory, safflower, fern, cactus, and cotton-thistle." And Philitas of Cos:​152 "The cry of the fawn which breathes out its life after defending itself from the sting of a sharp cactus."

None the less, Sopater of Paphos calls​153 the cactus kinara just as we do. He lived in the time of Alexander, son of Philip, Band was still alive in the reign of  p311 the second king of Egypt, as he himself makes clear in one of his works. Ptolemy Euergetes, king of Egypt, one of the disciples of the grammarian Aristarchus, has the same word in the second book of his Commentaries:​154 "Near Berenice, in Libya, there is a stream named Lethon, in which are found bass, the gilt-head, and quantities of eels, including the so‑called 'regal' eels; Cthese are half as large again as those of Macedonia and the Copaic Lake, and in fact the river throughout its entire course is full of a variety of fish. And in those regions grows an abundance of artichokes, which all the soldiers in our train picked and used as food, and they offered them to us, stripping off the prickles." I also know of an island called Kinaros, mentioned by Semos.155

Palm Tops. — Theophrastus, after speaking of the palm-tree, proceeds:​156 "The process of growing from the fruit, therefore, is as I have described; but there is another method of propagation from the tree itself, by taking off the upper part containing the 'head.' " DAnd Xenophon, in the second book of the Anabasis,​157 writes as follows: "In that place also the soldiers ate for the first time the 'head' of the palm, and all the men wondered at its appearance and peculiar flavour; but it also excited violent headache. And the palm-tree, once the 'head' is taken from it, withers quite away." Nicander in the Georgics:​158 "And at the same time they prune the suckers of the palm and fetch forth the 'head,' a food which the young delight in." EAnd Diphilus of Siphnos records  p313 that "palm-heads are filling and contain much nourishment, but they are also heavy and hard to digest, and cause thirst and constipation."

"As for us, dear Timocrates (says Athenaeus), it will appear that we have had 'brains'​159 up to the finish if we bring this collection of examples to a close at this point." —

"It's a big job to be plunged into a family dinner-party, where father will take the cup and lead in the talk; Fand after words of advice to the young man is in jocose mood; then comes mother after him; then the old aunt mutters some nonsense aside, and a hoarse-voiced old man, the aunt's father; and after him an old woman who calls the youngster 'dearest,' while he nods assent to them all." Thus Menander.​160 And again he says:​161 "They first weave in the purple to make the shadow, and after the purple comes this, which is neither white nor purple, but like a tempered beam of light in the woof." Antiphanes:​162 "What say you? Will you bring me something here to the door to eat? If so, then like the beggars, I will sit on the ground here and eat . . . and everyone will see." The same:​163 "Make ready, then, a cooler, pan, tripod, cup, pot, mortar, three-legged kettle, and a soup-ladle."

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 T. G. F.2 727; μύκης, "mushroom" suggests μύκημα, "bellowing."

2 Kock III.390.

3 Kock II.111.

4 Cf. above, 10A.

5 Kock II.88.

6 Kaibel 119.

7 Frag. 78 Schneider.

8 Words of the epitomator.

9 Kock II.263.

10 F. H. G. IV.404.

11 P. L. G.4 frag. 2.

12 Od. V.72, where our texts have λειμῶνες μαλακοὶ ἴου ἠδὲ σελίνου, "soft meadows of violet and celery."

13 Frag. 168 Wimmer. But Theophrastus may not be the author, since he held that mushrooms have neither stalk nor root.

14 See critical note.

The critical note to the Greek text at ἔχει προσφύσεως δίκην τὸν καυλὸν εἰς μῆκος reads:

δίκην Kaibel: ἀρχην CE.

15 Hist. Plant. IV.7.2. But Theophrastus is writing of the fungi of the Red Sea.

16 F. H. G. II.300.

17 Hist. Plant. I.6.5? But the quotation and the text of Theophrastus are not in agreement.

18 Ibid. I.6.9.

19 Frag. 167 Wimmer.

20 F. H. G. IV.420.

21 A fish.

22 Apparently like the artichoke, which, however, is κινάρα (70B), modern Greek ἀγγινάρα.

23 Kock I.534; cf. 90A.

24 Kock I.108.

25 Kock I.751.

26 Kock I.677.

27 T. G. F.2 199; the papyrus shows that a child is meant.

28 Kock II.130.

29 Kock II.282; cf. Athen. 170B.

30 See critical note.

The critical note to the Greek text (πίτταν) reads:

Schweighäuser γήτιον, "leek."

31 Kock I.787‑8.

32 Op. 569.

33 Kock II.274.

34 T. G. F.2 757.

35 Hist. An. V.544 A23.

36 Gen. An. III.762 A32.

37 Frag. 176 Wimmer.

38 These verses belong rather to an Attic comedian, Kaibel 133.

39 Kock II.166. The bulbs here meant (Modern Greek βορβοί) are the roots of an edible iris.

40 Kock II.399; cf. Athen. 356E, and 5C.

41 Kock II.467. An obvious parody of some tragedy. The curse of impotence is compared to the curse which brought ruin to the Atreidae.

42 Frag. 5 Ribbeck.

43 Cf. Kock III.498.

44 Cf. Iliad II.323.

45 Cf. Iliad II.488.

46 Cf. Hym. Hom. XVI.2.

47 Cf. Iliad X.437.

48 Cf. Iliad XX.223.

49 Frag. 88 Schneider.

50 VII.13.8.

51 F. H. G. II.300.

52 Kock II.516.

53 Kock I.209.

54 Kaibel 120.

55 339.

56 Hist. An. 617 A18.

57 See critical note, and D'Arcy Thompson, Glossary of Greek Birds, pp69, 86.

The critical note to the Greek text (ἰλλάδα) reads:

Aristotle ἰλιάδα (Turdus iliacus).

58 Frag. 8 Müller.

59 A bird classed among the warblers, common in Southern Europe.

60 Kaibel 99.

61 Kock II.214. In Athen. 370D, these lines are ascribed to Ephippus.

62 A family festival held five days after a birth.

63 Kock II.221.

64 Kock II.130.

65 Said to Ulpian.

66 Kock II.208. οἶον ἐντραγεῖν is probably corrupt.

67 The Pythagorean prohibition of beans ran ἶσόν τοι κυάμους τε φαγεῖν κεφαλάς τε τοκήων. The thought is: Pythagoras regarded the eating of beans as an abomination equal to that of eating the heads of one's parents; but men of old included all heads in the taboo, since they did not eat pigs' brains.

68 781.

69 Troades 1173.

70 T. G. F.2 760.

71 Ranae 134.

72 Iliad I.524.

73a 73b Kock II.125.

74 Kock II.210.

75 Kock II.294. See critical note.

The critical note to the Greek text (Λιβυκὸν πέπερι θυμίαμα καὶ βιβλίον | Πλάτωνος ἐμβρόντητον) reads:

Corrupt. Perhaps: Α. Λιβυκὸν πέπερι καὶ θυμίαμα; Β. βιβλίον Πλάτωνος, ἐμβρόντητε — ("What is that which is) hot pepper and fragrant incense?" — "A book of Plato's, crazy!" This at least corrects the metre.

76 875.

77 IX.20.1.

78 Frag. 166 Wimmer.

79 An Egyptian drug. He does not add σίναπι "mustard" because he writes it σίναπυ, 68E; cf. 367A.

80 Kock II.134, 408; perhaps from Ὕπνος, which was ascribed to both playwrights.

81 Kock II.294.

82 Frag. 3 Müller.

83 Frag. 96 Müller.

84 An anonymous iambic verse.

85 F. H. G. II.92.

86 Rock salt; the Greeks used sea salt.

87 Ch. iv.14‑15. For the coarse olives called φαυλίαι see 56C.

88 Kock II.248; cf. 30B.

89 When distinguished from τάριχος, this word (γάρος) seems to mean the fish-paste commonly eaten in Greece to‑day.

90 Kock I.95.

91 Kock I.197.

92 T. G. F.2 264.

93 Kock I.656.

94 T. G. F.2 71.

95 Condiment par excellence; cf. above, 67A.

96 720.

97 Kock I.560.

98 Kock II.572.

99 Kock I.256.

100 Kock II.400. Athenaeus mistakes this passage for praise of vinegar, whereas the word is substituted by surprise for οἴνου. Decelean wine was notoriously sour.

101 Fish preserved in vinegar. He means that it should not be written oxigaron.

102 p649 Dobson.

103 Vinegar and rose-water.

104 T. G. F.2 278.

105 Ibid. 95.

106 F. H. G. I.298, fr. 125.

107 T. G. F.2 357. Sophilus?

108 Kock I.101.

109 Kock I.347.

110 Kock II.69.

111 See critical note.

The critical note to the Greek text (βοτανίων) reads:

"Herbs" is too general here. Pollux has βατανίου, which does not help the sense. Kock conjectures βαλανίων, "acorn sauce."

112 Cf. Plin. H. N. XIX.161; XX.161.

113 Kock II.157.

114 P. L. G.4 frag. 5.

115 Kock I.641.

116 Kaibel 94.

117 Kock I.678.

118 Frag. 92 Schneider.

119 Kock I.56. This passage belongs above, 59B-C, where see notes.

120 Kock I.618.

121 Called eunuchium or spado.

122 Kock II.274.

123 Kock I.752.

124 F. H. G. II.300.

125 Under the name πέπων.

126 Kaibel 120.

127 Kock I.730. A parody of Euripides, the nonsense of which can be rendered only partially; cf. Aristoph. Ran. 1309.

128 Hist. Plant. VII.4.5.

129 Op. cit. VII.2.4.

130 Frag. 120 Schneider.

131 Kock II.241.

132 Frag. 371 Schneider.

133 Kock II.169.

134 Kock I.110.

135 Scriptores Alex. Mag. p46.

136 P. L. G.4 frag. 135.

137 Or Lycon, cf. Athen. 418E.

138 Hist. Plant. VII.1.2.

139 Kaibel 119.

140 T. G. F.2 206.

141 Ibid. 286.

142 Frag. 100 D10 Schneider.

143 F. H. G. I.12.

144 Caspian.

145 Frag. 92 Preller.

146 Cynus, on the Locrian coast. See Pind. Ol. IX.60.

147 Hist. Plant. III.18.4. See Hort's translation (L. C. L.) for emendations of this passage.

148 F. H. G. II.300.

149 VI.4.10.

150 Lat. carduus.

151 Kaibel 120.

152 Frag. 16 Bach.

153 Kaibel 197.

154 F. H. G. III.186.

155 F. H. G. IV.495.

156 Hist. Plant. II.6.2.

157 Anab. II.3.16.

158 Frag. 80 Schneider.

159 With a play on the two meanings of ἐγκέφαλος, "head" (of the palm) and "brains" (of any animal). "We have used up our brains in exhausting the subject."

160 From Θυρωρός, "The Door-Tender," Kock III.239, Allinson, Menander ((Details here.) UP TO: [Link to the Athenaeus homepage]

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) 362.

161 Kock III.171, Allinson 495.

162 Kock II.119.

163 Ibid.; cf. Athen. 49C.

Thayer's Notes:

a To obviate needless e‑mail or careless citation in your paper: the editor's Introduction will tell you (pp. xvii‑xviii) that the excerpting was not done in the 21c by the perpetrator of this website, but by a medieval copyist. The three webpages comprising Book 2 of the Deipnosophistae on this site are the entire extant text of that Book.

b The Greek text in the Loeb edition reads ῥοῦ, of which the English "cashew-nut" is unequivocally a mistranslation: the cashew (Anacardium occidentale) is native to South America, and was unknown to the ancients; and — just to check — the Oxford English Dictionary gives no other caryotic or nucine meaning in the long history of the English language.

The critical note to the Greek text, at σησάμου, νίτρου, κυμίνου, ῥοῦ, μέλιτος, ὀριγάνου, has: "ῥοῦ, μέλιτος added from Poll. VI.66."

That's as far as I got on my own. For almost all of what follows, I am indebted to a kind (and attentive) reader, Ladislav Demeter: the seasoning in question is rhus, or the lemony berry of the sumac, not a nut at all, and a markedly different flavor; it is still used, apparently, in Sicilian and Middle Eastern cooking today. The sumac plant is a member of the same wide botanical family as the cashew, but that's about it. Apicius (Book X, Recipes  466, 467, and by emendation 452 and 453) includes rhus among his ingredients, translated "Syrian sumach" by Dommers Vehling. Christopher Theophil Schuch, in his edition of Apici Caeli De re Coquinaria, Heidelberg 1867/1874, writes: "rus est rhus, i.e. semen rhois coriariae L. sumachbeere, quod pro sale opsoniis adspergebatur, Plin. 24.93, Diosc. 1.147."

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