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Athenaeus: The Deipnosophists

BOOK 9 (excerpts)

Translated by C.D.Yonge (1854). A few words and spellings have been changed.

See key to translations for an explanation of the format. The page numbers in the Greek text are shown in red. The chapter numbers in the translation are shown in green.


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[8.] G   [369] First of all, there were turnips; and Apellas, in his treatise on the Cities in Peloponnese, says that turnips are called γαστέρες by the Lacedaemonians: and Nicander of Colophon, in his Dialects, says that among the Boeotians it is cabbages which are called γαστέρες and that turnips are called in Boeotia ζεκελτίδες. But Amerias and Timachidas affirm that it is gourds which are called ζακελτίδες. And Speusippus, in the second book of his treatise on Things resembling one another, says- "The radish, the turnip, the rape, and the nasturtium all resemble each other." But Glaucus, in his Cookery Book, spells the word ῥάφυς (rape) with π without the aspirate,- ῥάπυς. But these vegetables have nothing else like them, unless, indeed, it be the plant which we call bounias: but Theophrastus does not use the name of bounias, but calls it a sort of male turnip; and perhaps the plant which he means is the bounias. And Nicander, in his Georgics, mentions the bounias -
  Sow turnips on a well-rolled field, that they
  May grow as large as the flat dish that holds them.
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  For there are two kinds
  Which from the radish spring: one long, one firm,
  Both seen in well-tilled beds in kitchen gardens.

And the turnips which grow on the banks of the Cephisus are mentioned by Cratis, in his Orators, thus-
  And wholly like the turnips of Cephisus.

But Theophrastus says that there are two kinds of turnips, the male and the female, and that they both come from the same seed; but Poseidonius the Stoic philosopher, in the twenty-seventh book of his Histories [ Fr_19 ], concerning Dalmatia, says that there are some turnips which grow without any cultivation, and also some carrots that grow wild. But Diphilus the physician, of Siphnos, says- "The turnip has attenuating properties, and is harsh and indigestible, and moreover is apt to cause flatulence: but the vegetable called bounias is superior to that; for it is sweeter in taste and more digestible, in addition to being wholesome for the stomach and nutritious. But the turnip," he says, "when roasted, is more easily digested, but in this state it attenuates the blood still more." This vegetable is mentioned by Eubulus, in his Ancylion, where he says-
  I bring this turnip to be roasted now.

And Alexis, in his Enthusiast, says--
  I speak to Ptolemaeus, roasting slices of turnip.

But the turnip, when pickled, is more attenuating in its effects than when boiled, especially when it is pickled with mustard, as Diphilus says.

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[38.] G   [387] But Agatharchides of Cnidus, in the thirty-fourth book of his History of the Affairs of Europe, speaking of the river Phasis, writes as follows:- "But the great multitude of the birds called pheasants (φασιανοὶ) come for the sake of food to the places where the mouths of the rivers fall into the sea." And Callixeinus the Rhodian, in the fourth book of his Account of Alexandria, describing a procession which took place in Alexandria, when Ptolemaeus who was surnamed Philadelphus was king, mentions, as a very extraordinary circumstance connected with these birds- "Then there were brought on in cases parrots, and peacocks, and guinea-fowl, and pheasants, and an immense number of Ethiopian birds." And Artemidorus, the pupil of Aristophanes, in his book entitled The Glossary of Cookery, and Pamphilus the Alexandrian, in his treatise on Names and Words, represents Epaenetus as saying in his Cookery Book that the pheasant is also called τατύρας. But Ptolemaeus Euergetes, in the second book of his Commentaries, says that the pheasant is called τέταρος. Now this is what I am able to tell you about the pheasant, which I have seen brought up on your account, as if we all had fevers. But as for you, if you do not, according to your agreement, give me tomorrow what you have covenanted to, I do not say that I will prosecute you in the public courts for deceit, but I will send you away to live near the Phasis, as Polemon, the Describer of the World, wished to drown Ister the pupil of Callimachus, the historian, in the river of the same name.

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[49.] G   [393] And even swans in great plenty were not lacking at our banquets. And Aristotle speaks in the following manner of this bird- "The swan is a prolific bird, and a quarrelsome one. And, indeed, they are so fond of fighting that they often kill one another. And the swan will fight even the eagle; though he does not begin the battle himself. And they are tuneful birds, especially towards the time of their death. And they also cross the seas singing. And they are web-footed, and feed on herbage." But Alexander the Myndian says, that though he followed a great many swans when they were dying, he never heard one sing. And Hegesianax of Alexandria, who arranged the book of Cephalion, called the History of Troy, says that the Cycnus who fought with Achilles in single combat, was fed in Leucophrys by the bird of the same name, that is, by the swan. But Boius, or Boio, which Philochorus [ Fr_214 ] says was his proper name, in his book on the Origin of Birds, says that Cycnus was turned into a bird by Ares, and that when he came to the river Sybaris he was cooped with a crane. And he says, also, that the swan lines his nest with that particular grass which is called lygaea.

And concerning the crane (γέρανος), Boius says that there was among the Pygmies a very well known woman whose name was Gerana. And she, being honoured as a god by her fellow-countrymen, thought lightly of those who were really gods, and especially of Hera and Artemis. And accordingly Hera, being indignant, changed her into an unsightly bird, and made her hostile to and hated by the Pygmies who had been used to honour her. And he says, also, that of her and Nicodamas was born the land tortoise. And as a general rule, the man who composed all these fables asserts that all the birds were formerly men.

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[63.] G   [400] But Hegesander of Delphi, in his Commentaries, says that in the reign of Antigonus Gonatas, there were such a number of hares in the island of Astypalaea, that the natives consulted the oracle on the subject. And the Pythia answered them that they ought to breed dogs, and hunt them; and so in one year there were caught more than six thousand. And all this immense number arose from a man of the island of Anaphe having put one pair of hares in the island. As also, on a previous occasion, when a certain Astypalean had let loose a pair of partridges in the island of Anaphe, there came to be such a number of partridges in Anaphe, that the inhabitants ran a risk of being driven out of the island by them. But originally Astypalaea had no hares at all, but only partridges. And the hare is a very prolific animal, as, Xenophon has told us, in his treatise on Hunting [ 5'13 ]; and Herodotus speaks of it in the following terms [ 3.108 ] - "Since the hare is hunted by everything - man, beast, and bird - it is on this account a very prolific animal; and it is the only animal known which is capable of superfetation. And it has in its womb at one time one litter with the fur on, and another bare, and another just formed, and a fourth only just conceived." And Polybius, in the twelfth book of his History [ 12.3'10 ], says that, there is another animal like the hare which is called the rabbit (κούνικλος); and he writes as follows-" The animal called the rabbit, when seen at a distance, looks like a small hare; but when any one takes it in his hands, there is a great difference between them, both in appearance and taste: and it lives chiefly underground." [401] And Poseidonius the philosopher also mentions them in his History [ Fr_61 ]: "And we ourselves have seen a great many in our voyage from Dicaearcheia to Neapolis. For there is an island not far from the mainland, opposite the lower side of Dicaearcheia, inhabited by only a very scanty population, but having a great number of rabbits." And there is also a kind of hare called the Chelidonian hare, which is mentioned by Diphilus, or Calliades, in his play called Ignorance, in the following terms-
  What is this? whence this hare who bears the name
  Of Chelidonian? Is it grey hare soup,
  Mimarcys called, so thick -with blood?

And Theopompus, in the twentieth book of his History, says that there are hares about Bisaltia which have two livers.

[64.] G   And when a wild boar was put upon the table, which was in no respect less than that noble Calydonian boar which has been so much celebrated,- I suggest to you now, said he, O my most philosophical and precise Ulpianus, to inquire who ever said that the Calydonian boar was a female, and that her meat was white. But he, without giving the matter any long consideration, but rather turning the question off, said- But it does seem to me, my friends, that if you are not yet satisfied, after having had such plenty of all these things, that you surpass every one who has ever been celebrated for his powers of eating,- and who those people are you can find out by inquiry. But it is more correct and more consistent with etymology to make the name σὺς, with a sigma; for the animal has its name from rushing (σεύομαι) and going on impetuously; but men have got a trick of pronouncing the word without the sigma, ὕς; and some people believe that it is called σῦν, by being softened from θῦν, as if it had its name from being a fit animal to sacrifice (θύειν). But now, if it seems good to you, answer me who ever uses the compound word like we do, calling the wild boar not σῦς ἄγριος, but σύαγρος? At all events, Sophocles, in his Lovers of Achilles, has applied the word σύαγρος to a dog, as hunting the boar (ἀπὸ τοῦ σῦς ἀγρεῦειν ), where he says-
  And you, Syagre, child of Pelion.

And in Herodotus we find Syagrus used as a proper name of a man who was a Lacedaemonian by birth, and who went on the embassy to Gelon the Syracusan, about forming an alliance against the Medes; which Herodotus mentions in the seventh book of his History [ 7.153 ]. And I am aware, too, that there was a general of the Aetolians named Syagrus, who is mentioned by Phylarchus, in the fourth book of his History [ Fr_5 ]. And Democritus said- You always, O Ulpianus, have got a habit of never taking anything that is set before you until you know whether the existing name of it was in use among the ancients. Accordingly you are running the risk, on account of all these inquiries of yours, (just like Philetas of Cos, who was always investigating all false arguments and erroneous uses of words,) of being starved to death, as he was. For he became very thin by reason of his devotion to these inquiries, and so died, as the inscription in front of his tomb shows-
  Stranger, Philetas is my name, I lie
  Slain by fallacious arguments, and cares
  Protracted from the evening through the night.

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[70.] G   [405] And to all this Aemilianus makes answer-
  My friend, you've made a speech quite long enough
  In praising your favourite art of cookery;-
as Hegesippus says in his Brothers. Do you then-
  Give us now something new to see beyond
  Your predecessor's art, or plague us not;
  But show me what you've got, and tell its name.

And he rejoins-
  You look down on me, since I am a cook.

But perhaps-
  What I have made by practising my art-
according to the comic poet Demetrius, who, in his play entitled The Areopagite, has spoken as follows-
  What I have made by practising my art
  Is more than any actor ever has gained,-
  This smoky art of mine is quite a kingdom.
  I was a caper-pickler with Seleucus,
  And at the court of the Sicilian king,
  Agathocles, I was the very first
  To introduce the royal dish of lentils.
  My chief exploit I have not mentioned yet:
  There was a famine, and a man named Lachares
  Was giving an entertainment to his friends;
  Whom I recovered with some caper-sauce.

Lachares stripped Athene naked, who caused him no inconvenience; but I will now strip you who are inconveniencing me, said Aemilianus, unless you show me what you have got with you. And he said at last, rather unwillingly, [406] I call this dish the Dish of Roses. And it is prepared in such a way, that you may not only have the ornament of a garland on your head, but also in yourself, and so feast your whole body with a luxurious banquet. Having pounded a quantity of the most fragrant roses in a mortar, I put in the brains of birds and pigs boiled and thoroughly cleansed of all the sinews, and also the yolks of eggs, and with them oil, and pickle-juice, and pepper, and wine. And having pounded all these things carefully together, I put them into a new dish, applying a gentle and steady fire to them. And while saying this, he uncovered the dish, and diffused such a sweet perfume over the whole party, that one of the guests present said with great truth [ Homer:Il_14'173 ] -
  The winds perfumed the balmy gale convey
  Through heaven, through earth, and all the aerial way;
- so excessive was the fragrance which was diffused from the roses.

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