Has Your Cook Read Democritus and Epicurus? (Damoxenus, fr. 1)

This comic fragment is found in Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists. The comic poet Damoxenus is from the 4th century BCE–he is known mostly from Athenaeus and has no Wikipedia page.

A. You see that I am
a disciple of the wise man Epicurus—
in his house in under than two years and ten months
I ‘boiled off’ ten talents.

B. What does this mean? Tell me? A. I ‘dedicated’ them.
That man was a cook as well, dear earth and gods!
B. What kind of a cook? A. Nature is the origin point
Of every kind of craft. B. The ‘origin point’, you scoundrel?

A. ‘There is nothing wiser than work’–
Every task or pursuit is easier when
You keep that saying in mind. Many things come to you!
This is why if you ever meet an uneducated cook,
one who hasn’t read Democritus completely
along with Epicurus’ Canon, rub shit in his face
and kick him out as they do from the academies!
For this is what he needs to know….”

Greek philosophers
Gallery of Culinary Inspiration

᾿Επικούρου δέ με
ὁρᾷς μαθητὴν ὄντα τοῦ σοφοῦ, παρ’ ᾧ
ἐν δύ’ ἔτεσιν καὶ μησὶν οὐχ ὅλοις δέκα
τάλαντ’ ἐγώ σοι κατεπύκνωσα τέτταρα.
Β. τοῦτο δὲ τί ἐστιν; εἰπέ μοι. Α. καθήγισα.
μάγειρος ἦν κἀκεῖνος, ὦ γῆ καὶ θεοί.
Β. ποῖος μάγειρος; Α. ἡ φύσις πάσης τέχνης
ἀρχέγονόν ἐστ’. Β. ἀρχέγονον, ὦλιτήριε;
Α. οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδὲν τοῦ πονεῖν σοφώτερον,
πᾶν εὐχερές τε πρᾶγμα τοῦ λόγου τριβὴν
ἔχοντι τούτου· πολλὰ γὰρ συμβάλλεται.
διόπερ μάγειρον ὅταν ἴδῃς ἀγράμματον
μὴ Δημόκριτόν τε πάντα διανεγνωκότα,
καὶ τὸν ᾿Επικούρου κανόνα, μινθώσας ἄφες
ὡς ἐκ διατριβῆς. τοῦτο δεῖ γὰρ εἰδέναι…

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