Looking For Love During the Holidays? Don’t Eat Lettuce.

Deipnosophists 2.52f

“You walk like a donkey to a heap of treats.”

ὄνος βαδίζεις εἰς ἄχυρα τραγημάτων

The next few weeks present almost endless opportunities for gluttony and gastronomic delights. What author could offer us more in this season than Athenaeus? As might not surprise you, he has some eating advice for all occasions.

Deipnosophists 2.69b-d

“Nikandros of Kolophon says in the second book of his Glossary that lettuce (thridaks) is called brenthis among the Kyprians, for Adonis fled to lettuce when he was mortally wounded by the boar. Amphis writes in his Lamentations:

…in the worst, accursed lettuce,
If anyone eats it who is under sixty-years old
When he shares any space with a woman
He can twist the whole night without accomplishing
What he wants. Instead of getting any help,
He presses his hand on his necessary fate.

Kallimachus adds too that Aphrodite hid Adonis in a lettuce patch—a poet’s way of saying that men who continuously eat lettuce are weakened in their sexual ability. Euboulos in his Impotent Men:

Don’t serve me lettuce at the table,
Woman, or you will blame yourself.
The story goes that once Kypris placed Adonis
In this plant after he died—
Now it is food for corpses.


Νίκανδρος δ’ ὁ Κολοφώνιος ἐν β′ Γλωσσῶν (fr. 120 Schn) βρένθιν λέγεσθαί φησι παρὰ Κυπρίοις θρίδακα, οὗ ὁ ῎Αδωνις καταφυγὼν ὑπὸ τοῦ  κάπρου διεφθάρη. ῎Αμφις τε ἐν ᾿Ιαλέμῳ φησίν

(II 241 K)·

ἐν ταῖς θριδακίναις ταῖς κάκιστ’ ἀπολουμέναις,

ἃς εἰ φάγοι τις ἐντὸς ἑξήκοντ’ ἐτῶν,

ὁπότε γυναικὸς λαμβάνοι κοινωνίαν,

στρέφοιθ’ ὅλην τὴν νύκτ’ ἂν οὐδὲ ἓν πλέον

ὧν βούλεται δρῶν, ἀντὶ τῆς ὑπουργίας

τῇ χειρὶ τρίβων τὴν ἀναγκαίαν τύχην.

καὶ Καλλίμαχος δέ φησιν (fr. 371 Schn.) ὅτι ἡ ᾿Αφροδίτη τὸν ῎Αδωνιν ἐν θριδακίνῃ κρύψειεν, ἀλληγορούντων τῶν ποιητῶν ὅτι ἀσθενεῖς εἰσι πρὸς ἀφροδίσια οἱ συνεχῶς χρώμενοι θρίδαξι. καὶ Εὔβουλος δ’ ἐν ᾿Αστύτοις φησί (II 169 K)·

μὴ παρατίθει <σύ> μοι θριδακίνας, ὦ γύναι,

ἐπὶ τὴν τράπεζαν, ἢ σεαυτὴν αἰτιῶ.

ἐν τῷ λαχάνῳ τούτῳ γάρ, ὡς λόγος, ποτὲ

τὸν ῎Αδωνιν ἀποθανόντα προὔθηκεν Κύπρις·

ὥστ’ ἐστὶ νεκύων βρῶμα.


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