The Homeric Diet

Plato, Republic 404b-c

“One could easily learn all of this sort of stuff from Homer,” I said. “For you know that in the feasts in the camp of the heroes he does not have them dine on fish, and this although they are next to the sea in the Hellespont, nor do they dine on boiled, but only roasted meats, which can be most easily prepared in the camps. For it is, so to speak, everywhere easier to use fire itself than to carry cauldrons around.”

-“To be sure.”

“Nor, I think, did Homer ever mention desserts. Don’t all athletes know this, that one who wishes to have a healthy body should avoid all of those sorts of things?”

Image result for greek athletics


Καὶ παρ’ ῾Ομήρου, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, τά γε τοιαῦτα μάθοι ἄν τις. οἶσθα γὰρ ὅτι ἐπὶ στρατιᾶς ἐν ταῖς τῶν ἡρώων ἑστιάσεσιν οὔτε ἰχθύσιν αὐτοὺς ἑστιᾷ, καὶ ταῦτα ἐπὶ θαλάττῃ ἐν ῾Ελλησπόντῳ ὄντας, οὔτε ἑφθοῖς κρέασιν ἀλλὰ μόνον ὀπτοῖς, ἃ δὴ μάλιστ’ ἂν εἴη στρατιώταις εὔπορα· πανταχοῦ γὰρ ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν αὐτῷ τῷ πυρὶ χρῆσθαι εὐπορώτερον ἢ ἀγγεῖα συμπεριφέρειν.
-Καὶ μάλα.
Οὐδὲ μὴν ἡδυσμάτων, ὡς ἐγᾦμαι, ῞Ομηρος πώποτε ἐμνήσθη. ἢ τοῦτο μὲν καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι ἀσκηταὶ ἴσασιν, ὅτι τῷ μέλλοντι σώματι εὖ ἕξειν ἀφεκτέον τῶν τοιούτων ἁπάντων;


4 responses

    • Yeah, I had another post lined up (now posted!) on this topic after I saw how popular it was on Twitter. I like your idea of a series. You should turn the ‘Grill Meat with Achilles’ thing into a post – only a few weeks of summer grilling left!

  1. I feel like this could be a series: learn to grill meat with Achilles:

    Il. 9.206–217
    “He put a large meat block on a burning fire
    And placed on top of it the back of a sheep and a fat goat
    And a slab of succulent hog, rich with fat.
    As Automedon held them, Achilles cut.
    Then he sliced them well into pieces and put them on spits
    While the son of Menoitios, a godlike man, built up the fire.
    But when the fire had burned up and the flame was receding,
    He spread out the coal and stretched the spits over it.
    Once he put the meat on the fire he seasoned it with holy salt.
    When he cooked the meat and distributed it on platters,
    Patroclus retrieved bread and placed it on a table
    In beautiful baskets. Then Achilles gave out the meat.”

    αὐτὰρ ὅ γε κρεῖον μέγα κάββαλεν ἐν πυρὸς αὐγῇ,
    ἐν δ’ ἄρα νῶτον ἔθηκ’ ὄϊος καὶ πίονος αἰγός,
    ἐν δὲ συὸς σιάλοιο ῥάχιν τεθαλυῖαν ἀλοιφῇ.
    τῷ δ’ ἔχεν Αὐτομέδων, τάμνεν δ’ ἄρα δῖος ᾿Αχιλλεύς.
    καὶ τὰ μὲν εὖ μίστυλλε καὶ ἀμφ’ ὀβελοῖσιν ἔπειρε,
    πῦρ δὲ Μενοιτιάδης δαῖεν μέγα ἰσόθεος φώς.
    αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ κατὰ πῦρ ἐκάη καὶ φλὸξ ἐμαράνθη,
    ἀνθρακιὴν στορέσας ὀβελοὺς ἐφύπερθε τάνυσσε,
    πάσσε δ’ ἁλὸς θείοιο κρατευτάων ἐπαείρας.
    αὐτὰρ ἐπεί ῥ’ ὤπτησε καὶ εἰν ἐλεοῖσιν ἔχευε,
    Πάτροκλος μὲν σῖτον ἑλὼν ἐπένειμε τραπέζῃ
    καλοῖς ἐν κανέοισιν, ἀτὰρ κρέα νεῖμεν ᾿Αχιλλεύς.

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