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?”

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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;


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