Beans, Beans, The [Mystical] Fruit

Zenobius, Proverbs

“Salt and bean”: A proverb applied to those who pretend to know something but do not know it. [this is because] diviners are in the habit of taking salt and bean in exchange for their interpretations. From this also they offer a bean to those who share in the mysteries”

῞Αλα καὶ κύαμον: ἐπὶ τῶν εἰδέναι μέν τι προσποιουμένων, οὐκ εἰδότων δέ· ἐπεὶ οἱ μάντεις εἰώθασι τιθέναι τὸν ἅλα καὶ κύαμον πρὸ τῶν μαντευομένων· ὅθεν καὶ τοῖς τῶν ἀποῤῥήτων κοινωνοῦσι κύαμον ἐτίθουν.

Apollonius the Paradoxographer

46 “In the fifth book of his Natural Causes, Theophrastos says that the covering of beans when they are placed near the roots of trees dry out the things that are growing. He also adds that native birds who eat these things constantly become barren. Therefore, for this reason and eventually because of many others the Pythagoreans prohibited the use of the bean. For it makes someone flatulent, and dyspeptic, and brings us bad dreams.

46 Θεόφραστος ἐν τῇ ε′ τῶν φυτικῶν αἰτιῶν φησιν τὰ κελύφια τῶν κυάμων περὶ τὰς ῥίζας τῶν δένδρων περιτιθέμενα ξηραίνειν τὰ φυόμενα. καὶ αἱ κατοικίδιαι δὲ ὄρνιθες συνεχῶς ταῦτα ἐσθίουσαι ἄτοκοι γίγνονται. ὅθεν καὶ διὰ ταύτην τὴν αἰτίαν, τάχα δὲ καὶ δι’ ἄλλας οἱ Πυθαγόρειοι ἀπηγορεύκασιν τῷ κυάμῳ χρῆσθαι· καὶ γὰρ πνευματοποιὸν καὶ δύσπεπτον, καὶ τοὺς ὀνείρους τεταραγμένους ἡμῖν ἐμποιεῖ.

Cicero, de Divinatione 1.30:

“Plato therefore encourages people to go to sleep with their bodies thus disposed that there be nothing which could introduce any wandering from or disturbance of sleep. From which it is thought that the Pythagoreans prohibited the consumption of beans, because that food causes a great flatulence which is contrary to the tranquility of a mind seeking the truth.”

Iubet igitur Plato sic ad somnum proficisci corporibus adfectis, ut nihil sit, quod errorem animis perturbationemque adferat. Ex quo etiam Pythagoreis interdictum putatur, ne faba vescerentur, quod habet infiationem magnam is cibus tranquillitati mentis quaerenti vera contrariam.

Image result for medieval manuscript beans
From Getty Images and this site

2 thoughts on “Beans, Beans, The [Mystical] Fruit

  1. They are talking about the broad bean, haba, favae /Vicia faba/.
    If eaten raw, and it is done to this day, it can bring about a form of anemia in people deficient in an enzyme, that is fairly common among Mediterraneans -favism .
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glucose-6-phosphate_dehydrogenase_deficiency
    .
    The classical world was not scarce in beans, a wonderful source of protein, they had broad beans, lentils, cicci chickpeas, and green peas.
    After the discovery of America and at the same time coming from Africa new beans brought a better form of nourishment and an increase in population in Italy.
    The Renaissance ran on beans

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