Late For the Meal? Maybe Dine Alone…

In his Deipnosophists Athenaeus pretty much talks about everything (e.g., the masturbation habits of the Achaeans during their nine years at Troy). Early on, he expands on good manners when coming to dinner at someone else’s expense (don’t go late) and the general creepiness of a man who dines alone (1.14.30-50):

“The comic poet Amphis says:

If someone comes late to a free diner,
Believe that he’d rush to leave the battle line too!

And Chrysippus adds:

Don’t make light of the free drinking party
A free drinking party shouldn’t be treated lightly, but pursued!

Antiphanes also says:

The life of the gods is this: whenever you can
Eat someone else’s food and think nothing of the bill.

And elsewhere:

This is the blessed life when I must always seek
Some new trick to find a nibble for my lips.

I came from home to this drinking parting bringing these lines, making sure as well that I arrived carrying my rent money too, since “we singers always sacrifice without smoke”.

The word monophagein [“to eat alone”]is used [negatively] among ancient writers. For instance, Antiphanes says: “You’re eating alone already and causing me harm!” Amphis, too, says, “To hell with you, you solitary diner, you thief!”

banquet

ἀσυμβόλου δείπνου γὰρ ὅστις ὑστερεῖ,
τοῦτον ταχέως νόμιζε κἂν τάξιν λιπεῖν,

῎Αμφις φησὶν ὁ κωμικός (II 248 K). Χρύσιππος δέ φησιν·

ἀσύμβολον κώθωνα μὴ παραλίμπανε.
κώθων δ’ οὐ παραλειπτὸς ἀσύμβολος, ἀλλὰ διωκτός.

᾿Αντιφάνης δέ φησι (II 117 K)·

βίος θεῶν γάρ ἐστιν, ὅταν ἔχῃς ποθὲν
τἀλλότρια δειπνεῖν, μὴ προσέχων λογίσμασι.

καὶ πάλιν·

μακάριος ὁ βίος, ᾧ δεῖ μ’ ἀεὶ καινὸν πόρον
εὑρίσκειν, ὡς μάσημα ταῖς γνάθοις ἔχω.

ταῦτα οἴκοθεν ἔχων εἰς τὸ συμπόσιον ἦλθον καὶ προμελετήσας, ἵνα κἀγὼ τὸ στεγανόμιον κομίζων παραγένωμαι.

ἄκαπνα γὰρ αἰὲν ἀοιδοὶ θύομεν.
ὅτι τὸ μονοφαγεῖν ἐστιν ἐν χρήσει τοῖς παλαιοῖς.

᾿Αντιφάνης (II 128 K)·
.. μονοφαγεῖς, ἤδη τι καὶ βλάπτεις ἐμέ.

᾿Αμειψίας (I 677 K)·
ἔρρ’ ἐς κόρακας, μονοφάγε καὶ τοιχωρύχε.

Some Help for the Holidays: The Best Dinner Invitation Ever Written

Catullus 13

“You’ll dine well at my house, Fabullus
In a few days, if the gods favor you, and
If you bring a fine, large meal with you.
And don’t forget: a bright-eyed girl,
Wine, salt, and every kind of cheer.
If you bring these things I ask, fine friend,
You will dine well: for your Catullus’ wallet
Is full of nothing but spider webs.
In exchange, you’ll get unmixed love,
Or something even sweeter and more elegant:
I will give you a perfume which
Venuses and Cupids gave to my girl.
The kind of thing that when you smell it, Fabullus,
You’ll beg the gods to make you all nose.”

Cenabis bene, mi Fabulle, apud me
paucis, si tibi di favent, diebus,
si tecum attuleris bonam atque magnam
cenam, non sine candida puella
et vino et sale et omnibus cachinnis.
haec si, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster,
cenabis bene; nam tui Catulli
plenus sacculus est aranearum.
sed contra accipies meros amores
seu quid suavius elegantiusve est:
nam unguentum dabo, quod meae puellae
donarunt Veneres Cupidinesque,
quod tu cum olfacies, deos rogabis,

totum ut te faciant, Fabulle, nasum.

Image result for Papyrus Ancient Roman Dinner Invitation

A Banquet of Learning; A Dinner No-Show

Cicero Topica V

“But because I have welcomed someone eager for a feast of learning, I shall prepare it so well that there will be some leftovers rather than allow you to leave still hungry for more….”

Sed quoniam avidum hominem ad has discendi epulas recepi, sic accipiam, ut reliquiarum sit potius aliquid quam te hinc patiar non satiatum discedere.

Pliny the Younger to Septimius Clarus (Letter 15)

“Who do you think you are?! You agree to come do dinner…but you don’t come? The judgment is passed: You must pay my cost to a penny, and this is not moderate. All was set out: a lettuce for each, three snails, two eggs, wine with honey chilled with snow—for you should include this too among the highest expense since it dissolves on the plate—and there were olives, beets, pickles, onions and countless other things no less neat.

You would have heard a comedy or a reader or a singer of all of them, given my generosity. But you went where I don’t know, preferring oysters, a sow’s belly, sea-urchins, and Spanish dancers. You will suffer for this, somehow, believe me. You did something bad to one of us, certainly to me, but perhaps to yourself too. How much we played, laughed, and studied! You might eat better food at many homes, but nowhere will you eat so enjoyably, simply, and freely. In sum: try me: and if later you don’t excuse yourself from another’s meal, you can always lie to me again. Goodbye!”

Plinius Septicio Claro Suo S.

Heus tu! promittis ad cenam, nec venis? Dicitur ius: ad assem impendium reddes, nec id modicum. Paratae erant lactucae singulae, cochleae ternae, ova bina, halica cum mulso et nive (nam hanc quoque computabis, immo hanc in primis quae perit in ferculo), olivae betacei cucurbitae bulbi, alia mille non minus lauta. Audisses comoedos vel lectorem vel lyristen vel (quae mea liberalitas) omnes. At tu apud nescio quem ostrea vulvas echinos Gaditanas maluisti. Dabis poenas, non dico quas. Dure fecisti: invidisti, nescio an tibi, certe mihi, sed tamen et tibi. Quantum nos lusissemus risissemus studuissemus! Potes adparatius cenare apud multos, nusquam hilarius simplicius incautius. In summa experire, et nisi postea te aliis potius excusaveris, mihi semper excusa. Vale.

Image result for Ancient Roman library food
Fresco from Pompeii

Late For the Meal? Maybe Dine Alone…

In his Deipnosophists Athenaeus pretty much talks about everything (e.g., the masturbation habits of the Achaeans during their nine years at Troy). Early on, he expands on good manners when coming to dinner at someone else’s expense (don’t go late) and the general creepiness of a man who dines alone (1.14.30-50):

“The comic poet Amphis says:

If someone comes late to a free diner,
Believe that he’d rush to leave the battle line too!

And Chrysippus adds:

Don’t make light of the free drinking party
A free drinking party shouldn’t be treated lightly, but pursued!

Antiphanes also says:

The life of the gods is this: whenever you can
Eat someone else’s food and think nothing of the bill.

And elsewhere:

This is the blessed life when I must always seek
Some new trick to find a nibble for my lips.

I came from home to this drinking parting bringing these lines, making sure as well that I arrived carrying my rent money too, since “we singers always sacrifice without smoke”.

The word monophagein [“to eat alone”]is used [negatively] among ancient writers. For instance, Antiphanes says: “You’re eating alone already and causing me harm!” Amphis, too, says, “To hell with you, you solitary diner, you thief!”

banquet

ἀσυμβόλου δείπνου γὰρ ὅστις ὑστερεῖ,
τοῦτον ταχέως νόμιζε κἂν τάξιν λιπεῖν,

῎Αμφις φησὶν ὁ κωμικός (II 248 K). Χρύσιππος δέ φησιν·

ἀσύμβολον κώθωνα μὴ παραλίμπανε.
κώθων δ’ οὐ παραλειπτὸς ἀσύμβολος, ἀλλὰ διωκτός.

᾿Αντιφάνης δέ φησι (II 117 K)·

βίος θεῶν γάρ ἐστιν, ὅταν ἔχῃς ποθὲν
τἀλλότρια δειπνεῖν, μὴ προσέχων λογίσμασι.

καὶ πάλιν·

μακάριος ὁ βίος, ᾧ δεῖ μ’ ἀεὶ καινὸν πόρον
εὑρίσκειν, ὡς μάσημα ταῖς γνάθοις ἔχω.

ταῦτα οἴκοθεν ἔχων εἰς τὸ συμπόσιον ἦλθον καὶ προμελετήσας, ἵνα κἀγὼ τὸ στεγανόμιον κομίζων παραγένωμαι.

ἄκαπνα γὰρ αἰὲν ἀοιδοὶ θύομεν.
ὅτι τὸ μονοφαγεῖν ἐστιν ἐν χρήσει τοῖς παλαιοῖς.

᾿Αντιφάνης (II 128 K)·
.. μονοφαγεῖς, ἤδη τι καὶ βλάπτεις ἐμέ.

᾿Αμειψίας (I 677 K)·
ἔρρ’ ἐς κόρακας, μονοφάγε καὶ τοιχωρύχε.

The Best Dinner Invitation Ever Written

Catullus 13

“You’ll dine well at my house, Fabullus
In a few days, if the gods favor you, and
If you bring a fine, large meal with you.
And don’t forget: a bright-eyed girl,
Wine, salt, and every kind of cheer.
If you bring these things I ask, fine friend,
You will dine well: for your Catullus’ wallet
Is full of nothing but spider webs.
In exchange, you’ll get unmixed love,
Or something even sweeter and more elegant:
I will give you a perfume which
Venuses and Cupids gave to my girl.
The kind of thing that when you smell it, Fabullus,
You’ll beg the gods to make you all nose.”

Cenabis bene, mi Fabulle, apud me
paucis, si tibi di favent, diebus,
si tecum attuleris bonam atque magnam
cenam, non sine candida puella
et vino et sale et omnibus cachinnis.
haec si, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster,
cenabis bene; nam tui Catulli
plenus sacculus est aranearum.
sed contra accipies meros amores
seu quid suavius elegantiusve est:
nam unguentum dabo, quod meae puellae
donarunt Veneres Cupidinesque,
quod tu cum olfacies, deos rogabis,

totum ut te faciant, Fabulle, nasum.

Image result for Papyrus Ancient Roman Dinner Invitation

A Banquet of Learning; A Dinner No-Show

One note to think about what you might serve at dinner in addition to food; another to inspire you for those last minute cancellations…

Cicero Topica V

“But because I have welcomed someone eager for a feast of learning, I shall prepare it so well that there will be some leftovers rather than allow you to leave still hungry for more….”

Sed quoniam avidum hominem ad has discendi epulas recepi, sic accipiam, ut reliquiarum sit potius aliquid quam te hinc patiar non satiatum discedere.

 

Pliny the Younger to Septimius Clarus (Letter 15)

“Who do you think you are?! You agree to come do dinner…but you don’t come? The judgment is passed: You must pay my cost to a penny, and this is not moderate. All was set out: a lettuce for each, three snails, two eggs, wine with honey chilled with snow—for you should include this too among the highest expense since it dissolves on the plate—and there were olives, beets, pickles, onions and countless other things no less neat. You would have heard a comedy or a reader or a singer of all of them, given my generosity. But you went where I don’t know, preferring oysters, a sow’s belly, sea-urchins, and Spanish dancers. You will suffer for this, somehow, believe me. You did something bad to one of us, certainly to me, but perhaps to yourself too. How much we played, laughed, and studied! You might eat better food at many homes, but nowhere will you eat so enjoyably, simply, and freely. In sum: try me: and if later you don’t excuse yourself from another’s meal, you can always lie to me again. Goodbye!”

Plinius Septicio Claro Suo S.

Heus tu! promittis ad cenam, nec venis? Dicitur ius: ad assem impendium reddes, nec id modicum. Paratae erant lactucae singulae, cochleae ternae, ova bina, halica cum mulso et nive (nam hanc quoque computabis, immo hanc in primis quae perit in ferculo), olivae betacei cucurbitae bulbi, alia mille non minus lauta. Audisses comoedos vel lectorem vel lyristen vel (quae mea liberalitas) omnes. At tu apud nescio quem ostrea vulvas echinos Gaditanas maluisti. Dabis poenas, non dico quas. Dure fecisti: invidisti, nescio an tibi, certe mihi, sed tamen et tibi. Quantum nos lusissemus risissemus studuissemus! Potes adparatius cenare apud multos, nusquam hilarius simplicius incautius. In summa experire, et nisi postea te aliis potius excusaveris, mihi semper excusa. Vale.

Image result for Ancient Roman library food
Fresco from Pompeii