Dreams of Food and their Meanings

Hippocrates, Regiments 4. 93 [On Dreams]

“However many strange bodies appear in dreams and frighten a person signal an excess of uncustomary food, a secretion, bile, and a dangerous sickness. An emetic is required followed by the increase over five days of extremely light food–not too much of it or too sharp, nor too dry or hot, along with the kinds of exercises that are natural except for walking after dinner. This really asks for warm baths and relaxation and you need to guard against the sun and the cold.

Whenever someone imagines they are eating or drinking customary food or drink while sleeping, it means a lack of food and depression in the soul. Really strong meats are a sign of excess; when they are weaker, there’s less. Just as eating is good, so too is dreaming about it! So, in the case of excess, it is useful to reduce the quantity of food, since excessive consumption is indicated. The dreaming of bread made with cheese and honey means the same thing. There’s no sign of harm in dreaming of water. But drinking other things is a bad sign.

When someone dreams about everyday objects, it signals a dream of the soul. A dream of running away in fear shows that the blood is fixed by dryness. It is advantageous then to cool and moisten the body.”

XCIII. Ὁκόσα δὲ ἀλλόμορφα σώματα φαίνεται ἐν τοῖσιν ὕπνοισι καὶ φοβεῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον, σιτίων ἀσυνήθων σημαίνει πλησμονὴν καὶ ἀπόκρισιν καὶ χολέραν καὶ νοῦσον κινδυνώδεα· ἀλλὰ χρὴ ἔμετον ποιήσασθαι καὶ προσάγειν ἐς ἡμέρας πέντε σίτοισιν ὡς κουφοτάτοισι, μὴ πολλοῖσι μηδὲ δριμέσι, μήτε τοῖσι ξηροῖσι μήτε τοῖσι θερμοῖσι, καὶ τῶν πόνων τοῖσι κατὰ φύσιν μάλιστα, πλὴν τῶν ἀπὸ δείπνου περιπάτων· χρῆσθαι δὲ καὶ θερμολουσίῃ καὶ ῥᾳθυμίῃσιν· ἥλιον δὲ καὶ ψῦχος φυλασσέσθω. ὁκόταν1 δὲ ἐν τῷ ὕπνῳ ἐσθίειν δοκῇ ἢ πίνειν τῶν συνήθων ποτῶν ἢ σιτίων, ἔνδειαν σημαίνει τροφῆς καὶ ψυχῆς ἀθυμίην·† κρέα δὲ τὰ μὲν ἰσχυρότατα, μεγίστης ὑπερβολῆς, τὰ δὲ ἀσθενέστερα ἧσσον· ὥσπερ γὰρ ἐσθιόμενον ἀγαθόν, οὕτω καὶ ὁρεόμενον· ἀφαιρεῖν οὖν τῶν σιτίων συμφέρει· τροφῆς γὰρ ὑπερβολὴν σημαίνει·†4 καὶ ἄρτοι τυρῷ καὶ μέλιτι πεποιημένοι ὡσαύτως σημαίνουσιν. ὕδωρ πινόμενον καθαρὸν οὐ βλάπτει· τὰ δὲ ἄλλα πάντα βλάπτει. ὁκόσα δὲ δοκεῖ ἄνθρωπος θεωρεῖν τῶν συνήθων, ψυχῆς ἐπιθυμίην σημαίνει. ὅσα δὲ φεύγει πεφοβημένος, ἐπίστασιν τοῦ αἵματος σημαίνει ὑπὸ ξηρασίης· συμφέρει δὲ ψῦξαι καὶ ὑγρῆναι τὸ σῶμα. 

Victual Healing: Plutarch on the Curative Powers of Food

Plutarch, Table Talk 662 c-d

“For we can use pain as an instrument in healing only briefly since it is extremely violent. No one would be able to expel pleasure from the rest of the approaches, even if he wanted too—for this is present in eating, sleeping and also in baths, massages, and relaxation, and they help someone who is sick by wearing away what is foreign to the body with what is familiar and natural.

What kind of pain, what deprivation, or what toxin as easily and directly addresses a disease as when a bath happens at the right time or when wine is given to those who need it? Even food when it has arrived with pleasure immediately resolves all difficulties and sets everything right as when a clear day develops from a storm…”

“σμικρὰ γάρ,” ἔφη, “καὶ ἄκοντες ὡς βιαιοτάτῳ τῶν ὀργάνων ἀλγηδόνι προσχρώμεθα· τῶν δ᾿ ἄλλων οὐδεὶς ἂν οὐδὲ βουλόμενος ἀπώσαιτο τὴν ἡδονήν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τροφαῖς καὶ ὕπνοις καὶ περὶ λουτρὰ καὶ ἀλείμματα καὶ κατακλίσεις ἀεὶ πάρεστιν καὶ συνεκδέχεται καὶ συνεκτιθηνεῖται τὸν κάμνοντα, πολλῷ τῷ οἰκείῳ καὶ κατὰ φύσιν ἐξαμαυροῦσα τὸ ἀλλότριον. ποία γὰρ ἀλγηδών, τίς ἔνδεια, ποῖον δηλητήριον οὕτω ῥᾳδίως καὶ ἀφελῶς νόσον ἔλυσεν, ὡς λουτρὸν ἐν καιρῷ γενόμενον καὶ οἶνος δοθεὶς δεομένοις; καὶ τροφὴ παρελθοῦσα μεθ᾿ ἡδονῆς εὐθὺς ἔλυσε τὰ δυσχερῆ πάντα καὶ κατέστησεν εἰς τὸ οἰκεῖον τὴν φύσιν, ὥσπερ εὐδίας καὶ γαλήνης γενομένης

 

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Fish-Eaters, Meat-Eaters and Bread: Dehumanizing Structures in the Odyssey

Homer, Odyssey 8.221-222

“I say that I am much better than the rest,
However so many mortals now eat bread on the earth.”

τῶν δ’ ἄλλων ἐμέ φημι πολὺ προφερέστερον εἶναι,
ὅσσοι νῦν βροτοί εἰσιν ἐπὶ χθονὶ σῖτον ἔδοντες.

Schol. B ad Od. 8.222 ex

“Who eat bread…” He says this because there are some races who don’t eat bread. Indeed, some are called locust eaters and fish-easters, like the Skythian race and the Massagetae are called meat-eaters. Some of the locust-eaters, after seeing bread, used to believe it was shit.”

σῖτον ἔδοντες] εἶπε τοῦτο διά τινα γένη, οἵτινες οὐκ ἤσθιον σῖτον. διὸ καὶ ἀκριδοφάγοι τινὲς καὶ ἰχθυοφάγοι ἐκαλοῦντο, ὡς καὶ τὸ Σκυθικὸν καὶ Μασσαγετικὸν κρεοφάγοι καλοῦνται. τινὲς γὰρ τῶν ἀκριδοφάγων ἰδόντες ἄρτον κόπρον εἶναι ἐνόμιζον. B.

Cf. Schol. T ad 16.784

“The poet also does not show heroes eating fish or birds, but still Odysseus’ companions do try to under compulsion. Generally, the poet avoids this kind of habit because of its triviality, but he has [heroes] eat roasted meat.”

οὐδὲ γὰρ ἰχθύσι χρωμένους εἰσήγαγεν ἢ ὄρνισιν, ἀλλ’ ὅμως δι’ ἀνάγκην καὶ τοῖς τοιούτοις ἐπεχείρουν οἱ ᾿Οδυσσέως ἑταῖροι (cf. δ 368. μ 331)· καθόλου γὰρ τὴν τοιαύτην χρῆσιν διὰ τὸ μικροπρεπὲς παρῃτήσατο, κρέασι δὲ ὀπτοῖς χρῆσθαι αὐτούς φησιν.

Eusth. Comm. I Ad Hom. Od. 1.293

“Those who eat grain/bread.” This is perhaps said regarding the difference of other mortals who are not these kind of people—the kind of sort the story claims that the long-lived Aethiopians are too. These people, after they saw bread, compared it to shit. There were also those who lived from eating locusts and others who lived off fish. For this reason they are called locust-eaters and fish eaters. The Skythian race and the Masssegetic people who live primarily off meat do not wish to eat grain.”

Τὸ δὲ σῖτον ἔδοντες, πρὸς διαστολὴν ἴσως ἐῤῥέθη ἑτέρων βροτῶν μὴ τοιούτων. ὁποίους καὶ τοὺς μακροβίους Αἰθίοπας ἡ ἱστορία φησίν. οἳ ἄρτον ἰδόντες κόπρῳ αὐτὸν εἴκασαν. ἦσαν δὲ καὶ οἱ ἐξ ἀκρίδων ζῶντες καὶ οἱ ἐξ ἰχθύων. οἳ καὶ ἀκριδοφάγοι διατοῦτο καὶ ἰχθυοφάγοι ἐκαλοῦντο. τὸ δὲ Σκυθικὸν φῦλον καὶ τὸ Μασσαγετικὸν κρέασι διοικονομούμενον οὐδ’ αὐτὸ ἐθέλει σιτοφαγεῖν.

Strabo, Geographica 16.4.12

“In a close land to [the Aethiopians] are people darker-skinned than the rest and shorter and the shortest-lived, the locust-eaters. They rarely see more than forty years because their flesh is rife with parasites. They live on locusts who arrive in the spring carried by the strong winds that blow into these places. After throwing burning logs into trenches and kindling them a little, they overshadow the locusts with smoke and they call. They pound them together with salt and use them as cakes for their food.”

Πλησιόχωροι δὲ τούτοις εἰσὶ μελανώτεροί τε τῶν ἄλλων καὶ βραχύτεροι καὶ βραχυβιώτατοι ἀκριδοφάγοι· τὰ γὰρ τετταράκοντα ἔτη σπανίως ὑπερτιθέασιν, ἀπο-
θηριουμένης αὐτῶν τῆς σαρκός· ζῶσι δ’ ἀπὸ ἀκρίδων, ἃς οἱ ἐαρινοὶ λίβες καὶ ζέφυροι πνέοντες μεγάλοι συνελαύνουσιν εἰς τοὺς τόπους τούτους· ἐν ταῖς χα-ράδραις δὲ ἐμβαλόντες ὕλην καπνώδη καὶ ὑφάψαντες μικρὸν … ὑπερπετάμεναι γὰρ τὸν καπνὸν σκοτοῦνται καὶ πίπτουσι· συγκόψαντες δ’ αὐτὰς μεθ’ ἁλμυρίδος μάζας ποιοῦνται καὶ χρῶνται.

Strabo’s passage is, from a modern perspective, fairly racist (and more so even than the Eustathius). I don’t believe that the Odyssey’s formulaic line carries the same force, however. For Homer, people who eat bread are those who cultivate the earth and have to work (they don’t live easy lives like the gods). People who don’t eat the fruit of the earth are marauders and monsters.

The Odyssey’s ethnographic frame develops structures that insist to be fully human, one must (1) live in a city and (2) have recognizable laws and institutions, and (3) cultivate the earth. Creatures who don’t do these things are marginalized and dehumanized either through their behavior (the suitors and sailors) or through actual deformity (the Cyclopes, Kikones, and, well, pretty much most of the women in the poem). So, while the epic itself is not clearly racist in the modern sense, it supplies and deploys frameworks by which other human beings may be marginalized and dehumanized.

 

Lovis Corinth “Odysseus Fighting the Beggar” 1903

Tis the Season to Get Your Cheese On

Homer, Odyssey, 20.68–69

“…And glorious Aphrodite cared for them
With cheese and sweet honey and pleasing wine.”

…..κόμισσε δὲ δῖ᾿ Ἀφροδίτη
τυρῷ καὶ μέλιτι γλυκερῷ καὶ ἡδέι οἴνῳ·

Xenophanes, fr. 1.9-10

“…and fine tables
Heaped up with cheese and thick honey.”

…γεραρή τε τράπεζα
τυροῦ καὶ μέλιτος πίονος ἀχθομένη·

Literary Papyri, fr. 59 [LCL 360] Anonymous

“There was some cheese. I took it”

….τυρὸς ἦν τις· ἔσπασα

Teleclides, fr. 27

“…to sip honey sweet wine
From a fragrant cup
While snacking on cheese.”

καὶ μελιχρὸν οἶνον ἕλκειν
ξ ἡδύπνου λεπαστῆς,
τυρίον ἐπεσθίοντα.

Still Life with Sausage, Ham and Cheese. Stillleben mit Würsten, Schinken, Käse. Norditalienischer Maler des 17. Jahrhunderts (nordvenezianische Schule, in stilistischer Nähe zur Bassano-Malerfamilie). Öl auf Leinwand. 71 x 91 cm.

Euripides, Cyclops, 226

“My buckets of cheese are all mixed up!”

τεύχη τε τυρῶν συμμιγῆ…

Cratinus, fr. 136

“Once I laid down alongside cheese and mint and olive oil…”

τυρῷ καὶ μίνθῃ παραλεξάμενος καὶ ἐλαίῳ.

Antiphanes, fr. 51

“Do you get it? I am talking about cheese”

 μανθάνεις; / τυρὸν λέγω.

Aristophanes, Wasps 956

“What’s the use, then, if he eats the cheese?”

τί οὖν ὄφελος, τὸν τυρὸν εἰ κατεσθίει;

Eupolis, fr. 361

“Oh, my cheese is hollowed out and gone….”

ὡς οἴχεται μὲν τυρὸς ἐξεγλυμμένος.

Floris van Schooten, Still-Life with Glass, Cheese, Butter and Cake, c. 1580

Hippocrates of Cos, On Ancient Medicine, 20.48

“It is not enough to consider only whether cheese is a bad food, since it provides pain to someone who has eating too much of it. Instead, we need to figure out what the pain is, what causes it, and what part of a person is harmed. There are many other harmful foods and wicked drinks that impact a person in different ways. I would summarize it in this way: “Unmixed wine, when consumed too much, creates a specific effect.” Everyone knows that this is an aspect of wine and that wine is to blame intrinsically and we know what parts of a person’s body are susceptible to these effects.

I wish to bring this kind of truth to light about other things too. Cheese, to use my current example, doesn’t affect all people the same. Some people can gorge themselves on it with no pain and those people gain amazing strength from it. Others don’t do so well. So, the constitutions of these people are different and the difference resides in the part of the body that is inimical to cheese and is irritated and compelled to act upon its appearance. Those who have this humor in their body in greater amounts and with greater influence over their body will naturally suffer more. Yet if cheese were a bad food for the human body universally, then it would hurt everyone. Whoever knows these things true, will not suffer the rest.”

καὶ μὴ ἁπλῶς οὕτως· πονηρόν ἐστιν βρῶμα τυρός. πόνον γὰρ παρέχει τῷ πληρωθέντι αὐτοῦ, ἀλλὰ τίνα τε πόνον καὶ διὰ τί καὶ τίνι τῶν ἐν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ ἐνεόντων ἀνεπιτήδειον. ἔστι γὰρ καὶ ἄλλα πολλὰ βρώματα καὶ πόματα πονηρά, ἃ διατίθησι τὸν ἄνθρωπον οὐ τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον. οὕτως οὖν μοι ἔστω οἷον· οἶνος ἄκρητος πολλὸς ποθεὶς διατίθησί πως τὸν ἄνθρωπον· καὶ πάντες ἂν οἱ εἰδότες τοῦτο γνοίησαν, ὅτι †αὕτη δύναμις οἴνου καὶ αὐτὸς αἴτιος·† καὶ οἷσί γε τῶν ἐν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ τοῦτο δύναται μάλιστα, οἴδαμεν. τοιαύτην δὴ βούλομαι ἀληθείην καὶ περὶ τῶν ἄλλων φανῆναι.

τυρὸς γάρ, ἐπειδὴ τούτῳ σημείῳ ἐχρησάμην, οὐ πάντας ἀνθρώπους ὁμοίως λυμαίνεται, ἀλλ᾿ εἰσὶν οἵτινες αὐτοῦ πληρούμενοι οὐδ᾿ ὁτιοῦν βλάπτονται, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἰσχύν, οἷσιν ἂν συμφέρῃ, θαυμασίως παρέχεται. εἰσὶ δ᾿ οἳ χαλεπῶς ἀπαλλάσσουσι. διαφέρουσιν οὖν τούτων αἱ φύσιες. διαφέρουσιν δὲ κατὰ τοῦτο, ὅπερ ἐν τῷ σώματι ἔνεστι πολέμιον τυρῷ καὶ ὑπὸ τούτου ἐγείρεταί τε καὶ κινεῖται· οἷς ὁ τοιοῦτος χυμὸς τυγχάνει πλείων ἐνεὼν καὶ μᾶλλον ἐνδυναστεύων ἐν τῷ σώματι, τούτους μᾶλλον καὶ κακοπαθεῖν εἰκός. εἰ δὲ πάσῃ τῇ ἀνθρωπίνῃ φύσει ἦν κακόν, πάντας ἂν ἐλυμήνατο. ταῦτα δὲ εἴ τις εἰδείη, οὐκ ἂν πάσχοι τάδε.

File:Paestum Museum (6120214225).jpg
Carved fruit. Paestum. “Red paint dishes with fruit (pomegranates, grapes, almonds), sweets and cheese”

Epicurus, according to Diogenes Laertius, Epicurus 11

“Send me a little bowl of cheese so that I can fill my belly whenever I like.”

πέμψον μοι τυροῦ,” φησί, “κυθριδίου, ἵν᾿ ὅταν βούλωμαι πολυτελεύσασθαι δύνωμαι.”

A Recipe For Your, Um, Growing Problem

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists Book 7, 326f

“If you immerse a red mullet in wine while it is still alive and a man drinks this, he will be impotent, as Terpsikles records in his work On Sexual Matters. If a woman drinks the same mixture, she will not get pregnant. The same thing does not happen with a chicken.”

ἐὰν δ᾿ ἐναποπνιγῇ τρίγλη ζῶσα ἐν οἴνῳ καὶ τοῦτο ἀνὴρ πίῃ, ἀφροδισιάζειν οὐ δυνήσεται, ὡς Τερψικλῆς ἱστορεῖ ἐν τῷ Περὶ Ἀφροδισίων· κἂν γυνὴ δὲ πίῃ τοῦ αὐτοῦ οἴνου, οὐ κυΐσκεται. ὁμοίως δὲ οὐδὲ ὄρνις.

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Spot the (extra)potence cure.

Dinners: Invitations and Guest-Lists for the Feasts

P. Oxy. 1485.

“The Exegete would love for you to dine today, the ninth day, at the temple of Demeter at the seventh hour”

Ἐρωτᾷ σαι διπν[ῆ-]σαι ὁ ἐξηγητὴ[ς] ἐν τῷ Δημητρίῳ σήμερον ἥτις ἐσ-τὶν θ ἀπὸ ὥρ(ας) ζ.

Here’ the beginning of Plutarch’s The Dinner of the Seven Wise Men to make you reconsider your guest-list for thanksgiving.

Moralia 146: Dinner of the Seven Wise Men (Full text on LacusCurtius)

“Nikarkhos, I guess that as time passes by it will impose a great darkness over events and total obscurity if even false accounts of what has just happened have belief. For, there was not a dinner of only seven men as you have heard, but there were more than twice as many—among whom I was present, since I was Periander’s friend thanks to my profession and a guest-friend of Thales who stayed at my home after Periander told him to.

Whoever it was who informed you of the events did not recall the speeches correctly—it is likely he was not one of the guests. But since I have a lot of free time and old age is too uncertain a thing to justify putting off the tale, I will tell you the entire story from the beginning which you are so eager to hear.”

Ἦ που προϊὼν ὁ χρόνος, ὦ Νίκαρχε, πολὺ σκότος ἐπάξει τοῖς πράγμασι καὶ πᾶσαν ἀσάφειαν, εἰ νῦν ἐπὶ προσφάτοις οὕτω καὶ νεαροῖς λόγοι ψευδεῖς συντεθέντες ἔχουσι πίστιν. οὔτε γὰρ μόνων, ὡς ὑμεῖς ἀκηκόατε, τῶν ἑπτὰ γέγονε τὸ συμπόσιον, ἀλλὰ πλειόνων ἢ δὶς τοσούτων (ἐν οἷς καὶ αὐτὸς ἤμην, συνήθης μὲν ὢν Περιάνδρῳ διὰ τὴν τέχνην, ξένος δὲ Θάλεω· παρ᾿ ἐμοὶ γὰρ κατέλυσεν ὁ ἀνὴρ Περιάνδρου κελεύσαντος), οὔτε τοὺς λόγους ὀρθῶς ἀπεμνημόνευσεν ὅστις ἦν ὑμῖν ὁ διηγούμενος· ἦν δ᾿ ὡς ἔοικεν οὐδεὶς τῶν παραγεγονότων. ἀλλ᾿ ἐπεὶ σχολή τε πάρεστι πολλὴ καὶ τὸ γῆρας οὐκ ἀξιόπιστον ἐγγυήσασθαι τὴν ἀναβολὴν τοῦ λόγου, προθυμουμένοις ὑμῖν ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς ἅπαντα διηγήσομαι.

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A Recipe For Your, Um, Growing Problem

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists Book 7, 326f

“If you immerse a red mullet in wine while it is still alive and a man drinks this, he will be impotent, as Terpsikles records in his work On Sexual Matters. If a woman drinks the same mixture, she will not get pregnant. The same thing does not happen with a chicken.”

ἐὰν δ᾿ ἐναποπνιγῇ τρίγλη ζῶσα ἐν οἴνῳ καὶ τοῦτο ἀνὴρ πίῃ, ἀφροδισιάζειν οὐ δυνήσεται, ὡς Τερψικλῆς ἱστορεῖ ἐν τῷ Περὶ Ἀφροδισίων· κἂν γυνὴ δὲ πίῃ τοῦ αὐτοῦ οἴνου, οὐ κυΐσκεται. ὁμοίως δὲ οὐδὲ ὄρνις.

Image result for ancient mosaic red mullet
Spot the (extra)potence cure.

Victual Healing: Plutarch on the Curative Powers of Food

Plutarch, Table Talk 662 c-d

“For we can use pain as an instrument in healing only briefly since it is extremely violent. No one would be able to expel pleasure from the rest of the approaches, even if he wanted too—for this is present in eating, sleeping and also in baths, massages, and relaxation, and they help someone who is sick by wearing away what is foreign to the body with what is familiar and natural.

What kind of pain, what deprivation, or what toxin as easily and directly addresses a disease as when a bath happens at the right time or when wine is given to those who need it? Even food when it has arrived with pleasure immediately resolves all difficulties and sets everything right as when a clear day develops from a storm…”

“σμικρὰ γάρ,” ἔφη, “καὶ ἄκοντες ὡς βιαιοτάτῳ τῶν ὀργάνων ἀλγηδόνι προσχρώμεθα· τῶν δ᾿ ἄλλων οὐδεὶς ἂν οὐδὲ βουλόμενος ἀπώσαιτο τὴν ἡδονήν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τροφαῖς καὶ ὕπνοις καὶ περὶ λουτρὰ καὶ ἀλείμματα καὶ κατακλίσεις ἀεὶ πάρεστιν καὶ συνεκδέχεται καὶ συνεκτιθηνεῖται τὸν κάμνοντα, πολλῷ τῷ οἰκείῳ καὶ κατὰ φύσιν ἐξαμαυροῦσα τὸ ἀλλότριον. ποία γὰρ ἀλγηδών, τίς ἔνδεια, ποῖον δηλητήριον οὕτω ῥᾳδίως καὶ ἀφελῶς νόσον ἔλυσεν, ὡς λουτρὸν ἐν καιρῷ γενόμενον καὶ οἶνος δοθεὶς δεομένοις; καὶ τροφὴ παρελθοῦσα μεθ᾿ ἡδονῆς εὐθὺς ἔλυσε τὰ δυσχερῆ πάντα καὶ κατέστησεν εἰς τὸ οἰκεῖον τὴν φύσιν, ὥσπερ εὐδίας καὶ γαλήνης γενομένης

 

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Fish-Eaters, Meat-Eaters and Bread: Dehumanizing Structures in the Odyssey

Homer, Odyssey 8.221-222

“I say that I am much better than the rest,
However so many mortals now eat bread on the earth.”

τῶν δ’ ἄλλων ἐμέ φημι πολὺ προφερέστερον εἶναι,
ὅσσοι νῦν βροτοί εἰσιν ἐπὶ χθονὶ σῖτον ἔδοντες.

Schol. B ad Od. 8.222 ex

“Who eat bread…” He says this because there are some races who don’t eat bread. Indeed, some are called locust eaters and fish-easters, like the Skythian race and the Massagetae are called meat-eaters. Some of the locust-eaters, after seeing bread, used to believe it was shit.”

σῖτον ἔδοντες] εἶπε τοῦτο διά τινα γένη, οἵτινες οὐκ ἤσθιον σῖτον. διὸ καὶ ἀκριδοφάγοι τινὲς καὶ ἰχθυοφάγοι ἐκαλοῦντο, ὡς καὶ τὸ Σκυθικὸν καὶ Μασσαγετικὸν κρεοφάγοι καλοῦνται. τινὲς γὰρ τῶν ἀκριδοφάγων ἰδόντες ἄρτον κόπρον εἶναι ἐνόμιζον. B.

Cf. Schol. T ad 16.784

“The poet also does not show heroes eating fish or birds, but still Odysseus’ companions do try to under compulsion. Generally, the poet avoids this kind of habit because of its triviality, but he has [heroes] eat roasted meat.”

οὐδὲ γὰρ ἰχθύσι χρωμένους εἰσήγαγεν ἢ ὄρνισιν, ἀλλ’ ὅμως δι’ ἀνάγκην καὶ τοῖς τοιούτοις ἐπεχείρουν οἱ ᾿Οδυσσέως ἑταῖροι (cf. δ 368. μ 331)· καθόλου γὰρ τὴν τοιαύτην χρῆσιν διὰ τὸ μικροπρεπὲς παρῃτήσατο, κρέασι δὲ ὀπτοῖς χρῆσθαι αὐτούς φησιν.

Eusth. Comm. I Ad Hom. Od. 1.293

“Those who eat grain/bread.” This is perhaps said regarding the difference of other mortals who are not these kind of people—the kind of sort the story claims that the long-lived Aethiopians are too. These people, after they saw bread, compared it to shit. There were also those who lived from eating locusts and others who lived off fish. For this reason they are called locust-eaters and fish eaters. The Skythian race and the Masssegetic people who live primarily off meat do not wish to eat grain.”

Τὸ δὲ σῖτον ἔδοντες, πρὸς διαστολὴν ἴσως ἐῤῥέθη ἑτέρων βροτῶν μὴ τοιούτων. ὁποίους καὶ τοὺς μακροβίους Αἰθίοπας ἡ ἱστορία φησίν. οἳ ἄρτον ἰδόντες κόπρῳ αὐτὸν εἴκασαν. ἦσαν δὲ καὶ οἱ ἐξ ἀκρίδων ζῶντες καὶ οἱ ἐξ ἰχθύων. οἳ καὶ ἀκριδοφάγοι διατοῦτο καὶ ἰχθυοφάγοι ἐκαλοῦντο. τὸ δὲ Σκυθικὸν φῦλον καὶ τὸ Μασσαγετικὸν κρέασι διοικονομούμενον οὐδ’ αὐτὸ ἐθέλει σιτοφαγεῖν.

Strabo, Geographica 16.4.12

“In a close land to [the Aethiopians] are people darker-skinned than the rest and shorter and the shortest-lived, the locust-eaters. They rarely see more than forty years because their flesh is rife with parasites. They live on locusts who arrive in the spring carried by the strong winds that blow into these places. After throwing burning logs into trenches and kindling them a little, they overshadow the locusts with smoke and they call. They pound them together with salt and use them as cakes for their food.”

Πλησιόχωροι δὲ τούτοις εἰσὶ μελανώτεροί τε τῶν ἄλλων καὶ βραχύτεροι καὶ βραχυβιώτατοι ἀκριδοφάγοι· τὰ γὰρ τετταράκοντα ἔτη σπανίως ὑπερτιθέασιν, ἀπο-
θηριουμένης αὐτῶν τῆς σαρκός· ζῶσι δ’ ἀπὸ ἀκρίδων, ἃς οἱ ἐαρινοὶ λίβες καὶ ζέφυροι πνέοντες μεγάλοι συνελαύνουσιν εἰς τοὺς τόπους τούτους· ἐν ταῖς χα-ράδραις δὲ ἐμβαλόντες ὕλην καπνώδη καὶ ὑφάψαντες μικρὸν … ὑπερπετάμεναι γὰρ τὸν καπνὸν σκοτοῦνται καὶ πίπτουσι· συγκόψαντες δ’ αὐτὰς μεθ’ ἁλμυρίδος μάζας ποιοῦνται καὶ χρῶνται.

Strabo’s passage is, from a modern perspective, fairly racist (and more so even than the Eustathius). I don’t believe that the Odyssey’s formulaic line carries the same force, however. For Homer, people who eat bread are those who cultivate the earth and have to work (they don’t live easy lives like the gods). People who don’t eat the fruit of the earth are marauders and monsters.

The Odyssey’s ethnographic frame develops structures that insist to be fully human, one must (1) live in a city and (2) have recognizable laws and institutions, and (3) cultivate the earth. Creatures who don’t do these things are marginalized and dehumanized either through their behavior (the suitors and sailors) or through actual deformity (the Cyclopes, Kikones, and, well, pretty much most of the women in the poem). So, while the epic itself is not clearly racist in the modern sense, it supplies and deploys frameworks by which other human beings may be marginalized and dehumanized.

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Dinners: Invitations and Guest-Lists for the Feasts

P. Oxy. 1485.

“The Exegete would love for you to dine today, the ninth day, at the temple of Demeter at the seventh hour”

Ἐρωτᾷ σαι διπν[ῆ-]σαι ὁ ἐξηγητὴ[ς] ἐν τῷ Δημητρίῳ σήμερον ἥτις ἐσ-τὶν θ ἀπὸ ὥρ(ας) ζ.

Here’ the beginning of Plutarch’s The Dinner of the Seven Wise Men to make you reconsider your guest-list for thanksgiving.

Moralia 146: Dinner of the Seven Wise Men

“Nikarkhos, I guess that as time passes by it will impose a great darkness over events and total obscurity if even false accounts of what has just happened have belief. For, there was not a dinner of only seven men as you have heard, but there were more than twice as many—among whom I was present, since I was Periander’s friend thanks to my profession and a guest-friend of Thales who stayed at my home after Periander told him to.

Whoever it was who informed you of the events did not recall the speeches correctly—it is likely he was not one of the guests. But since I have a lot of free time and old age is too uncertain a thing to justify putting off the tale, I will tell you the entire story from the beginning which you are so eager to hear.”

Ἦ που προϊὼν ὁ χρόνος, ὦ Νίκαρχε, πολὺ σκότος ἐπάξει τοῖς πράγμασι καὶ πᾶσαν ἀσάφειαν, εἰ νῦν ἐπὶ προσφάτοις οὕτω καὶ νεαροῖς λόγοι ψευδεῖς συντεθέντες ἔχουσι πίστιν. οὔτε γὰρ μόνων, ὡς ὑμεῖς ἀκηκόατε, τῶν ἑπτὰ γέγονε τὸ συμπόσιον, ἀλλὰ πλειόνων ἢ δὶς τοσούτων (ἐν οἷς καὶ αὐτὸς ἤμην, συνήθης μὲν ὢν Περιάνδρῳ διὰ τὴν τέχνην, ξένος δὲ Θάλεω· παρ᾿ ἐμοὶ γὰρ κατέλυσεν ὁ ἀνὴρ Περιάνδρου κελεύσαντος), οὔτε τοὺς λόγους ὀρθῶς ἀπεμνημόνευσεν ὅστις ἦν ὑμῖν ὁ διηγούμενος· ἦν δ᾿ ὡς ἔοικεν οὐδεὶς τῶν παραγεγονότων. ἀλλ᾿ ἐπεὶ σχολή τε πάρεστι πολλὴ καὶ τὸ γῆρας οὐκ ἀξιόπιστον ἐγγυήσασθαι τὴν ἀναβολὴν τοῦ λόγου, προθυμουμένοις ὑμῖν ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς ἅπαντα διηγήσομαι.

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