Jupiter Made Us Stop Being Cannibals

Most people know Ennius for his fragmentary Annales inspired in part by Greek epic poetry. But he was also inspired by the tradition of Euhemerism, the idea that the gods were just metastasized stories of once great men. He left fragments of a prose work inspired by this Greek mythographical tradition.

Ennius, Euhemerus, 81-87

“In that time, Jupiter used to spend most of his time on Mount Olympos; and people would come to him there if there was any matter over which there was a dispute. In the same way, if anyone found anything new which might be useful for human life, they would go there to show it to him.

It once was the case that Saturn and Ops and even the rest of mankind were in the habit of eating human flesh;. But, in truth, it was Jupiter, the first to make laws and customs for men, who prohibited through an edict that it was any longer allowed to consume that food.”

Ea tempestate Iuppiter in monte Olympo
Maximam partem vitae colebat et eo ad
Eum in ius veniebant, si quae res in
Controversia erant. Item si quis quid
novi invenerat quod ad vitam humanum
utile esset, eo veniebant atque Iovi
ostendebant.

Saturnum et Opem eterosque tunc
Homines humanam carnem solitos esitare;
Verum primum Ovem leges hominibus
Moresque condentem edicto prohibuisse
Ne liceret eo cibo vesci