Food in Latin Literature
This is a University of Helsinki course by Dr Alexandra Grigorieva, fellow of Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
Food in Latin Literature, from turnips to peacocks, an introduction to Roman literary cuisine (28 hours, 5 credits)
Students are assigned texts in Latin to read and translate (and then discuss in class), they also have to make individual presentations on specific foods using TLL online. Companion page Gastronomy/Food_Images_in_Antiquity
Topics discussed in class
  1. Food in Antiquity, an overview of subject and sources
  2. Cato the Elder, Varro and Columella, food in the Roman agricultural society
  3. Plautus vs. Terentius, food in Roman comedy
  4. Mos maiorum, moral food vs. immoral food in Roman public rhetoric, from Cicero to Livy etc.
  5. The private Roman approach to food, letters of Cicero, letters of Pliny.
  6. Idyllic food: from Virgil’s Bucolics and Tibullus to Moretum of Appendix Vergiliana.
  7. Food for the gods, Ovid’s Fasti and Roman rituals.
    ̈Ovid Fasti 1st century AD
  8. Horace on food behaviour, laudable vs. regrettable in Sermones.
    ̈Horace Sermones 1st century BC
  9. Satyricon of Petronius and food mores in early imperial Rome, corresponding recipes from Apicius
    ̈Petronius Satyricon 1st century AD
  10. Martial’s food poems and xenia food images.

Apicius recipes

Xenia mosaics from Tunisia, El Djem (Roman Thysdrus destroyed in 238 AD)
dice-players and xenia

iocus neolatinus

Assa mullos, caede cucurbitam, adordina aprunam,
Bullit iam ius, adest lanx sine carne noua,
Caccabus efferuens mugit tibi dite uapore,
Detrahe porcellis denique, uappa, cutem!»
Eneruat sic me coquus atrox talia pergens:
«Fercula ad ardentes suauia pone, piger!
Gustus non reputes attentus seruus et esto,
Herbas uilicus est, uilica nonne probet?»
Infero. Sed mecum potius noua carmina uoluo,
Lagonam implemus, finis ut ornet opus.
Melle miser, pipere alloquor almam Musam et adoro
Nugis et nucibus persequor Aonides!
Ollam debeo carnificis decreto agitare
Pultis, ne uerbis redderit acta minax.
Quassa olla quatio stilum ad aspera dulcia promptum
Rutam pratensem linquens Vergilio.
Suffundit chartas de piscibus ingenio mens
(Tessellatim, eheu, caedam epulis apuam)...
«Vas lauasti? - Mox fugitiue tibi paro cenam! -
Zingiber estne domi?» Versusque conficitur!

Further topics to exploreː
Travelling all over the Empire, foods and food similes in the Golden Ass by Apuleius.
Historia Augusta, castigating emperors’ food habits.
From Ausonius to Macrobius, late Latin authors on food, Christian vs. pagan.
After the fall of Rome: letter of Anthimus (Byzantine physician to the Ostrogoths) on the observance of foods and foods in Etymologiae of Isidore (bishop of Visigoth Seville), ‘the last scholar of the ancient world’.

Suggested foods for exploringː panis, caseus, perna, piper, ovum, puls, mullus, mel, liquamen, acetum, oliva, pavo, ruta, nux, ligusticum, malum, oleum, lac, cicer, placenta, coriandrum, pisum, rapa, aper, lens. Students may also suggest their own choices.
References and suggested readingː
Last edited on 31 December 2018, at 01:34
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