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Postumianus

(110 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] Praefectus praetorio Orientis in AD 383. An orthodox Christian from the West, P. rose above various otherwise unknown officials to the praetorian praefecture of the East (Greg. Naz. Epist. 173). He took up office at the beginning of 383  (Cod. Theod. 9,42,10), but held it only until the end of the year (Cod. Theod. 16,5,12). After returning to the west he was entrusted from 395 to 396 with a legation from the city of Rome's Senate to the emperor (Symmachus Ep. 6,22,3; 6,26,2). Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster) Bibliography W. Enßlin, s. v. P. (2), RE 22, 890  PLRE 1, 718 (P. 2); c…

Fat

(162 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] Fluid, semi-solid or solid material obtained from vegetable or animal cells, and of great importance to human  Nutrition as a source of energy and vehicle of flavour. In early antiquity  Butter, lard and suet predominated. Use of these animal fats subsequently remained at a high level in antiquity, especially in northern regions; in the Mediterranean region, olive oil eventually gained absolute pride of place. Although relatively expensive (CIL III 2, p. 827 3,1-3; 4,10-11; p. 828…

Deipnon

(366 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] (δεῖπνον; deîpnon). In the early Greek period a term applying to every daytime meal. But during the 5th cent. BC in Athens, probably as a consequence of urbanization, the meaning of deîpnon had become restricted to the main meal, which began at sunset. There was a set order to the deîpnon. This comprised the actual meal, with the possibility of several courses, and the dessert, which might lead on to the drinking session ( sympósion); not until the second part of the deîpnon was any amount of wine drunk. As the Greeks saw the deîpnon as the expression of a link with the go…

Egg

(126 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] (ᾠόν; ōión, ovum). In the ancient kitchen eggs of all domestic birds, such as ducks, pheasants, geese, chicken, peafowl, partridges and pigeons and occasionally even wild fowl, were used. In general usage the meaning of ‘egg’ was narrowed to chicken egg, which was known in Greece no later than the 6th cent. BC and was later much esteemed in the Roman world. The chicken egg was a quite affordable food (Edictum Diocletiani 6,43), which was popularly served as an appetizer at meals (Hor. Sat. 1,3,6f.: ab ovo usque ad mala). It also had a place in haute cuisine:  Apicius …

Cena

(317 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] The main daily meal of the Romans. Over the cents. it was largely influenced by Greek table culture: it shifted from midday to evening-time; while it was originally consumed sitting in the atrium or the kitchen, the upper classes at least later took it lying down in special, richly furnished dining rooms (  triclinium ); to the original sequence of main course ( mensa prima) and dessert ( mensa secunda) was added the starter course ( gustatio). The duration and contents of the cena depended on the occasion, and above all on economic circumstances. The ordinary p…

Dishes, Meals

(798 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] (Greek ἐδέσματα/ edésmata; Lat. cibi, esca). A classification of dishes in antiquity is unknown to us and can be deduced only from antique  cookery books. They generally organize dishes according to their basic ingredients, thus according to such food groups as fish, meat (quadrupeds), poultry, vegetables, grains and legumes [1]. Ancient sources attest to a variety of dishes; apart from cookery books, comedies (Aristophanes; Plautus) are especially informative sources of information, a…

Milk

(324 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] (Greek γάλα/ gála; Latin lac). The milk of various mammals (donkey, camel, cow, sheep, mare, goat) was used in ancient times; the concept was thus not, as today, limited to cow's milk. Cow's milk was rather unpopular in the Mediterranean region, and was consumed in large quantities only in northern regions of the ancient world (Aristot. Hist. Ant. 3,20). The favourite kind of milk among the Greeks and Romans was that of sheep, also the only kind to appear in the Edictum [3] Diocletian…

Muria

(190 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] (Greek ἅλμη/ hálmē). Brine used from the earliest Roman period (Fest. 141) to conserve perishable foodstuffs. Although natural brine was also used (Plin. HN 31,83), muria was predominantly mixed from salt and water. To the spicier muria dura (Colum. 12,6) fish, meat, vegetables and fruit were added and eaten when marinated ( salsamenta: Plin. HN 31,83). A milder muria, occasionally mixed with honey (Colum. 12,25,3) was added to wine and milk products to extend their durability (Plin. HN 14,78). Muria was also considered a condiment in the narrower sense (Api…

Praefectus praetorio

(1,323 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
('praetorian prefect'; Greek ἔπαρχος/ éparchos or ὕπαρχος τῆς αὐλῆς/ hýparchos tês aulês). Holder of one of the most important posts in the administration of the Roman empire. [German version] A. Principate Augustus [1] established the post in 2 BC when he placed two men of equestrian rank ( equites Romani ) at the head of his bodyguard, the praetorians ( cohortes praetorianae) (Cass. Dio 55,10). The PP's original task was to command the imperial bodyguard that protected the emperor in his headquarters ( praetorium ). As early as the reign of Tiberius [II …

Meat dishes

(495 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] A collective term for dishes made from the muscle tissue and innards of mammals and birds. In Antiquity, a minor number of meat dishes was made using birds (e.g., blackbird, thrush, duck, goose, chicken, pigeon, quail) and game (especially rabbit, red deer ( Deer), wild boar ( Pig); in the Roman period also rabbit and dormouse). However, most meat dishes were prepared from domestic animals - sheep, pig, cattle and goat. The pig must be particularly emphasized in this group because…

Beverages

(495 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] In antiquity there were countless types of drinks depending on the time and region and they were drunk undiluted, mixed together or mixed with additives (fat, spices, sweet substances), hot or cold. They can be divided into three groups according to their basic components: 1. Beverages made of water. Water (Plin. HN 31,31-72) was an indispensable nutritional substance (Pind. Ol. 1,1; Vitr. De arch. 8,1,1; Plin. HN 31,31-72) and also an essential component of two important drinks c…

Vegetables

(523 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] Mostly annual plants, parts of which are suitable for eating, either raw or cooked. In the ancient world, there were large numbers of vegetables; there is evidence for Imperial Italy alone of fifty garden species and fifty wild species. Today largely unknown or uncommon, in ancient sources they were divided into three large groups: 1. legumina (primarily the protein-rich pulses, such as beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, lupins; cf. the lists in Columella 2,7,1-2; Plin. HN 18,117-136); 2. olera (especially the vitamin- and fibre-rich leaf-vegetables, tubers,…

Spices

(470 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] (Greek ἡδύσματα/ hēdýsmata; Latin condimenta). Flavouring ingredients of food and drink, mostly from particular parts of indigenous wild and garden plants and exotic ones. A great abundance of spices was known in antiquity, although availability and use differed from period to period to a considerable extent. In the 1st century AD Caelius [II 10] Apicius used in total sixty spices, of which ten were imported ( cf. the lists of spices in Plin. HN 12; 19,101-175; Ath. 2,68a; Apici excerpta a Vinidario 1 André). The most important indigenous spic…

Salinum

(106 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] (ἁλία/ halía). Small salt container (Plin. HN 33,153) made of silver, occasionally of clay. It belonged in every Roman household and was used for adding salt during dinner, but had a special function in the domestic cult as well: Up to the Imperial Period, the salinum was used in food offerings between the main course and dessert (Liv. 26,36,6; Stat. Silv. 1,4,130 f.). This cultic significance explains why the salinum was handed down from father to son (Hor. Carm. 2,16,13 f.). Mola salsa Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster) Bibliography M. Besnier, s. v. S., DS IV/2, 1022  A. Hug, s.…

Butter

(144 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] (βούτυρον; boútyron, butyrum). Fat mainly from cow's milk, less commonly extracted from sheep's or goat's milk; unlike today it was mostly used in liquid form. Many peoples on the northern and southern edge of the ancient world (especially the Thracians and Scythians but also the Lusitanians, Gauls, Germanic tribes and Arabs) used butter intensively as cooking fat and ointment (Plin. HN 28,133f.). In the Mediterranean Sea area, people preferred to use olive oil instead, the cost of …

Must

(251 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] (γλεῦκος/ gleûkos; [ vinum] mustum). As yet unfermented - or just fermenting - juice of pressed fruit such as apples, pears, dates, figs, pomegranates, cornel cherries, quinces and service tree fruit (Plin. HN 13,44-45; 14,102-103. 125; 15,109). The most important type of must was made from grapes (Columella 12,41; Plin. HN 23,29); its Latin name was vinum mustum, from which the English word 'must' derives. Fresh must, whose aperient and invigorating effects were prized by doctors (Celsus, Med. 4,26,5-6; Dioscorides 5,9; Gal. De alimen…

Salgama

(121 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] (Greek ἁλμαῖα/ halmaîa). Collective term for pickled vegetables, herbs, and fruit. From the Greek period on, people enjoyed preserving plant foodstuffs by pickling them in brine (Colum. 12,4,4), often with the addition of vinegar, spices and other ingredients such as milk and honey (Plin. HN 19,153; Dioscorides 2,174 Wellmann). Columella (10,117; 12,9 f.) has recipes for pickling capers, lettuce, herbs, onions, European cornels, plums and various kinds of apples and pears. In simple cuisine, salgama were eaten with bread or cereal porridge; at more lavish meals, sa…

Comissatio

(159 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] Traditional Roman drinking party, a regular accompaniment to a festive   cena , often lasting long into the night. For a long time it was reserved for men, but from the end of the Roman Republic women, too, could partake. The comissatio, a socially highly important form of gathering, reached Rome by the end of the 3rd cent. BC at the latest. The word is derived from the Greek word for revelry, κῶμος ( kômos); its structure and rules corresponded to a large extent to those of the symposium ( Banquet). Apart from the drinking, the entertainment consisted …

Fruit

(338 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] (ὀπῶραι/ opôrai, Lat. poma). Collective term for edible fruits or seed kernels (hazelnut, almond, pine kernel, etc.), usually from fruit trees. Ancient authors distinguish, according to the time of ripening of the fruit, early summer, summer and autumn fruits (e.g. Gal. de alimentorum facultatibus 2,2; 8). The most important cultivated fruits in the Roman imperial period were  apples, pears, dates,  figs, pomegranates,  plums,  quinces and grapes ( Wine) with many respective subspeci…

Vinegar

(142 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] (ὄξος/ óxos, acetum). Means of flavouring and conserving, usually obtained by fermenting wine, occasionally also the juice of fruits such as dates and figs. Vinegar existed in various qualities, with that from Alexandria being particularly valued (Plin. HN 14,102). Vinegar, which at the beginning of the 4th cent. AD cost less than ordinary wine (Edict. Diocletiani 3,5), contributed to the sweet-and-sour taste of many dishes; Apicius often used it for sauces for meat and fish dishes …
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