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Fish dishes (and seafood)

(588 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] Overall term for meals prepared from fish, crustaceans and molluscs. The large range of varieties of fish and seafood in the Mediterranean was very different, depending on the season and area of the catch; consumer taste also changed over time. Of the large number of species used for fish dishes (cf. the catalogues in Plin. HN 9,43-104; Ath. 3,30-36; 7,277-330; 8,355-358; Auson. Mos. 75-149) we should emphasize not only  tuna but particularly  crustaceans,  molluscs,  snails and  …

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…

Opson (Food)

(172 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] (ὄψον; ópson) referred to any kind of cooked, fried or raw food that was served with staple foods (Nutrition) consisting of grains and pulse, namely vegetables and fruit as well as fish, meat, eggs and milk products (Hom. Od. 3,480; Athen. 7,277a; 14,648f); also opsónion, Lat. obsonium. In classical times, the term acquired the special meaning of “fish” (Athen. 7,276e) because, in the coastal areas of the Mediterranean, that was quite simply the standard accompaniment to staple foods (Fish dishes). Depending on context, opson could mean cheap, often preserved fi…

Pastries

(300 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] (Greek πλακοῦς, plakoûs, Latin placenta), mostly individual sweets, found in many varieties in ancient tradition according to region and period, fashion and purpose (cf. the lists in Ath. 14,643-648). They consisted without exception of fine meal (initially barley, later predominantly wheat), water, milk or shortening and (usually) a raising agent. Other ingredients, such as eggs, fruit, spices, (cream-)cheese, nuts and sweeteners supplied the typical aroma and flavour of a kind of pa…

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…

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 …

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…

Maiorinus

(114 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] Praefectus praetorio Orientis under Constantius II. Life and career are poorly attested. Coming from a curial family from the East, he had a meteoric rise in his career (Lib. Ep. 1510) which reached its peak with the praetorian prefecture. He presumably held this office between the summer of 344 and 28 July AD 346 (Cod. Theod. 11,22,1: first certain evidence for his supposed successor Flavius Philippus) with his headquarters in Antioch [1]. He died shortly before 357 (Lib. Ep. 560) …

Flour

(340 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] (Greek ἄλευρον/ áleuron, Lat. farina). Fine-grained to powdery product resulting from grinding, crushing or pounding certain grains or seeds. The most important source product in the Greek period was barley (Ath. 3,111e-112a) and in the Roman period it was wheat (Plin. HN 18,74; 85-90); depending on the region, flour was also made from millet (Gal. De alimentorum facultatibus 1,15) and rye (Plin. HN 18,141) and in areas with no grain cultivation or in times of emergency even from starch-containing fruits such as beans or acorns (Plin. HN 16,15; 18,117). Flour was diff…

Meals

(914 words)

Author(s): Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] Meals, i.e. drink and food taken at particular hours, are at the centre of ancient table culture. The type and sequence of meals and their position in the larger order and that of the overarching rhythm of life are so complex that they cannot be discussed here in their entire structural, spatial and temporal differentiation. In the Greek and Roman world, daily meals were subject to a fixed order that was at first primarily guided by the natural environment, especially sunrise and sunset (cf. the names of the meals: ἄριστον/ áriston, morpheme: ‘early’ and vesperna, morpheme…

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…

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…

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…

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 …

Cheese

(552 words)

Author(s): Englund, Robert K. (Berlin) | Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient Cheese, together with grain and fish, was one of the most important foods for the people of the ancient Orient. After the oil in the butter (Sumer. ì.nun, Akkad. ḫimētu) had been completely removed, the buttermilk was processed into a fat-free cheese that therefore kept well for a long time; it is similar to the hard cheese called kašk in the modern Middle East. Cheese was also mixed with various ingredients (grain, dates, wine and numerous spices) and then brought as an offering to the gods, often, as is to be expected, t…

Beer

(444 words)

Author(s): Neumann, Hans (Berlin) | Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient In the ancient Orient, beer was a well-known and popular drink that had been brewed in Mesopotamia and Egypt since the end of the 4th millennium BC at the latest. The basic ingredient in manufacture was above all barley malt [1. 322-329], other ingredients were emmer and sesame. In the 1st millennium BC a type of date beer became important in Babylon [2.155-183]. In Egypt texts from the older period mention not just date beer but also carob tree beer and poppy beer.…

Olybrius

(207 words)

Author(s): Elvers, Karl-Ludwig (Bochum) | Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
Late antique personal name in the Anicii family: Anicius [II 13] Hermogenianus O. ( cos. in AD 395), Q. Clodius Hermogenianus O. [1] ( cos. in 379), the emperor of the year 472, Anicius [II 15] O. and Flavius Anicius O. ( cos. in 526). Elvers, Karl-Ludwig (Bochum) [German version] [1] Q. Clodius Hermogenianus O. Official, 4th cent. AD Praefectus praetorio Orientis from AD 378 to 379. A Christian from a respected family, presumably from the city of Rome, O. had a brilliant career (CIL VI 1714). After he had been governor of Campania he probably became pr…

Modestus

(247 words)

Author(s): Franke, Thomas (Bochum) | Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] [1] Sab(inius?) M. Governor of the province of  Moesia inferior in AD 241, documented by coins of the city of Nicopolis [1. 504-518 nos. 2040-2107]. Accordingly he must previously have held the office of suffect consul. Franke, Thomas (Bochum) Bibliography 1 F. Imhoof-Blumer (ed.), Die antiken Münzen Nord-Griechenlands, vol. 1, 1898. PIR S 2  A. Stein, Die Legaten von Moesien, 1940, 100f. [German version] [2] Flavius Domitius M. Praefectus praetorio Orientis, from 369/370 to 378 (?) AD. Praefectus praetorio Orientis from AD 369/370 to 378 (?). Originally f…

Bread

(703 words)

Author(s): Stol, Marten (Leiden) | Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
[German version] A. Ancient East In the Ancient East bread was a staple form of  nutrition. As far as may be judged from epigraphical and archaeological evidence,  barley was the principal bread grain in Mesopotamia from the 3rd millennium,  emmer and  wheat being less important. In Asia Minor, Syria/Palestine and Egypt wheat seems to have played a greater role than barley. Institutional establishments looked after their members and the workforce in their employ with regular rations of bread grain (e…

Honey

(460 words)

Author(s): Englund, Robert K. (Berlin) | Gutsfeld, Andreas (Münster)
(μέλι: méli, Latin mel). [German version] I. Ancient Orient In the ancient Orient and Egypt not always terminologically distinguished from types of syrup (date or fig). With a value of a shekel of silver for 1-2 litres (21st cent. BC), honey was one of the most valuable foods in Mesopotamia and was the entitlement particularly of the gods (sacrifices) and high officials. Literary tradition regards honey as a delicacy especially together with the highly regarded butter oil (‘milk and honey’). Englund, Robert K. (Berlin) Bibliography H. A. Hoffner, Alimenta Hethaeorum, 1974, 123 J. Lec…
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