Sunday, January 28, 2018



Vergil, Aeneid 7.107-111 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough, rev. G.P. Goold):
Aeneas, his chief captains, and fair Iülus
lay their limbs to rest under the boughs of a high tree,
and spread the feast; they place cakes of meal on the grass
beneath the food—Jove himself inspired them—
and they crown the wheaten base with fruits of the field.

Aeneas primique duces et pulcher Iulus
corpora sub ramis deponunt arboris altae,
instituuntque dapes et adorea liba per herbam
subiciunt epulis (sic Iuppiter ipse monebat)        110
et Cereale solum pomis agrestibus augent.
Nicholas Horsfall, Virgil, Aeneid 7: A Commentary (Leiden: Brill, 2000), p. 114 (on line 109):
liba Technically a cake of far, oil and honey, used in offerings (so Serv. here and cf. Cato, Agr. 75; 'Opferkuchen' to Wissowa, passim): the size of small buns (Ryberg (615), 40 and pl. X, carried by the Aen. of the Ara Pacis, when about to sacrifice the sow), when used in such contexts and clearly not what V. has in mind here. 'Pizza' cries J. Ades (CJ 64 (1968/9), 268), 'chapatis' retorts Gransden (Virgil's Iliad (Cambridge 1984), 51), 'focaccia' asserts Ranucci (EV 3, 876f.). 'Pitta' counters Braun, cit.; at least he knows (as do I, as a regular consumer) what emmer bread tastes and looks like (not, indeed like pitta!). Bakery aside (not to mention emmer soup, still a delectable staple in rural Umbria), V. uses an archaising adj. and a noun from the lexicon of sacred offerings (a dozen instances in Ov. F., e.g.) for an item of quite different appearance (and 'pitta' will do very well for flat bread on which food is heaped) on an initially non-ritual occasion.
Braun is Thomas Braun, "Barley cakes and emmer bread," in Food in Antiquity, ed. John Wilkins, et al. (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1995), pp. 25-37.

James E.G. Zetzel, in his harsh review of Horsfall, Classical Philology 96.4 (October, 2001) 438-442 (at 440), objected to this note, among others, as unnecessary. Ades' suggestion seems to have been made half tongue in cheek. See:
I confess that pizza crossed my mind when I reread this passage recently — I knew that tomatoes were unknown to the ancient Romans, but I wondered if olives could count among pomis agrestibus. Neither Horsfall nor the Oxford Latin Dictionary answers this question. Pace Zetzel, I wish that Horsfall's commentary was even more expansive and listed, for example, all foods considered by the Romans to be poma. I think, in answer to my own question, that the Romans considered the olive to be a berry (baca) rather than a fruit (pomum). Indeed, in the Georgics, Vergil seems to explicitly distinguish olives from fruit. Describing olive cultivation at Georgics 2.40-425, he goes on to say in line 426, poma quoque, i.e. besides olives, fruits as well.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?