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Multidisciplinary approaches to food and foodways in the medieval Eastern Mediterranean

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Sylvie Yona Waksman

Byzantium and beyond

“What is plate and cooking pot and food and bread and table all at the same time?”

Ilias Anagnostakis

Résumé

In this paper two letters from Eustathios of Thessaloniki describing recipes (mainly for cooking game birds) have been selected for detailed study. These recipes are described as being linked to special cooking and serving utensils (cooking pot, plate) and the food as being cooked in “a pastry pot”. In both cases a particular stuffed and roasted bird is an excuse for Eustathios to play with rhetoric and seemingly to satirize the customs of his day in order to amuse the recipient of the letters. He creates a recipe-riddle (“What is plate and cooking pot and food and bread and table all at the same time?”) and provides the answer: it is none other than the roasted bird within a crust and a crispy dough that function both as the cooking and the serving vessel.
In letter 4 Eustathios relates a difficult journey through snow to reach the country house of a friend, Nikephoros, where wonderful meals await him. In describing his adventure through the snow he borrows elements from the wandering of the Hebrews during their Exodus from Egypt. In letter 5 (provided in translation), the description of the roasted bird wrapped in crust, a recipe in which the food is tableware and the tableware is edible, leads Eustathios to a classic quotation about eating plates and tables, one that refers to the founder of Rome, Aeneas. In the two letters, filled to excess with dietary allusions and references to the Bible and the Classics, Eustathios, whether in the guise of Moses or Aeneas, attempts his own journey to reach the Promised Land of Byzantine gastronomic and rhetorical achievement.

Texte intégral

  • 1 “Let the pot boil, let friendship live, [a proverb] in reference to those who join in friendship a (...)

ζεῖ χύτρα, ζῇ φιλία
Pot boils, friendship lives1

  • 2 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 5.72‑73: “τί ποτ’ ἂν εἴη ταὐτὸν καὶ ἓν ἀριθμῷ, πίναξ καὶ (...)
  • 3 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 5, pp. 16‑19. On Nikephoros and the letters of Eustathios (...)
  • 4 On the riddle, see Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 5.70‑73. I put forward this recipe, am (...)
  • 5 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4, pp. 10‑15.

1“What is plate and cooking pot and food and bread and table all at the same time?”2 Eustathios of Thessaloniki invented and posed this riddle in a letter (no. 5) sent to one Nikephoros Komnenos before 1173, in other words before Nikephoros’ death and before he himself became Metropolitan of Thessaloniki, when they were both in Constantinople.3 After thanking Nikephoros for the gifts he had sent or given him from time to time (including many game birds, rich food and hospitality), Eustathios in his letter specifically says that he aims to amuse him by describing a recipe-riddle, a roast bird inside a crust, in which the crispy dough replaces the cooking and serving utensils.4 The aforementioned riddle is a key element of the letter, which is marked by its intertextuality (frequently used and much loved by Byzantine scholars and particularly by Eustathios) and which contains numerous intertextual figures, such as allusions and quotations, in which the author refers covertly or indirectly to external contexts, and it is left to Nikephoros to make the connections. It is a letter that includes many puns and references to classical writers, as well as a description, just as in another similar letter also sent by Eustathios to the same person (letter 4),5 of how to prepare and cook game birds.

  • 6 The riddles, Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.113‑124, no. 5.70‑73; Koukoules 1950, pp.  (...)
  • 7 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 5.90‑97.

2Both letters describe the preparation of a recipe and how it turns out after cooking. In both letters the food described has been offered to Eustathios, who feels obliged to reciprocate by sending marinated game birds to Nikephoros. Both letters mention that his gifts are humble goldfinches which cannot be compared to the elaborate preparations offered by Nikephoros, the recipes for which are given in the letters. And although the two recipes are different in each letter, they have a common element in the marinating of the birds in wine, their wrapping in fat and their filling with various ingredients. In both cases, according to Eustathios, this dish, after being prepared, does not immediately reveal its secrets to whoever sees it, and consequently he does not know how it was prepared, so therefore the final result, as served, is a riddle.6 That is basically the central theme of the two letters (but mainly of letter 5), namely the description of the gifts and dishes and the solution to the riddle: “what is this dish that I see before me?” The solution to the riddle therefore allows Eustathios to use his words to promote, dignify and add lustre to what he describes, and which however delicious, aromatic and tasty it may be, he considers to be still very humble (cooking pots, plates, tables and food). This is an excuse for Eustathios to rhetorically play with knowledge and texts, to find extreme and improbable similarities, to effusively describe the recipe in letter 5 (which contains the most references to cooking and serving utensils) and to admit at the end (according to a known rhetorical practice in Byzantine correspondence) that he has bored instead of entertained his letter’s recipient.7

  • 8 The journey through the snow, Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.1‑105.
  • 9 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.1‑5, 21‑29, 98‑105.
  • 10 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.3, 28.
  • 11 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.19‑21: “τεῖχος οἷόν τι ἐκ δεξιῶν καὶ τεῖχος ἐξ εὐωνύμων (...)
  • 12 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.74.
  • 13 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.101‑108.
  • 14 Septuagint, Exodus, 16.13‑15: “καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐπὶ πρόσωπον τῆς ἐρήμου λεπτὸν ὡσεὶ κόριον λευκὸν ὡσεὶ πάγ (...)
  • 15 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.119 and 123: “τί τοῦτο; […] οὐδὲ τὴν πρὸ αὐτοῦ γνῶσιν ε (...)
  • 16 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.107‑108: “καὶ ὁ πολλάς μοι βρέξας πετεινῶν πτερωτῶν σάρ (...)
  • 17 Τhe description of the stuffed bird, Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.106‑137.

3Before examining letter 5, let us briefly present the contents of letter 4 and then we shall translate part of it. Following a long and detailed account of a difficult journey through the snow (which takes up three-quarters of the text of the letter),8 Eustathios is relieved to reach Nikephoros’ house, a country house outside Constantinople, where wonderful meals await him probably because of a feast. Eustathios repeatedly says that he trudged through the snow solely for reasons of friendship, because he wanted to visit Nikephoros, and not at all because of personal interest, the gifts and the delicious food that awaited him at his friend’s home.9 He makes a pun on the words belly (κοιλία, koilia) and friendship (φιλία, philia), declaring that he is not undertaking this journey for the sake of the former, as he is no parasite or slave of food (an apax, ὀψόδουλος), but solely for the sake of the latter.10 In describing his adventure through the snow (going to and returning from Komnenos’country house), he borrows elements, among other sources, from the wandering of the Hebrews during their Exodus from Egypt. It is not noted in the critical edition that his description of the snowed-in road, which Eustathios must traverse between walls of piled-up snow to the left and to the right, borrows this image precisely from the crossing of the Red Sea: “a strong wind [blew], and they walked through as walls of water stood there on their right and on their left”.11 Moreover, by underlining that he will attain salvation when he reaches the “beloved land” (φίλη γῆ)12 and by noting that his friend’s gifts are more precious and constant than manna and birds fell like rain from the sky,13 he makes his journey into a kind of personal Exodus, equating Nikephoros’ house (or Constantinople on his return) with the Promised Land. I believe that the reference to manna is especially noteworthy. In the Bible, manna is described as morning snow that has covered everything and whose nature mystifies the Hebrews when they see it for the first time: “What is this?” (in Hebrew man-nah).14 Eustathios will repeat the same question verbatim, presumably using the text of the Septuagint regarding manna, when he twice expresses his own amazement later on about the stuffed bird sent to him by Nikephoros: Τὶ τοῦτο, Ti touto? “What is this?” (in the Septuagint, Τί ἐστι τοῦτο, Ti esti touto?).15 According to Eustathios, while he was composing this letter describing the journey in the snow, he received new gifts from Nikephoros, fowl from the hunt and a stuffed bird. He compares these gifts, and especially the fowl from the hunt, with the birds on which the Hebrews fed during the Exodus, and he uses the exact same vocabulary as in the Psalms, i.e., “meat rained upon them like dust, feathered creatures, as the sands of the seas”.16 Then he gives the recipe of the stuffed bird that provokes the “What is this?”, a description of the marinating of the bird and its fat, its stuffing with almonds and its cooking.17

  • 18 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.127. On these recipes, see comments Koukoules 1952, pp. (...)
  • 19 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.135; no. 5.1 and 19‑22.
  • 20 Anonymus, On the properties, p. 477 and English translation Dalby 2003, p. 143.

4The marinating of the birds in wine mentioned in both recipes (namely those sent by Nikephoros in letter 4 described as ὀξωτά, pickled, as well as those sent as a gift in return by Eustathios) indicates probably a kind of preservation of the meat in a sauce of wine or vinegar or oxygarum, a sauce of vinegar and garum.18 In addition, without proving that this is only a winter food, the deep snow and frost refer to game-hunting in winter.19 According to physicians and dieticians, the recipes were suitable for the autumn or winter, as the meat of small birds is hot and helps those with a cold temperament.20 We present below the translation of the points of interest from letter 4:

  • 21 A problematic translation, based on the previous edition of the letter, is given by Kazhdan & Whar (...)
  • 22 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.106‑124. The translation up to this point was done by A (...)

But what a wonder! While I was still writing these words, you dropped this other fine thing upon us; you who have fed us the flesh of many winged fowl (in the words of the Scriptures) conferred upon us this stuffed bird,21 swimming as it were in nectar, a fair stranger, an admirable sweetmeat, of which (I don’t know how to say this) when it first came into my sight and fell upon my table for examination, some parts I recognised, but some parts perplexed me. I seemed to have a puzzle in my hands; I seemed to see chicken and not to see it. As to what was visible under the skin, and what was solid around the wing and leg bones, these gave the appearance of chicken; as to the rest, it was boneless and had nothing of the chicken about it. When one broke into the interior, there was much commingling, and indeterminacy of structure. Apart from the almonds, the whole of the rest was a mélange. With the frequent exclamation “What is it?” and likening what we saw to a dropsical body, we set our hands to the bird and pulled it apart; not stopping there, we sent it down to our stomachs. The question “What was it?” is still with us, an often-invoked refrain.22

  • 23 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.124‑137.

And what in truth could our reciprocation be for this great gift that you gave us? Maybe our sending you these few pickled birds [ὀξωτά] which are mere atoms compared to that which counts as the whole avian universe. If, of course, someone appraised them on the basis of their species [goldfinches], he would certainly rate them as valuable as their feathers are the colour of gold and he could therefore say they are sent as gold birds [χρύσεα πτηνά].23

5As opposed to this relatively straightforward description in letter 4, the recipe in letter 5 (see translation in the Annex), which we will examine below, is much more complex and sophisticated, just as the entire preparation is more complex. Letter 5 certainly presupposes letter 4 (in fact I wonder if they are ultimately two different letters). Yet it is not clear when and where the similar but not identical recipes mentioned in 4 and 5 were sent and served, without this excluding the possibility of them being offered during the banquet in letter 4, held by Nikephoros for the exhausted Eustathios after his journey through the snow.

  • 24 Iliad 5, 5‑6. Henceforth for the citations, see the apparatus fontium of the Kolovou publication ( (...)
  • 25 On the grapes painted by Eustathios to look like gold, Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 3. (...)

6In his description in letter 5 of the birds he is sending to Nikephoros in return for the benefactions he has occasionally received from him, Eustathios begins with puns and proverbial expressions, and by reproducing images from Homer. The humble goldfinches he sends wrapped in their brilliant white fat are portrayed as soaked in red wine (corresponding to the pickled in letter 4) and they remind him, he says, of the poet’s words (meaning Homer) about the bright sun bathing in the wine dark sea.24 So from the beginning of the letter the humble minimum, in this case the marinated bird, takes on cosmic dimensions to the point of hyperbole and satire and is equated with elements of the Homeric universe. The akanthides too (ἀκανθίδες), the goldfinches that he sends to Nikephoros (which correspond to the χρύσεα πτηνά in letter 4) make it easy for him to play with the name agathides in the proverb, in which agathοn agathides (ἀγαθῶν ἀγαθίδες) means quantities of goods. Besides, the birds of golden plumage, the goldfinches, evoke gold and Zeus’ mythical golden rain (letter 4), something that we find in other cases in the work of Eustathios who attempts to beautify, ennoble, anything humble, by linking it to the colour in question, or by painting it gold, and he does this with grapes, food, birds.25

  • 26 On gastronomy in general in Eustathios, see: Koukoules 1950; 1952, pp. 75‑77; Wilson 1983, pp. 201 (...)

7Henceforth the letter is inundated to excess with allusions and references to Homer, Sophocles, Aristophanes, the paroemiographers and Athenaios. As regards the latter, it is worth noting that Eustathios’ relationship with gastronomy and other relevant ancient texts, especially with Athenaios’ Deipnosophists, is widely known and has been studied to a certain extent.26 In the majority of his works and chiefly in the Commentaries on Homer Eustathios refers often to Athenaios and it has been claimed by scholars (although few agree with this view) that he is the author of an Epitome, an abbreviated version of the Deipnosophists (Athenaios, Epitome; Dalby 1996, pp. 168‑180; Louyest 2012). Indeed, in the letters we are studying, Eustathios seems to challenge Athenaios’ intertextual technique, and to use all the intertextual phenomena in the work of the ancient sophist and gastronome (namely internal references, quotations with or without reference, paraphrases, allusions, sequences and clusters of quotations, and the use of citations) as a kind of performance (Romanello & Berra 2011; see also Romeri 2002; Jacob 2004; Nadeau 2010, pp. 91‑95). This plethora leads him to confess (as previously mentioned) that he may have bored rather than entertained the recipient of his letter, who was clearly not in a position to infer from all these allusions any connection with the ancient sources mentioned or implied! This ultimately leads us to agree with the criticism made by modern scholars on Eustathios that Voltaire’s words were appropriate: “Le secret d’ennuyer est de tout dire” (Wilson 1983, p. 204).

  • 27 The opinion of Leontsini differs (Leontsini 2013, pp. 124‑125, where there is a reproduction of th (...)
  • 28 This is the opinion of Kolovou (Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, p. 93).

8After describing the birds and the game that they exchanged as gifts, and stressing that his own gifts are humble and barely comparable to those given by Nikephoros, Eustathios chooses as the greatest gift and as his own exercise in writing to send his friend a description of the roast bird wrapped in crust. After being marinated in wine the fowl is wrapped in dough and baked inside it without using a pot,27 and when the dish is cooked especially when the dough is crusty and crispy on the outside, the bird is served in it without using a plate. And here lies the precise basis for the birth or better the construction of the riddle by Eustathios, who had already presented a similar riddle in letter 4 but simply as a query at the sight of a comparable recipe with a stuffed fowl. In one aspect, the description of the recipe in letter 5 is related to or is identical to the stuffed fowl of letter 4,28 although in letter 4 there is no reference to the use of dough. Eustathios considers this dish, which as he mentions later is prodigious (τεράστιον), a great culinary technique, aromatic and delicious, to be unique and he wanted his description to be worthy of it. Here he is applying what scholars consider a characteristic of Athenaios’ work: the pleasure of food is objectively complemented by the pleasure of speech, and the clever and witty way of describing food (with numerous citations to poets, mainly Homer and the tragic poets) makes it all the more delicious and pleasurable for the reader (Romeri 2002, p. 290; Nadeau 2010, p. 92). I would also add that just as the bird is flavoured and skillfully wrapped in dough and most likely stuffed with various ingredients (mainly the bird in letter 4), so Eustathios’ description is skillful and abundantly peppered with citations used for this performance “as if to make it an entremets or indeed a seasoning to this present holiday” (see translation in Annex).

  • 29 Anaxagoras, frg. 1, frg. 46, 47 and 60.
  • 30 Anaxagoras, frg. 45 and 46; Guthrie 1962, 266ff and here 272, 292, n. 1, 331‑332; Kirk et al. 1983 (...)
  • 31 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, On the improvement of monastic life, §196.18; Eustathios of Thessaloni (...)

9Thus in this recipe (in which “the dough baked so as to be the stew pot in which the bird stewed – and was shaped so as to be the label whereon it was labelled”) Eustathios sees reflected the all, the gastronomic universe, almost all the components of the food and a banquet. And as “all things were together” and similar in the original mixture (πάνθ’ ὁμοῦ χρήματα ταῦτα) he sees the baked dough encasing the bird as taking the place of an earthen pot, small plate, and table and obviously is the bread and anything eaten with or besides the regular meal (χύτραν, πινακίσκον, ἄρτον, προσόψημα but also τράπεζα). It has not been noticed that at this point Eustathios uses the doctrine of Anaxagoras: that “all things were together”, that everything is in everything at all times, and the summation of the whole into totals of the same name, was the work of Mind or Reason (ἦν πάντα ὁμοῦ χρήματα, νοῦς δὲ ἐλθὼν αὐτὰ διεκόσμησεν).29 Prompted by this recipe we are led to a pre-Socratic explanation of the world, when from the beginning all things existed in small fragments of themselves (the homoiomereia, ὁμοιομέρεια, having parts like each other and the whole), were inextricably combined throughout the universe, everything was nourished by its like and everything came to be out of everything. Of special interest for the letter we are studying is the fact that in order to explain this causal thesis, Anaxagoras and his reviewers give as examples the consumption of victuals and especially bread, with which a great variety of things are brought into being – flesh, bones, feathers, etc.30 Eustathios uses this thesis of Anaxagoras in some of his other works,31 but only in this case is the recipe for the roast bird proposed as the summation of the whole, and a detailed list is given of all the things of which it is composed (food and tableware) and which refer to ways οf preparation, of cooking and serving.

  • 32 Lycophron, Alexandra, verses 1250‑1252; Strabo, 13, 1, 53.29‑38; Dionysios of Halicarnassos, Roman (...)
  • 33 See also the ecstatic interpretation, Ruck Carl & Larner 2013.

10This approach, according to which “from the beginning ‘all things were together’ and similar”, and in which the food is tableware and dining table or, conversely, the tableware is edible leads Eustathios to a classic quotation about eating plates and tables, one that refers to the founder of Rome, Aeneas, the Trojan and Homeric hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Venus. The Byzantines were relatively familiar with the prophecy concerning the founding of Rome mentioned by Lycophron, Dionysios of Halicarnassos, Strabo and Virgil (albeit not by Homer): the Trojans roaming throughout the Mediterranean under Aeneas would finally settle and found a city, where hunger would cause them to eat even the tables.32 According to Virgil (Virg. Αen. III. 251 ff.) when Aeneas was in Strophades, to the south of Zakynthos, he heard this prophecy from the Harpy Celaeno, a female monster in the form of a bird with a human face. The prophecy is attributed to Apollo, but elsewhere it is considered to be a prediction made by Aeneas’ father, Anchises, or by Kassandra or the oracle at Dodona. The prophecy is fulfilled when, upon reaching the Tiber, Aeneas laid out on the riverbank wheaten cakes or a kind of galletes as plates and tables, on which the food was placed (Virg. Αen. VII. 107‑134). When the food had been consumed and their hunger prompted them to eat even the galletes, they remembered the prophecy, when someone exclaimed: “Heus! Etiam mensas consumimus!” (Virg. Αen. VII. 112‑115) “Hey, we are eating even our tables” (fig. 1). This tale has been handed down to us, annotated both by Latin and Greek writers, in many variations (differing considerably as to who uttered the prophecy and what utensils were eaten). Even early rationalistic interpretations are given, while modern research has suggested which Roman dish and what devotional practice of offering to the gods could be concealed or indicated in the said mensas consumimus (Gagé 1954; West 1983, pp. 132‑135; Vine 1987; Untermann 2000, pp. 462‑463; Ernout & Meillet 2001, p. 397; Lacam 2012). Some modern interpretations see in this story the first evidence of the use of bread trenchers, well-known in the Middle Ages, and of pizza (Ernout & Meillet 2001, p. 397; Birlouez 2009, p. 112; Lacam 2012).33

Fig. 1 – Miniature of Etiam mensas consumimus, and ships (Manuscript Royal 20 D I, 2nd quarter of the 14th century, British Library).

Fig. 1 – Miniature of Etiam mensas consumimus, and ships (Manuscript Royal 20 D I, 2nd quarter of the 14th century, British Library).
  • 34 Lycophron, Alexandra, verses 1250‑1252.
  • 35 Strabo, 13, 1, 53.29‑38.
  • 36 Dionysios of Halicarnassos, Roman Antiquities, 1, 55.3‑4.
  • 37 Scholia in Lycophronem (scholia vetera), scholion 1250b; Scholia in Lycophronem (scholia vetera et (...)
  • 38 Nikephoros Basilakes, Orationes, B1, p. 13.32; Flavius Justinianus, Novellae, 283.23‑24; Basilica, (...)

11As regards the Byzantine reception of this story, the Byzantines either wrote commentaries on Lycophron’s brief account (= “There he shall find full of edibles a table which is afterwards devoured by his attendants and shall be reminded of an ancient prophecy”)34 or repeat the text of Strabo35 and Dionysios of Halicarnassos, particularly the latter who instead of bread speaks of celery (= “While they were taking their repast upon the ground, many of them strewed celery under their food to serve as a table; but others say that they thus used wheaten cakes, in order to keep their victuals clean. When all the victuals that were laid before them had been consumed, first one of them ate the celery, or cakes, that were placed underneath, and then another. Thereupon one of Aeneas’ sons, as the story goes, or some other of his messmates, happened to exclaim, Look you, at last we have eaten even the table”).36 It is worth noting that, apart from undated ancient commentaries on Lycophron, it is only in the 12th century that this story attracted the attention of Byzantine scholars, including Eustathios, the brothers John and Isaac Tzetzes, Constantine Manasses and the much later Anonymi Historia Imperatorum written in the vernacular and based on Manasses.37 In addition, it should be noted that after the emperor Justinian I and the collection of the laws in the Basilika, it was only in the 12th century, as far as I can ascertain, that Aeneas is again considered as the forefather of the Byzantines, specifically in Nikephoros Basilakes.38

12Eustathios mentions none of the details of Aeneas’ story, except the edible tables. The roast bird and dough-pot-plate-and-table simply “brought to mind the story of those tables, eaten by the companions of the son of Anchises, Aeneas, in accordance with the prophecy about the famine that would strike them. But the tables in the story of Aeneas were just bread and nothing more, nothing noble, majestic and fine (σεμνόν). On the contrary, here the thing is ‘huge’, prodigious” (τεράστιον, see translation in Annex). Therefore, what Eustathios describes greatly exceeds what is in Aeneas’ story. However, the mention in this letter of the prophecy about eating plates and tables, which according to Virgil and others was delivered to Aeneas by the Harpy Celaeno, a bird with a human face, brings to mind the notorious actions of the Harpies, those “snatcher” birds who always arrived to steal the food out of hungry men’s hands.

  • 39 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Orations, no. 10, 176.1.
  • 40 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, On the capture of Thessaloniki, 14.11.
  • 41 Michael Choniates, Letters, 122 no. 93.14‑16, 137 no. 111.37‑39.

13Eustathios simply states that there was a prophecy, without stating who prophesized. Byzantine authors who mention the Aeneas episode do not include the prediction of the Harpy Celaeno in the Strophades islands, but they obviously know and report frequently the story of Phineus regarding the Harpies who stole his food. Rich open-air tables of food with birds flying in to take their share is a common image in Mediterranean countries that easily brings to mind the story of Phineus concerning these thieving birds (fig. 2). The voracious appetite of all who ate at a richly laden open-air table at royal Komnenian marriages would have reminded Eustathios of the rapacity of the Harpies.39 Also, the sack of Thessaloniki in 1185 by the Normans of the Kingdom of Sicily causes him to wish that the Harpies had destroyed the unworthy Byzantine officials negotiating with the “Sicilians”.40 A voracious Harpy decorating a bowl from Corinth (late 12th century) is interpreted as “reflecting the sense of threatened security during the Komnenian period and a wish for enough to eat, with a nod to powers beyond human control” (Dauterman Maguire 1997, pp. 267‑268 no. 189). The taking of property and food by raiders and tax-collectors also brought Harpies to mind. Michael Choniates calls the Italians of the Fourth Crusade Harpies too.41 I do not know whether this literary exploitation of the mythical monster influenced depiction of Harpies on Byzantine tableware or whether this image was simply a popular Byzantine reproduction of a widespread eastern motive (fig. 3). However, birds are often represented on Byzantine tableware, and we know that birds and feathers signify power in the iconography of Byzantine ceramics (fig. 4) (Baer 1965; Morgan 1942, p. 94, no. 668, fig. 70; Papanikola-Bakirtzi 1999, p. 169, no. 196; Maguire 1998).

Fig. 2 – Harpies stealing the food of Phineus (Pseudo-Oppian’s Cynegetica, Marcianus Graecus 479 fol. 39r, ca 1060, in Spatharakis 2004, p. 315, no. 78).

Fig. 2 – Harpies stealing the food of Phineus (Pseudo-Oppian’s Cynegetica, Marcianus Graecus 479 fol. 39r, ca 1060, in Spatharakis 2004, p. 315, no. 78).

Fig. 3 – Harpies depicted on Byzantine and Islamic ceramics.

Fig. 3 – Harpies depicted on Byzantine and Islamic ceramics.

a) Corinth, ca 1140-1170 (Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, in Papanikola-Bakirtzis 1999, p. 169 no. 196).

b) Bowl with harpy on interior, Late Byzantine, 13th century (Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Washington DC).

c) An Egyptian or Syrian earthenware bowl, 1200-1250, depicting a harpy (Victoria & Albert Museum, London).

Fig. 4 – Birds on Byzantine ceramics.

Fig. 4 – Birds on Byzantine ceramics.

a) Dish from a shipwreck, 2nd half of the 12th century (Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens).

b) Dish from a shipwreck, 12th century (Victoria & Albert Museum, London).

14The mention in this letter of a prophecy (in which the Harpy Celaeno played a key role) renders the associations between “birds” even more complex to today’s readers. Including such a prophecy in a letter on the subject of birds (game and cooked ones) which contains the description of a roast bird, a dish whose parts are equated with edible pots, plates, tables, creates a vortex of associations, a dizzying spiral of allusions and quotations without anyone ever knowing on which banks of which literary river (apart from the Tiber) he will be spewed out. Suffice it to say that, directly after the story of Aeneas, Eustathios cites the riddle of the roast bird in the crust, a riddle that acts almost in the same way as Aeneas’ prophecy: “And this cooking allows us to create a riddle, which is on the one hand subtle, yet difficult in combining all its elements. Let’s suppose that someone asked you ‘what is one and the same thing?,’ plate, cooking pot, bread and table… As soon as the riddle comes to mind, then boldly answer that the problem implicitly reveals this exact food with the roast bird inside the crust.”

  • 42 Theodoros Prodromos, Rhodanthe and Dosicles, 4, verses 129‑165; Michael Italikos, Letters, no. 18, (...)
  • 43 Aristophanes, Frogs, verse 559‑560; Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, p. 94. The manducation de (...)

15The sophisticated creation of stuffed foods by cooks who transform the fish into bird and the bird into fish resulting in uncertainty among diners and the creation of food riddles is a well-known topic in ancient and Byzantine gastronomy and literature.42 So from the banks of the Tiber we return to the banks of the Bosphorus with the roast bird… and after the riddle and iambic verse (see translation in Annex), yet another short story of manducation des tables is taken from Aristophanes’ Batrachoi (The Frogs).43 Eustathios says: “Οne who begins to eat this dish will be like the fellow described by your comic poet, eating the new cheese and devouring baskets and all. And he who ate this dish, devouring this bird, would at the same time be eating the pot and the plate and the table.” From the banks of the Tiber, now to those of the Athenian Ilisos…

  • 44 Sophocles, Electra, verse 281; Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 5.85‑89 and p. 94. This ve (...)
  • 45 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 5.85‑89, see the apparatus fontium: fontem non inveni.
  • 46 Odyssey 7.174‑175. On the double interpretation of the term “feast of Agamemnon” (δαῖτα ἀγαμεμνόνε (...)
  • 47 On this see the Athenaios, Deipnosophists, 5 ff; Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Commentary on Iliad, (...)
  • 48 Sophocles, Electra, verse 361, where “Electra presents Chrysothemis as addicted to physical pleasu (...)
  • 49 Suda Lexicon, zeta 48, 96; Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Commentary on Iliad, vol. 1, 193.15.

16Having persisted in his description of the material side of pleasure based on the bird baked in the crust and on the amusing word play with the edible tableware, Eustathios feels the need to confess that “he has nothing more to do with such food of gluttony” and he intends in concluding his letter, “to convert amusing meanings into great ones and gloomy ones into merry ones”. This he believes he has achieved by calling the roast bird offered to him a “feast of Agamemnon” (δαῖτα ἀγαμεμνόνειον), just as Sophilus’ son Sophocles would have called it emmena hiera (ἔμμην’ ἱερά), which modified to this case would mean a “monthly offering to friends”.44 At the same time he calls this recipe χρυσόθεμις, chrysothemis, because, as he says, that is what cunning cooks call it. The editors cannot find which source or what exactly Eustathios is referring to in the case of chrysothemis, unlike the feast of Agamemnon.45 Indeed, “feast of Agamemnon” means a frequent, friendly invitation to dinner, just as what Agamemnon does. This meaning is cited by Athenaios, twice by Souda (“Homer often portrays Agamemnon entertaining the chiefs, feasting the nobles”) and it is also mentioned by Eustathios himself.46 It is precisely to this habit of Agamemnon, feasting the chiefs, that Eustathios refers and not what Plato understands, namely the feast of the uninvited and the banquet of murder (see Romeri 2002; 2004; Nadeau 2010, pp. 91‑95, 287‑289). Besides, Athenaios accuses Plato of misinterpreting “the divine Homer” and Eustathios agrees with this, actually stating it in many cases.47 Therefore here the feast of Agamemnon means a friendly offer made by Nikephoros to friends, while according to more modern approaches to the myth, the dish known as chrysothemis (which is indeed untraceable), could symbolize family reunion, reconciliation, the elaborate culinary involvement and pleasure like that proposed by Chrysothemis, Χρυσόθεμις, one of the daughters of Agamemnon, in her home in contrast to Electra.48 So the recipe that Nikephoros prepared and offered to Eustathios becomes through these associations a symbol of friendship and family warmth. Moreover, according to a proverb cited by Eustathios in another of his works, friendship is a matter of gathering for dinner, indeed a matter of gathering around a cooking pot (chytra) on the boil “ζεῖ χύτρα, ζῇ φιλία” and according to Suda Lexicon “Let the pot boil, let friendship live” or “Pot boils, friendship lives”: [a proverb] in reference to those who join in friendship at a dinner.”49 We have already seen from the beginning of the letter that Eustathios correlates this pot or whatever cooking-utensil in which the bird is marinated with the source of life and the centre of the world, the sun.

  • 50 Michael Italikos, Letters, no. 18, pp. 156‑159; Leontsini 2013, p. 122. See also Kazhdan & Wharton (...)
  • 51 Theodoros Prodromos, Rhodanthe and Dosicles, 4, verses 129‑165; Anagnostakis 2013b, pp. 62‑63; Leo (...)

17This letter by Eustathios is a mature and effusive work written in an era when Byzantine man was becoming more and more interested in everyday issues, and when of course scholars, without particularly breaking fresh ground, focused on nutrition and went in for detailed descriptions of dinners, tables, food preparation, recipes and utensils. Eustathios appears along with his friends as a participant in this trend and presents a meal as if cooked with the principles of philosophers. Michael Italikos, by contrast, presents his teaching of philosophy through the metaphor of a banquet. A nice inversion!50 By simply comparing correspondence or orations from previous centuries (some limited examples of descriptions of dinners and food are available) with those of the 11th and 12th centuries, the age of Psellos and Eustathios, a profound shift towards a more detailed approach and the promotion of feasts, types of food, ways of serving and participating in Byzantine symposia becomes apparent. Besides, the Komnenian roman participates in this trend, borrowing descriptions from Late Antiquity and presenting us with lavish images of wine-drinking, imperial or noble banquets, dinners, and recipes for complex dishes, in which the overstuffed meats (the renowned onthyleuseis) and the roast fowl constitute the height of culinary sophistication and art.51

  • 52 On the “Comnenian imperialism” in general and especially in the literature of Comnenian era, see M (...)
  • 53 Nikephoros Basilakes, Orationes, B1, p. 13.32.
  • 54 On the Franks originating from Aeneas, see Scholia in Oppianum, Book 1 scholion 2: “Αἰνεαδάων· Φρά (...)

18In the two letters that we analyzed above, Eustathios, whether in the guide of Moses or Aeneas, attempts his own journey, a mainly rhetorical one, different from those of his two models but corresponding to them, in order to reach the Promised Land of Byzantine rhetoric achievement. In both cases, i.e. of Moses and Aeneas, an ethnic tradition of wandering and hunger was developed later into an imperial and imperialistic ideology. I wonder if, beyond Eustathios’ rhetoric, we should look in these letters for an imperial Byzantine ideology of sorts,52 a consciousness of Byzantine superiority, especially as the gastronomic association with Aeneas’ more trivial table contains an explicit comparison with the more sophisticated Byzantine table. Even if this constitutes a conventional and rhetorical exaggeration, the presents of Nikephoros surpass the manna and feathered creatures of Moses, and the roast bird wrapped in dough that Eustathios describes in letter 5 surpasses Aeneas’ food and tableware when he says: “Aeneas’ food had nothing noble and fine about it, but here the thing is marvellous, huge.” I do not know if this last comparison in particular aims to also reflect the well-known rivalries with the Latins that were taking place during Eustathios’ time, and I wonder if Eustathios unlike some of his contemporaries53 considers Aeneas exclusively as the forefather of Latins, Crusaders and Franks.54

  • 55 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, On the capture of Thessaloniki, 151‑152; Nicetas Choniates, History, 5 (...)
  • 56 On forks, see Anagnostakis & Papamastorakis 2005; Parani 2010.

19According to Byzantine authors including Eustathios himself, the uncouth Latins, these Harpies, these snatchers of the empire, were ignorant of any type of refinement, knew nothing of rose waters, considered spices as common sticks and raisins as coals, could not tell the difference between good vintage wine, grape must and vinegar, and instead of elaborate roast and stuffed fowl they preferred crude boiled or roast beef which later, following the Fall in 1204, would fill the Byzantine palaces with the smell of burning food and grease, according to Nicetas Choniates.55 These accusations, we could say, constitute a response to the long time malice of Latins against Byzantine culture and cuisine (see Liutprand’s example in the 10th century, Koder & Weber 1980), only now the correlations have dramatically changed. The Byzantines adopt more and more frequently western “barbarian” manners of dressing, dining, and entertainment, however much they try to protect their own world. This is an age of constant exchanges and tensions with the Crusaders and the Church of Rome, and to give an example, fine western tableware was imported to Byzantium and Byzantine gastronomic customs and cooking utensils were evolving under the influence of western culinary standards and conduct (Joyner 2007; Parani 2008; Vroom 2011; Anagnostakis 2013b, pp. 62‑63; Gregory 2013, especially pp. 281‑284). At the same time, Latins were borrowing from Byzantium a number of culinary and eating traditions, as some stories (for example the story about Byzantine forks) suggest even from the 11th century.56 And a roast bird in its crispy crust helps us to journey for a while (together with Manuel Komnenos’ dream of reconquering the west: Magdalino 1993, pp. 27‑109) to the Rome of Aeneas, and then to return to the universe of the Greek East where “all things were together” and everything is in everything at all times, and the summation was the work of Mind or Reason.

20In the 2010 Greek film Politiki Kouzina (ΠΟΛΙΤΙΚΗ ΚΟΥΖΙΝΑ) directed by Tassos Boulmetis with the English title A touch of spice, a film whose Greek title in capital letters without accents could be translated as Constantinopolitan Cuisine or Political Cuisine (signifying the important role that politics and cooking played in the lives of people in mid-twentieth century Constantinople), word-play is a key element in the script. Apart from the word-play in the title, the occupations too of the protagonists are ingeniously correlated, when the gastronomy of the grandfather is linked or refers to the astronomy of the grandson! In the final scene of the film the basic ingredients in a Political kitchen – onion, garlic, spices, peppercorns, salt, cinnamon and flour – become rotating celestial bodies or cosmic dust of the galaxy in the sky above the city of political conflict, tastes, sensations and hallucinations, in the sky above the final and now expiring Byzantine presence in this unique City (Polis). I see a deep affinity with the effort made by Eustathios, who makes his roast bird into almost a cosmic symbol of the Anaxagorian whole – and part – and it allows me too to place in rotation in the sky above the Byzantine city, cooking pot, plate, bread, food, table (χύτραν, πινακίσκον, ἄρτον, προσόψημα, τράπεζαν).

Annex

21[This is a free translation of letter 5, Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 5. Some extracts of the letter were translated by Andrew Dalby. It goes without saying that the overall responsibility is borne by the signatory. The names of ancient authors provided implicitly by Eustathios are given in brackets, along with details of classical references, without the knowledge of which understanding Eustathios’ words would often be impossible].

22I am sending you all the multitude of high-bred birds that live and swim in the lakes and the rivers. And you can see how fat they are, they almost look like the poultry which after slaughter and during cooking are overfilled with abundant ingredients, making them swell up and look much fatter. Their white meat too, just as the bright sun bathes in the ocean according to the poet [Homer], is also bathed, marinated in wine. You could say how beautiful and of fair appearance these birds are, as the fat surrounding gives a whitish hue to the whole body, while just a hint of red ochre can be seen, which is the reddish colour of the smooth surface of the wine in which they have been dipped.

23These birds are no longer hidden by the mantlet of those enviable feathers, which conceal the inner beauty of their flesh, but have shed their proud plumage, which previously helped them soar in the sky, and so without their unneeded feathers it is as though they have gone of their own accord, as though they have come to the table and with their shape provoke and flatter the guest at the banquet. And these birds are good, they are akanthides (ἀκανθίδες), goldfinches, yet it is like the proverb says agathôn agathides (ἀγαθῶν ἀγαθίδες), in other words quantities of goods, skeins of good things, bundles of bounties. But what good to you are the gifts I am sending, they are nothing but shadows of your benefactions [you the sun], and merely a grain of sand compared to the whole beach? What do Pygmies have in common with Giants?

24And putting aside all that I could say about what I have received from you up to now, I will speak of the gifts I was sent today. You have filled my house with game, piled one on top of the other, and the wild animals you sent are placed nicely on the table, those that live and feed on the land and all those that earn their food by hunting on water. I also remember the newly-made dish, the recently offered portion of meat – but this time I think it is a very important thing and my words cannot easily compete with their charms. So it will perhaps not show ingratitude if I describe it to you, such and as much as it was, as if to make it an entremets or indeed a seasoning to this present holiday: not so as to inform you, as if the thing is unknown to you, but to examine (and that, I admit, is the aim of description), whether I might possibly still recall things from my expressive repertoire.

25I might bring to mind that dough of emmer flour, deeply hollowed, and that pretty stewed poultry, formed into a sphere, secluded inside it. It was necessary to unveil the said sphere by taking off the covering, which thus was turned into a hemisphere; and to attack the chicken (pretty thing) with eyes and mouths: a tasty food peeking out at its observers and eaters, plump to see, luxurious to touch, tender to eat. The dough was baked so as to be the stewpot in which the bird stewed – and was shaped so as to be the label whereon it was labelled. And [in the words of Anaxagoras] “all things were together” and similar [in the original mixture] – just like the covering, the dough covering the chicken is all of this and these things all as one became its accompaniments, stewpot, label, bread, side-dish (χύτραν, πινακίσκον, ἄρτον, προσόψημα, i.e. earthen pot, small plate, bread, anything eaten with or besides the regular meal). Αnd this dough container (in which the bird was tightly sealed) formed a crust so as to resemble a stewpot, an earthen pot or sherd. The dough was cooked together with the poultry in a slow fire (μαλακόν πῦρ), as one could say [Athenaeus], and just enough fire was needed for this vessel of dough (ἄγγος) to bake and not to burn and blacken, becoming dried and crackly like a stewpot (χύτραν), together with the small plate (πινάκιον) on which the bird lay to be offered and eaten. Βut the hollowed inside of it was as soft as the fresh bread that fears the simmering soup. And the rest inside was all chicken, the tastiest, one might say, of tasty foods.

26And just as the other ordinary breads have crumbs, morsels, so the dough with the poultry hidden inside pretended to be bread, exciting first the sense of smell before that of taste. It smelt so delicious, just like those animals whose smell, odour, causes them to become prey, that the smell of this roasted bird pursues the guests, captivates those present.

27Indeed smelling this food you could even say that its wonderful aroma is enough for you. Poultry meat smells so delicious. You would not stop eating it till your hand touched the very bottom; such was the allurement of that complex gravy. And yet there was food left over for other people. And there were all the edible parts of the poultry meat and the dough enclosing it. And the whole thing brought to mind the story of those tables, eaten by the companions of the son of Anchises, Aeneas, in accordance with the prophecy about the famine that would strike them [namely that they would even devour the tables from hunger]. But the tables in the story of Aeneas were just bread [on which they had spread out the food] and nothing more, nothing noble and fine. On the contrary here the thing is prodigious and marvelous, as this doughy concoction could be considered a table, and a pot and a plate, and eating something of this food it is as though you ate all these. It was, in other words, as we could say, a pandaisia, πανδαισία [a feast which has everything in abundance]. And it was sufficient simply to provide one type of food, and it seemed as though all kinds of food were offered simultaneously. And consequently eating just this was like eating everything.

28And this cooking, this preparation, allows us to create a riddle, which is on the one hand subtle, yet difficult to combine all its elements. Let’s say someone asked you “what counts as one and the same thing, plate, cooking pot, bread and table?” (πίναξ καὶ χύτρα καὶ ὄψον καὶ ἄρτος καὶ τράπεζα). This could also become an orderly iambic verse: τράπεζα, πίναξ, ψωμός, ὄψον καὶ χύτρα. I would not put you to the trouble of thinking it over, of working it out again. As soon as the riddle comes to mind, then boldly answer that the problem implicitly reveals this exact food with the roast bird inside the crust. Be that as it may, οne who begins to eat this dish will be like the fellow described by your comic poet [Aristophanes], eating the new cheese and devouring baskets and all. And he who ate this dish, devouring this bird, would at the same time be eating the pot and the plate and the table (αὐτῇ χύτρᾳ, αὐτῷ πινακίσκῳ, αὐτῇ τραπέζῃ).

29And if we can find in the depths of the art of rhetoric some way of converting amusing meanings into great ones and gloomy ones into merry ones, I must propose the following for the cooks and the bird in this recipe: I would call it a banquet, feast of Agamemnon (δαῖτα ἀγαμεμνόνειον), just as Sophilus’ son Sophocles would have called it, and you will adapt this proverb even to the bird itself. Besides, artisan cooks call this recipe chrysothemis. And Chrysothemis was the child of Agamemnon. So this dish acquires a noble name. And this approach brings me to the point where I shall have nothing more to do with such a food of gluttony.

30I therefore go back to what I was saying initially and bring my letter to a close so as not to exhaust you further by writing all these things. This letter of mine is the least I can do in return for all the great gifts I have received from you. Anyone else would have not dared to do so, yet I have shown perhaps excessive courage or boorishness and naivety, and uneducated as I am I went ahead with writing it. And if ultimately you do not rejoice or smile at this letter, I at least hope you are not displeased. However, I want you to know that I did not tease you, or mock you, and I hope that nothing like that crosses your mind.

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Notes

1 “Let the pot boil, let friendship live, [a proverb] in reference to those who join in friendship at a dinner”. Dedicated with my thanks to those friends and colleagues who helped me with this article, Andrew Dalby, Antonis Kaldellis, Gerasimos Merianos, Charis Messis and Stratis Papaioannou. Thanks also go to Yona Waksman for her cooperation and trust.

2 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 5.72‑73: “τί ποτ’ ἂν εἴη ταὐτὸν καὶ ἓν ἀριθμῷ, πίναξ καὶ χύτρα καὶ ὄψον καὶ ἄρτος καὶ τράπεζα.”

3 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 5, pp. 16‑19. On Nikephoros and the letters of Eustathios to him, see commentaries and dating, Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, pp. 93‑94.

4 On the riddle, see Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 5.70‑73. I put forward this recipe, among others, and precisely because of its frequent references to utensils, when I was asked to suggest a Byzantine recipe for the Byzantine menu offered by Yona Waksman, the organizer of the conference Multidisciplinary Approaches to Food and Foodways in the Medieval Eastern Mediterranean, Lyon, 19‑21 May 2016.

5 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4, pp. 10‑15.

6 The riddles, Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.113‑124, no. 5.70‑73; Koukoules 1950, pp. 155‑156.

7 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 5.90‑97.

8 The journey through the snow, Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.1‑105.

9 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.1‑5, 21‑29, 98‑105.

10 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.3, 28.

11 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.19‑21: “τεῖχος οἷόν τι ἐκ δεξιῶν καὶ τεῖχος ἐξ εὐωνύμων τοῖς παροδεύουσιν ἀνεστοίβαστο, ἀνέμου χοάνοις, ὅπη τύχῃ, διαρριπισθέν.” Septuagint, Exodus, 14.21‑24: “καὶ ὑπήγαγεν κύριος τὴν θάλασσαν ἐν ἀνέμῳ νότῳ βιαίῳ ὅλην τὴν νύκτα, καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ αὐτοῖς τεῖχος ἐκ δεξιῶν καὶ τεῖχος ἐξ εὐωνύμων.”

12 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.74.

13 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.101‑108.

14 Septuagint, Exodus, 16.13‑15: “καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐπὶ πρόσωπον τῆς ἐρήμου λεπτὸν ὡσεὶ κόριον λευκὸν ὡσεὶ πάγος ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. ἰδόντες δὲ αὐτὸ οἱ υἱοὶ Ισραηλ εἶπαν ἕτερος τῷ ἑτέρῳ Τί ἐστιν τοῦτο; οὐ γὰρ ᾔδεισαν, τί ἦν.”

15 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.119 and 123: “τί τοῦτο; […] οὐδὲ τὴν πρὸ αὐτοῦ γνῶσιν εἴχομεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ εἰσέτι ζητοῦμεν. καὶ τὸ τί τοῦτο, παραμένει ἡμῖν καὶ πυκνὰ ἐκκαλεῖται ὁ ἐπῳδὸς τοῖς ᾄδουσιν.” Septuagint, Exodus, 16.15: “ἰδόντες δὲ αὐτὸ οἱ υἱοὶ Ισραηλ εἶπαν ἕτερος τῷ ἑτέρῳ Τί ἐστιν τοῦτο; οὐ γὰρ ᾔδεισαν, τί ἦν.”

16 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.107‑108: “καὶ ὁ πολλάς μοι βρέξας πετεινῶν πτερωτῶν σάρκας, ὃ δὴ γέγραπται, ἐπέσταξας καὶ ἄρτι ὄρνιν ταύτην ὠνθυλευμένην.” Septuagint, Psalm, 77.24‑27: “καὶ ἔβρεξεν αὐτοῖς μαννα φαγεῖν […] καὶ ἔβρεξεν ἐπ’ αὐτοὺς ὡσεὶ χοῦν σάρκας καὶ ὡσεὶ ἄμμον θαλασσῶν πετεινὰ πτερωτά.”

17 Τhe description of the stuffed bird, Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.106‑137.

18 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.127. On these recipes, see comments Koukoules 1952, pp. 75‑78. In two other cases Eustathios refers generally to pickles (Letters, no. 32.24) and pickled fish together with salted or smoked fish, Eustathios of Thessaloniki, On the improvement of monastic life, §66.30: “ἰχθύες ταριχευτοί· τινὲς δὲ καὶ ἐκ προσφάτου ἁλίπαστοι, πολλοὶ δὲ καὶ ὀξωτοί· οὐκ ἐνέλιπον οὐδὲ ὠὰ ἰχθύων τεταριχευμένα.” See also Koukoules 1952, p. 84, n. 9.

19 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.135; no. 5.1 and 19‑22.

20 Anonymus, On the properties, p. 477 and English translation Dalby 2003, p. 143.

21 A problematic translation, based on the previous edition of the letter, is given by Kazhdan & Wharton-Epstein 1985, p. 81. Anthochymos considered as a neologism (i.e. a fowl seasoned with fragrant juice) is now read as onthyleumenen, stuffed, Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.109.

22 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.106‑124. The translation up to this point was done by Andrew Dalby as part of the preparation for the Byzantine Dinner organized by Sally Grainger at the Paul Bocuse Institute. See the relevant site where there is a wealth of photographic material on the Byzantine Dinner. The following is copied from the site: “Ilias Anagnostakis, historian of Byzantium at the National Hellenic Foundation of Athens, Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger, food historians and experimental archaeologists, designed the recipes, based among others on texts written in the 12th century by Eustathios of Thessaloniki. The dinner was realized as a pedagogic project for 50 international students, in collaboration with a team from the Paul Bocuse Institute, including Maxime Michaud, Alain Dauvergne, Jean Philippon and Philippe Rispal. The dinner was under the patronage of chef Régis Marcon. Replicas of Byzantine pottery were made on this occasion by potter Jean-Jacques Dubernard” (www.pomedor.mom.fr/ongoing/content/136, accessed 10/12/2019).

23 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.124‑137.

24 Iliad 5, 5‑6. Henceforth for the citations, see the apparatus fontium of the Kolovou publication (Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, pp. 16‑19).

25 On the grapes painted by Eustathios to look like gold, Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 3. See Anagnostakis 2004, pp. 84‑104 and Anagnostakis 2013a, pp. 52‑55. Koukoules (1952, p. 75) however identifies these birds as kitrinopoulia, golden oriole (Oriolus oriolus).

26 On gastronomy in general in Eustathios, see: Koukoules 1950; 1952, pp. 75‑77; Wilson 1983, pp. 201‑202; Dalby 1996, pp. 168‑180; Anagnostakis 2013b, p. 62; Leontsini 2013, pp. 121‑126. On wine and grapes in Eustathios, see: Anagnostakis 2004; 2013a.

27 The opinion of Leontsini differs (Leontsini 2013, pp. 124‑125, where there is a reproduction of the recipe by Αnagnostakis, see photographs pp. 124‑125). The dish was prepared almost correctly at the Byzantine Dinner by Sally Grainger at the Paul Bocuse Institute (Grainger, in this volume, pp. 208‑209).

28 This is the opinion of Kolovou (Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, p. 93).

29 Anaxagoras, frg. 1, frg. 46, 47 and 60.

30 Anaxagoras, frg. 45 and 46; Guthrie 1962, 266ff and here 272, 292, n. 1, 331‑332; Kirk et al. 1983, p. 375.

31 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, On the improvement of monastic life, §196.18; Eustathios of Thessaloniki, On the capture of Thessaloniki, 16.5‑6. See also in the same 12th century the interest showed in Anaxagoras by Henricus Aristippus, a Latin cleric, a Greek from Calabria (Wilson 1983, pp. 213‑214). Aristippus briefly served as minister at the Norman Court at Palermo and envoy (1158‑1160) to Manuel Komnenos and received from the emperor a Greek copy of Ptolemy’s Almagest producing the first Latin translation of it. Aristippus also made the first Latin translation of Plato’s Phaedo (1160) and Meno and of the fourth book of Aristotle’s Meteorologica, see Dillon (2013, pp. 45‑46, with bibliography).

32 Lycophron, Alexandra, verses 1250‑1252; Strabo, 13, 1, 53.29‑38; Dionysios of Halicarnassos, Roman Antiquities, 1, 55.3‑4. On Lycophron and Virgilius: West 1983, pp. 132‑135; Klein 2009; Prioux 2009.

33 See also the ecstatic interpretation, Ruck Carl & Larner 2013.

34 Lycophron, Alexandra, verses 1250‑1252.

35 Strabo, 13, 1, 53.29‑38.

36 Dionysios of Halicarnassos, Roman Antiquities, 1, 55.3‑4.

37 Scholia in Lycophronem (scholia vetera), scholion 1250b; Scholia in Lycophronem (scholia vetera et recentiora partim Isaac et Joannis Tzetzae), scholion 1232 and 1250; Constantinos Manasses, Breviarium Chronicum, verse 1494‑1511; Anonymus, Historia imperatorum, lines 2111‑2133.

38 Nikephoros Basilakes, Orationes, B1, p. 13.32; Flavius Justinianus, Novellae, 283.23‑24; Basilica, Scholia in Basilicorum, book 22, title 2, chap. 2, section 1, line 9.

39 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Orations, no. 10, 176.1.

40 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, On the capture of Thessaloniki, 14.11.

41 Michael Choniates, Letters, 122 no. 93.14‑16, 137 no. 111.37‑39.

42 Theodoros Prodromos, Rhodanthe and Dosicles, 4, verses 129‑165; Michael Italikos, Letters, no. 18, pp. 156‑159; Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 4.113‑124, no. 5.70‑73; Koukoules 1950, pp. 155‑156; Kazhdan & Wharton-Epstein 1985, p. 81; Dalby 1996, pp. 157, 198‑199; Leontsini 2013, p. 122.

43 Aristophanes, Frogs, verse 559‑560; Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, p. 94. The manducation des tables is the expression used in French bibliography for any story about mensas consumimus.

44 Sophocles, Electra, verse 281; Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 5.85‑89 and p. 94. This verse of Sophocles is reviewed by Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Commentary on Odyssey, vol. 2, 132.23.

45 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Letters, no. 5.85‑89, see the apparatus fontium: fontem non inveni.

46 Odyssey 7.174‑175. On the double interpretation of the term “feast of Agamemnon” (δαῖτα ἀγαμεμνόνειον), see Athenaios, Deipnosophists, 1, 15.20‑21, 30.25; Suda Lexicon, delta 355; Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Commentary on Odyssey, vol. 1, 180.24‑29.

47 On this see the Athenaios, Deipnosophists, 5 ff; Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Commentary on Iliad, vol. 4, 262.5, 929.17‑20; Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Commentary on Odyssey, vol. 2, 28, 85; Romeri 2004. See also the perception of Aristotle and Plato in the 12th century: Merianos 2008, pp. 132‑155.

48 Sophocles, Electra, verse 361, where “Electra presents Chrysothemis as addicted to physical pleasure: she emphasizes that Chrysothemis enjoys rich food [πλουσία τράπεζα]”, Wilson 2012, p. 546; Sophocles, Electra, pp. 201‑202. In some theatrical performances Chrysothemis is the symbol of the making peace through food in ancient Greek family.

49 Suda Lexicon, zeta 48, 96; Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Commentary on Iliad, vol. 1, 193.15.

50 Michael Italikos, Letters, no. 18, pp. 156‑159; Leontsini 2013, p. 122. See also Kazhdan & Wharton-Epstein 1985, and here pp. 80‑83, 128, 222‑223.

51 Theodoros Prodromos, Rhodanthe and Dosicles, 4, verses 129‑165; Anagnostakis 2013b, pp. 62‑63; Leontsini 2013; Koder 2013.

52 On the “Comnenian imperialism” in general and especially in the literature of Comnenian era, see Magdalino 1993, pp. 60, 105, 421 ff.

53 Nikephoros Basilakes, Orationes, B1, p. 13.32.

54 On the Franks originating from Aeneas, see Scholia in Oppianum, Book 1 scholion 2: “Αἰνεαδάων· Φράγγων τῶν τοῦ Αἰνείου καταγόμενε, Ῥωμαίων.”

55 Eustathios of Thessaloniki, On the capture of Thessaloniki, 151‑152; Nicetas Choniates, History, 594; Koukoules 1952, pp. 148‑149; Gregory 2013, pp. 281‑282.

56 On forks, see Anagnostakis & Papamastorakis 2005; Parani 2010.

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1 – Miniature of Etiam mensas consumimus, and ships (Manuscript Royal 20 D I, 2nd quarter of the 14th century, British Library).
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/10189/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 977k
Titre Fig. 2 – Harpies stealing the food of Phineus (Pseudo-Oppian’s Cynegetica, Marcianus Graecus 479 fol. 39r, ca 1060, in Spatharakis 2004, p. 315, no. 78).
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/10189/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 812k
Titre Fig. 3 – Harpies depicted on Byzantine and Islamic ceramics.
Légende a) Corinth, ca 1140-1170 (Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, in Papanikola-Bakirtzis 1999, p. 169 no. 196).
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/10189/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 152k
Légende b) Bowl with harpy on interior, Late Byzantine, 13th century (Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Washington DC).
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/10189/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 310k
Légende c) An Egyptian or Syrian earthenware bowl, 1200-1250, depicting a harpy (Victoria & Albert Museum, London).
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/10189/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 249k
Titre Fig. 4 – Birds on Byzantine ceramics.
Légende a) Dish from a shipwreck, 2nd half of the 12th century (Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens).
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/10189/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 271k
Légende b) Dish from a shipwreck, 12th century (Victoria & Albert Museum, London).
URL http://books.openedition.org/momeditions/docannexe/image/10189/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 242k

Auteur

National Hellenic Research Foundation, Institute of Historical Research, Section of Byzantine Research, Athens, Greece, ilias.anagnostakis@gmail.com

Acheter

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LCDPUleslibraires.fr
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