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± e
8 Galen discusses alphabetical order at Simples 11.792 K (following Pamphilus, on whom see below),
12.2 K, 12.209 K. Alphabetical order is used in Simples books 6, 7 and 8 (the plant books); is not used
in part of 9 (stones), but is used in most of 9 (metals); is not used in 10 or 11 (animals and ¬sh). See
further Barnes (1997) 10“11.
9 See Garnsey (1999), Wilkins (2003).
Galen and Athenaeus in the Hellenistic library 73
order of my own books (see Flemming in this volume). Galen makes clear
the perils that threatened his books, which include ¬re, plagiarism and the
passing off of false works as his. It is also clear how far his interests extended
beyond medicine, narrowly de¬ned, into philosophy, lexicography and lit-
erary concerns.
Galen the writer of medical treatises thus shares with Athenaeus certain
features, among which lexicography and philosophy play a large part, as do
the nature of texts and the use of medical texts in any account of food in
antiquity. Both Galen and Athenaeus are major sources for the Hellenistic
doctors such as Mnesitheus of Athens, Diocles of Carystus, Philistion,
Praxagoras, Phylotimus and Diphilus of Siphnos. In fact, these authors
depend heavily on Galen and Athenaeus, together with the late compiler
Oribasius, for their survival, albeit in fragmentary form.
I shall return later to the content of the Deipnosophistae. In format, it
is curious. Formally, it is a literary symposium in the tradition of Plato™s
Symposium, with a series of diners and symposiasts speaking on a set theme,
in this case of meals and foods and the literature and other cultural products
that accompany them. As in Plato™s model, lively dialogue on certain issues
is interwoven with material in a complementary format. Where Plato writes
beautifully crafted speeches in praise of love, Athenaeus has lengthy literary
quotation and lists of items, sometimes in alphabetical order, sometimes
not. Overall, the material is organised in the order of a meal, with starters,
¬sh and meat dishes and then the dessert or ˜second tables™ to accompany the
symposium. Within that principle of organisation, some of the foods and
mealtimes described are presented by a speaker, such as Plutarch in book 6
on parasites. Sometimes Athenaeus gives a summary of what was said, as in
the list of ¬sh in book 7: ˜I shall record for you what the deipnosophists said
about each ¬sh. They all brought to the common table their contributions
from books, whose names I shall omit because of the vast number™ (277b“
c). Sometimes Athenaeus seems to discard the dialogue form with speakers
altogether, and to present material of his own, as in the twelfth book on
luxury. However we interpret the ordering of Athenaeus™ work, it does not
follow the clear and systematic alphabetical order of the modern dictionary
or encyclopaedia. I shall return later to the effect that Athenaeus appears
to create. I note for the moment that he seems to be writing for a reader
who is familiar with different modes of processing a great deal of varied
material and who is able to sustain the subversion of certain forms such as
the alphabetical or non-alphabetical list.
Certainly, the reader of Galen and Athenaeus would appear to belong to
the elite strata of Greek and Roman society. Galen clearly speaks of peasants
74 j oh n wi lki ns
being different from ˜us™ (the author and reader, Food 1.2). Often he seems
to envisage a Roman elite audience, for example in On prognosis, where his
voice is that of the competitive doctor who can meet any challenge in the
rhetorical displays beside the sickbeds of Rome. In the treatises in question,
however, his evidence is more likely to be drawn from Asia Minor and
Egypt than Rome (and even less so from the Greek mainland). Athenaeus
by contrast sets his semi-¬ctional meals at the home of the Roman Larensis,
who is said to provide lavish meals (on which see the concluding remarks
below) and to possess the ¬nest library ever seen. He thus appears to offer
meals of unparalleled splendour and a research library with unparalleled
resources. Poorer citizens are sparsely represented in the Deipnosophistae.

re s e a rc h
The Deipnosophistae is a literary thesaurus, full of wonderful discoveries
in rare books and little-known texts. It artfully presents research in the
Hellenistic library. The model of the Deipnosophistae as a virtual library has
been developed by Too (2000) and Jacob (2000) and (2001). The diners at
the meals of Larensis rely on reading and memory, with only a little personal
experience, such as, for example, Larensis™ reports on Moesia in book 9
(398b“399a), or Athenaeus™ references to his native Egypt (such as 312a“b,
for which see n. 23). Galen, on the other hand, combines research in the
Hellenistic library with case studies, experiment and personal autopsy (see
below, and Wilkins (2003)). Despite different aims, formats and methods,
however, Galen and Athenaeus share a number of features, which highlight
the intellectual preoccupations of their time.

Attention to detail
Let us consider what each author says of the pistachio nut. Athenaeus ¬rst
At this, the Syrian,10 who had been tested and bitten very hard,11 said, ˜well,
pistachios have been served on our table as well. If you tell me which author
mentions the word pistachio, “I will give you” not “ten gold staters” (in the words of
the idler from Pontus)12 but this drinking cup here.™ When Democritus remained
silent, Ulpian said, ˜since you don™t know, I™ll tell you. Nicander of Colophon

10 Ulpian, the symposiarch, is in the middle of a debate.
11 Terms appropriate to food are frequently transferred to the deipnosophists themselves. Thus, for
example, they are abused as pigs, or they are in danger of becoming ¬sh.
12 Heraclides of Pontus the Younger, who wrote an anecdotal book entitled Leschai.
Galen and Athenaeus in the Hellenistic library 75
mentions them and says in the Theriaca, “pistachios (phittakia) on branches like
those of the almond”. But there is also the reading, “pistachios (bistakia) have
appeared, almond-like”. And Posidonius the Stoic writes as follows in Book 3 of
the Histories: “Arabia and Syria grow the persea-fruit and the so-called pistachio
(bistakion) [there follows a description of the fruit] . . .” But the brothers13 who
wrote the Georgics write as follows in Book 3: “and the manna-ash and the terebinth
which the Syrians now call pistachio (pistakia).” So these two call pistachios pistakia
with a pi, while Nicander has an aspirated phittakia14 and Posidonius bistakia.™
This might initially sound like a laborious and pedantic journey through
variant readings, with mild jokes on the identity of the Syrian speaker and
the Syrian origin of the pistachio. A more positive and nuanced reading
might emphasise the geographical and linguistic range of speakers and cited
authors, and the range of dates and literary forms used. In addition, Ulpian
draws on special data on the pistachio from both predictable authors such
as Nicander and the Quintilii and from Posidonius whose work is normally
directed at other agenda.
Galen™s note on the pistachio shares with Athenaeus a geographical inter-
est, but is otherwise more narrowly focused on medical properties. He says
(Food 2.30) that pistachios grow in Alexandria and Beroea in Syria; that they
are not very nourishing; that they are bitter, astringent and aromatic, and
neutral on the stomach. When discussing carobs, however, Galen comes
closer to Athenaeus™ interest in spelling and terminological accuracy.
The carob (ceration), whose third syllable is spoken and written with the letter t
looks nothing like the cherry (cerasia) with an s since it is a food that is woody and
full of bad juices; consequently it is dif¬cult to digest, for nothing that is woody is
easy to digest. Since it does not pass through the body quickly, it is furnished with
considerable bad qualities. So it would be better if these fruits were not exported
from the areas in the east where they grow. (Food 2.33)15
Here, we ¬nd that Galen has added to nutritional and geographical criteria a
lexical concern (the danger of confusion of terms). The potential for error is
created not by a botanical confusion of species but by the similarity of name;
this apparent similarity is disproved by their appearance (ouden eoike). Note
that Posidonius in Ulpian™s quotation referred to the appearance of the
pistachio tree. Galen has a further comment, that the carob would be better
omitted from the diet. The inclusion of a non-approved item suggests he

13 Quintilii. See Canfora (ed.) (2001) 1686, Zecchini (1989) 16.
14 On manuscript inconsistencies in this passage see Gulick (1927“41) ad loc. and Canfora (ed.) (2001)
ad loc.
15 Translations from Food are taken from Powell (ed.) (2003), in some cases with minor adaptations.
76 j oh n wi lki ns
aims at inclusiveness above medical acceptability. More important for the
moment is the concern for lexical accuracy.

Matching the lexicon and the science
This concern reappears in Galen™s entry on wild chickling (arakos: Food
I have found the last syllable of the word arakos written with a k in the Merchant
Ships by Aristophanes where it reads: ˜wild chickling, wheat, pearl barley, groats,
one-seeded wheat, darnel and ¬ne ¬‚our™. The seed is similar to that of chickling
(lathurai), and some people do not think they are separate species, for the general
use and power of wild chickling is similar to that of chickling, except that wild
chickling is harder and more dif¬cult to boil and so is harder to digest than
chickling. Where I live there is a wild variety that is round and hard, smaller than
vetch (orobos) and found in cereal crops. It is called arachos, pronounced not with
a k in the last syllable but a chi. Harvesters throw it away, just as they do with
axeweed (pelekinos).
For Galen there is a lexical and a botanical problem. There is clear con-
fusion between chickling and wild chickling, and the botanical confusion
between the seeds can be established by comparing similarity and difference.
Principles of analogy and relationship are at issue. For chickling and wild
chickling, the term Galen uses is paraplesios.16 The lexical confusion how-
ever is more insidious. To clarify the issue, Galen goes back to Aristophanes.
We might note his works on ˜political™ terms in Aristophanes, Eupolis and
Cratinus, which do not survive but are listed in On my own books 48. In
these treatises, Galen probably explored just such words as the present one,
which could help clarify terms in the medical lexicon, and to give an Attic
identity to them.17 Similar concerns also inspired the pseudo-Galenic text
on Hippocratic glosses. This is not a merely pedantic concern that ¬nds its
way into a grammarian™s or antiquarian™s work such as the Deipnosophistae.
It is also at the heart of Galen™s concerns.
These concerns are best worked though in Galen™s chapter on the primi-
tive wheats. This is an extensive section (1.13) on tiphai, olurai, zeiai (species
of emmer, einkorn and possibly spelt). Galen ¬nds that his medical text-
books are inadequate:
Mnesitheus placed tiphai third after the naked wheats and barley. Diocles discussed
it rather super¬cially since he preferred brevity in writing to exactness (to akribes)
in exposition. At any rate, that is how he wrote, abbreviating the discussion about

16 17
See p. 77 below on the terms used by Theophrastus. See p. 85 below on Atticism.
Galen and Athenaeus in the Hellenistic library 77
wheat, barley and much else. Praxagoras and Mnesitheus wrote about them a little
more fully than Diocles, but they also omitted some things. Phylotimus wrote at
length about some but inadequately about others, and some, like zeia he totally
forgot. It is plain that his teacher Praxagoras did likewise. For while Phylotimus
ignored nothing that Praxagoras spoke of, he works over it and adds much. One
can wonder that the compiler of the Hippocratic On Regimen, whoever the ancient
author was, did not even mention the name of zeiai.18
Galen™s review of the medical sources shows not so much error as omission.
He next subjects Diocles to close analysis, which includes consideration of
manuscript variants in the text. Next he considers Mnesitheos, who has
found a type of cereal in northern regions that he calls zeia. Galen does not
praise Mnesitheos™ geographical range, but tests his data. Galen cannot ¬nd
any corroboration of this in visits to northern peoples, whether, he notes,
the grain is spelt zeia or zea. He considers a further possibility, namely
that zea is a Greek term for what the Thracians and Macedonians call by
another name. A visit to the region reveals that the main cereal there is
called briza (Galen spells it out in the nominative and accusative case);
that it is ˜very similar™ (homoiotatos) to what people in Galen™s area of Asia
Minor call tiphˆ; and that it makes a malodorous black bread. Conclusion:
if Mnesitheos had mentioned the black bread then Galen would tend to
believe briza is what Mnesitheos called zeia. Further comments follow,
which are drawn from Theophrastus and Dioscorides, with Homer added
for good measure. Many other similar (paraplesia) seeds are considered that
fall somewhere (but it is not possible to say where precisely) between wheat,
barley, zeia, olura and tiphˆ. This use of analogy resembles the approach of
Theophrastus who declares zeia and tiphˆ to be very similar, homoiotata, to
wheat (Food 1.13).
In this passage, Galen attempts to bring some order to a confused pic-
ture. It is worth noting that the picture at the end of the twentieth century
remained confused. Sallares 1991 discusses the dif¬culty of identifying ˜by-
forms™ of wheat; two recent translations of Galen On the properties of foods
do not agree with each other; and an encyclopedia of food notes many
different modern terms for the primitive wheats.19 Galen for his part uses
autopsy and consultation with peasant farmers to discover how the plants
in the ¬eld match the medical and botanical accounts. Note that Galen
concerns himself with peasant names for plants, and not only with names

18 The manuscript text of Hippocrates Regimen II 43 was emended by Wilamowitz, followed by the
CMG text of Joly and Byl, on the strength of Galen™s comment here. Zeia is preserved in the
Hippocratic tradition.
19 Kiple and Ornelas (eds.) (2000), Grant (ed.) (2000), Powell (ed.) (2003).
78 j oh n wi lki ns
in high-status botanical and medical texts. He searches for the greatest
possible accuracy and clarity, and notes the absence of these qualities in
most of his predecessors, including the Hippocratic Regimen II. He might
well claim implicitly to have the most thorough, accurate and geograph-
ically wide-ranging account available. His techniques in verifying taxon-
omy include those highlighted by Athenaeus: spelling, dialectal and other
linguistic variation, geographical considerations and analogy. Comparison
between Athenaeus on pistachios and Galen on primitive wheats indicates
a shared interest in reading widely, spelling, de¬nition of meaning, and
textual variants. These are familiar concerns in Hellenistic scholarship, to
be found in the analysis of texts from Homer to the Hippocratic corpus
(indeed in Galen™s own commentaries on the latter).
Athenaeus, too, provides testimony on the primitive wheats. In book 3,
the deipnosophist Pontianus says
Tryphon of Alexandria in the book entitled Plants sets forth the kinds of bread, if
I remember rightly, as leavened (zumites), unleavened (azumites), with ¬ne ¬‚our
(semidalites), with rough ¬‚our (chondrites), with unsifted ¬‚our (sunkomistos) “ this
he says is more laxative than bread made of re¬ned ¬‚our (katharos) “ bread made
from olurai, bread made from tiphai, bread made from millet. Bread made from
rough ¬‚our, he says, comes from zeiai, for rough ¬‚our cannot be made from
barley. (109b“c).
After several other deipnosophists have responded to Pontianus, Galen
(Athenaeus™ semi-¬ctional version of the Galen under discussion in this
chapter) ¬les a research report on what medical writers have to say (115c“
116a). He quotes Diphilus of Siphnos,20 Philistion of Locri, and Andreas
(on whom see below), and then comes to Mnesitheus: ˜Mnesitheus says
that bread is more digestible (eupeptoteron) than barley cake and that bread
from tiphˆ is more suf¬ciently nourishing because it is digested with no
great effort. Conversely, bread made from zeiai if eaten to excess is heavy
and dif¬cult to digest. The result is that those who eat it do not enjoy good
health. And you must know that cereals that are not parched or ground
generate wind and heaviness and cramps and headaches.™
What overall treatment does Athenaeus give on these primitive wheats?
His ¬rst reference to these cereals is oblique, coming at the end of a series
of different kinds of bread. Bread is under discussion since the bread stage
of the meal has been reached. The authority chosen is Tryphon of Alexan-
dria, a grammarian of the ¬rst century bce who wrote on pronunciation

20 Athenaeus tells us that Diphilus was physician to Lysimachus. Interestingly, Athenaeus quotes this
Hellenistic doctor extensively on foods but Galen ignores him in Food.
Galen and Athenaeus in the Hellenistic library 79
and dialect forms. He is apparently an ideal source for a deipnosophist,
effortlessly supplying a list of recondite words (cf. 109e, 114b, 114e) that can
be refashioned from a grammarian™s manual into service at a literary dining
table. Both Pontianus and Cynulcus (who is also involved in the discussion
but not quoted above) are listed among the philosophers rather than the
grammarian deipnosophists, but as we shall see, nearly all deipnosophists
display to some extent the interests of the grammarian. Galen, who rep-
resents the medical interest, draws exclusively on medical texts, but other
doctors in the Deipnosophistae also display concerns within the domain of
the grammarian (e.g., 3.116f“118d).
Comparison between the interests of the deipnosophists and those of
Galen might reveal completely different working methods, to match the
different aims of Galen and Athenaeus. To some extent this is so, and is
illustrated by the discussion of wine by the deipnosophist Galen at 26c“
27d, which differs from the work of the real Galen.21 Galen in his own
treatises presents case studies of patients,22 and (in the case of cereals) goes
out into the ¬elds to discover what the peasants are growing and what
their names for each cereal might be. Athenaeus is more concerned with
the ¬nished product, bread, than the cereals in the ¬eld. But Galen, too,
mentions ¬nished foods (as did the Hippocratic author in Regimen II 42
and 44). So, on bread he says, ˜After wheaten breads the best are the ones
from olura when it is a good strain; and those from tiphˆ are second. But
the latter in no way falls short of the olura breads when the olura is of
poor quality. When the tiphˆ is very good quality, warm breads from it
are much stronger than those from olura™ (Food 1.13). He goes on to note
heaviness in the stomach. We might have expected a link to Mnesitheus
here, since the views are similar to those quoted in Athenaeus, but there
is none.
21 See Nutton (1995a) 368“9. Athenaeus™ presentation of Galen is limited. He is introduced at 1.1e
as ˜Galen of Pergamum who published so many philosophical and medical texts that he exceeded
all who went before™. But none of these works is quoted in the Deipnosophistae and Galen only
speaks twice, on wine and on bread. The descriptions of Italian wines seem to follow different
criteria from those in Galen™s own works: Brock (2000). On bread, as noted above, Athenaeus™
Galen draws on the same medical texts as does Galen in his own works. In particular, the same
text of Mnesitheus of Athens is quoted at Ath. 115f and Food 1.13. The relationship of Athenaeus
with Galen may be compared with the treatment of Plutarch, whom Athenaeus quotes only twice,
but who seems to be adapted in a complex way into the deipnosophist Plutarch of Alexandria.
Berra (2005) explores Athenaeus™ conversion of the Chaeronean Plutarch into Plutarch of Alexan-
dria. As he shows, Athenaeus seems to take little from Plutarch by way of intertext but to engage
with him seriously through a ¬ctional character based on Athenaeus™ own centre of scholarship,
22 Notable examples are the young vegetarian in Alexandria (Food 1.25); the young man who ate
mushrooms (Food 2.67); wet-nurses, who ate wild herbs when hungry (Food 3.14).
80 j oh n wi lki ns

Autopsy and local knowledge
Galen places particular emphasis on autopsy. This is found too among the
deipnosophists, as noted above.23 But it is less of an issue than in Galen.
Consider two striking passages. The ¬rst comes from chapter 1.13 of Foods,
the chapter quoted above:
It is a matter for wonder that Mnesitheus was unaware in what way olura differs
from tiphˆ. For each occurs in quantity in Asia, especially in the hinterlands of
Pergamum, since the country people always make bread from them because the
wheat is taken down to the cities.24
Again we see that Galen makes claims based on apparently authoritative
evidence drawn from Asia Minor rather than mainland Greece or Italy.
This might re¬‚ect the claims of Greek speakers against the claims of the
centre in Rome;25 or it may re¬‚ect Galen™s implicit claim to have an empire-
wide overview. His geographical frame of reference in Foods extends from
Spain to Syria. Furthermore, in this context, Athens for Galen represents a
dominant dialect within a linguistic system and not a geographical reference
point for foods. Rome, by contrast, is referred to for its foods.
Autopsy, for Galen, can clinch a dif¬cult problem of identi¬cation,
and perhaps reinforce his claim to authority. His correction of Mnesitheus
would appear to prove that the doctor who knows his cereals is superior to
the doctor who has only read about them in books. Galen makes the case
for autopsy particularly strongly in Simples: in the introduction to book 6
(xi, 793“4 K) he says that
Pamphilus is clearly a man who assembled a book on plants and did so as a
grammatikos from the books he had written. He had neither seen the plants he
wrote about nor tested their properties, but he believed all those who wrote before
him without testing them.
Later Galen adds, (xi, 796 K) ˜Pamphilus has not even seen in his dreams
the plants whose form he tries to describe.™ For himself, Galen declares

23 The entry on the latos in the catalogue of ¬sh (Ath. 311f“312b) is a particularly good example.
Athenaeus recalls the ¬sh of the Nile even after many years™ absence from Egypt. The Nile latoi
are similar (paraplesioi) to the glanis of the Danube. Athenaeus attempts to comment on many
different species, but without reference in this case to zoological authors, which is unusual for the
¬sh catalogue.
24 Galen™s rhetoric of wonder could be turned against him, for he seems unable to distinguish rye from
wheat in Thrace: see above.
25 See Swain (1996) and Flemming in this volume.
Galen and Athenaeus in the Hellenistic library 81
I censured those who ¬rst of all described the forms of plants, thinking it best to
be an autoptˆs learning in the presence of the teacher and not to be assimilated [to
the study of plants] by guides in books. (xi, 796“7 K)26
Galen champions autopsy, but not at the expense of books. Discrimination
is needed in the study of books. Galen appears to ¬nd Pamphilus to be a
bad botanist but a good lexicographer. Good books in pharmacology, for
example, that he can recommend (proemium to book 6) are by Dioscorides
of Anazarbus, Sextius Niger,27 one of the Heraclides28 and Crateuas.29 Galen
in his treatment of Pamphilus thus follows the lexicographer in his ordering
of terms alphabetically and rejects his botanical observations on the grounds
of too little personal knowledge of plants. He has further complaints against
Pamphilus (book 6 (xi, 792“3 K)), who, he says, turned to the stories of
old women and some nonsensical mumbo-jumbo from Egypt, mixed up
with incantations which they murmur when they pick the plants.

Reading technical works
Galen™s range of reading is thus not completely different from that of
the deipnosophists. Athenaeus is as likely to quote Diocles of Carystus
and Mnesitheus of Athens as is Galen. The deipnosophists have also read
Pamphilus widely; Andreas too,30 whom Galen also censures, and possibly
Heraclides of Tarentum also (though there is confusion between several
medical authors of this name). A difference is, however, discernible between
Athenaeus and Galen, in discriminating between books read. Athenaeus™
diners accept almost all books with relish, the rarer the better, the more

26 We might contrast Galen™s censure of the research techniques of Pamphilus (for which see Jouanna
and Boudon (1997)) with his adoption of alphabetical order for the plant section of Simples, explicitly
after the example of Pamphilus.
27 An important botanist also used by Pliny and Dioscorides. Scarborough and Nutton (1982) 206 note
that Dioscorides often uses Sextius without acknowledgement. Sextius is an important example of a
Roman author who wrote in Greek and was used by Galen. Roman authors are admitted to Simples
(as they are quoted occasionally in the Deipnosophistae) but Galen does not cite Roman authors in
Foods. It may be that Galen thought Roman botanists had more to offer than farming and medical
authorities; Galen may have been in¬‚uenced by disciplinary conventions between pharmacology
and nutrition; or the distinction between Greek authors and Roman authors writing in Greek may
have had some other signi¬cance in technical ¬elds at this date.
28 Possibly the Empiricist Heraclides of Tarentum who was taught by Mantias (of whom Galen also
approved) and whom Dioscorides also mentions in his preface (1), on which see below.
29 The doctor of Mithridates VI of Pontus, ˜the most celebrated pharmacologist of antiquity™ (Scar-
borough and Nutton (1982) 204).
30 Another Hellenistic doctor, from the court of Ptolemy IV. He wrote, among other things, on bites
and on false belief.
82 j oh n wi lki ns
canonical the better. Pamphilus the grammarian; Homer or Plato; the rare
Matro are all embraced, with the critical comments on text and manuscript
traditions that Galen also uses. Both Galen and Athenaeus, for example,
comment on the Hippocratic authorship of the treatises known as Regimens
(e.g., Food 1.1; Deipnosophistae 45e“f ). Athenaeus has little more interest in
Hippocrates than that. Galen has enormous interest in Hippocrates and
takes on the interpretation and improvement of Hippocratic thought in
many different forms, ranging from commentaries to comments in passing.
With reference to books he has read in general, Galen rejects some and relies
on others, according to doctrine and to the principles of order, which vary
from book to book.
Crucial questions about order are raised for Galen by Dioscorides, whom

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