Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 4.36

Athenaeus_Deipnosophistae 4.36.34

“The wine that is drunk in the houses of the wealthy is brought from Italy and Marseille, and is unmixed. At times, some water is mixed. Among the somewhat-poorer, they drink wheat beer that is made ready with honey. Among the masses, they drink beer straight. It is called korma. They swallow a little – not more than a ladle-size – all from the same cup. But, they do this frequently. The slave brings it around to the right and left, and offers it in this way. Turning to the right, they [i.e. the diners] ‘cheers’ to the gods.” 

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Despite the long-standing association of “Celtic” with “Irish,” in antiquity, the Celts were scattered throughout France, Belgium, Netherlands, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, and several other modern central European countries. This selection is taken from a longer passage in which Athenaeus quotes Poseidonius’s account of Celtic eating habits. Massive amounts of meat? Check. Booze? Check.


Belgians and Germans drinking beer? Not much has changed. The Reinheitsgebot apparently had two additional stipulations back then: shared tasting glasses and weiss beers. Cheers, Thor.

Authors’ Note
Athenaeus (ca. 2nd-3rd c. CE)
A Greek man living in a Roman world. He wrote the Deipnosophistae, or “The Dinner-Table Philosophers” – a ribald fantasy novel about wise, talking furniture. His writing is more well-known for the quotations of now-lost authors than the strength of its plot and character development.

Poseidonius (ca. 135-51 BCE)
A Greek stoic (i.e. a type of philosopher. . . I cannot comment on his personal demeanor). He wrote on math, science, philosophy, history, etc.

Featured Images
Map of Celtic expansion. Source: Louis Henwood/ 



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