OINOS KRITHINOS, Defined

Οἶνος Κρίθινος

1. Wine of barley
Formed from ὀινος + κριθή = wine and barley

Commentary

This barleywine does not refer to the high ABV ale from the UK. Instead, it is the Greeks’ attempt to describe a type of beverage that was not made by them. The earliest references to wine and barley separately are found in the first Greek texts, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. “Oἶνος κρίθινος” however, first appears in Xenophon. There is an earlier variant in Herodotus’s History [ca. 484-425 BCE] with “ὀινος ἐκ κριθέων” (“wine from barley”) used to describe the brew of the Egyptians. Still, no dedicated Greek word for “beer” existed in the fourth century or earlier.

 

See also: Nelson 2001, 26-29.

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