De furta. Furta fiet de ordeo, que est diuretica, plus meningis ventrem inflat, humores viscidos nutrit. Ex ipsa fiet helefas. Quae dicitur ordeo infuse, quem aliqui camum vocant, quem pro vino multi utuntur, dolorem capitis commobet, cacocymu est, nervis contrarius, de tridico vero faciuntur suci tales maxime in iveria et in Britannia.
Concerning Furta: Furta, a diuretic, is made from barley; it swells the stomach, causes urination, and nourishes the sticky humors. From this is made ivory. Furta is said to be from moistened barley, which others call “camum,” [a drink that] many use instead of wine, brings pain to the head, is bad for the humors, and is contrary to the muscles. Such juices from wheat are made, especially in Iberia and Britain.
This is a Longobardic translation into Latin from the original Greek of Dioscourides Pedianus. Here, the word “furta” is used as a translation for “courmi” (or korma). This is the only mention in known Latin texts of this word, “furta.”
Furta is an analogue for camum in this sixth century CE Latin text. According to Dioscourides, beer offers several negative side effects: headaches, muscle pain and bad humors. Very interesting: I had been wondering why my “humors” were feeling less than optimal, lately.
Again, we read about a distinction between wine and beer. As described in several earlier texts, Romans and Greeks believed that beer has negative effects on the body – or at least different effects from wine. It is also often used to demonstrate cultural or social differences between groups of individuals.
Last thing to note: the most prominent areas of beer consumption is Britain and Iberia.
Dioscorides Pedianus (ca. 40-90 CE)
A physician born in Cilicia . He was an army doctor who service throughout Europe and Asia Minor. He wrote his treatise on medicine and plants, Materia Medica.
Dioscorides Longobardus (6th c. CE)
Latin translation of Materia Medica.
Nelson, M. 2001. “Beer in Greco-Roman Antiquity.” Ph.D. dissertation, U. of British Columbia.
Wikimedia Commons, Metropolitan Museum of Art online database: entry 40003495 Accession #13.152.6. Photograph by Marie-Lan Nguyen