Celsus, De Medicina 2.20-21

Boni suci sunt triticum, siligo, halica, oryza, amulum, tragum, tisana, lac, caseus mollis, omnis venatio, omnes aves, quae ex media materia sunt, ex maioribus quoque eae, quas supra nominavi; medii inter teneros durosque pisces, ut mullus, ut lupus; verna lactuca, urtica, malva, cucumis, cucurbita, ovum sorbile, portulaca, cocleae, palmulae; ex pomis quodcumque neque acerbum neque acidum est; vinum dulce vel lene, passum, defrutum; oleae, quae ex his duobus in altero utro servatae sunt; vulvae, rostra, trunculique suum, omnis pinguis caro, omnis glutinosa, omne iecur.

Mali vero suci sunt milium, panicium, hordeum, legumina [. . .]

The good juices are wheat, winter wheat, spelt/emmer, rice, starch, porridge, pearl barley, milk, soft cheese, all game, all birds that are from the middle class (also those from the greater class which I named above); intermediate fish, between soft and hard, like mullet and bass; native lettuce, nettles, mallows, cucumber, gourd, palms, from apples whatever is neither bitter nor tart, sweet and soft wine, must, boiled must; olive oil, which is preserved in those two (i.e. must, boiled must); the skins, mouths, trotters, all the rich fat, all the glutinous (meat), the whole liver.

Bad juices are millet, baked bread, barley, pulses . . .

In an earlier (not shown) section, Celsus describes the impact of “good juices” relative to “bad juices.” Whereas the good juices are agreeable to the stomach, promote sleep, and easily digestible, the bad juices cause flatulence, difficult digestions, constipation, etc.

Wheat falls squarely in the “good juice” category, but the predominate beer-making grains are bad juices (barley, especially). This complements last week’s passage from Celsus that describes barley-drinks (i.e. beer) as fit only for those with a strong constitution. This passage may not refer to grain per se, becauseCelsus seems to attribute the same qualities of the original foods to anything made from those consumables (i.e. beer). With wine labelled as a “good juice,” we again witness the Greco-Roman preference for wine over the “barbarian” beverage of beer.

Author’s Note
Aulus Cornelius Celsus
 (ca. 25 BCE-50 CE)
Roman encyclopaedist. De Medicina is his only extant work.

Image Source
Wikimediacommons. David Monniaux, triticum aestivum


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