Sophocles, Triptolemus fr. 610*

τὸν δὲ κρίθινον οἶνον καὶ βρῦτόν τινες καλοῦσιν, ὡς Σοφοκλῆς ἐν Τριπτολέμῳ:
βρῦτον δὲ τὸν χερσαῖον **οὐ δυεῖν**.

Certain people call barley wine “brutos,” like Sophocles in the Triptolemus:
The dry-land brutos **???**

*From Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 10.67

Background
This is from the same passage that produced several earlier BCS entries: Aeschylus, Archilochus, Hecataeus, Hellanicus. This beer-dense chapter in Athenaeus’s Deipnosophists is all about beer and dining.

Commentary
The use of “brutos” by Sophocles is another early attestation of the word. We know from Archilochus that it (at least in some cases) referred to the Phrygian and Thracian version of the beverage. This word is the earliest beer-specific word in Greco-Roman literature and predates the (eventually) more common word, “zythos,” by nearly two-hundred years. The latter was Egyptian-derived, but was later applied to beer of all types later.

This reference to beer is from the now-lost play, “Triptolemus,” by the great, Athenian playwright, Sophocles. It is thought that the play’s plot was related to the arrival of agriculture in ancient Greece. There is a strong connection between grain and agriculture in the ancient world, with grain often used as a metonymy for agriculture, farming, or harvest. Thus, the mention of the “foreign” barley-based drink is not entirely out of place for the Greek play.  Unfortunately, the function of this reference in the plot is unknown and the line in which it is found is corrupt.

Author’s Background
Sophocles (ca. 497/6-406/5 BCE)
One of the paramount Athenian tragedians, Sophocles wrote “Oedipus the King” (Tyrannos/Rex) and many other plays. During his lifetime, he witnessed both the Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian War.

Image Source
Wikimedia Commons. Virgil Solis. Public Domain

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