Cassius Dio, Historiae Romanae 49.36

οἱ δὲ δὴ Παννόνιοι νέμονται μὲν πρὸς τῇ Δελματίᾳ, παρ᾽ αὐτὸν τὸν Ἴστρον, ἀπὸ Νωρικοῦ μέχρι τῆς Μυσίας τῆς ἐν τῇ Εὐρώπῃ, κακοβιώτατοι δὲ ἀνθρώπων ὄντες ῾οὔτε γὰρ γῆς οὔτε ἀέρων εὖ ἥκουσιν: οὐκ ἔλαιον, οὐκ οἶνον, πλὴν ἐλαχίστου καὶ τούτου κακίστου, γεωργοῦσιν, ἅτε ἐν χειμῶνι πικροτάτῳ τὸ πλεῖστον διαιτώμενοι, ἀλλὰ τάς τε κριθὰς καὶ…

TRITICUM, Defined

Triticum, -i (n) – wheat Wheat was the grain of choice for many Romans and Greeks. It was considered a healthy food by Celsus and was often distributed to citizens as part of their state-sponsored rations (annona). Wheat was also used for some ancient beers (even in Germany) – it isn’t just a modern practice!  Still, barley remained…

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…

FRUMENTUM, Defined

Frumentum, -i (n) – grain (generally) This is a general term and can include wheat, barley, etc. or several varieties at once. In English, the word “grain” offers an excellent equivalent. Frumentum, however, can also refer to “crops” more broadly. In Celsus (and other authors), beer is referred to as “potio ex frumento” (lit. “a drink from…

Classical Beer Review: Corinium Ales Beerus Britannicus

A Classically- AND Archaeologically-themed beer? I’m in! I was immediately attracted to this beer in the Giftshop of the Chedworth Roman villa – an archaeological site just outside the Roman town of Corinium Dobunnorum (modern Cirencester). With this brew, Corinium Ales promises that we can literally taste history by drinking this beverage – it is made with…

FERMENTUM, Defined

Fermentum, -i (n) – the cause of fermentation, leavening i.e. yeast [from ferveo/fervo – to boil, foam, enrage, agitate] This BCS “Defined” entry is brought to us by Pliny the Elder, whose fascinating discussion on leavened bread introduced us to this delightful Latin word. Although the causes of leavening in bread and alcoholic production in beer…

Inula, DEFINED

inula, -ae (f) – inula, fleabane, elecampane The Latin equivalent for konuza. I have included Pliny’s description of inula as a bittering food additive. Re: beer, Hecataeus describes the use of konuza/inula in a Paeonian millet beer.

CYPEROS, Defined

cyperos, -i (m) – cyperus esculentus, yellow nutsedge, tiger nuts Cyperos is found primarily in Pliny (click for blog entry) and Varro. In Greek, cyperos is called malinthalle and is described in Theophrastus as an adjunct in beer. Tiger nuts are a yellow nutsedge that is found throughout much of the world. The roots are sometimes called…

Classical Beer Review: Bath Brew House Gladiator

On a recent trip to England, I did what any self-respecting beer blogger should do and “drink in” the local culture. This included a stop at a local microbrewery in Bath – the Bath Brew House. As I was on a trip related to “Roman Britain,” I was particularly titillated by the presence of a Classically-themed beer,…

Dioscorides (Longobardus), Materia Medica 2.70

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,…

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 19.29(32)

Brevior his est et torosior amariorque inula per se stomacho inimicissima, eadem dulcibus mixtis saluberrima. Pluribus modis austeritate victa gratiam invenit. Namque et in pollinem tunditur arida liquidoque dulci temperatur, et decocta posca aut adservata vel macerata pluribus modis et tunc mixta defruto aut subacta melle uvisve passis aut pinguibus caryotis. Alio rursus modo cotoneis…

CUPA, Defined

CUPA, -ae (f) -1. barrel, tub, cask, vat; especially for holding liquids Lewis and Short (Latin Dictionary) suggest that the barrels mentioned in Caesar (Civil War 2.11) were filled with grain. Caesar’s description is also the earliest mention of barrels in Roman literature. Several other sources indicate that the Romans also barrels for wine (among other storage/transport vessels),…