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Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


V. The Establishment of the Military Monarchy

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

Chapter XI - The Old Republic and the New Monarchy


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Page 109

It was no wonder that the Italian wine-growers began to complain of the competition of the wines from the Greek islands. No naturalist could ransack land and sea more zealously for new animals and plants, than the epicures of that day ransacked them for new culinary dainties.(53)

53. We have still (Macrobius, Hi, 13) the bill of fare of the banquet which Mucius Lentulus Niger gave before 691 on entering on his pontificate, and of which the pontifices--Caesar included--the Vestal Virgins, and some other priests and ladies nearly related to them partook. Before the dinner proper came sea-hedgehogs; fresh oysters as many as the guests wished; large mussels; sphondyli; fieldfares with asparagus; fattened fowls; oyster and mussel pasties; black and white sea-acorns; sphondyli again; glycimarides; sea-nettles; becaficoes; roe-ribs; boar's-ribs; fowls dressed with flour; becaficoes; purple shell-fish of two sorts. The dinner itself consisted of sow's udder; boar's-head; fish-pasties; boar- pasties; ducks; boiled teals; hares; roasted fowls; starch-pastry; Pontic pastry.

These are the college-banquets regarding which Varro (De R. R. iii. 2, 16) says that they forced up the prices of all delicacies. Varro in one of his satires enumerates the following as the most notable foreign delicacies: peacocks from Samos; grouse from Phrygia; cranes from Melos; kids from Ambracia; tunny fishes from Chalcedon; muraenas from the Straits of Gades; bleak-fishes (? -aselli-) from Pessinus; oysters and scallops from Tarentum; sturgeons (?) from Rhodes; -scarus--fishes (?) from Cilicia; nuts from Thasos; dates from Egypt; acorns from Spain.

The circumstance of the guest taking an emetic after a banquet, to avoid the consequences of the varied fare set before him, no longer created surprise. Debauchery of every sort became so systematic and aggravated that it found its professors, who earned a livelihood by serving as instructors of the youth of quality in the theory and practice of vice.

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