[Sca-cooks] roman feast / Apicius

Lilinah lilinah at earthlink.net
Thu Mar 20 15:28:31 PDT 2008

I wrote:
>>Going from memory here, ISTR that Vehling was using a very redacted 
>>(in the true sense) manuscript from the 15th? 16th? century. In 
>>other words, he was not using the oldest available source, but one 
>>which had undergone many changes over the centuries.

Emilio questioned:
>Could you please try to recall or to look up where you got this?

The Introduction to the Flower and Rosembaum "Apicius: The Roman 
Cookery Book, a critical translation of 'The Art of Cooking' by 
Apicius for the use in the study and the kitchen" (Peter Nevill 
Limited, London & New York, 1958). Until the recent Grocock & 
Grainger critical edition, this was the best translation i know of 
(of course there are translations in other languages than English, 
and i've seen a couple and i stand by my opinion until pointed to a 
better edition).

In Part I - The Text and its Author (pp. 9-16)
F&R mention that the Apician cookbook "aroused the interest of the 
Renaissance humanists... A number of fifteenth-century manuscripts, 
probably all depending on the Vatican codex [mentioned in the 1st 
paragraph on this page, 9],exist in various libraries of Europe..." 
In the next few pages they discuss the Renaissance/humanist texts. 
Then they spend much time discussing the various versions and what 
they did.

In Part II - Translations; Some General Remarks on Roman Cooking (pp. 16-22)
F&R discuss various translations in Italian, German, French, and 
English. They focus on L. D. Vehling, Apicius : Cooking and Dining in 
Imperial Rome (Chicago, 1936) on pp. 17-18. "According to the 
foreword (written by a friend), he acquired his knowledge of Latin at 
school - which he attended, however, only up to the age of fourteen. 
Is it therefore understandable that his text is so full of mistakes 
that i becomes almost useless as a translation... Being a renowned 
practitioner of the culinary art, he felt justified in treating his 
text without too many philological scruples... and proudly announces 
that he made use of both the Teubner and the humanist editions - 
evidently believing these to be independent sources. The result is 
very curious, and, had he given the Latin, it would look even more 
grotesque. Whole sentences inserted by the sixteenth-century editor 
Torinus out of his own imagination appear, along with insertions by 
other people. Terms which Vehling did not understand are - without 
much regard to rules of textual criticism - replaced by other which 
looked more likely to him. This method was bound to (p. 18) lead him 
astray even on culinary matters."

F&R go on to give some examples, which i leave to the reader to find 
themselves, as i don't want to type a couple more paragraphs here in 
my response to the first of Emilio's questions.

>>Additionally Vehling's skills in Latin were somewhat wanting, so 
>>his translation of an already flawed source is not completely 

>  Just in case there are the changes you mentioned, are all of
>  them "flaws"? I mean, in the field of cookbooks, there is
>  much change, deletion, addition, change of sequence etc.,
>  which is not at all unusual.

Ignorance and hubris are also contributing factors (not that *i* 
suffer from them, oh, no, not *me*). See above.

>>The original manuscript is not in Classical Latin, which is what 
>>most people study

>  Which manuscript are you speaking about? Which one do you
>  consider the "original" one. The one in the New York
>  Academy of Medicine (ninth century), the one in the
>  Vatican library (ninth century) or the one in Paris (eighth
>  century). Certainly, there must have been older
>  manuscripts now lost.

I weakly replied:
>What you say is true. We don't have the original original. Or even
>early copies. We only have later copies. And the more often a copy is
>made, the more likely for scribal errors to creep in. (i.e., B is a
>copy of A, C is a copy of B, D is a copy of C, and so forth...)
>  From what i read none of the existing mss. is in Classical Latin, and
>a trustworthy one is in a form of Latin common to the Late Antique
>period (more or less 2nd to 4th or 6th C. CE), a form not necessarily
>in use in the date the ms. was copied (such as the 8th or 9th C.).
>Again, i'll have to look for a good quote for you.

F&R noted two 9th C. mss., one written in Tours under Abbot Vivian 
(844-851), "the other probably probably written under Fulda. The 
Tours Manuscript, now in the Vatican Library (Urb. lat. 1146)... The 
other manuscript was brought from Fulda to Italy in 1455, came into 
the Phillips Collection in Cheltenham in the early nineteenth 
century, and is now in the Library of the Academy of Medicine in New 
York. Both derive from a common archetype which we know to have been 
in Fulda, and from which Poggio had excerpts made in the early 
fifteenth century (F&R p. 9 - there are 3 footnotes here which i am 
leaving out).

F&R go on, saying "Apart from these manuscript, some excerpt - made 
by a certain Vinidarius, an Ostrogoth living in North Italy in the 
fifth or sixth century - have survived in an eighth-century 
manuscript." (p. 9) They discuss various translations, editions, etc. 
from the Renaissance, and at least one of this is what Vehling was 
using (more details above)

On p. 13 F&R begin their discussion of the language of the surviving 
mss. "Since Apicius lived in the first century, one would expect his 
style to be at least as classical as Columella's. The language of our 
cookery-book, however, is far from classical, or even silver, Latin. 
Brandt has shown that as it has come down to us the cookery-book is 
the work of an editor who lived in the late fourth or early fifth 
century. This person...made a compilation from various sources. He 
wanted to combine in one book recipes for the average middle- and 
lower-class household in town and country with recipes for the more 
luxurious table. The cookery-book of Apicius offered him only recipes 
of the latter kind. So he supplemented it from a book on agriculture 
and domestic science by Apuleius, a book of which fragments have 
surviving in the Geoponica and which is probably also reflected in 
Palladius' book on agriculture; from a Greek book on agriculture; 
from a dietetic cookery-book probably also Greek; and from various 
other sources, chiefly medical writings part of which ultimately go 
back to Marcellus, a physician who lived under Nero. The populas 
Latin which permeates the entire book is chiefly due to this editor, 
although the editions of Apicius and Apuleius which he used may 
already have contained some popular elements."

They estimate the 3/5 of the recipes are from the "Apicius' work. The 
edition used by our compiler was certainly a fairly late one which 
already combined Apicius' two books, the general one and the book on 
sauces...and which contained also additions made after Apicius' 
lifetime." (p. 13)

I belive this shows that the text was not in Classical Latin - 
although there may be some passages that are.

Let me note that F&R have the Latin and the English on facing pages, 
so one can always refer to the Latin text. There are comments in the 
Introduction on particular ingredients, cooking utensils, and cooking 
techniques. They actually made a number of these dishes and served 
them at dinner parties.

Now let me note that in "Apicius : A Critical Edition with an 
Introduction and English Translation" by Christopher Grocock and 
Sally Grainger the Preface extends from p. 7 to 10 and includes 7 
footnotes and the Introduction from p. 13 to 123. They have newer 
material and a slightly different analysis from F&R.

So i will include what i glean from them in a follow-up message.

Both F&R and G&G use "cornflour" (what in the US is "corn starch") 
where the Romans used amulum, wheat starch. I tried to find wheat 
starch for my Ottoman feast in November and failed. I went to 
ordinary supermarkets, high end supermarkets, natural food stores, 
and Chinese and pan-Asian markets. I found corn starch, potato 
starch, tapioca starch, and rice flour, but no wheat starch. Any 
other suggestions where to find some wheat starch?
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

My LibraryThing

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