History and Culture of Early Epicureans: Ancient Greece and Rome

  • mead

    Mead is having a bit of a renaissance lately. I must say I enjoy a glass every once in awhile and we have some excellent meadery establishments in the area including:

    Order Online | Feisty Mead

    Meadery | Cleveland,OH | Western Reserve Meadery
    Western Reserve Meadery, a Cleveland, OH Meadery making a variety of mead styles (honey wines). Dry meads, sweet mead, sparkling mead, melomels and metheglins.…

    The BottleHouse Brewery is an GABF award winning, community centric brewery, meadery and cidery. Focusing on barrel aged sours, real cider and artisanal mead.…

    I'm sure nothing surpasses Joshua 's homemade, balloon-pinhole method, but they all do a good job! :)

  • I didn't know where to post this. I found this artist's rendering of a facial reconstruction of Epicurus by Allesandro Tomassi. He's apparently done others as well. (

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    Alessandro Tomasi on Twitter:

  • Thanks, Kalosyni !

    For completeness, I'm going to post the maza recipe that author links to in that article too:

    Ancient Recipe: Maza (Ancient Greek, ca. 2nd millennium BCE)
    “My maza comes to me from my spear, from my spear comes my Ismarian wine, and I drink while leaning on my spear.” ~ the Greek warrior-poet Archilochus explains…

    The significance is that that is the *exact* word Epicurus uses in the (in)famous "bread and water" statement in the letter to Menoikeus.

    PS: I'm still trying to find barley flour to be able to try the maza recipe :)

  • Comes from my spear...? Meaning what?

    It means he gains his bread and wine through his military exploits. He earns them by means of his military prowess.

    The Swiss Army Spear
    Archilochus Fr. 2 (West) Thanks to the spear I’ve got kneaded barley cake, And thanks to the spear Ismarian wine too. And so I recline and drink, thanks to the…

  • Quote

    It means he gains his bread and wine through his military exploits. He earns them by means of his military prowess.

    Somewhat similar to the phrasing used in the film Troy;


    Nestor: How many battles have we won off the edge of his sword? This will be the greatest war the world has ever seen. We need the greatest warrior.

  • Barley Pita Bread
    When many think of Greek Food, they think of pita bread.  In truth, the Ancient Greeks enjoyed all sorts of breads, both flat and formed, but I thought it…

    Okay, this one looks interesting. Not sure how "ancient" it is with yeast and wheat flour, but this is what I have in mind to try with the other recipes

  • Ancient Honey Cakes! And Birthday Cakes!

    Excerpt from a website with a recipe (but this one has nuts):

    Logic might have it that honey cakes very well could have been eaten at the monthly 20th celebrations? Just an idea that is fun to think about. I do wonder if there are recipes without the nuts.

  • This recipe looks interesting, but I would guess this is a modern version of honey cake (no nuts). I like how she says it is good with coffee or tea, and you just make it an call some friends over, lol.

    Greek Honey Cake
    Simple and extra moist Greek honey cake! Honey Cake Watch the Video My extra moist Greek honey cake is light, sweet, and has a lot of honey flavor. Orange zest…

  • I wanted to make a dedicated post (in an easier to find location) regarding the calendar used in ancient times. It is such a very different way to measure time for each month (according to the moon), compared to how we keep our time now. Late yesterday afternoon looking up at the moon (a waxing crescent) had me pondering that ancient way of keeping time.

    Based on Wikipedia we can deduce that is is very likely that Epicurus would have used the Attic calendar since he was living in Athens. But before he lived in Athens, he may have used different calendars, since it also says this:


    The Attic calendar or Athenian calendar is the lunisolar calendar beginning in midsummer with the lunar month of Hekatombaion, in use in ancient Attica, the ancestral territory of the Athenian polis. It is sometimes called the Greek calendar because of Athens's cultural importance, but it is only one of many ancient Greek calendars.

    Although relatively abundant, the evidence for the Attic calendar is still patchy and often contested. As it was well known in Athens and of little use outside Attica, no contemporary source set out to describe the system as a whole. Further, even during the well-sourced 5th and 4th centuries BC, the calendar underwent changes, not all perfectly understood. As such, any account given of it must be a tentative reconstruction.



    The Greeks, as early as the time of Homer, appear to have been familiar with the division of the year into the twelve lunar months but no intercalary month Embolimos or day is then mentioned, with twelve months of 354 days.[1] Independent of the division of a month into days, it was divided into periods according to the increase and decrease of the moon. Each of the city-states in ancient Greece had their own calendar that was based on the cycle of the moon, but also the various religious festivals that occurred throughout the year.[2]


    Wikipedia goes on with this:

    Now I want to say that as I was looking at a moon chart, and remembering past times of gazing at the moon, it came to me that it is difficult to know exactly when the moon is completely full by the ordinary eyes -- so then this counting would only apply to days when you can descern clear changes in the size of the moon.

    Moongiant - Moon Phase Calendar
    Current, past and future Moon Phase Calendar. Click on Moon Phase Calendar to get complete moon phase details for that day.

    And I would like to go on to suggest a way of counting which may or may not make sense (but is different than the Wikipedia article) and this way of counting is according to what a human eye can see happening with the moon. My idea would be that you start counting on the day that you see a large enough crescent -- that would be waxing day 1, waxing day 2, etc. and then you continue to count to waxing day 10 (which would be called the "earlier 10th", the following day would be considered full moon of which there would be several days (as you can see from the chart above, that the moon is nearly full both before and after the actual full moon). Then on the day when you can descern that the moon is waning you begin counting waning day 1, waning day 2, etc. and continue counting up (not down) and so this would give you the "later 10th".

    But this is just my own idea, my own imagination of trying to make sense of things.

    Although now thinking further, we do actually know when the moon is full because it rises opposite of the sun setting. So not sure than if my idea makes any sense to count the way I suggest.

    Nate what do you think?

    By my counting then, the 20th (which would be the 2nd 10th) would fall on the last day of a visible waning crescent. (And this is different than what Nate calculated on another thread).

    Waning crescent:


  • This is an interesting approach and I look forward to seeing what the birthday experts think. It sort of makes it more immediate when you can see the changes on the face of the moon.

  • By my counting then, the 20th (which would be the 2nd 10th) would fall on the last day of a visible waning crescent.

    Wouldn't the "earlier tenth" (20th) look like the moon on the above charts on Dec. 13 or 14th? The Noumenia seems to have started when the "first sliver" of the new moon was visible.

    Noumenia - Wikipedia

    btw, I really like this line of thinking of Kalosyni and the graphics that Nate has been working up!!

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    The Noumenia was marked when the first sliver of moon was visible and was held in honor of Selene, Apollon Noumenios,[1] Hestia and the other Hellenic household Gods. The Noumenia was also the second day in a three-day household celebration held each lunar month; Hekate's Deipnon is on the last day before the first slice of visible moon and is the last day in a lunar month, then the Noumenia which marks the first day in a lunar month, followed by the Agathos Daimon (Good Spirits) on the second day of the Lunar month.

    Actually this confirms my idea:

    If you read carefully it says: "when the first sliver of moon was visible" -- by my method that would 1st day waxing and it would look like December 24/25th. And it says that the last day of the lunar month is the day before the first sliver is visible.

    But I am unclear as to when to say that the first sliver is visible...for our naked eyes do we need to have it be enough of a sliver to register the presence of light?... and so moon would need to be like on December 25th (even though the picture shows the beginning of a sliver on the 24th, but may not yet be visible to the naked eye).

    Also the same problem with waning moon...at what point can we see with our eyes that the moon is waning? I am coming from a very intuitive (and primitive) way of seeing the moon and judging the changing of the shape to determine what day of the month it is.