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date: 06 December 2023



  • Robert Browning


Anthimus was a Greek doctor attached to the court of the emperor Zeno (ce 474–91) who was involved in treasonable relations with the Ostrogothic king *Theoderic (2) Strabo in 481. He fled Roman territory and took refuge in Italy at the court of *Theoderic (1) the Great, who later sent him on a diplomatic mission to the Franks. He wrote some time after 511 a short Latin handbook of *dietetics—De observatione ciborum ad Theodoricum regem Francorum epistula. The interest of this curious text, half medical textbook, half cookery book, is twofold: first, it provides a detailed and vivid picture of the eating and drinking habits of a Germanic people of the Völkerwanderung: beer and mead are drunk for pleasure, wine as a medicine; second, since Anthimus learnt his Latin from the lips of the common people and had no contact with the literary and grammatical tradition, the De observatione ciborum is a specimen of the popular Latin of late antiquity, deviating from classical norms in vocabulary, morphology, and syntax, and of great value to the Romance philologist.


  • Late Antiquity
  • Science, Technology, and Medicine

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