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Ducks' eggs in Statius, Silvae 4.9.30?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2009

Martin F. Smith
Affiliation:
University of Durham

Extract

The ninth and last poem in Book 4 of the Silvae is an amusing hendecasyllabic piece in which Statius, addressing Plotius Grypus, reproves him for having sent him for the Saturnalia a tatty, second-hand copy of a boring book in return for the fine, expensive, new volume which was Statius' present to him. The poem includes a long list (lines 23–45) of humble and/or poor-quality items, any of which, it is suggested, would have been more acceptable than Grypus' gift. Included in the list are eggs

Type
Shorter Notes
Copyright
Copyright © The Classical Association 1994

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References

1 Statius, Silvae IV (Oxford, 1988)Google Scholar. I am much indebted to Professor Coleman for her generous assistance and encouragement with this note. I am grateful also to the editors of CQ for suggesting improvements.

2 Cf. Postgate, J. P., ‘Ad Silvas Statianas silvula’, Philol. N.F. 18 (1905), 130Google Scholar: ‘displicet iis tantum quibus placet Latinitas’.

3 Quaestionum Statianarum particula i (Wongrowitz, 1878), p. 8Google Scholar. Some editors attribute tandem to Markland, J., but in his edition (London, 1728)Google Scholar he prints tantum and, after mentioning Turnebus' conjecture tota, comments ‘non opus ulla mutatione’.

4 P. Papinii Statii Silvae (Leipzig, 1876).Google Scholar

5 Loc. cit. Merrill, W. A., ‘Notes on the Silvae of Statius, Book IV’, Univ. of Cal. Publ. in Class. Philol. 5 no. 7 (02, 1920), 133, suggests (tantum!.).Google Scholar

6 Mnemos. 46 (1993), 379Google Scholar. Eden explains tanti as a gen. of price: ‘are not even eggs worth so much (as to be suitable recompense)?’

7 I include among these Thebaicae (26), Caricae (26), and Lucanica (35) – Theban dates, Carian figs, and Lucanian sausage.

8 I have counted the cone of plums or figs (27–8) as one item.

9 Elsewhere we find anatum (e.g. Plin. N.H. 10.155; 25.6; 30.60). In Cic. D.N.D. 2.124 the mansucripts offer anatum, anitum, and anetum, and in Columella 2.14.1 they give anetis as well as anatis (gen. sing.), anites occurs in Plaut. Capt. 1003 (nom. pl.) and Auson, 18.18.12 (acc. pl.).

10 For other examples of synizesis, including cases involving consonantized vowels, see e.g. Platnauer, M., Latin Elegiac Verse (Cambridge, 1951), pp. 66–9Google Scholar; E. Norden on Virg. A. 6.33; Skutsch, O., The Annals of Q. Ennius (Oxford, 1985), p. 59Google Scholar. In Silv. 1.6.16, largis gratuitum cadit rapinis, the second word is presumably (in view of the hendecasyllabic metre) grātŭĭtum rather than grātuītum; in Theb. 7.449 we may have either fōrtŭĭto or fōrtuīto.

11 On Silv. 4.9.30.

12 See e.g. Smith, H. Williams, ‘The Epizootiology of Salmonella Infection in Poultry’, in Gordon, R. F. and Freeman, B. M. (edd.), Poultry Diseases and World Economy (Edinburgh, 1971), pp. 3746, especially pp. 43–5.Google Scholar

13 For information about Salmonella contamination of ducks' eggs I am grateful to the following: Mr R. R. Henry, Company Veterinary Adviser, Cherry Valley Farms Ltd., Lincoln; Professor T. R. Morris, Department of Agriculture, University of Reading; and Dr Debby Reynolds, Senior Veterinary Officer, Veterinary Investigation Section, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Tolworth, Surrey.

14 Good Housekeeping Cookery Book (Abingdon, 1976), p. 248Google Scholar. I am grateful to Miss S. Dowding for bringing the passage to my attention.

15 André, J., L'alimentation et la cuisine à Rome (Paris, 1961), pp. 152–3Google Scholar. Meals often began with eggs – hence the expression ab ovo usque ad mala (Hor. Sat. 1.3.6–7).

16 Apicius 7.19.2.

17 Apicius 7.19.3.

19 Apicius 7.13.8. Such an omelette was to be served when cooked on only one side: una parte cum fuerit coctum, in disco vertes, melle perfundis, piper aspargis et inferes.

19 Columella 8.6.

20 If the Elder Pliny is to be believed, ducks might cure the illness caused by their eggs, for he alleges (N.H. 30.60) that looseness of the bowels is remedied by drinking drakes' blood.

21 See André, op. cit., p. 152.

22 On the rearing of ducks, see Varro, Rust. 3.11.1–3 and, for a more detailed account, Columella 8.15. Recipes for cooking duck are given by Apicius 6.2.1–6.

23 André, op. cit., p. 152 mentions ducks' eggs as having been eaten by the Romans, but in a footnote (n. 4) he says ‘bien que le fait ne soit attesté que pour la Grèce, cf. Ériphos ap. Athén. 58 b’, and in fact the passage quoted by Athenaeus mentions not ducks' eggs, but goose eggs. I am grateful to Professor K. D. White for confirming my belief that there are no ancient references to the eating of ducks' eggs.

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