MARCUS VARRO, in the satire which he entitled περὶ ᾿εδεσμάτων, in verses written with great charm and cleverness, treats of exquisite elegance in banquets and viands. For he has set forth and described in senarii 1 the greater number of things of that kind which such gluttons seek out on land and sea. 2 As for the verses themselves, he who has leisure may find and read them in the book which I have mentioned. So far as my memory goes, these are the varieties and names of the foods surpassing all others, which a bottomless gullet has hunted out and which Varro has assailed in his satire, with the places where they are found: a peacock from Samos, a woodcock from Phrygia, cranes of Media, [p. 67] a kid from Ambracia, a young tunny from Chalcedon, a lamprey from Tartessus, codfish from Pessinus, oysters from Tarentum, cockles from Sicily, a swordfish from Rhodes 3 pike from Cilicia, nuts from Thasos, dates from Egypt, acorns from Spain. But this tireless gluttony, which is ever wandering about and seeking for flavours, and this eager quest of dainties from all quarters, we shall consider deserving of the greater detestation, if we recall the verses of Euripides of which the philosopher Chrysippus made frequent use, 4 to the effect that gastronomic delicacies were contrived, not because of the necessary uses of life, but because of a spirit of luxury that disdains what is easily attainable because of the immoderate wantonness that springs from satiety. I have thought that I ought to append the verses of Euripides: 5
What things do mortals need, save two alone,
The fruits of Ceres and the cooling spring,
Which are at hand and made to nourish us?
With this abundance we are not content,
But hunt out other foods through luxury.