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And portions of the meat were then distributed among the guests; from which circumstances he speaks of “equal feasts,” because of their equal division. And he calls suppers δαῖτας, from the word δατέομαι, to divide, since not only was the meat distributed in that way, but the wine also.
Their hunger was appeased,
And strength recruited by the equal feast.1
And again,
Come, then, Achilles, share this equal feast.2
From these passages Zenodotus got the idea that δαῖτα ἐΐσην meant a good feast; for as food is a necessary good to men, he says that he, by extension of the meaning of the word, called it ἐΐσην. But men in the early times, as they had not food in sufficient abundance, the moment any appeared, rushed on it all at once, and tore it to pieces with violence, and even took it away from others who had it; and this disorderly behaviour gave rise to bloodshed. A d it is from this that very probably the word ἀτασθαλία originated, because it was in θάλιαι, another name for banquets, tat men first offended against one another. But when, by the bounty [p. 20] of Ceres, food became abundant, then they distributed an equal portion to each individual, and so banquets became orderly entertainments. Then came the invention of wine and of sweetmeats, which were also distributed equally: and cups, too, were given to men to drink out of, and these cups all held the same quantity. And as food was called δαὶς, from δαίεσθαι, that is, from being divided, so he who roasted the meat was called δαιτρὸς, because it was he who gave each guest an equal portion. We must remark that the poet uses the word δαὶς only of what is eaten by men, and never applies it to beasts; so that it was out of ignorance of the force of this word that Zenodotus, in his edition writes:—
αὐτοὺς δὲ ἑλώρια τεῦχε κύνεσσιν
οἰωνοῖσί τε δαῖτα,3
calling the food of the vultures and other birds by this name, though it is man alone who has come to an equal division after his previous violence, on which account it is his food alone that is called δαὶς, and the portion given to him is called μοῖρα. But the feasters mentioned in Homer did not carry home the fragments, but when they were satisfied they left them with the givers of the feast; and the housekeeper took them in order, if any stranger arrived, to have something to give him.

1 Odyss. viii. 98.

2 Iliad, ix. 225.

3 The real reading is οἰωνοῖσί τε πᾶσι, Iliad, i. 5. “He made them the prey of dogs and of all birds.”

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