And that in those days the cook's profession was a respectable one, we may learn from the Heralds at Athens. “For these men used to perform the duties of cooks and also of sacrificers of victims,” as Clidemus tells us, in the first book of his Protogony; and Homer uses the verb ῥέζω, as we use θύω; but he uses θύω as we do θυμιάω, for burning cakes and incense after supper. And the ancients used also to employ the verb δράω for to sacrifice; accordingly Clidemus says, “The heralds used to sacrifice (ἕδρων) for a long time slaying the oxen, and preparing them, and cutting them up, and pouring wine over them. And they were called κήρυκες from the hero Ceryx; and there is nowhere any record of any reward being given to a cook, but only to a herald.” For Agamemnon in Homer, although he is king, performs sacrifices himself; for the poet says—
And Thrasymedes the son of Nestor, having taken an axe, slays the ox which was to be sacrificed, because Nestor himself was not able to do so, by reason of his old age; and his other [p. 1056] brothers assisted him; so respectable and important was the office of a cook in those days. And among the Romans, the Censors,—and that was the highest office in the whole state,—clad in a purple robe, and wearing crowns, used to strike down the victims with an axe. Nor is it a random assertion of Homer, when he represents the heralds as bringing in the victims, and whatever else had any bearing on the ratification of oaths, as this was a very ancient duty of theirs, and one which was especially a part of their office—
With that the chief the tender victims slew,
And in the dust their bleeding bodies threw;
The vital spirit issued at the wound,
And left the members quivering on the ground.Homer, Iliad, iii. 292.
Two heralds now, despatch'd to Troy, inviteand again—
The Phrygian monarch to the peaceful rite;
And, in another passage, he says—
Talthybius hastens to the fleet, to bring
The lamb for Jove, th' inviolable king.Homer, Iliad, iii. 116.
A splendid scene! Then Agamemnon rose;
The boar Talthybius held; the Grecian lord
Drew the broad cutlass, sheath'd beside his sword.Homer, Iliad, xix. 250.