Swine's brains, too, was a not uncommon dish. Philosophers used to forbid our eating these, saying that a person who partook of them might as well eat a bear, and would not stick at eating his father's head, or anything else imaginable. And they said, that at all events none of the ancients had ever eaten them, because they were the seat of nearly all sensation. But Apollodorus the Athenian says, that none of the ancients ever even named the brain. And at all events Sophocles, in his Trachiniæ, where he represents Hercules as throwing Lichas into the sea, does not use the word ἐγκέφαλον, brains, but says λευκὸν μυελὸς, white marrow; avoiding a word which it was thought ill-omened to use:— [p. 109]
And from his hair he forces the white marrow,though he had named all the rest of his limbs plainly enough. And Euripides, introducing Hecuba lamenting for Astyanax, who had been thrown down by the Greeks, says—
His head being burst asunder in the middle,
And the blood flows:
Unhappy child, how miserably haveThe lines too which follow these are worth stopping to consider. But Philocles does employ the word ἐγκέφαλον—
Your native city's walls produced your death,
And dash'd your head in pieces! Fatal towers,
Which Phæbus builded! How did your mother oft
Cherish those curly locks, and press upon them
With never-wearied kisses! now the blood
Wells from that wound, where the bones broken gape;
But some things are too horrid to be spoken.
He never ceased devouring even the brains (ἐγκέφαλον).And Aristophanes says—
I would be contentAnd others, too, use the word. So that it must have been for the sake of the poetical expression that Sophocles said “white marrow.” But Euripides not choosing openly to display to sight an unseemly and disgusting object, revealed as much as he chose. And they thought the head sacred, as is plain by their swearing by it; and by their even venerating sneezes, which proceed from the head, as holy. And we, to this day, confirm our arrangements and promises by nodding the head. As the Jupiter of Homer says—
To lose two membranes of the ἐγκέφαλον.
Come now, and I will nod my head to you.