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θρέψονται κτλ. The picture which Plato proceeds to draw represents the working of well-regulated ἐπιθυμία or appetite—the psychological groundwork of the third or lowest order in Plato's city. τὰ μέν is the wheaten meal (ἄλευρα), τὰ δέ the barley-meal (ἀλφιτα). Only the wheaten meal was (as a rule) baked (πέσσειν or ὀπτᾶν) into loaves (ἄρτοι): the barley-meal was “kneaded into a simple dough (μάσσειν, whence μᾶζα), dried in a mould, and afterwards moistened with water and eaten” (Blümner, Gr. Privatalt. p. 218). μᾶζαι made of barley meal was the staple food of the common Greek: the wheaten loaf was a luxury. The double chiasmus ἄλφιτα, μάξαντες, μάζας )( ἄλευρα, πέψαντες, ἄρτους is noticeable: cf. Crito 47 C.

It will be observed that the inhabitants of this ‘First City’ subsist upon a vegetable diet. Cattle are used for ploughing and carrying, and supply wool and skins to make clothing and shoes (370 D, E), but animal food is unknown. It is improbable that Plato deliberately borrowed this trait from the current legends about the golden age (cf. Pol. 271 D ff.): for he allows the slaughter of cattle for skins, whereas in the golden age animal life was held sacred (see Empedocles ap. Arist. Rhet. I 13. 1373^{b} 14 ff. and Robertson Smith Religion of the Semites pp. 282 ff.). But he no doubt regarded vegetarianism as characteristic of the primitive innocence of a pastoral community (Laws 782 A—D). In Plato's days, as now, the Greek peasant was almost a vegetarian. To argue from this and kindred passages (esp. Tim. 77 A—C and 80 E) as Teichmüller does (Lit. Fehd. II pp. 187—202), that Plato was himself a vegetarian, is somewhat hazardous. Whether Plato wished his farmers to be vegetarians or not, he permits the soldiers to eat flesh: cf. III 404 B ff.

τὰ μὲν πέψαντες κτλ. The asyndeton (as usual) is ampliative. The punctuation in the text avoids the difficulty of the two verbs θρέψονται and εὐωχήσονται. Schneider places the colon before μάζας, but this is much less natural. For μάζας γενναίας, ‘noble bannocks’ (J. and C.), cf. (with Stallbaum) Laws 844 E τὰ γενναῖα σῦκα ἐπονομαζόμενα. κάλαμον is not ‘a mat of reeds’ (Jowett, with L. and S.), which would be much too artistic, but ‘reeds,’ κάλαμον being collective as in Arist. Hist. An. IX 36. 620^{a} 35; and τινα is contemptuous (cf. II 363 D note).

παραβαλλόμενοι is also contemptuous for the παρατιθέμενοι of civilised society: it suggests throwing food before animals (cf. 372 D).

στιβάδων: not ‘mattresses’ (L. and S.): why should they ‘strew’ mattresses? The whole point of the passage is that instead of reclining on manufactured couches they lie on natural ones of bryony and myrtle boughs: contrast 372 D. στρωννύναι στιβάδας is simply ‘to make couches of leaves’: cf. στορέσαι λέχος. The word μῖλαξ means bryony (as Schneider saw): cf. Sandys on Eur. Bacch. 107 χλοήρει μίλακι καλλικάρπῳ. The ‘yew’ of the English translators would make a sombre and lugubrious couch.

ἐπιπίνοντες . ἐπί means ‘after’: cf. Xen. Cyr. VI 2 28 μετὰ δὲ τὸν σῖτον εἰ οἶνον ἐπιπίνοιμεν. In Greek banquets there was little or no drinking during dinner. The conjecture ὑποπίνοντες (Stephanus-Hase Thes. s. v. ἐπιπίνω) is unnecessary.

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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Euripides, Bacchae, 107
    • Plato, Timaeus, 77a
    • Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 6.2.28
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