International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo

The Ethics of Diet - A Catena
by Howard Williams M.A., 1883

Ovid as imagined in the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493.

Ovid - extracts

(text from the 2nd edition, 1896, scanned by - Ovid had an extra few pages in the Appendix of the 1st edition)

The School of Pythagoras and of Plato was neither the fashionable, nor the popular, philosophic sect among the Latin race. But the New Academy counted among its followers a few distinguished Italians, and Cicero, who attached himself to that wearisomely disputatious, and extravagantly sceptical presentation of the principles of the original founder, is its most conspicuous exponent. A contemporary of the great orator, Nigidius Figulus, a mathematician and physicist, of eminent reputation, and of considerable influence in the State, had adopted the Pythagorean tenets, and seems to have been the first Roman to introduce them to his countrymen. In his hands, however, that philosophic heresy was not exhibited at its best, having been mixed up, apparently, with much astrological and fanciful superstition (1). The pleasing belief that the earlier Latins, or Romans, can be claimed as non-flesh eaters—as sometimes has been maintained—must be classed among pleasing fables. In the earlier period of pre-imperial Rome, all classes, comparatively, were simple in diet. But all but the poorest part of the population, as in all ages and countries, were always more or less kreophagist. There were illustrious exceptions, doubtless, as everywhere; and not a few of the Roman families derived their names from garden herbs—e.g., the Pisos, the Fabii, Lentulus, Cicero; but they must be regarded as marking exceptional instances. That long before the establishment of the Empire both unnatural luxury and gourmandism flourished in Roman State, the satires of Lucilius (in the end of the second century, B.C.) sufficiently witness, even in the very mutilated condition in which they now appear. As for Cicero who, in common with most rhetorical or meta-physical philosophers, for the most part, is distinguished for logomachy, and for dialectical rather than practical Ethics, he occasionally seems to be conscious of the higher truths. "Under the specious plea of expediency (utilitatis specie)," he affirms, "crimes are very frequently committed by Governments." In the same paragraph he maintains, "nothing that is cruel is expedient." (2) One passage in his writings, if it could be accepted as something more than mere rhetoric, or if it had been insisted on with proper force and frequency, would entitle him to a far more really honourable name than that of a consummate orator or a brilliant dialectian—that of a humanitarian. It is thus that Cicero formulates, by anticipation, the very modern creed of cosmopolitanism (in its best sense), which, if it bad been extended to the slave populations and to the non-human races, would have been complete. "In the whole range of the virtues of which we are speaking, nothing is so important or so extensive in its operation as the union of man with man, and a certain partnership in and communication of advantages, and the affection itself of the human race. Originating in that primary feeling, by which the offspring receives the parents' love, and the whole household united by the bonds of marriage and family, it advances gradually outwards—first of all to one's [more distant] relations; then to connexions; then to one's friends and neighbours; then to one's fellow-countrymen generally, and to the public friends and allies of one's country; then, finally, it embraces the whole human race. And this disposition of mind (giving every one his due and protection, with comprehensive equity) this social union is called Justice—akin to which are the virtues of kindness, magnanimity, benevolence, courtesy, and all other qualities of the same kind." (3)

The Italians, who borrowed their philosophical opinions and literature as well as their state-religion from the Hellenes, generally, were never distinguished, like their intellectual masters, for that refinement of thought, which might have led them to embrace a humaner ethical code. Under the sanguinary despotism of the Empire, the philosophy most affected by the literati, and by those who were driven to its consolations, was the Stoical, which taught apathy to be the "highest good" of existence. Whatever its other merits, this semi-religious school was too much centred in self—paradoxical as the assertion may seem—to have much regard for the rest of their own, (4) much less for the non-human, species. Nor, while they professed supreme contempt for the luxuries, and even for the common wants of life, did the disciples of the "Porch," in general, practise abstinence from any very exalted motive—humanitarian or spiritual. They preached indifference for the "good things" of the world, not so much to elevate the spiritual, or moral, side of human nature as to show contempt for human life altogether. That the Italians had essentially, a coarser, more barbarous, disposition than the Hellenes, appears in the natural spectacles and sports. The savage scenes of gladiatorial and non-human combat and slaughter of the Latin amphitheatres—of which the famous or, rather, infamous, Colosseum in the capital served as the model of many others in the provinces—appealed with much less force to the, at least, somewhat more refined Hellenic mind (5) In view of scenes so sanguinary—the "Roman holiday"—Humanitarianism, obviously, was a creed altogether unknown to that people, and it was unlikely that, addicted throughout their national career, as a dominant race, to the most bloody wars internecine not less than foreign, with whom fighting, and slaughter of their own kind, formed an almost daily occupation, should entertain any feeling of pity towards their non-human slaves. Yet, even from their "hard hearts" (6) a ray of pity, on occasion, seems to have been not entirely excluded. Alluding to one of the huge exhibitions given by Pompeius, the rival of Cæsar at the dedication of his theatre (B.C. 55), in which a large number of elephants, among other victims, had been forced to fight, the elder Plinius states:—

"When they lost the hope of escape, they sought the compassion of the crowd with an appearance that is indescribable, bewailing themselves with a sort of lamentation so much to the pain of the populace that, forgetful of the imperator, and of the elaborate magnificence displayed for their gratification, they all rose up in tears and bestowed imprecations on Pompeius, of which he soon afterwards experienced the effect." (7)

Cicero, who himself had been a witness of this spectacle of the Circus, in a letter to a friend, writes :—"What followed for five days were successive combats between a man and a wild beast (venationes bincœ) It was showy—no one disputes it—but what pleasure can it be for a person of refinement, when either a weak man is torn to pieces by a very powerful beast, or a noble animal is struck through by a hunting spear?—The last day was that of the Elephants, when there was great astonishment on the part of the populace and crowd, but no real enjoyment resulted. Indeed, there followed a degree of compassion, and a certain idea that there is a sort of fellowship between that huge animal and the human race." (8)

Publius Ovidius Naso, the Latin versifier of the Pythagorean philosophy, was born B.C. 43, at the moment of the final destruction of the (oligarchic) Republic and of the establishment of the Empire by Octavian Augustus. He belonged to the equestrian order, a position in the social scale corresponding with the upper middle class of modern days. In common with many other names eminent in literature, he was, in the first instance, educated for the Law; for which, in common, also, with many other literary celebrities, he soon showed unconquerable aversion. He was born a poet—"quod tentabam scribere versus erat" is his own statement, so familiar to us in the paraphrase of the English poet. He studied at Athens—the great university of that age—where he acquired his wide knowledge of the Hellenic language and its rich literature. Like Milton, he was three times married, but it is his mistress Corinna (who, perhaps, may represent the Princess Julia, grand-daughter of the Emperor Augustus), whom he has immortalised in his poems. The most memorable event in his personal life, which in amatory freedom bears resemblance to that of the poet of Don Juan, is his mysterious banishment from the capital to the inhospitable shores of the Euxine, where he passed the last seven years of his existence, dying in the sixtieth year of his age. The cause of his sudden exile (relegatio) from the court of Augustus, where he had been in high favour, is one of those secrets of History which have vainly exercised the ingenuity of biographers. According to the terms of the imperial edict, the freedom of the poet's Ars Ama'oria appeared the ostensible offence (9) That this must have been mere pretext is plain, as well from the long interval of time which had passed since its publication, as from the character of the society of the capital. Ovid himself seems to attribute his misfortune to the fact of his having involuntarily witnessed some secret of the palace—error, is his expression—the nature of which he does not venture to divulge (see Tristia). Scarcely any similar event in literary history has more of pathos than this forced separation of one of the most refined, amiable, and sensitive of poets from family and friends, from all the accustomed elegancies of Roman civilisation to a region (at that date) remote from all vestiges of civilised life, inhabited by none but ignorant savages; and his unavailing appeals to the unrelenting Prince, and bitter laments add to the sadness of the melancholy history.

His most important poem is the Metamorphoses, in fifteen books, so called as being a collection of the highly poetic transformations of the popular theology. To all persons of taste it must appear as the most charming of Latin poems that have come down to our times, and to be surpassed by none, rivalled by very few, of modern poems in beauty, elegance, sensibility, and a certain humaneness of feeling. Perhaps the Faerie Queen or the Orlando Furiosc, alone equals it in enchanting pictures of sensuous beauty. (10) The Fasti, in twelve books, of which six remain. Apart from the poetic genius of the author, it has high interest as the great repertory of the Latin Festivals. It is the Roman Calendar in verse. Besides these two principal poems, he published the famous Amores (in three books); the Remedia Amoris (partly, by way of atonement for the freedom of the former); the Heroidum Epistolæ ("Letters of the Heroines"—a series of poetic epistles which has had many later imitators); the Ars Amatoria, the alleged cause of the poet's banishment, and the Tristia ("Melancholies of an Exile," it may be Englished). He wrote, also, a tragedy, Medea, (which received the high praises of Quintilian and Tacitus,) no longer extant. The treatment of the subject in the Metamorphoses induces high expectations of the merits of the tragedy which, also, is one of the ten dramas attributed to Seneca.

All the productions of Ovid are characterised, more or less, by extraordinary elegance and sensibility; and his master-pieces by good taste, humaneness, and richness of fancy. In estimating his amatory poems two facts ought justly to be regarded—the fashionable sexual ethics of his age and country, in view of which he will appear, to a competent critic, scarcely obnoxious to severe judgment, and the much greater freedom of many later and modern Christian writers of high repute. Ovid had high reputation in mediæval times, especially in his own country. Even in the present day, in his own district of Sulmona, his name is, perhaps, the most popular of all the literary heroes of old Italy; and in the traditions of the country people he enjoys even a sort of magical fame.

The following passage from the Fifteenth Book of the Metamorphoses, in which the poet versifies, in equally exquisite and feeling language, the anti-kreophagist principles of the Pythagorean system, has been justly pronounced by Dryden, his metrical and most famous translator, to be the finest part of his masterpiece:

He [Pythagoras], too, was the first to forbid animals to be served up at the table, and he was first to open his lips, indeed full of wisdom yet all unheeded, in the following words: "Forbear, O mortals ! to pollute your bodies with such abominable food. There are the farina cea (fruges), there are the fruits which bear down the branches with their weight, and there are the grapes swelling on the vines; there are the sweet herbs; there are those that may be softened by the flame and become tender. Nor is the milky juice denied you; nor honey, redolent of the flower of thyme. The lavish Earth heaps up her riches and her gentle foods, and offers you dainties without blood and without slaughter. The lower animals satisfy their ravenous hunger with flesh. And yet not all of them; for the horse, the sheep, the cows and oxen subsist on grass; while those whose disposition is cruel and fierce, the tigers of Armenia and the raging lions, and the wolves and panthers, revel in their bloody diet.

"Alas ! what a monstrous crime it is (scelus) that entrails should be entombed in entrails; that one ravening body should grow fat on others which it crams into it; that one living creature should live by the death of another living creature ! Amid so great an abundance which the Earth—that best of mothers—produces, does, indeed, nothing delight you but to gnaw with savage teeth the sad produce of the wounds you inflict, and to imitate the habits of the Cyclops ? Can you not appease the hunger of a voracious and ill-regulated stomach unless you first destroy another being ? Yet that age of old, to which we have given the name of golden, was blest in the produce of the trees and in the herbs which the earth brings forth, and the human mouth was not polluted with blood.

"Then the birds moved their wings secure in the air, and the hare, without fear, wandered in the open fields. Then the fish did not fall a victim to the hook and its own credulity. Every place was void of treachery; there was no dread of injury—all things were full of peace. In later ages some one—a mischievous innovator (non Wills auctor), whoever he was—set at naught and scorned this pure and simple food, and engulfed in his greedy paunch meats made from a carcase. It was he that opened the road to wickedness. I can believe that the steel, since stained with blood, was first dipped in the gore of savage wild beasts; and that was lawful enough. We hold that the bodies of animals that seek our destruction are put to death without any breach of the sacred laws of morality. But although they might be put to death they were not to be eaten as well. From this time the abomination advanced rapidly. The swine is believed to have been the first victim destined to slaughter, because it grubbed up the seeds with its broad snout, and so cut short the hopes of the year. For gnawing and injuring the vine the goat was led to slaughter at the altars of the avenging Bacchus. Its own fault was the ruin of each of these victims.

"But how have you deserved to die, you sheep, you harmless breed brought into existence for the service of men—who carry nectar in your full udders—who give your wool as soft coverings for us—who assist us more by your life than your death? Why have the oxen deserved this—beings without guile and without deceit—innocent, mild, born for the endurance of labour? Ungrateful, indeed, is man, and [Page 64] unworthy of the bounteous gifts of the harvest who, after unyoking him from the plough, can slaughter the tiller of his fields—who can strike with the axe that neck worn bare with labour, through which he had so often turned up the hard ground, and which had afforded so many a harvest.

"And it is not enough that such wickedness is committed by men. They have involved the gods themselves in this abomination, and they believe that a Deity in the heavens can rejoice in the slaughter of the laborious and useful ox. The spotless victim, excelling in the beauty of its form (for its very beauty is the cause of its destruction), decked out with garlands and with gold is placed before their altars, and, ignorant of the purport of the proceedings, it hears the prayers of the priest. It sees the fruits which it cultivated placed on its head between its horns, and, struck down, with its life-blood it dyes the sacrificial knife, which it had perhaps already seen in the clear water. Immediately they inspect the nerves and fibres torn from the yet living being, and scrutinise, forsooth, the will of deity in them.

"'From whence such hunger in man after unnatural and unlawful foods? Do you dare, 0 mortal race, to continue to feed on flesh? Cease, I beseech you, and give heed to my admonitions. And when you present to your palaces the limbs of slaughtered oxen, know and feel that you are feeding on the tillers of the ground.'"—Metam. XV. 73-142.

The prophet of Samos, after eloquently illustrating the continual transformations of all earthly things animate and inanimate—almost in the spirit of Lamarck or Darwin—and the vicissitudes and vanity of human ambition (as seen in the fate of empires and cities) (11) returns to the cardinal doctrine of his humane dietetics, enforced by the Metempsychosis creed:

"And do not let us load our entrails with foods worthy of a Thyestes [who feasted on his own offspring]. To what wicked habits does he accustom his palate, how does that impious man prepare himself for the shedding of human gore, who cuts the throat of the calf, turning a deaf ear to its piteous moans. Or, who has the heart to pierce the throat of a kid, that utters cries like those of a child; Or, who can feed on the bird whom he had fed with his own hand! How little is there wanting to the perfection of wickedness [ad plenum facinus]? To what extremity of crime is not a passage thence made easy? Let the ox or bull plough, or let him owe his death to old age. Let the sheep supply us with armour against the assaults of the shudder-producing north wind. Let the she goats give their full udders to be milked. Away with your hunting nets, your gin-traps, and snares, and all your treacherous arts to destroy: nor beguile the unhappy bird with your bird-limed twig. Deceive not the timid deer with the dreaded coloured feathers; cover not the barbed hooks with deceitful bait. Kill noxious creatures: but even them you must only destroy. Let your mouths be unpolluted by devouring the flesh, and let them choose, rather, food befitting them." (12)

Nor is this the only passage in his writings in which the poet proves himself to have been not without that humaneness, so rare alike in Christian and non-Christian literature. In the charming story of the visit of the incarnate celestials to the cottage of the pious peasants Baucis and Philemon, he takes the opportunity to present an alluring picture of the various fruits placed before the divine guests—a picture which, perhaps, was present to Milton in recording the similar hospitality of his heroine. Among the fragrant dishes, "savoury fruits of taste to please true appetite," appear figs, nuts, dates, plums, grapes, apples, olives, onions, radishes, and endive, with honey, eggs, and cheese ("it matters not," interposes the poet, "whether you call for the master or the servants: the whole household consisted of two—the same persons both command and obey"):—

Here she places chaste Minerva's double-tinged olive berry, and autumnal cornel-nuts, preserved in their liquid juice, endive, also, and radishes, and a large cheese, and eggs that have been cooked in the dying embers—all on earthenware plates. Then an embossed bowl of the same material is put on the table; and cups formed out of beech-wood, varnished, in the interior, with golden wax. No long pause ensues [between the courses]; and the flames soon supplied the warmed repast; and wine, of no great age, is again laid before the guests, and, again withdrawn for a short space, gives place to the second course. Next come nuts and dried figs with wrinkled dates, plums, too, and fragrant apples in wide open baskets, and purple grapes gathered from the vines. In the centre of the table is a milk-white honeycomb. Above all, are kind welcoming looks, and no churlish or half-hearted feeling. Meanwhile, as they see the wine-bowl, as often as exhausted, replenished of its own accord, Baucis and Philemon are struck dumb with astonishment and alarm; and, with hands raised, offer up deprecatory prayers, entreating pardon for their poor repast supplied without preparation. (13)

Notwithstanding all this variety of sufficient and pleasant foods, we are not surprised that ignorant peasants, in imitation of the vicious examples of their rich neighbours, thought it due to "hospitality" to sacrifice life; and they were on the point of slaughtering their sole dependant, when the heavenly visitants intervene to forbid the unnecessary barbarity:—"They had a goose, the only one, the guardian of the cottage, whom they were making ready to butcher for their divine guests. She, with swift wing, wearies them out, tardy through age, and long eludes their pursuits, and, at length, as it seemed, fled for safety to the divinities themselves. The Immortals forbade the slaughter. 'We are divine,' they exclaim," etc. (14)

While the rest of the people of Phrygia, for their crimes, are destroyed by indignant Heaven, the two old peasants, in accordance with poetic justice, found an asylum from the general Deluge, and for the remainder of their lives.

Again, in a beautiful passage in the Fasti, the humanity of the poet equally shines out. He is celebrating the holy day (or saints' day) of the divinity of Ceres—the Hellenic Demeter, who was worshipped in Attica with the highest and most sacred honours:—"With innocent peace is Ceres gladdened. Then do you, cultivators of the soil, offer up vows for perpetual Peace. It is allowed to you to offer to the goddess the honourable sacrifice of wheat and sparkling salt, and to cast grains of incense on her ancient altars. And, if incense is wanting, you may light the pitchy torches. A humble offering, if only it be pure, is pleasing to gracious Ceres. But away with the knives of the sacrificing priests from the throat of the cow. Let the ox plough your fields—His shoulders, intended by Nature for the yoke, are not to be wounded [Page 67] with the murderous axe. Let him enjoy his life, and often give his services to the cultivation of the soil," (15)

In this place it may be noted that the (so called) Epicurean poet, Horatius Flaccus (an elder contemporary of Ovidius), bon vivant though he was (at least in the society of his imperial and other powerful patrons), and, apparently, uninspired by humanitarian feeling, yet now and again expresses his conviction of the superiority of the fruit to the flesh banquet, and of the greater compatibility of the former with the poetic genius. In a hymn addressed to Apollo, he professes:—

"Me pascunt olivæ
Me cichorea levesque malvæ
, (16)

and, in another place, he celebrates, with apparent sincerity, the noctes cœnœque deûm of his (occasional) frugal repasts.

In one of his best satires he almost rivals his greater successor, Juvenalis himself, in severity of sarcasm upon the disgusting and wasteful gluttony of the wealthy classes of his time:—"What is the virtue of temperance and frugality is to be learned," he affirms, "not among rich plate and glittering tables, when the eye is dazzled and stupefied by the unwholesome splendour, and when the soul, bent towards falsity, refuses to listen to higher things, but before sitting down to the unnatural table—for every corrupted judge ill-weighs or examines Truth …The highest degree of pleasure [in eating] lies not in the costly flavour, but in yourself. Seek your sauces by hard toil [sudando]. On one bloated and pallid through his vicious indulgences no dainties can bestow any real pleasure. None the less, if a peacock be served up, you would scarcely be prevented [he apostrophises the ordinary Roman gourmand] from gratifying your palate rather than with a pullet!—you are ruined by the vain outside of things: because, forsooth, a rare bird is purchased with gold, and makes a fine show with its gorgeous tail—as though that were anything to the purpose. What ! do you, indeed, feast on that plumage, which you laud so much? Has the peacock the same beauty when served on the table?— Oh ! that you southern blasts would come opportunely, and taint the delicacies of these gluttons! If any one were to give out with authority that roast cormorant is a delicious food, I am convinced the Roman youth, docile for evil, would obey." Contrasting the pleasures of health and the diseases (both in the original and the modern sense of that word), mental and physical, from which the simpler diet brings relief, the satirist proceeds:

"Now learn what, and how great, benefits a reduced diet (victus tenuis) brings with it. In the first place, you will enjoy good health, and be vigorous—for it is easy to believe how injurious a mixture of meats must be to the human stomach, remembering the sort of food which, by its simplicity, so well suited you formerly. But when once you mingle together roast and boiled, thrushes and the crustacea, the sweet juices will be changed into bile, and gross phlegm will completely disorganise the stomach. Do you not observe how pallid every feaster rises from the perplexing variety of the dinner ? Nay, the body overloaded with yesterday's vicious eating, depresses the soul, and the understanding along with it, and fixes fast-bound to the earth the particle of the divine spirit." (17) The satirist rises in moral elevation, when he proceeds indignantly to demand:—"Have you, then, no better way of expending your superfluous wealth? Why, I demand, is any poor man, who is undeserving of such a fate, in want, while you are rolling in riches?

In the yet more distinguished contemporary of the poet of the Metamorphoses—"quella fonte, the spande di parlar si largo fiume"—the poet of the Æneis, inspiration of humaner feeling appears more clearly than in the satirist, whose easy-going philosophy could scarcely imbue him with acute perception of humanitarian truth. In the first of his Eclogues, or Idyllic poems, (18) Virgilius sings not only of a fictitious past but—with Isaiah and Shelley—of a realised future "Golden Age," when only "a few traces of the old-world-fraud," shall still appear. But it is in his most original production, the Georgica (the Agriculturals, as it may be Englished), in which, lamenting the desolation of Italy by cruel wars, and the disastrous neglect of agriculture, (where "no due honour is given to the Plough") he addresses his countrymen in language that may be addressed to the same classes in England of to-day (19):—"O too fortunate farmers, if they only know their true interests—for whom, remote from discordant strife, the most just Earth pours forth from her bosom easily-obtained foods"—and he proceeds to eulogise the (too fictitious) golden days, "before the impious human race slaughtered their labouring oxen" (20)

In a touching episode—the death of the petted deer of the Tuscan maiden, Sylvia, murdered by intruding followers of Æneas—as in not a few passages of his Georgica, Virgil seems to discover a certain sensibility of soul, rare in all stages of civilisation, and in all writers, even in poets or poetesses—not least rare in the latter part of the nineteenth century as respects, at least, the "tuneful tribe," and the ordinary providers of the "charta peritura" for the public or the publishers.


    1. See Mommsen Die Romische Geschichte V. 12. For the more frugal living (real or traditionary) of the earlier Roman people, see Juv. Satires, xi. 78-149; Ovid. Fasti, I, 197, etc.
    2. Nihil quod crudele util, If this pregnant maxim had been, or were, in any esteem with Governments, in place of the much more valued principles of Machiavellism, an immense proportion of the cruelties perpetrated by them would have been impossible. It may, especially, be commended to the most serious consideration of those who defend experimental torture on grounds of "expediency—"commodity, the bias of the world"
    3. De Finibus, v. 23. See same Treatise (ii, 33) for an admission of the human-like reason of many of the non-human races.
    4. According to Diogenes (of Laerte) it was a question debated among the Stoics, whether the non-human species have rights, or the human species obligations towards them. Chrysippus (the second founder of the Stoa) seems to have opposed his master Cleanthes, who, on the other hand, affirmed such rights. See Diog. x, 15o, and Porphyry.
    5. See, among other evidences, Lucian's Denzonax, where the great satirist represents that remarkably interesting professor of the Eclectic School protesting against the introduction of the cruel "sports" of the Roman Amphitheatre into Attica, as seems to have been at one time under consideration. "Refrain Athenians," he protested, "from voting this until you have pulled down your altar to Pity" (Dem. 51). The "pagan" Cicero, Seneca, or Demonax, might well rise up in judgment against the Christian Circus of Madrid, or Sevilla (A.D., 1893.)
    6. . . . . . "You stocks and stones ! You worse than senseless things !
      . . . . . O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome !"
      . . . . . It is thus that the Tribune addresses the Roman populace in Julius Cæsar, i. 1.
    7. Hist. Nat. viii. 7. On one occasion, in the year 284, A.D., we are credibly informed that 1,000 fallow deer, 1,000 stags, 1,000 ostriches, besides numerous wild sheep and goats, were mingled together for indiscriminate massacre by the wild beasts of the forest, and equally wild beasts of the city. See Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, xii.
    8. ENst. ad Diversos, vii. i. Varro, the most learned of the Romans, some few years earlier than Cicero's letter, in one of his famous Meni ppean satirical sketches—Catus : Or the Training of Children—warns parents, in the spirit of Seneca, against the taking of their sons to the gladiatorial games, by which they were, necessarily, brutalised.
    9. The amatory productions of Ovidius, it is well known, are characterised by voluptuous expression—but they have no taint of coarseness, much less of obscenity. Compared with the verses of Martialis in the next or, even, perhaps, with the poems of Catullus in the preceding, age, and of his contemporary Horatius Flaccus, they must appear almost innocent.
    10. Among an almost continuous succession of scenes of beauty or pathos (from the Genesis of man down to the closing celebration of the apotheosis of the divus Julius) the following have special interest—the Golden Age and Daphne (I); the Nymph Echo (III); Andromeda (IV); Thisbe and Pyramus (IV); Niobe, and the Nymph [page 62] Arethusa (V); the surpassingly tragic fate of Philomela (VI); Procris and Cephalus (VII); Medea (VII); Baucis and Philemon (VII); the Plague and Famine episode (equal to Thucydides in graphic force) (VIII). Ianthe and Iphis (IX); Byblis (X); Atalanta (X); Galatea and Pygmalion (X); Alcyone and Ceyx, with tempest scene unsurpassed in descriptive power (XI); Iphigenia's Sacrifice (XII); Hecuba and Polyxena (XIII); Pomona (XIV); Pythagorean Philosophy (XV).
    11. A pregnant truth frequently inculcated in the philosophic poets and thinkers of old Hellas and Italy. Cp. Lucretius : "O miseras hominum mentes, O pectora cœca !" Virgilius: "Nescia mens hominum fati sortisque futuræ Et servare modum, rebus sublata secundis," (Æn. xii). But the fertile theme has been most forcibly illustrated by Juvenalis, Sat. x., and, above all, by the inimitable Lucian, in some of his principal Dialogues—in particular, the Charon.
    12. Formidatis pinnis—one of the numerous treacherous methods of Roman sportsmen. For the various species of bird-traps, see Aristophanes, Ορνίθες, 525-535. For the celebration of the peaceful and innocent gifts of Ceres, and of the superiority of her pure Table and Altar, see Fasti iv. 395-416.
    13. Metam. vii. 664-682.
    14. Metam. viii. 664-688. Swift's parody Baucis and Philemon, in which Addison had a hand (1705), is an entertaining and witty production.
    15. . . . . "Pace læta Ceres est. At vos, optate, coloni,
      . . . . Perpetuam pacem, perpetuumque ducem.
      . . . .   *     *     *     *  
      . . . . "A bove succincti cultros removete ministri:
      . . . . Bos aret
      . . . .   *     *     *     *  
      . . . . "Apta jugo cervix non est ferienda securi:
      . . . . Vivet, et in durâ sæpe laboret humo."
      (Fasti iv. 395-416.)
    16. "Olives, endives, and easily digested mallows, are my food."—Car. I. 31. Of the mallow Plinius informs us there are, or were, two kinds. One of them, the Malache of the Greeks, derived its name ab emoliendo venire (from its purgative quality) Hist. Nat. xx. 21. 84. For the Cichorea, another popular vegetable, see Hist, Nat. xxi. 8. 30. etc.
      See Milton's early conviction of the preferableness of the non flesh
    17. Divinæ particulam aurce—"the fiery particle"—a pythagorean expression. See Pope's fine imitation in his Satires. For the grossness and bad humours, and other mischievous effects of unnatural diet, compare Seneca, Juvenalis, John Chrysostom, and other of the higher moralists, as well as Hippokrates, Galen, and the better class of medical authorities, ancient and modern.
    18. . . . . Fundit humo facilem victum justissima Tellus"—
      . . . .   *     *     *     *   ante
      . . . . "Impia quam cæsis gens est epulata juvencis."
    19. Cur cget indignus quisquam, te divite (Sat. ii. 2). In equally indignant language, demands a more vehement satiriser of Yahoo selfishness and injustice:
      . . . . "Simplexne furor sestertia centum
      . . . . Perdere, et horrenti tunicam non tradere servo?"
      To the same purpose is Milton's:
      . . . . "If every just man, that now pines with want,
      . . . . Had but a moderate and beseeming share," etc.
    20. See the exhortation to the farmer "not, after the manner of their ancestors, to deprive the cows and their calf of the milk which Nature has intended for nourishment of the sweet young" (Georg. iii. [page 71] 177-8) the description of the plague (Georg. iii. 478-530;) and the nightingale's lamentation for the loss of her young:
      . . . . "Qualis populeâ mærens Philomela sub umbrâ
      . . . . Amissos queritur fætus, quos durus arator
      . . . . Observans nido implumes detraxit: at illa
      . . . . Flet noctem, ramoque sedens miserabile carmen
      . . . . Integrat, et mæstis late loca questibus implet."

      . . . . Georg. 1V. 511-15.
      For the barbarity of butchering the labouring ox, see Juv. Sât x. 271.

Howard Williams, The Ethics of Diet - index