Smell as sign and cure in ancient medicine
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Smell as sign and cure in ancient medicine book
Theories of scent suggest an almost opposite view of what makes for good eating from that appearing in the evidence for actual sophisticated Roman dining. A further feature of Roman dining was concern about the scent of excrement, which appears to have been connected to Roman attitudes towards good fortune and poverty. The notion that the third century BCE was a time of gastronomic simplicity was largely an invention of the first and second centuries CE as a feature of ongoing discussions of the moral values associated with sophisticated dining, often centred on the high cost of first-class chefs that dining could be pleasurable even when not excessive. Pliny's history of unguents may be plagiarized, ill-informed, betraying ignorance of the vast range of literature cited by Athenaeus interlocutors. On the other hand, the social significance of scent in Roman socializing does have implications for our broader understanding of both Rome's cultural history and more general issues in sensual history.