Zythos

Zythos


or (ζῦθος). Ale or beer; a beverage scarcely ever drunk by the ancient Greeks and Romans, although it was very generally used by the surrounding nations, whose soil and climate were less favourable to the growth of vines (in Gallia aliisque provinciis, Plin. H. N.xxii. 164; Germ.23).

Herodotus's statement that the Egyptians drank “barley-wine” is supported by the inscriptions, in which it is called hak, hank, or henk, and by Strab.xvii. 1Strab., 14, and Diod.i. 34, who describes it as a beverage almost as fragrant as wine, and calls it ζῦθος; while Columella (x. 114) tells us that the radix Assyria and lupine entered into its composition, the former doubtless to give it fragrance, the latter to serve the same purpose as the modern hop. But the methods of its preparation varied ( Strab.ii. 5). A similar drink was made by the Ethiopians from millet and barley (ib. xvii. 2, 2).

The beer or barley-wine of Crete was known as κόρμα or κοῦρμι. A similar beverage passed under the name of βρῦτον in the north of Greece and Asia Minor, being made of barley by the Phrygians and Paeonians, of barley or of roots by the Thracians, while the Paeonians also made παραβίας or παραβίη from millet and fleabane (κόνυζα). Of the barley drink called πῖνον, Aristotle tells us that those inebriated by it fall on the back and on no other part of the body (Athen. x. 447). We are told by Xenophon that the Armenians, instead of drinking their ale or beer out of cups, placed it before them in a large bowl. This being full to the brim with the grains as well as the fermented liquor, the guests, when they pledged one another, drank together out of the same bowl by stooping down to it, although, when this token of friendship was not intended, they adopted the more refined method of sucking up the fluid through tubes of cane ( Xen. Anab.v. 5Xen. Anab., 26). Ζῦθος was the drink of Lusitania ( Strab.iii. 3Strab., 7); in Spain it was known as caelia or cerea, while cervesia was the name used in Gaul, where other drinks of the sort were common ( Plin. l. c.). Thus Posidonius, in Athenaeus, says that while the richer classes in Gaul import wine from Italy and the district of Marseilles, the poor drink a beer made from wheat, with or without the addition of honey, which is called κόρμα. This Gallic use of beer is illustrated by a curious circular bottle found in Gaul and preserved in the Musée Carnavalet at Paris: it bears the legend, “Ospita reple lagona cervesa” (Revue Archéologique, 1868, xviii. 226).

The beverage of the Germans was made from barley or wheat ( Germ.23). The beer of Illyria and Pannonia was called sabaia or sabaium (Hieron. Isai. v. 19); and at the court of Attila in Pannonia a beverage called μέδος (mead?), or one of barley called κάμον, was used. The Greeks and Romans regarded this barbarian drink with contempt, as is seen by an epigram of the emperor Julian (Anth. Pal. ix. 365).

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