Food, Wine, and Feasting

Anthony Bryer

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Food, Wine, and Feasting

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Byzantines had no common diet, but there are three specifically Byzantine constants worthy of consideration: peasant virtue of autarky or self-sufficiency, the striking difference between urban and rural diet (especially cereal), and cultural. Peasant autarky inhibited the development of agricultural technology and discouraged the growth of surplus for market, unless stimulated by state imposition or the initiative of large landowners. Wine was the most distinct beverage of the Byzantine Empire and also had important medicinal and liturgical uses. Grapes were grown for wine in a littoral circuit of the Balkans and Anatolia, which roughly coincided with the cultivation of olive for oil. Feasting held a central place in Byzantine culture, but food and even wine were incidental to display. Consumption was conspicuous at marriage feasts.

Keywords: diet; food; wine; feasting; grapes; olive; autarky; self-sufficiency; Byzantine Empire; marriage feasts

Article.  3097 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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