Geoponika: Farm Work : a Modern Translation of the Roman and Byzantine Farming Handbook
This remarkable anthology of classical agricultural texts, entitled `Farm Work' or Geoponika, was compiled at the behest of the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (AD 913-959). Under his direction a series of handbooks was produced, distilling useful knowledge from more than a millennium of Greek and Latin writing on various subjects of practical use from diplomacy and siege warfare to farming. It is of particular value to modern scholars because it quotes from texts that have long since been lost to the world, particularly from authors of the late classical period whose works reflected the agricultural practices of Anatolia, Africa and the Near East.
Although the Geoponika has been known in Britain since it was first published here in 1704, there has only been the one English translation, by the Rev. Thomas Owen in 1804/5. Andrew Dalby has considered the original afresh, leaning on the more modern edition of the Greek by Beckh in 1894, and has come up with a more fluent and comprehensible version for the present-day reader. His expertise in matters of food and cookery in the classical and Byzantine world has contributed greatly to the wider utility of his translation. So little is known, or published, about Byzantine food culture and domestic economy that this book should be a really important step forward for students and scholars alike.
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