Geoponika: Farm Work : a Modern Translation of the Roman and Byzantine Farming Handbook

Front Cover
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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About the author (2011)

Andrew Dalby is a linguist, classical scholar and historian of food. After a career as a librarian he turned to writing full-time and has produced many successful books. For Prospect Books, he has translated Cato On Agriculture, as well as Byzantine dietary texts in Flavours of Byzantium (now available as Tastes of Byzantium, from I.B. Tauris). He has written highly regarded histories of Greek food (Siren Feasts) and of the food culture of the Romans (Empire of Pleasures). His encyclopaedic Food in the Ancient World from A to Z is indispensable. Other works on classical literature include Rediscovering Homer and `biographies' of Bacchus and Venus. His books on language include Dictionary of Languages and Language in Danger. His most popular work to date has perhaps been Dangerous Tastes, a history of spices. More recently, he has turned his attention to Wikipedia (The World and Wikipedia) and to cheese (Cheese: a Global History).

Andrew Dalby lives in France.

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