Monday, April 02, 2012

Romans and Fruit, Again

So what's the deal with ancient Romans and fruit?

A couple of months ago I noted an odd passage in which Ammianus Marcellinus praised emperor Constantius II because "so long as he lived he never tasted fruit." 

Then I noticed this little nugget from Suetonius' Life of Nero (emphasis added):
Having gained some knowledge of music in addition to the rest of his early education, as soon as he [Nero] became emperor he sent for Terpnus, the greatest master of the lyre in those days, and after listening to him sing after dinner for many successive days until late at night, he little by little began to practise himself, neglecting none of the exercises which artists of that kind are in the habit of following, to preserve or strengthen their voices. For he used to lie upon his back and hold a leaden plate on his chest, purge himself by the syringe and by vomiting, and deny himself fruits and all foods injurious to the voice.
And I don't want to know where the syringe went, either.

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