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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
An Account of Some Great Eaters
By Athenæus of Naucratis (Second Century?)
 
From the ‘Deipnosophistæ’: Translation of Charles Duke Yonge

HERACLITUS, in his ‘Entertainer of Strangers,’ says that there was a woman named Helena who ate more than any other woman ever did. And Posidippus, in his ‘Epigrams,’ says that Phuromachus was a great eater, on whom he wrote this epigram:—
  “This lowly ditch now holds Phuromachus,
Who used to swallow everything he saw,
Like a fierce carrion crow who roams all night.
Now here he lies wrapped in a ragged cloak.
But, O Athenian, whosoe’er you are,
Anoint this tomb and crown it with a wreath,
If ever in old times he feasted with you.
At last he came sans teeth, with eyes worn out,
And livid, swollen eyelids; clothed in skins,
With but one single cruse, and that scarce full;
Far from the gay Lenæan Games he came,
Descending humbly to Calliope.”
  1
  Amarantus of Alexandria, in his treatise on the Stage, says that Herodorus, the Megarian trumpeter, was a man three cubits and a half in height; and that he had great strength in his chest, and that he could eat six pounds of bread, and twenty litræ of meat, of whatever sort was provided for him, and that he could drink two choes of wine; and that he could play on two trumpets at once; and that it was his habit to sleep on only a lion’s skin, and when playing on the trumpet he made a vast noise. Accordingly, when Demetrius the son of Antigonus was besieging Argos, and when his troops could not bring the battering ram against the walls on account of its weight, he, giving the signal with his two trumpets at once, by the great volume of sound which he poured forth, instigated the soldiers to move forward the engine with great zeal and earnestness; and he gained the prize in all the games ten times; and he used to eat sitting down, as Nestor tells us in his ‘Theatrical Reminiscences.’ And there was a woman, too, named Aglais, who played on the trumpet, the daughter of Megacles, who, in the first great procession which took place in Alexandria, played a processional piece of music; having a head-dress of false hair on, and a crest upon her head, as Posidippus proves by his epigrams on her. And she too could eat twelve litræ of meat and four chœnixes of bread, and drink a chœnus of wine, at one sitting.  2
  There was besides a man of the name of Lityerses, a bastard son of Midas, the King of Celænæ, in Phrygia, a man of a savage and fierce aspect, and an enormous glutton. He is mentioned by Sositheus, the tragic poet, in his play called ‘Daphnis’ or ‘Lityersa’; where he says:—
  “He’ll eat three asses’ panniers, freight and all,
Three times in one brief day; and what he calls
A measure of wine is a ten-amphoræ cask;
And this he drinks all at a single draught.”
And the man mentioned by Pherecrates, or Strattis, whichever was the author of the play called ‘The Good Men,’ was much such another; the author says:—
  “A.—I scarcely in one day, unless I’m forced,
    Can eat two bushels and a half of food.
B.—A most unhappy man! how have you lost
    Your appetite, so as now to be content
    With the scant rations of one ship of war?”
  3
  And Xanthus, in his ‘Account of Lydia,’ says that Cambles, who was the king of the Lydians, was a great eater and drinker, and also an exceeding epicure; and accordingly, that he one night cut up his own wife into joints and ate her; and then, in the morning, finding the hand of his wife still sticking in his mouth, he slew himself, as his act began to get notorious. And we have already mentioned Thys, the king of the Paphlagonians, saying that he too was a man of vast appetite, quoting Theopompus, who speaks of him in the thirty-fifth book of his ‘History’; and Archilochus, in his ‘Tetrameters,’ has accused Charilas of the same fault, as the comic poets have attacked Cleonymus and Pisander. And Phœnicides mentions Chærippus in his ‘Phylarchus’ in the following terms:—
  “And next to them I place Chærippus third;
He, as you know, will without ceasing eat
As long as any one will give him food,
Or till he bursts,—such stowage vast has he,
Like any house.”
  4
  And Nicolaus the Peripatetic, in the hundred and third book of his ‘History,’ says that Mithridates, the king of Pontus, once proposed a contest in great eating and great drinking (the prize was a talent of silver), and that he himself gained the victory in both; but he yielded the prize to the man who was judged to be second to him, namely, Calomodrys, the athlete of Cyzicus. And Timocreon the Rhodian, a poet and an athlete who had gained the victory in the pentathlum, ate and drank a great deal, as the epigram on his tomb shows:—
  “Much did I eat, much did I drink, and much
Did I abuse all men; now here I lie:—
My name Timocreon, my country Rhodes.”
  5
  And Thrasymachus of Chalcedon, in one of his prefaces, says that Timocreon came to the great king of Persia, and being entertained by him, did eat an immense quantity of food; and when the king asked him, What he would do on the strength of it? he said that he would beat a great many Persians; and the next day having vanquished a great many, one after another, taking them one by one, after this he beat the air with his hands; and when they asked him what he wanted, he said that he had all those blows left in him if any one was inclined to come on. And Clearchus, in the fifth book of his ‘Lives,’ says that Cantibaris the Persian, whenever his jaws were weary with eating, had his slaves to pour food into his mouth, which he kept open as if they were pouring it into an empty vessel. But Hellanicus, in the first book of his Deucalionea, says that Erysichthon, the son of Myrmidon, being a man perfectly insatiable in respect of food, was called Æthon. Also Polemo, in the first book of his ‘Treatise addressed to Timæus,’ says that among the Sicilians there was a temple consecrated to gluttony, and an image of Demeter Sito; near which also there was a statue of Himalis, as there is at Delphi one of Hermuchus, and as at Scolum in Bœotia there are statues of Megalartus and Megalomazus.  6
 
 
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