“. . . is often noted”?

“When people unwittingly eat human flesh, served by unscrupulous restaurant owners and other such people, the similarity to pork is often noted.”

(Galen, On the Power of Foods 3, quoted in J. C. McKeown, A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities, p. 161)

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3 Responses to “. . . is often noted”?

  1. Blogicaster says:

    De alimentorum facultatibus, book 3, 6.663 Kühn:

    τῆϲ δ’ ὑείαϲ ϲαρκὸϲ τὴν πρὸϲ ἄνθρωπον ὁμοιότητα καταμαθεῖν
    ἔϲτι κἀκ τοῦ τιναϲ ἐδηδοκόταϲ ἀνθρωπείων κρεῶν ὡϲ ὑείων οὐδεμίαν
    ὑπόνοιαν ἐϲχηκέναι κατά τε τὴν γεῦϲιν αὐτῶν καὶ τὴν ὀϲμήν· ἐφω‑
    ράθη γὰρ ἤδη που τοῦτο γεγονὸϲ ὑπό τε πονηρῶν πανδοχέων καὶ
    ἄλλων τινῶν.

    Galen’s talking about the qualities of different types of animal flesh: he has to explain why he groups human flesh and swine flesh together. The restauranteurs are indeed “inkeepers”; there’s no “often” (but Galen implies this happened more than once).

  2. Gene O'Grady says:

    For what it’s worth, the stories about Keysburg, who really was a cannibal although it’s recently been claimed he wasn’t actually a murderer, opening a restaurant in Sacramento to capitalize on his notoriety are apparently a little more interesting than the real facts warrant. Too bad.

    And, like Mr. Kriman, the use of the word “restaurant” was a red flag. I’ve heard that the restaurant as such is a fairly recent French invention, but am open to correction.

  3. Al Kriman says:

    I remember reading of an old Polynesian man reminiscing about the good old days of eating human meat. It was called (in someone’s translation, perhaps) “long pig.”

    As for Galen, it would probably help to know what the original Greek was. The translation uses “restaurant,” presumably, for one of the words that is usually, and surely less anachronistically, rendered “inn.” This suggests a certain looseness in translation. In any case, “often” might be understood in a relative way. That is, on those (rare, one hopes) occasions when this occurred, human meat was *typically* mistaken for pork.

    One must probably also try to take some account of the credibility of Galen’s sources. I’d suppose that there were more people who wouldn’t scruple to spin a tale of duping others into cannibalism than there were to actually carry out the act.

    I think Janice Siegel’s Ph.D. dissertation was about G&R cannibalism — mostly in fiction, I guess.

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