Anthimus (physician)

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Born c. 475 AD
Died c. 525 AD
Occupation Physician

Anthimus (Greek: Ἄνθιμος; fl. 511–534) was a Byzantine physician at the court of the Ostrogoth king Theodoric the Great and author of De observatione ciborum ("On the Observance of Foods"), which is a valuable source for Late Latin linguistics as well as Byzantine dietetics.

Though not a true recipe book, the text includes detailed instructions for making at least one Byzantine specialty (afrutum), using whipped egg whites, and a beef stew using honey, vinegar and spices. Preparations are described in more cursory terms for a number of other foods. Most of the preparations reflect Roman methods (using ingredients such as oxymel and oenomel), but the Frankish love of raw bacon is also cited. The author also specifically references whether specific foods were then available in Theodoric's region (near Metz in Northeastern France). Among other ingredients, the mention of several spices makes it clear that these were available in France long after the fall of Rome and centuries before the Crusades.

As a dietetic, the text also addresses the use of foods for selected ailments such as dysentery, diarrhea, dropsy, and fever. In general, Anthimus' approach is based on humoral theory (referring for instance to "melancholic humours") though he only cites unnamed "authors" or "authorities" as his sources.


English translations[edit]

  • Anthimus (Author), GRANT, Mark (Translator), "Anthimus: On the Observance of Foods", Prospect Books 1996, 2007; ISBN 1-903018-52-8 ISBN 978-1903018521 [1]
  • Anthimus (Author), CHEVALLIER, Jim (Translator), "How To Cook an Early French Peacock: De Observatione Ciborum – Roman Food for a Frankish King", Chez Jim Books 2012; [2]


  • Gordon M. Messing, "Remarks on Anthimus De observatione ciborum", Classical Philology 37:2:150–158 (April 1942) at JSTOR