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836

OPSONIUM.

articles were taken from the vegetable kingdom, but were much more pungent and savoury than bread, such as olives, either fresh or pickled, radishes, and sesamum. (PJato, de Repub. ii. p. 85, ed. Bekker ; Xen. Oecon. viii. 9.) Of animal food by much the most common kind was fish, whence the terms under explanation were in the course of time used In a, confined and special sense to denote fish only, but fish variously prepared, and more especially salt fish, which was most extensively employed to give a relish to the vegetable diet either at breakfast (Menander, p. 70, ed. Meineke), or at the principal meal. (Plaut. Aulul. ii. 6. 3.) For the same reason 6tyo<pdyos meant a gourmand

•or epicure, and o^otyayia gluttony. (Athen. ix. il[—37.) In maritime cities the time of opening the fish-market was signified by ringing a bell, so that all might have an equal opportunit}*" for the purchase of delicacies. (Strab. xiv. 1. § 2J ; Plut. Sympos. Prob. p. 1187, ed. Steph.)

Of the different parts of fishes the roe was the most esteemed for this purpose. It is still pre­pared from the fish In the very same waters adjoin­ing Myus in Ionia, which were given to TheiTiis-tocles by the King of Persia. (Thuc. i. 138 ; Corn. Nepos. Them. x. 3 ; Diod. xi. 57.) A jar was found at Pompeii, containing caviare made from the roe of the tunny. (Gell, Pompeiana, 1832, vol. i. p. 178.)

Some of the principal rapixeicu, or establish­ments for curing fish, were on the southern coast of Spain (Strab. iii. 4) : but the Greeks obtained their chief supply from the Hellespont (Hermippus ap. Athen. i. 49, p. 27, e) ; and more especially Byzantium first rose into importance after its establishment by the Milesians in 'consequence of the active prosecution of this branch of 'industry. Of all seas the Euxine was accounted by the an­cients the most abundant in fish, and the catching of them was aided by their migratory habits, as in the autumn they passed through 'the Bosporus towards the South, and in spring Teturned to the Euxine, in order to deposit their spawn in its tri­butary rivers. At these two seasons they were caught in the greatest quantity, and, having been cured, were shipped in Milesian bottoms, and sent to all parts of Greece and the Levant. The princi­pal ports on the Euxine engaged in this traffic were Sinope and Panticapaeum. (Hegewisch, Co-lonieen der Griechen, p. 80.)

Among the fish used for curing were different kinds of sturgeon (oLvraftaios, Herod, iv. 53 ; Schneider, Ed. Phys. i. p. f)5, ii. p. 48), tunny (ffKOfASpbs, Hermippus, 1. c. ; scomber; 7r?j\a,u'&s, a name still in use with some modification among the descendants ef the ancient Phocaeans at Mar­seilles, Passow-, ffand'wert&i'buch., s. u), and mullet. A minute discussion of their qualities, illustrated by quotations, may be seen in Athenaeus. (iii. 84

•93.)

• Plato mentions the practice of salting eggs, which was no doubt intended, to convert them into a kind of opsonium (Symp.. p. 404, ed. Bekker). The treatise 'of Apicius, d& Opsoniis^ is still extant in ten books.

The Athenians were in the habit of going to

O O

"markets (eis rovfyov) themselves In order to pur­chase their opsonia (otyavdiv^ Theophrast. Char. 28 ; opsonare). [macellum.] But the opulent Romans had a slave, called opsonator (otydwrjs}, whose office it was to purchase for his master. It

OKACULUM.

was his dut}T, l)y learning what flavours were most acceptable to him, by observing what most delighted his eyes, stimulated his appetite, and even over­ came his nausea, to satisfy as much as possible all the cravings of a luxurious palate. (Sen. Epist. 47 ; compare Hor. Sat. i. 2. 9, ii. 7. 106 ; Plant. Me- naech. ii. 2. 1, Mil. iii. 2. 73.) We may also infer, from an epigram of Martial (xiv. 217), that there were opsonatores, or purveyors, who furnished dinners and other entertainments at so much per head, according to the means and wishes of their employers. Spon (Misc. Erud. Ant. p. 214) has published two inscriptions from monuments raised to the memory of Romans who held the office of purveyors to the Imperial family. At Athens both the sale and the use of all kinds of opsonia were superintended by two or three special officers, ap­ pointed by the senate, and called b^ovop.oi. (Athen. vi. 12.) [J. Y.J

OPTIO. [exercitus, p. 506, a.]

OPTIMATES. [nobiles.]

ORACULUM (/xayre?oy, XP^^^P10^ was used by the ancients to designate the revelations made by the deity to man, as well as the place in which such revelations were made. The deity was in none of these places believed to appear in person to man, and to communicate to him his will or knowjedge of the future; but all oracular revelations were made through some kind of me­dium, which, as we shall see hereafter, was diffe­rent in the different places where oracles existed. It may, on first sight, seem strange that there were, comparatively speaking, so few oracles of Zeus, the father and ruler of gods and men. But although, according to the belief of the ancients, Zeus himself was the first source of all oracular re­velations, yet he was too far above men to enter with them into any close relation ; other gods therefore, especially Apollo, and even heroes, acted as mediators between Zeus and men, and formed as it were the organs through which he communicated his will. (Sopk 'Oed. Col 629 ; Aesch. Eum. 19, 611,&c.) The fact that the ancients consulted the will of the gods on all important occasions of public 'and private life, arose partly from the uni­versal desire of men to know the issue of what they are going to undertake, and partly from the great reverence for the gods, so peculiar to the ancients, by which they were led not to undertake any­thing of importance without their sanction ; for it should be borne in mind that an oracle was not merely a revelation to satisfy the curiosity of man, but at the same time a sanction or authorisation by the deity 'of what man was intending to do or not to do. We subjoin a list of the Greek oracles, classed according to the deities to whom they, be­longed.

I. oracles of apollo.

1. TJie oracle of Delphi was the most celebrated of all the oracles of Apollo. Its ancient name was Pytho, which is either of the same root as Truflecr-0cu, to consult, or, according to the Homeric hvmn on Apollo (185, &«.) derived from 7ru0eo-0ai, to putrefy, with reference to the nature of the loca­lity. Respecting the topography of the temple of Apollo see Pausanias (x. 14. § 7) and Miiller (in Dissents Pindar, ii. p. 628). In the innermost sanctuary (the iJ*vx°$ advrov or fj.iyapov\ there was the statue of" Apollo, which was, at least, in later times, of gold j and before it there burnt upon

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