Friday, September 13, 2013

The Ides of September & Chocolate Day

13 September: Romans called it the Ides of September, and on this date celebrated with a feast known as Epulum Jovis.
In ancient Roman religion, the Epulum Jovis was a sumptuous ritual feast offered to Jove on the Ides of September (September 13) and a smaller feast on the Ides of November (November 13). It was celebrated during the Ludi Romani ("Roman Games") and the Ludi Plebeii ("Plebeian Games").

The gods were formally invited, and attended in the form of statues. These were arranged on luxurious couches (pulvinaria) placed at the most honorable part of the table. Fine food was served, as if they were able to eat. The priests designated as epulones, or masters of the feast, organized and carried out the ritual, and acted as "gastronomic proxies" in eating the food.
Another description of the proceedings, this from The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic by William Warde Fowler:
........We may agree with the latest investigator of the Jupiter-cult that the origin of the epulum is to be looked for in a form of thanksgiving to Jupiter for preservation of the state from perils of the war season, and that no better date could be found for it than the foundation date of the Capitoline temple. This epulum was one of the most singular and striking scenes in Roman public life. It began with a sacrifice; the victim is not mentioned but it was no doubt a heifer, and probably a white one. Then took place the epulum proper, which the three deities of the Capitol seem to have shared in visible form with the magistrates and senate. The images of the gods were decked out as for a feast and the face of Jupiter painted red with minium, like that of the triumphator. Jupiter had a couch, and Juno and Minerva each a sella (chair), and the meal went on in their presence.
The Capitoline Triad was introduced to Rome by the Tarquins, and perhaps was an Etruscan creation. It is possible that the Etruscans looked on Minerva as a goddess of destiny, in addition to the royal couple Uni (Juno) and Tinia (Jupiter). In Rome, Minerva later assumed a military aspect under the influence of Athena Pallas. With the advent of the Republic, it is thought that Jupiter became the only king of Rome, rather than simply the first of the great gods.

That was then, this is now - today we content ourselves by celebrating International Chocolate Day (who knew?) Hey, at least we don't have to sacrifice a white heifer!


mike said...

I made a loaf of whole wheat bread this morning...just took it out of the oven. I'll act like an epulone at the epulum! I did sacrifice some very white cow's milk yogurt into the bread without even having prior knowledge of the feast. I'll have two splendid peanut butter sandwiches for lunch with a glass of white cow's milk for assurance.

No real chocolate in the house, except for cocoa...too hot & humid here for hot cocoa. I am biking to the grocery store soon, so maybe...!

The Jewish Yom Kippur begins at sunset today, too. Day of Atonement...a little expiation goes a long way.

♥ Sonny ♥ said...

Heavy cream in my coffee this morning.

I'll be sure to work in some chocolate this afternoon:)

My kinda holiday for sure..

LB said...

So maybe this will be my excuse for indulging in a small square of dark chocolate this afternoon. I sprinkle sea salt on mine to bring out the flavor. Plus, there are health benefits associated with indulging in a square or two a day of a dark chocolate rich in antioxidants - *if* the chocolate is organic and at least 70-90% cacao. The more cacoa the better:

"Chocolate is a divine, celestial drink, the sweat of the stars, the vital seed, divine nectar, the drink of the gods, panacea and universal medicine." -Geronimo Piperni


Twilight said...

mike ~ That all sounds quite delicious!

I have an unopened bag of Lindt chocolate truffles saved from last Christmas, stashed away somewhere, far from my prying hands. Even International Choc Day will not break my will....or will it? I'm trying to lose a few pounds gained mainly due to needing constant allergy meds (generic Zyrtec), but it's hard going.

I wonder if our Jewish brothers and sisters are getting all their choc eating done early in the day then? :-)


Sonny ~ Greek Yoghurt is the nearest I've come to milk - or chocolate so far today. I love chocolate, all kinds, but I dare not succumb. I have a packet of McVities chocolate Digestive cookies (the Brits' favourite) too - unopened. I will will not....


LB ~ Now that sounds suitably restrained and delicious at the same time. :-)

Not so sure about "sweat of the stars" though..... Maybe - I hope - he meant "sweet of the stars". ;-(

LB said...

We're fortunate in that we live near a food co-op and health food store that both sell fair-trade/fair-food chocolate, which is supposed to mean,among other wonderful things, that child and slave labor isn't used to produce their products. I like Equal Exchange:

Here's a link to another interesting Huffington Post article, "Hershey Accused Of Using Cocoa Suppliers That Employ Child Labor":

And from Wikipedia:

"The widespread use of children in cocoa production is controversial, not only for the usual concerns about child labor and exploitation, but also because up to 12,000 of the 200,000 children working in Côte d'Ivoire, the world's biggest producer of cocoa,[1] may be victims of trafficking or slavery.[2] Most attention on this subject has focused on West Africa, which collectively supplies 69 percent of the world's cocoa,[3] and Côte d'Ivoire in particular, which supplies 35 percent of the world's cocoa."

Who would've thought? It's amazing how much we *don't* know about what goes on behind the scenes. I'm aware there are concerns about fair-trade producers, but for now it's the best I can do.

LB said...

Twilight ~ Sweaty chocolate doesn't sound nearly as appealing, does it?:) Still, all the sources I've found say 'sweat' not sweet. Maybe the point is it took a lot of effort to create something so amazing, which is great so long as it's not slave labor here on Earth!:(

Twilight said...

LB ~~ We seldom think past the wonderful taste and texture of chocolate to consider what it cost in human stress and effort to produce it. I guess the same applies to coffee too, and other stuff we tend to take for granted.

I shall now accept the "sweat" with more respect. :-)

LB said...

Twilight ~ Hopefully as more of us become aware, fewer of us will accept (and therefore perpetuate) the inhumane practices that enslave and exploit children, who are regularly victimized by things other than drones, chemical weapons and bombs. Thankfully, there are ways for us to support the ethical production of cocoa (chocolate) without having to give up our beloved treat.

I'm sure like most people, I was surprised at how widespread a problem it is and also at how relatively easy it is for us not to participate, simply by choosing to purchase a different brand. Your post reminded me how important it is to talk about it with friends by encouraging them do the same. There are a lot of good-hearted folks out there who'd be willing but aren't aware of the problem or other options.

LB said...

P.S. Apparently Lindt's involvement remains questionable at this point, which made me very sad because I *used* to love them.

The good news is that, "110,000 people signed Morgan's petition to end child labour in Lindt and Ferrero's chocolate supply chain. And it got an incredible response from the companies: they both committed to have their supply chains "100% audited" by 2020."

Until then, they're off my list. We shall see what happens in 2020.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Thanks for the additional information - I'm sad about Lindt too - would've expected better of them. Can't imagine why it would take until 2020 to do the right thing.

I shall give all chocolate a thumbs down for the foreseeable future, it could help me stick to my weight-losing efforts.