Gastronomy/Food in antiquity/Hunting deer, Tarragona

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Martial 1.49.26 You will leave red deer Red deer to the farmer.

2nd-3rd century AD fresco from Tarragona National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona TarragonaDeerCervus.jpg

Martial 1.49.19-26

  • At cum December canus et bruma impotens
  • Aquilone rauco mugiet,
  • Aprica repetes Tarraconis litora
  • Tuamque Laletaniam.
  • Ibi inligatas mollibus dammas plagis
  • Mactabis et vernas apros
  • Leporemque forti callidum rumpes equo,
  • Cervos relinques vilico.

  • But when hoary December
  • And raging winter darkness
  • Is bellowing with hoarse North wind
  • You will come back to the sun-baked shores of Tarraco
  • And your own Laietania.
  • There fallow deer Fallow deer snared in soft nets
  • You will kill and farmed boars
  • And you will pursue the canny hare on a strong horse until it bursts
  • You will leave red deer Red deer to the farmer.

(I.e. to the proper hunter)

Some recipes for deer

Apicius 8.2.2

aliter. cervum elixabis et subassabis. teres piper, ligusticum, careum, apii semen; suffundes mel acetum liquamen oleum. calefactum amulo obligas et carnem perfundes.

another way boil and then lightly roast the deer. Pound pepper, lovage, caraway, celery seed, pour on honey, vinegar, fish sauce, oil. Warm it through, thicken with starch and pour over the meat.

Apicius 8.2.7.

aliter in cervum assum iura ferventia: piper, ligusticum, petroselinum, damascena macerata, vinum, mel, acetum, liquamen, oleum modice. agitabis porro et satureia.

another hot sauce for roast deer: pepper, lovage, parsley, softened damsons, wine, honey, vinegar, fish sauce and a little oil. Stir it with leek and savory.

Apicius edition by Grocock and Grainger


Bodson L. (2014), ‘Zoological Knowledge in Ancient Greece and Rome’, in Campbell G.L. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life, Oxford Uni-versity Press, 556-578, pdf file of the only reliable version: <>