The monastic diet in the light of medical science. Theodoret of Cyrus and physicians on lentils

Maciej Kokoszko

Uniwersytet Łódzki , Poland

Jolanta Dybała

Uniwersytet Łódzki , Poland

Krzysztof Jagusiak

Uniwersytet Łódzki , Poland

Zofia Rzeźnicka

Uniwersytet Łódzki , Poland


The present article discusses one of the most important ingredients of the Syrian ascetic diet (from the beginning of the IVth to the mid Vth century) as de­scribed by Theodoret of Cyrus in his Historia religiosa, namely lentils (fakÒj). The basis of the research is constituted by ancient and byzantine medical trea­tises composed between the Ist and the VIIth centuries by Dioscurides, Galen, Oribasiusa, Aetius of Amida and Paul of Aegina. The aim of the article is to de­scribe the role of the legume and thereby opine on compatibility or incompatibil­ity of the monastic dietetic pattern with the one described by the medical doctors. First, the authors of the study try to show the importance of lentils as food across the area of the Mediterranean. Subsequently, they proceed to sketch its dietetic characteristics developed by ancient and Byzantine medical doctors and conclude that the evaluation was not fully appreciative of the foodstuff. Thirdly, the authors come to show applications of lentils in medical procedures, since both in Antiquity as well as in Byzantium the plant was considered to be a medicine. The discussion on lentils is concluded by introducing culinary uses of lentils, which abound in medical writings. The authors also note that all the preserved rec­ipes envisage the cooking of the food, i.e. a procedure which was usually avoided by the Syrian ascetics.


legumes as food in Antiquity and Byzantium, lentils, ancient and Byzantine gastronomy, ancient and Byzantine medicine, Syrian monks, Theodoretus of Cyrus

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Kokoszko, M., Dybała, J., Jagusiak, K., & Rzeźnicka, Z. (2014). The monastic diet in the light of medical science. Theodoret of Cyrus and physicians on lentils. Vox Patrum, 62, 297–329.

Maciej Kokoszko 
Uniwersytet Łódzki
Jolanta Dybała 
Uniwersytet Łódzki
Krzysztof Jagusiak 
Uniwersytet Łódzki
Zofia Rzeźnicka 
Uniwersytet Łódzki


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