Sunday, 20 April 2008

Did Romans eat bananas?

posted by kathy

Sometimes conversation after Meeting takes odd turns. I can't recall what sparked the question, but we found ourselves challenged by the query, "Did Romans eat bananas?" Some time later we moved to Bible fruits and the identity of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden. The fruit is never named. I said, sweepingly, that apples are not mentioned in the Bible but of course I was wrong. They occur in the Song of Songs, in the lovely line, "Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love." ( Song of Solomon 2-5, for those who like careful referencing.)
It's not a matter of theology or accuracy, but on aesthetic grounds I prefer the Authorised Version.

The question of Romans and bananas has stayed with me. Fortunately there are websites to answer such questions. The Roman Food site gives lists of what Romans did and did not eat. I'm afraid that bananas are listed with coffee and chocolate as food that the Romans definitely never tasted. They did, however, eat dormice, although the Senate made an attempt to ban this in 115 B.C. Because fruit - and later vegetables - were the focus of our conversation, we failed Mary Beard's dormouse test.

I haven't anything further to add about the fruit of the tree in the midst of the Garden of Eden but I can't agree with Christine's suggestion. I know there's no justification for the idea of an apple but a seedless grape is just too small. A pomegranate, perhaps?

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Quaker Universalist Conference

posted by Rhiannon

A quick report from Woodbrooke, where I'm at the Quaker Universalist conference, so you know why I'm not with you this Sunday.

It has been said that most British Quakers, being the open-minded liberal-liberal kind, are probably Universalists on some level, but QUG (the Quaker Universalist Group) acts as a focus for that strand of the Society of Friends. (A 'universalist' is, roughly, someone who believes in some truth in all religions: it's 'being open to new light', extreme ironing edition).

The title of the conference is 'Translating Spirit'. We've heard about the Zero Point Field (it's centring down, with added quantum) from Brian Gill, balancing the inside and the outside from Jennifer Kavanaugh (I just know I spelt that wrong; correction when I'm not already late for dinner), and music and massage and other non-verbal spiritual things from John Sheldon. Plus there's been time for discussion, both formally in our ten-person 'break out groups' and informally over the pepetual mugs of tea and coffee. Still to come are the AGM and further sessions.

I'll think of you all in Meeting tomorrow.