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Pork in Imperium Romanum

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Tombstone relief showing Roman butcher
Tombstone relief showing Roman butcher

Pork is a very tasty meat – probably everyone who eats it will agree with this. Many of us probably cannot imagine that at least once a week there would be no pork chop or bacon for breakfast at least once a week.

Pork is not only tasty but also has many valuable ingredients. It contains a lot of thiamine (vitamin B1), which is responsible for the proper functioning of the nervous system (its deficiency can lead to a lack of resistance to stress, depression, and problems with memory and concentration), the immune system and supports the work of the cardiovascular system.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the ancient Romans – the creators of civilization at such a high level of advancement – ate pork widely. It would not even be an exaggeration to use the statement that the Roman Empire happened on pork. The pork was a meat available to many strata of society. Both commoners, equites and patricians ate it. The lower and middle classes ate pork in the form of stews or in boiled pieces, while the richer ones liked this additionally fried meat. At the end of the empire, in times of crisis, pork was even distributed to citizens at the expense of the state. The citizen received approximately 2 kilograms of meat a month for 5 months of the year.

The photo below shows the tombstone of the Roman butcher Tiberius Julius Vitalis. The profession of a butcher was a respected profession in the Roman Empire, and Tiberius himself must have been financially well off to allow himself such a tombstone relief. It can also be concluded that he was very proud of his profession since this bas-relief depicts him at work.

Author: Tomasz Gontarz (translated from Polish: Jakub Jasiński)

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