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Marcus Gavius Apicius is believed to have been a Roman gourmet and lover of luxury, who lived sometime in the 1st century AD, during the reign of Tiberius. He is attributed with the authorship of the Roman cookbook Apicius. The work was added to over time, and compiled by an editor (or several editors) during the 4th Century AD. He was the subject of On the Luxury of Apicius, a famous work, now lost, by the Greek grammarian Apion. M. Gavius Apicius apparently owed his cognomen (his third name or “nickname”) to an earlier Apicius, who lived around 90 BC, whose family name it may have been: if this is true, Apicius had come to mean “amazing” as a result of the fame of this earlier lover of luxury.

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Introduction

Apicius is a text to be used in the kitchen. In the earliest printed editions, sometimes under the title Ars magiricus,[1] it was most usually given the overall title De re coquinaria (“On the Subject of Cooking”), and was attributed to an otherwise unknown “Caelius Apicius”, an invention based on the fact that one of the two manuscripts is headed with the words “API CAE”. The name Apicius had long been associated with excessively refined love of food, apparently from the habits of an early bearer of the name. The most famous individual given this name because of his reputation as a gourmet was Marcus Gavius Apicius, who is sometimes mistakenly asserted to be the author of the book.

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