1782 Congress Adopts Cheese Spread Recipe for National Seal

YO YO YO blog readers! I am currently in the States, so posts might happen a little later in the day than normal for a few weeks. But they will still happen every day, come hell or high water!.

Today is just going to be a quick one because my jets are lagging. I heard this story from following @HistoryWeird on Twitter. Their post is here.

In 1782, not too long after the US had won its independence, Congress decided to adopt a motto for the Great Seal, which is this thing that most Americans have seen in a variety of different forms:
Great_Seal_of_the_United_States_(obverse).svg
The seal and motto had been in development for many years even before the revolution. The founding fathers finally decided on the above symbol, with the words "E pluribus unum" (Latin for "Out of many, one".) The motto had been suggested for a while by Pierre Eugene du Simitiere, a French immigrant painter and naturalist who was on the committee.

"What is less well known is that the phrase E pluribus unum first appeared in Moretum, a lyric poem outlining a recipe for a popular cheese and garlic spread. Moretum was probably written in the 1st century BC and is usually attributed to Virgil or one of his followers. An English translation of the relevant section is:

And when he has collected these [ingredients] he comes and sits him down beside the cheerful fire

And loudly for the mortar asks his wench. Then singly each of the garlic heads he strips…

On these he sprinkles grains of salt, and cheese is added, hard from taking up the salt.

The aforesaid herbs he now does introduce, and with his left hand beneath his hairy groin

Supports his garment; with his right he first breaks the reeking garlic with the pestle

Then everything he equally does rub in the mingled juice. His hand in circles move

Till by degrees they one by one do lose their proper powers

And out of many comes one single colour, not entirely green."

Never trust the French; it always comes back to cheese with them.

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