Wine Makes You King of the World

Bacchylides, fr. 20B [=P. Oxy. 1361 frr. 1 al]

To Alexander, son of Amyntas*

“Lyre, don’t hang on your peg any longer,
Keeping your seven-toned voice still–
Here are my hands! I want to send
Alexander something, a golden wing of the Muses,
A centerpiece for the parties to end the month,
When the sweet pressure of fast cups
Warms the sensitive hearts of young men,
And expectation of Aphrodite mixed up
with Dionysian gifts shakes up their thoughts.

Wine makes the thoughts of men blast off!
Suddenly one is tearing down a city’s walls,
And another thinks he is king of the world!”

[ΑΛΕΞΑ]Ν[ΔΡΩΙ ΑΜΥΝΤ]Α
ὦ βάρβιτε, μηκέτι πάσσαλον φυ[σων
ἑπτάτονον λ[ι]γυρὰν κάππαυε γᾶρυν·
δεῦρ᾿ ἐς ἐμὰς χέρας· ὁρμαίνω τι πέμπ[ειν
χρύεον Μουσᾶν Ἀλεξάνδρωι πτερό
καὶ συμπο[ίαι]σιν ἄγαλμ᾿ [ἐν] εἰκάδε[σιν,
εὖτε νέων ἁ[παλὸν γλυκεῖ᾿ ἀ]νάγκα
σευομενᾶν κ[υλίκων θάλπη]σι θυμ[όν,
Κύπριδος τ᾿ ἐλπ[ὶς <δι>αιθύσσηι φρέ]νας,
ἀμμειγνυμέν[α Διονυσίοισι] δώροις·
ἀνδράσι δ᾿ ὑψο[τάτω πέμπει] μερίμν[ας·
αὐτίκ[α] μὲν π[ολίων κράδε]μνα λ[ύει,
πᾶσ[ι δ᾿ ἀνθρώποις μοναρ]χήσ[ειν δοκεῖ·

*This Alexander was King of Macedon from 498-456

inside of a shallow drinking vessel. Black background. One red figure stands over a nude man who is drunk and confused/sick
Getty Villa Museum, Los Angeles, California: Roman, Greek, and Etruscan Antiquities. Kylix, red figure

No Time For the Weekend: On the Spartan Way of Drinking

Critias, fr. 6 [=Ath. 10.432d–33b]

“Drinking toasts that stretch beyond reason bring
Pleasure for the moment but pain for all time.

The Spartan style is one of moderation:
To eat and drink with limits so people can still
Work and think. They don’t set apart a day
To soak the body with excessive drinking.”

αἱ γὰρ ὑπὲρ τὸ μέτρον κυλίκων προπόσεις παραχρῆμα
τέρψασαι λυποῦσ᾿ εἰς τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον·
ἡ Λακεδαιμονίων δὲ δίαιθ᾿ ὁμαλῶς διάκειται,
ἔσθειν καὶ πίνειν σύμμετρα πρὸς τὸ φρονεῖν
καὶ τὸ πονεῖν εἶναι δυνάτους· οὐκ ἔστ᾿ ἀπότακτος
ἡμέρα οἰνῶσαι σῶμ᾿ ἀμέτροισι πότοις.

Red figure vase with two figures. Black background.  A servant girl unhappily carries a full wineskin and jug, while an older woman drinks from a large vessel; the reverse of the cup establishes a (rare) interior scene of a storeroom.
Skyphos with a Woman Drinking in a Storeroom (Greek, Athens, 470-460 BC).
Also, image of me sneaking drinks if I lived in Sparta

Pain-Relieving Dance

Anacreonta 49

“When Zeus’ child, Bacchus,
That pain-reliever Luaios,
That giver of wine, joins my thoughts
He teaches me how to dance.

I get a bit of pleasure too,
As a lover of drinking:
With the dances and the songs
Aphrodite makes me happy.
I want to dance again.”

τοῦ Διὸς ὁ παῖς ὁ Βάκχος,
ὁ λυσίφρων ὁ Λυαῖος,
ὅταν εἰς φρένας τὰς ἐμὰς
εἰσέλθῃ μεθυδώτας,
διδάσκει με χορεύειν.

ἔχω δέ τι καὶ τερπνὸν
ὁ τᾶς μέθας ἐραστάς·
μετὰ κρότων, μετ᾿ ᾠδᾶς
τέρπει με κἀφροδίτα·
πάλιν θέλω χορεύειν.

Anacreonta 43

Let’s get drunk and giggle,
Once we’ve fastened
Rose garlands to our heads.

Have a girl with cute ankles
Dance to the lyre, carrying
A thyrsus with ivy braids.

Have a soft-haired boy
Play alongside her, letting
A clear voice free
from a sweet smelling mouth.

Then golden-haired Love
Along with pretty Luaios
And pretty Aphrodite
Will join the party
An old man might enjoy.”

στεφάνους μὲν κροτάφοισι
ῥοδίνους συναρμόσαντες
μεθύωμεν ἁβρὰ γελῶντες.

ὑπὸ βαρβίτῳ δὲ κούρα
κατακίσσοισι βρύοντας
πλοκάμοις φέρουσα θύρσους
χλιδανόσφυρος χορεύῃ.

ἁβροχαίτας δ᾿ ἅμα κοῦρος
στομάτων ἁδὺ πνεόντων
κατὰ πηκτίδων ἀθύρῃ
προχέων λίγειαν ὀμφάν.

ὁ δ᾿ Ἔρως ὁ χρυσοχαίτας
μετὰ τοῦ καλοῦ Λυαίου
καὶ τῆς καλῆς Κυθήρης
τὸν ἐπήρατον γεραιοῖς
κῶμον μέτεισι χαίρων.

Oil on wood painting, a crowded barn with men and women dancing, drinking and dining
Peter Brueghel the Younger, “The Wedding Dance in a Barn” 1610

Play, Laugh, Dance. Die.

Anacreonta 40

“Since I was made to journey
A mortal down life’s road
I can see how much time has passed
But not how much is left to go.

My worried thoughts, that’s enough–
Let’s have no business between us.

Before I meet my end,
I’m going to play, laugh and dance
With Luiaos, my pretty friend.”

ἐπειδὴ βροτὸς ἐτεύχθην
βιότου τρίβον ὁδεύειν,
χρόνον ἔγνων ὃν παρῆλθον,
ὃν δ᾿ ἔχω δραμεῖν οὐκ οἶδα.
† μέθετέ με, φροντίδες· †
μηδέν μοι χὔμιν ἔστω.
πρὶν ἐμὲ φθάσῃ τὸ τέλος,
παίξω, γελάσω, χορεύσω
μετὰ τοῦ καλοῦ Λυαίου.

oil painting, somewhat impressionistic. Figures in foreground working on road
Karoly Patko, “Road Construction” 1928

Death Takes No Bribes

Anacreonta 36

“If wealth could give mortals life
in exchange for gold,
I would work hard on saving it,
So when Death came for me,
It could take payment and move on.

But if it is impossible for mortals
To purchase any more of life,
Why do I groan pointlessly?
And why do I mourn out loud?

Since death cannot be bought,
What use is gold to me?

I want to drink,
To drink sweet wine,
To spend time with my friends
And to honor Aphrodite
On downy beds.”

ὁ Πλοῦτος εἴ γε χρυσοῦ
τὸ ζῆν παρεῖχε θνητοῖς,
ἐκαρτέρουν φυλάττων,
ἵν᾿, ἂν Θάνατος ἐπέλθῃ,
λάβῃ τι καὶ παρέλθῃ.
εἰ δ᾿ οὖν μὴ τὸ πρίασθαι
τὸ ζῆν ἔνεστι θνητοῖς,
τί καὶ μάτην στενάζω;
τί καὶ γόους προπέμπω;
θανεῖν γὰρ εἰ πέπρωται,
τί χρυσὸς ὠφελεῖ με;
ἐμοὶ γένοιτο πίνειν,
πιόντι δ᾿ οἶνον ἡδὺν
ἐμοῖς φίλοις συνεῖναι,
ἐν δ᾿ ἁπαλαῖσι κοίταις
τελεῖν τὰν Ἀφροδίταν.

A still life oil painting. There is a skull prominently in the center, on top of money bags with documents protuding from below. on the left is a violin
N. L. Peschier, “Skull, Money Bags, and Documents” 1661

Betrayed by This Heat

Anacreonta 18

“Ladies, please give me
Give me wine to drink without pausing–
I am betrayed by the heat
And already whining out loud.

Give me garlands of his flowers
Give them to me so I can
Bind them closely to my roasted brow.

Yet, my heart, what can I use
To keep off the heat of my loves?

I will settle along the shade of Bathullos
That tree is pretty.
It lets tender locks sway
At the end of the softest branches.

Nearby a spring flows
Whispering persuasively.

Who upon seeing such a refuge
Could ever pass it by?”

δότε μοι, δότ᾿, ὦ γυναῖκες,
Βρομίου πιεῖν ἀμυστί·
ἀπὸ καύματος γὰρ ἤδη
προδοθεὶς ἀναστενάζω.

δότε δ᾿ ἀνθέων ἐκείνου
στεφάνους, δόθ᾿, ὡς πυκάζω
τὰ μέτωπά μου᾿ πίκαυτα·

τὸ δὲ καῦμα τῶν Ἐρώτων,
κραδίη, τίνι σκεπάζω;

παρὰ τὴν σκιὴν Βαθύλλου
καθίσω· καλὸν τὸ δένδρον,
ἁπαλὰς δ᾿ ἔσεισε χαίτας
μαλακωτάτῳ κλαδίσκῳ·
παρὰ δ᾿ αὐτὸν †ἐρεθίζει†
πηγὴ ῥέουσα πειθοῦς.
τίς ἄν οὖν ὁρῶν παρέλθοι
καταγώγιον τοιοῦτο;

Inside of a drinking krater–a mixing bowl for wine. This is a black vase with a red figure in the middle. The figure is a nude man with his head and shoulders in a giant wine jar

Love, A Funny Pairing with Wine

Anacreonta, 6

“When I was weaving a garland
I found Love amid the roses
And I grabbed him by the wings
And dunked him in my wine.

I drank that little guy down
And now he’s inside me still
Tickling me with his wings”

στέφος πλέκων ποτ᾿ εὗρον
ἐν τοῖς ῥόδοις Ἔρωτα,
καὶ τῶν πτερῶν κατασχὼν
ἐβάπτισ᾿ εἰς τὸν οἶνον,

λαβὼν δ᾿ ἔπινον αὐτόν·
καὶ νῦν ἔσω μελῶν μου
πτεροῖσι γαργαλίζει.

Abraham Woodside, “Cupid in a Wine Glass” 1840s

Drink, Don’t Think About Tomorrow!

Anacreonta 8

“I don’t care about Gyges’ riches,
That Lord of Sardis–
Envy has never overtaken me
And I’m not jealous of tyrants.

I do care about
perfuming my hair
And weaving rose
Garlands to wear.

I care about today.
Who knows tomorrow?

So while the weather’s still good
Drink and dice and
Pour out some Luaios.
Before some disease comes to say
You can’t drink any longer.”

οὔ μοι μέλει τὰ Γύγεω,
τοῦ Σάρδεων ἄνακτος·
οὐδ᾿ εἷλέ πώ με ζῆλος,
οὐδὲ φθονῶ τυράννοις.

ἐμοὶ μέλει μύροισιν
καταβρέχειν ὑπήνην,
ἐμοὶ μέλει ῥόδοισιν
καταστέφειν κάρηνα·

τὸ σήμερον μέλει μοι,
τὸ δ᾿ αὔριον τίς οἶδεν;

ὡς οὖν ἔτ᾿ εὔδι᾿ ἔστιν,
καὶ πῖνε καὶ κύβευε
καὶ σπένδε τῷ Λυαίῳ,
μὴ νοῦσος, ἤν τις ἔλθῃ,
λέγῃ, ‘σὲ μὴ δεῖ πίνειν.


“Is that all there is ?” , by Erik Pevernagie, oil on canvas

Put Those Cares to Sleep!

Anacreonta, 45

“When I drink wine,
My worries go to sleep.
Why care about work?
Why care about grief?
What do my anxieties matter to me?

I have to die, even if I don’t want to.
Why do I go back and forth over life?

Let’s drink the wine
Fine Lyaeus’ wine.
When we drink together
Our worries all go to sleep.”

ὅταν πίνω τὸν οἶνον,
εὕδουσιν αἱ μέριμναι.
τί μοι πόνων, τί μοι γόων,
τί μοι μέλει μεριμνῶν;
θανεῖν με δεῖ, κἂν μὴ θέλω·
τί τὸν βίον πλανῶμαι;
πίωμεν οὖν τὸν οἶνον
τὸν τοῦ καλοῦ Λυαίου·
σὺν τῷ δὲ πίνειν ἡμᾶς
εὕδουσιν αἱ μέριμναι.

Karel van Mander III, “Man drinking beer from a tankard” c. 1635

Homer’s Lyre and the Lyric Muse

Anacreonta 2

“Give me Homer’s lyre
Without its bloody strings–
Hand me cups of laws
mixed with rules for things.

That way, I will dance when I’m drunk
wisely out of my mind,
I will sing to the fingers playing
And shout the songs for drinking
Just give me Homer’s lyre
Without its bloody strings.”

δότε μοι λύρην Ὁμήρου
φονίης ἄνευθε χορδῆς,
φέρε μοι κύπελλα θεσμῶν,
φέρε μοι νόμους κεράσσας,

μεθύων ὅπως χορεύσω,
ὑπὸ σώφρονος δὲ λύσσης
μετὰ βαρβίτων ἀείδων
τὸ παροίνιον βοήσω.
δότε μοι λύρην Ὁμήρου
φονίης ἄνευθε χορδῆς.

Anacreonta 3

“Come here, best of painters
Listen to the Lyric muse!
Paint cities first
Happy ones, laughing ones,
And Bacchantes at play,
Breathing into their double pipes.
Then if the wax can manage,
Trace out the lovers’ ways.”

ἄγε, ζωγράφων ἄριστε,
λυρικῆς ἄκουε Μούσης·
γράφε τὰς πόλεις τὸ πρῶτον
ἱλαράς τε καὶ γελώσας,
φιλοπαίγμονάς τε Βάκχας
†ἑτεροπνόους ἐναύλους·†
ὁ δὲ κηρὸς ἂν δύναιτο,
γράφε καὶ νόμους φιλούντων.

Peter Paul Reubens “Minerva protects Pax from Mars” 1629/30