A Poem to a Jug of Wine

Greek Anthology 5.135 Anonymous

“Curved, well-turned, with a single ear on a long neck,
Slim-throated, speaking through lips close-kept,
You happy server of Bacchus, the Muses, and Aphrodite,
Our party’s delightful mistress, laughing sweetly.
Why are you drunk when I’m sober, but when I’m trashed,
You’re sober? You break the rules of the drinker’s pact.”

εἰς λάγυνον ὁμοίως οἰνηράν

Στρογγύλη, εὐτόρνευτε, μονούατε, μακροτράχηλε,
ὑψαύχην, στεινῷ φθεγγομένη στόματι,
Βάκχου καὶ Μουσέων ἱλαρὴ λάτρι καὶ Κυθερείης,
ἡδύγελως, τερπνὴ συμβολικῶν ταμίη,
5τίφθ᾽, ὁπόταν νήφω, μεθύεις σύ μοι, ἢν δὲ μεθυσθῶ,
ἐκνήφεις; ἀδικεῖς συμποτικὴν φιλίην.

 

File:East Greek wine jug in Wild Goat style.jpg
Wild Goat Style Greek Wine Jug, 6th Century BCE

Tom Paxton, “Bottle of Wine” (1968)

Bottle of wine, fruit of the vine
When you gonna let me get sober
Leave me along, let me go home
I wann’a go back and start over

How Many Drinks?

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists Book 2 36a-d (=Adesp. com. fr. 101 and Eubulus fr. 93)

Mnêsitheos used to say, “the gods taught mortals
About wine because it is the greatest good
For those who use it correctly, and the opposite for those who don’t.
It gives sustenance to those who use it well,
Strength to their minds and their bodies.
It is also extremely useful for medicine,
Since it is mixed in with other drugs
And provides relief to those who have been wounded.
It also helps in daily gatherings it brings joy
To those who mix it and drink it wisely.
But to those who are excessive it brings outrage.
If you mix it evenly with water, it makes you crazy.
Unmixed, it paralyzes bodies.

“For this reason, Dionysus is called a doctor everywhere. The Pythia told some people to call Dionysus the “Healer”. Euboulos (fr. 93) has Dionysus saying this:

“I prescribe only three bowls of wine
For people of good sense. One is for health,
to drink first. The second is for
Sex and pleasure, and the third is for sleep—
Those who are wise drain that bowl and then
Go home. The fourth isn’t mine any more,
But it belongs to Hubris. And a fifth bowl leads to shouting;
A sixth bowl to street-parties; a seventh for brawls;
An eighth’s for getting arrested; the ninth makes dark bile.
And the tenth is madness to make you hurl […]
A lot of wine poured into a little bottle
Easily throws drunks down on their asses.”

Terracotta kylix (drinking cup), Attributed to the Amasis Painter,Vases
Kylix attributed to the Amasis Painter, ca. 540 BC

<ὁ> Μνησίθεος δ᾿ ἔφη ǁ τὸν οἶνον τοὺς θεοὺς
θνητοῖς καταδεῖξαι τοῖς μὲν ὀρθῶς χρωμένοις
ἀγαθὸν μέγιστον, τοῖς δ᾿ ἀτάκτως τοὔμπαλιν.
τροφήν τε γὰρ δίδωσι τοῖς <εὖ> χρωμένοις
ἰσχύν τε ταῖς ψυχαῖσι καὶ τοῖς σώμασιν.
εἰς τὴν ἰατρικήν τε χρησιμώτατον·
καὶ τοῖς ποτοῖς γὰρ φαρμάκοις κεράννυται,
καὶ τοῖσιν ἑλκωθεῖσιν ὠφελίαν ἔχει.
ἐν ταῖς συνουσίαις τε ταῖς καθ᾿ ἡμέραν
τοῖς μὲν μέτριον πίνουσι καὶ κεκραμένον |
εὐθυμίαν, ἐὰν δ᾿ ὑπερβάλῃς, ὕβριν,
ἐὰν δ᾿ ἴσον ἴσῳ προσφέρῃ, μανίαν ποεῖ·
ἐὰν δ᾿ ἄκρατον, παράλυσιν τῶν σωμάτων.

διὸ καὶ καλεῖσθαι τὸν Διόνυσον πανταχοῦ ἰατρόν. ἡ δὲ Πυθία εἴρηκέ τισι Διόνυσον ὑγιάτην καλεῖν. Εὔβουλος δὲ ποιεῖ τὸν Διόνυσον λέγοντα·

τρεῖς γὰρ μόνους κρατῆρας ἐγκεραννύω
τοῖς εὖ φρονοῦσι· τὸν μὲν ὑγιείας ἕνα,
ὃν πρῶτον ἐκπίνουσι, τὸν δὲ δεύτερον |
ἔρωτος ἡδονῆς τε, τὸν τρίτον δ᾿ ὕπνου,
ὃν ἐκπιόντες οἱ σοφοὶ κεκλημένοι
οἴκαδε βαδίζουσ᾿. ὁ δὲ τέταρτος οὐκέτι ἡμέτερός ἐστ᾿, ἀλλ᾿
ὕβρεος· ὁ δὲ πέμπτος βοῆς·
ἕκτος δὲ κώμων· ἕβδομος δ᾿ ὑπωπίων·
<ὁ δ᾿> ὄγδοος κλητῆρος· ὁ δ᾿ ἔνατος χολῆς·
δέκατος δὲ μανίας, ὥστε καὶ βάλλειν ποεῖ
πολὺς γὰρ εἰς ἓν μικρὸν ἀγγεῖον χυθεὶς
ὑποσκελίζει ῥᾷστα τοὺς πεπωκότας.

 

An eternal question:

 

 

Also, this is a possibility. Look, three drinks! (true story: a friend once ‘invented’ a drinking game which entailed a shot every time the chorus repeated. Not. A. Good. Idea.)

Ancient Peoples Liked Beer

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 14.29

“The people of the west have their own alcohol made from soaked grain in many different ways in Gaul and Spain with many different names but with the same idea. The people of Spain have already taught us that these kinds of beverages will last even a long amount of time.

Egypt, too, has worked out a similar drink made from grain and in no corner of the world does intoxication ever take a break. They even drink this type of beverage without diluting them as one does with wine. But, by Hercules, that land used to seem to offer grains alone. Alas, the miraculous inventiveness of vice! A way has also been found to make water intoxicating!”

. Est et occidentis populis sua ebrietas e fruge madida, pluribus modis per Gallias Hispaniasque, nominibus aliis sed ratione eadem. Hispaniae iam et vetustatem ferre ea genera docuerunt. Aegyptus quoque e fruge sibi potus similis excogitavit, nullaque in parte mundi cessat ebrietas; meros quippe hauriunt tales sucos nec diluendo ut vina mitigant; at, Hercules, illic tellus fruges parare videbatur. heu, mira vitiorum sollertia! inventum est quemadmodum aquae quoque inebriarent.

 

Julian the Apostate, Epigrams 1

“Who are you and where are you from Dionysus? By the Bakhos true
I know only the son of Zeus and I do not know you.
He smells like nektar, but you smell like goat.
Did the Celts make you from grain because of their lack of grapes?
Ah, we should call you not Dionysus, but Demetrios instead.
And Bromos*** not Bromios since you are born of wheat**.”

Τίς πόθεν εἶς Διόνυσε; μὰ γὰρ τὸν ἀληθέα Βάκχον,
οὔ σ᾿ ἐπιγιγνώσκω· τὸν Διὸς οἶδα μόνον.
κεῖνος νέκταρ ὄδωδε· σὺ δὲ τράγου. ἦ ῥά σε Κελτοὶ
τῇ πενίῃ βοτρύων τεῦξαν ἀπ᾿ ἀσταχύων.
τῷ σε χρὴ καλέειν Δημήτριον, οὐ Διόνυσον,
πυρογενῆ μᾶλλον καὶ Βρόμον, οὐ Βρόμιον.

 

Aeschylus fr. 124 from Lykourgos (from Athenaeus 10.447c)

“He used to drink beer from these [heads] once he dried them
And then boast proudly about it in his man-cave.”

κἀκ τῶνδ᾿ ἔπινε βρῦτον ἰσχναίνων χρόνῳ
κἀσεμνοκόμπει τοῦτ᾿ ἐν ἀνδρείᾳ στέγῃ

The note from the Loeb attributes an understanding of this fragment to Hermann who compares it to Nonnos, Dionysiaca, 20.149–153, 166–181

Nonnos, Dion. 20.149-153

“The was a certain murderous man living there, of Ares’s line
Who was a mimic of his father’s wretched customs.
The criminal would drag faultless strangers to their doom,
That dread maniac Lykourgos, and then when he cut off
Their mortal heads with steel he hung them in his doorway…”

ἔνθα τις, ῎Αρεος αἷμα, μιαιφόνος ᾤκεεν ἀνήρ,
ἤθεσι ῥιγεδανοῖσιν ἔχων μίμημα τοκῆος,
ὀθνείους ἀθέμιστος ἀμεμφέας εἰς μόρον ἕλκων,
αἰνομανὴς Λυκόοργος· ἀποκταμένων δὲ σιδήρῳ
ἔστεφεν ἀνδρομέοισιν ἑὸν πυλεῶνα καρήνοις

Abb. 8: Jorg Prewmaister, Mendel Band I (1437), Seite 60 

“If Wine Could Tell A Story”

Plautus, Truculentus 829-833

“This is no good. You are blaming the silent who cannot speak.
If wine could tell a story it would defend itself.
Wine doesn’t control men—men usually control wine!
Well, that’s how it is when men are fit for anything—certain fools
When they drink a little or not at all remain fools by nature.”

non placet: in mutum culpam confers quit loqui.
nam uinum si fabulari possit se defenderet.
non uinum moderari, sed uiri uino solent,
qui quidem probi sunt; uerum qui improbust si quasi Bibit
siue adeo caret temeto, tamen ab ingenio improbust.

 

Image result for Ancient Roman Drinking

Drink To Rest and Refresh the Weary Mind

Aulus Gellius 15.2

“But Plato in the first and second book of Laws did not—as was opined by a fool—praise that most shameful drunkenness which weakens and diminishes people’s minds; but he did not dismiss that kinder and a bit friendlier embrace of wine which may come under the influence of good judges and masters of banquets. For he believed that minds were renewed by proper and moderate refreshments for the purpose of carrying out the duties of sobriety and, further, that people were bit by bit made happier and rendered better prepared for pursuing their plans again.

At the same time, if there are any deep  mistakes of desire or affection with in them which a proper sense of shame usually concealed, than these could all be revealed without serious danger and in this be made readier for alteration and treatment.”

Sed enim Plato in primo et secundo De Legibus non, ut ille nebulo opinabatur, ebrietatem istam turpissimam quae labefacere et inminuere hominum mentes solet laudavit, sed hanc largiorem paulo iucundioremque vini invitationem, quae fieret sub quibusdam quasi arbitris et magistris conviviorum sobriis, non inprobavit. Nam et modicis honestisque inter bibendum remissionibus refici integrarique animos ad instauranda sobrietatis officia existumavit reddique eos sensim laetiores atque ad intentiones rursum capiendas fieri habiliores, et simul, si qui penitus in his adfectionum cupiditatumque errores inessent, quos aliquis pudor reverens concelaret, ea omnia sine gravi periculo, libertate per vinum data detegi et ad corrigendum medendumque fieri oportuniora.

Macrobius Records the same bit as Gellius above and then adds:

Macrobius 2.8.7

Plato also said this in the same passage, that we ought not to avoid practices of this sort for struggling against the violence of wine and that there is no one who has ever seemed so constant and controlled that his life would not be tested in these very dangers of mistakes and in the illicit traps of pleasure.”

atque hoc etiam Plato ibidem dicit, non defugiendas esse huiusce modi exercitationes adversum propulsandam vini violentiam, neque ullum umquam continentem prorsum aut temperantem satis fideliter visum esse cui vita non inter ipsa errorum pericula et in mediis voluptatum inlecebris explorata sit.

We can get a bit more explicit:

From Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists (1.41.16-36)

“Mnestheus of Athens also insists that the Pythia commanded the Athenians to honor Dionysus as a doctor. So Alcaeus the Mitylenaean poet says:

Wet your lungs with wine, for the dog-star is rising.
The season is rough: everything thirsts in this heat.

And elsewhere he says: “Let’s drink, for the dog star is rising.” Eupolis says that Callias is compelled to drink by Pythagoras so that “he may cleanse his lung before the dog star’s rise.” And it is not only the lung that gets dry, but the heart runs the same risk. That’s why Antiphanes says:

Tell me, why do we live?
I say that it is to drink.*
See how many trees alongside rushing streams
Drink constantly throughout the day and night
And how big and beautiful they grow.
Those that abstain
Wilt from the root up.

*A twitter correspondent has suggested that this really means “what is living, it is drinking”. This is definitely closer to the Greek idea; but I kept mine because I think it is punchier in English. Get it, punchier?

drinking

καὶ Μνησίθεος δ’ ὁ ᾿Αθηναῖος Διόνυσον ἰατρόν φησι τὴν Πυθίαν χρῆσαι τιμᾶν ᾿Αθηναίοις. φησὶ δὲ καὶ ᾿Αλκαῖος ὁ Μιτυληναῖος ποιητής (fr. 39 B4)·

τέγγε πνεύμονα οἴνῳ· τὸ γὰρ ἄστρον περιτέλλεται·
ἡ δ’ ὥρη χαλεπή· πάντα δὲ δίψαισ’ ὑπὸ καύματος.
καὶ ἀλλαχοῦ (fr. 40)·

πίνωμεν, τὸ γὰρ ἄστρον περιτέλλεται.

Εὔπολίς τε τὸν Καλλίαν φησὶν ἀναγκάζεσθαι ὑπὸ Πρωταγόρου πίνειν, ἵνα (I 297 K)·
πρὸ τοῦ κυνὸς τὸν πνεύμον’ ἔκλυτον φορῇ. ἡμῖν δ’ οὐ μόνον ὁ πνεύμων ἀπεξήρανται, κινδυνεύει δὲ καὶ ἡ καρδία. καίτοι ᾿Αντιφάνης λέγει (II 112 K)·

τὸ δὲ ζῆν, εἰπέ μοι,
τί ἐστι; τὸ πίνειν φήμ’ ἐγώ.
ὁρᾷς παρὰ ῥείθροισι χειμάρροις ὅσα
δένδρων ἀεὶ τὴν νύκτα καὶ τὴν ἡμέραν
βρέχεται, μέγεθος καὶ κάλλος οἷα γίνεται,
τὰ δ’ ἀντιτείνοντ’ [οἱονεὶ δίψαν τινὰ
ἢ ξηρασίαν ἔχοντ’] αὐτόπρεμν’ ἀπόλλυται.

And I am a fan of this one too:

Baton, the Comic Poet (fr. 3.1-11, preserved in Athenaeus Deipn. 4.163b)

“I am calling the prudent philosophers here,
Those who never allow themselves anything good,
Those who seek a thoughtful man in every walk
And in their discussions as if he were a fugitive slave.
Wretched person, why are you sober if you have money?
Why do you dishonor the gods this much?
Why do you think money is worth more than you are?
Does it have some intrinsic worth?
If you drink water, you’re useless to the city.
You hurt the farmer and the trader at the same time.
But I make them wealthier by getting drunk.”

τῶν φιλοσόφων τοὺς σώφρονας ἐνταυθοῖ καλῶ,
τοὺς ἀγαθὸν αὑτοῖς οὐ διδόντας οὐδὲ ἕν,
τοὺς τὸν φρόνιμον ζητοῦντας ἐν τοῖς περιπάτοις
καὶ ταῖς διατριβαῖς ὥσπερ ἀποδεδρακότα.
ἄνθρωπ’ ἀλάστωρ, διὰ τί συμβολὰς ἔχων
νήφεις; τί τηλικοῦτον ἀδικεῖς τοὺς θεούς;
τί τἀργύριον, ἄνθρωπε, τιμιώτερον
σαυτοῦ τέθεικας ἢ πέφυκε τῇ φύσει;
ἀλυσιτελὴς εἶ τῇ πόλει πίνων ὕδωρ·
τὸν γὰρ γεωργὸν καὶ τὸν ἔμπορον κακοῖς.
ἐγὼ δὲ τὰς προσόδους μεθύων καλὰς ποιῶ.

 

Thirsty Thursday: Wondrous Waters and Wine

Some more amazing tales for a Summer of Wonder. 

Paradoxagraphus Florentinus: Mirabilia de Aquis

12 “Among the Kleitorians [Isigonos] says there is a spring and whenever anyone drinks its water, he cannot bear the smell of wine.”

Παρὰ Κλειτορίοις ὁ αὐτός φησιν εἶναι κρήνην, ἧς ὅταν τις τοῦ ὕδατος πίῃ, τοῦ οἴνου τὴν ὀσμὴν οὐ φέρει.

14 “Similarly, near Kosê there is a spring which, if you place a container filled with wine in it until it covers the mouth, then it becomes more bitter than vinegar right away according to the same author.”

῾Ομοίως ἐγγὺς Κόσης ἔστι κρήνη, εἰς ἣν ἐὰν θῇς κεράμιον οἴνου γέμον, ὥστε ὑπερχεῖν τὸ στόμα, παντὸς ὄξους εἶναι δριμύτερον παραχρῆμα, ὡς ἱστορεῖ ὁ αὐτός.

20 “Theopompos says that in Lugkêstai there is a spring which tastes like vinegar but when people drink it they get drunk as if from wine.”

Θεόπομπος ἐν Λυγκήσταις φησὶ πηγὴν εἶναι τῇ μὲν γεύσει ὀξίζουσαν, τοὺς δὲ πίνοντας μεθύσκεσθαι ὡς ἀπὸ οἴνου.

 

Paradoxographus Palatinus: Admiranda

5“There is a spring among the Kleitori which if someone drinks from he will reject and hate drinking wine”

Τῆς ἐν Κλείτορι κρήνης ἄν τις πίῃ τοῦ ὕδατος, ἀποστρέφεται καὶ μισεῖ τὴν τοῦ οἴνου πόσιν.

7 “In Naxos Aglaosthenês says that wine bubbles up on its own for the earth and when it goes into rivers it does not mix with water. The person who tastes it goes crazy”

Εν Νάξῳ φησὶν ᾿Αγλαοσθένης οἶνον ἐκ τῆς γῆς ἀναβλύζειν αὐτόματον καὶ διὰ ποταμοῦ φερόμενον μὴ συμμίσγεσθαι ὕδατι. τὸν δὲ γευσάμενον αὐτοῦ παραφρονεῖν.

From Li Livres dou Santé by Aldobrandino of Siena (France, late 13th century).

Plato Says It’s Like We’re Drunk All The Time

Plato Phadeo 79c2-c8

“Therefore, weren’t we saying this long before that the mind, whenever it uses the body for examining anything—either through seeing or hearing or any other kind of perception, since examining a thing through the body is to examine it through the senses—at that moment the mind is dragged down by body towards things that never exist in the same way and it wanders and is troubled and gets dizzy as if it’s drunk, since it has been contaminated by those sorts of things.”

Οὐκοῦν καὶ τόδε πάλαι ἐλέγομεν, ὅτι ἡ ψυχή, ὅταν μὲν τῷ σώματι προσχρῆται εἰς τὸ σκοπεῖν τι ἢ διὰ τοῦ ὁρᾶν ἢ διὰ τοῦ ἀκούειν ἢ δι’ ἄλλης τινὸς αἰσθήσεως—τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν τὸ διὰ τοῦ σώματος, τὸ δι’ αἰσθήσεως σκοπεῖν τι—τότε μὲν ἕλκεται ὑπὸ τοῦ σώματος εἰς τὰ οὐδέποτε κατὰ ταὐτὰ ἔχοντα, καὶ αὐτὴ πλανᾶται καὶ ταράττεται καὶ εἰλιγγιᾷ ὥσπερ μεθύουσα, ἅτε τοιούτων ἐφαπτομένη;

Illumination from AM 147 4to of two intoxicated 15th century Icelanders

Hey Kids, Drinking is For the Middle-Aged

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 10, 440c

“This is the reason why the most divine Plato rightly legislated in his second book of Laws that boys should not taste wine at all until they are 18 years old. For it is not right to heat fire with fire! It is permissible to taste a limited amount of wine up to thirty, but a young man should completely refrain from being drunk or drinking a lot. When a man is forty years old he can pray to the rest of gods in the common mess and then may appeal to Dionysus and the rites of the elders and the games they have. Wine is the drug which Dionysus granted to humans as a companion for harsher old age, so we might recover ourselves and forget our despair.”

Διόπερ ὁ θειότατος Πλάτων καλῶς νομοθετεῖ ἐν τῷ δευτέρῳ τοὺς παῖδας μέχρι ἐτῶν ὀκτωκαίδεκα τὸ παράπαν οἴνου μὴ γεύεσθαι· οὐ γὰρ χρὴ πῦρ ἐπὶ πῦρ cὀχετεύειν. οἴνου δὲ μετρίου γεύεσθαι. μέχρι τριάκοντα ἐτῶν, μέθης δὲ καὶ πολυοινίας τὸ παράπαν τὸν νέον ἀπέχεσθαι. τετταράκοντα δὲ ἐπιβαίνοντα ἐτῶν ἐν τοῖς συσσιτίοις εὐωχηθέντα καλεῖν τούς τε ἄλλους θεοὺς καὶ δὴ <καὶ> Διόνυσον παρακαλεῖν εἰς τὴν τῶν πρεσβυτῶν τελετὴν ἅμα καὶ παιδιάν, ἣν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἐπίκουρον τῆς τοῦ γήρως αὐστηρότητος ἐδωρήσατο τὸν οἶνον φάρμακον, ὥστε ἀνηβᾶν ἡμᾶς καὶ δυσθυμίας λήθην γίγνεσθαι.

Related image
Luttrell Psalter

 

And, if we believe the news, it just might help us live a little longer…

Fragmentary Friday: Why Are You Sober if You Have Money?

Baton, the Comic Poet (fr. 3.1-11, preserved in Athenaeus Deipn. 4.163b)

“I am calling the prudent philosophers here,
Those who never allow themselves anything good,
Those who seek a thoughtful man in every walk
And in their discussions as if he were a fugitive slave.
Wretched man, why are you sober if you have money?
Why do you dishonor the gods this much?
Why do you think money is worth more than you are?
Does it have some intrinsic worth?
If you drink water, you’re useless to the city.
You hurt the farmer and the trader at the same time.
But I make them wealthier by getting drunk.”

τῶν φιλοσόφων τοὺς σώφρονας ἐνταυθοῖ καλῶ,
τοὺς ἀγαθὸν αὑτοῖς οὐ διδόντας οὐδὲ ἕν,
τοὺς τὸν φρόνιμον ζητοῦντας ἐν τοῖς περιπάτοις
καὶ ταῖς διατριβαῖς ὥσπερ ἀποδεδρακότα.
ἄνθρωπ’ ἀλάστωρ, διὰ τί συμβολὰς ἔχων
νήφεις; τί τηλικοῦτον ἀδικεῖς τοὺς θεούς;
τί τἀργύριον, ἄνθρωπε, τιμιώτερον
σαυτοῦ τέθεικας ἢ πέφυκε τῇ φύσει;
ἀλυσιτελὴς εἶ τῇ πόλει πίνων ὕδωρ·
τὸν γὰρ γεωργὸν καὶ τὸν ἔμπορον κακοῖς.
ἐγὼ δὲ τὰς προσόδους μεθύων καλὰς ποιῶ.

Another fragmentary author with no Wikipedia page.  All the Suda says about him is: Βάτων, κωμικός· δράματα αὐτοῦ Συνεξαπατῶν, ᾿Ανδροφόνος, Εὐεργέται. (“A Comic Poet whose plays were the Conspirators, the Murder and the Goodworkers.”) Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists is the main source for his fragments. This Batôn should not be confused with the historian and orator Batôn (also mentioned in Athenaeus).