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Athenaeus: The Deipnosophists

BOOK 2 (excerpts)

Translated by C.D.Yonge (1854). A few words and spellings have been changed.

See key to translations for an explanation of the format. The page numbers in the Greek text are shown in red. The chapter numbers in the translation are shown in green.


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[5.] G   [37] Timaeus of Tauromenium relates that there was a certain house at Acragas called the Trireme, on this account:— Some young men got drunk in it, and got so mad when excited by the wine, as to think that they were sailing in a trireme, and that they were being tossed about on the sea by a violent storm; and so completely did they lose their senses, that they threw all the furniture, and all the sofas and chairs and beds, out of the window, as if they were throwing them into the sea, fancying that the captain had ordered them to lighten the ship because of the storm. And though a crowd collected round the house and began to plunder what was thrown out, even that did not cure the young men of their frenzy. And the next day, when the strategi came to the house, there were the young men still lying, sea-sick as they said; and, when the magistrates questioned them, they replied that they had been in great danger from a storm, and had consequently been compelled to lighten the ship by throwing all their superfluous cargo into the sea. And while the magistrates marvelled at the bewilderment of the men, one of them, who seemed to be older than the rest, said, "I, O Tritons, was so frightened that I threw myself down under the benches, and lay there as low down and as much out of sight as I could." And the magistrates forgave their folly, and dismissed them with a reproof, and a warning not to indulge in too much wine in future. And they, professing to be much obliged to them, said, "If we arrive in port after having escaped this terrible storm, we will erect in our own country statues of you as our saviours in a conspicuous place, along with those of the other gods of the sea, as having appeared to us at a seasonable time." And from this circumstance that house was called the Trireme.

[6.] G   But Philochorus [ Fr_170 ] says that men who drink hard do not only show what sort of disposition they themselves are of, but do also reveal in their chattering the characters of every one else whom they know. Whence comes the proverb, "Wine and truth;" and the saying, "Wine lays bare the heart of man." And so in the contests of Dionysus the prize of victory is a tripod: and we have a proverb of those who speak truth, that "they are speaking from the tripod;" in which, the tripod meant is the cup of Dionysus. For there were among the ancients two kinds of tripods, each of which, as it happened, bore the name of λέβης, or bowl; one, which was used to be put on the fire, being a sort of cauldron for bathing, as Aeschylus says—
  They poured the water in a three-legged bowl,
  Which always has its place upon the fire:
the other is what is also called κρατὴρ, a goblet. [38] Homer says [ Il_9'122 ] —
  And seven fireless tripods.

And in these last they mixed wine; and it is this last tripod that is the tripod of truth; and it is considered appropriate to Apollo, because of the truth of his prophetic art; and to Dionysus, because of the truth which people speak when drunk. And Semus of Delos says— "A brazen tripod, not the Pythian one, but that which they now call a bowl. And of these bowls some were never put on the fire, and men mixed their wine in them; and the others held water for baths, and in them they warmed the water, putting them on the fire; and of these some had ears, and having their bottom supported by three feet they were called tripods."

Ephippus says somewhere or other—
  (A)   That load of wine makes you a chatterer.
  (B)   That’s why they say that drunken men speak truth.

And Antiphanes writes—
  There are only two secrets a man cannot keep,
  One when he's in love, the other when he's drunk deep:
  For these facts are so proved by his tongue or his eyes,
  That we see it more plainly the more he denies.

[7.] G   And Philochorus relates that Amphictyon, the king of the Athenians, having learnt from Dionysus the art of mixing wine, was the first man who ever did mix it: and that it is owing to him that men who have been drinking on his system can walk straight afterwards, when before they used to blunder about after drinking unmixed wine: and on this account he erected an altar to the Straight Dionysus in the temple of the Seasons; for they are the Nymphs who cherish the fruit of the vine. And near it he built also an altar to the Nymphs, as a memorial to all who use mixed drink; for the Nymphs are said to have been the nurses of Dionysus. And he made a law to bring an unmixed wine after meals only just enough to taste, as a token of the power of the Good Deity. But the rest of the wine was put on the table ready mixed, in whatever quantity any one chose. And then he enjoined the guests to invoke in addition the name of Zeus the Saviour, for the sake of instructing and reminding the drinkers that by drinking in that fashion they would be preserved from injury. But Plato, in his second book of the Laws [ 674'b ], says that the use of wine is to be encouraged for the sake of health. But on account of the look which habitual drunkards get, they liken Dionysus to a bull; and to a leopard, because he excites drunkards to acts of violence. And Alcaeus says—
  Wine sometimes than honey sweeter,
  Sometimes more than nettles bitter.

Some men, too, are apt to get in a rage when drunk; and they are like a bull. Euripides says [ Bacchae_743 ] —
  Fierce bulls, their passion with their horns displaying.
And some men, from their quarrelsome disposition when drunk, are like wild beasts, on which account it is that Dionysus is likened to a leopard.

[8.] G   Well was it then that Ariston the Chian said that that was the most agreeable drink which partook at the same time of both sweetness and fragrance; for which reason some people prepare what is called nectar near Olympus in Lydia, mixing wine and honeycombs and the most fragrant flowers together. [39] Though I am aware indeed that Anaxandrides says that nectar is not the drink, but the food of the gods :—
  Nectar I eat, and well do gnaw it;
  Ambrosia drink, (you never saw it);
  I act as cupbearer to Zeus,
  And chat to Hera — not of love;
  And oftentimes I sit by Aphrodite.

And Alcman says—
  Nectar they eat at will.

And Sappho says—.
  The goblets rich were with ambrosia crowned,
  Which Hermes bore to all the gods around.

But Homer was acquainted with nectar as the drink of the gods. And Ibycus says that ambrosia is nine times as sweet as honey; stating expressly that honey has just one-ninth part of the power of ambrosia as far as sweetness goes.

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[19.] G   [43] But Aristobulus of Cassandreia says that there is a fountain in Miletus called the Achillean, the stream of which is very sweet, while the sediment is brackish: this is the water in which the Milesians say that their hero bathed when be had slain Trambelus the king of the Leleges. And they say, too, that the water in Cappadocia never becomes putrid, but there is a great deal in that district, of an admirable quality, though it has no outlet unless it flows underground. And Ptolemaeus the king, in the Seventh Book of his Commentaries, says that as you go to Corinth through the district called Contoporeia when you have got to the top of the mountain there is a fountain whose waters are colder than snow, so that many people are afraid to drink of it lest they should be frozen; but he says that he drank of it himself. And Phylarchus states [ Fr_63 ] that at Cleitor there is a spring which gives those who drink of it a distaste for the smell of wine. And Clearchus tells us that water is called white, like milk; and that wine is called red, like nectar; and that honey and oil are called yellow, and that the juice which is extracted from the myrtle-berry is black. Eubulus says that -
  Water makes those who drink nothing else very ingenious,
  But wine obscures and clouds the mind;
and Philetas borrows not only the thought, but the lines.

[20.] G   [44] Athenaeus then, having delivered this lecture on water, like a rhetorician, stopped awhile, and then began again. Amphis, the comic writer, says somewhere or other —
  There is, I take it, often sense in wine,
  And those are stupid who on water dine.

And Antiphanes says —
  Take the hair, it is well written,
  Of the dog by whom you’re bitten.
  Work off one wine by his brother,
  And one labour with another;
  Horns with horns and noise with noise,
  One crier with his fellow’s voice:
  Insult with insult, war with war,
  Faction with faction, care with care;
  Cook with cook, sad strife with strife,
  Business with business, wife with wife.

The ancients applied the word ἄκρατον even to unmixed water. Sophron says—
  Pour unmixed water (ὕδωρ ἄκρατον) in the cup.

[21.] G   Phylarchus says [ Fr_64 ] that Theodorus of Larissa was a water-drinker; the man, I mean, who was always so hostile to king Antigonus. He asserts also (? in his seventh book) [ Fr_13 ] that all the Spaniards drink water, though they are the richest of all men, for they have the greatest abundance of gold and silver in their country. And he says, too, that they eat only once a day, out of stinginess, though they wear most expensive clothes. And Aristotle or Theophrastus speaks of a man named Philinus as never having taken any drink or solid food whatever, except milk alone, during the whole of his life. And Pythorinus, in his account of the tyrants of Peiraeus, mentions Glaucon as having been a water-drinker. And Hegesander of Delphi says that Anchimolus and Moschus, sophists who lived in Elis, were water-drinkers all their lives; and that they ate nothing but figs, and for all that, were quite as healthy and vigorous as any one else; but that their perspiration had such an offensive smell, that every one avoided them at the baths. And Matris the Athenian, as long as be lived, ate nothing except a few myrtle-berries each day, and abstained front wine and every other kind of drink except water. Lamprus too, the musician, was a water-drinker, concerning whom Phrynichus says, "that the gulls lamented, when Lamprus died among them, being a man who was a water-drinker, a subtle hypersophist, a dry skeleton of the Muses, a nightmare to nightingales, a hymn to hell." And Machon tho comic poet mentions Moschion as a water-drinker.

[22.] G   But Aristotle, in his book on Drunkenness says, that some men who have been fond of salt meat have yet not had their thirst stimulated by it; of whom Archonides the Argive was one. And Mago the Carthaginian passed three times through the African desert eating dry meat and never drinking. And Polemon the Academic philosopher, from the time that he was thirty years of age to the day of his death, never drank anything but water, as is related by Antigonus the Carystian. And Demetrius of Scepsis says that Diocles of Peparethus drank cold water to the day of his death. And Demosthenes the orator, who may well be admitted as a witness in his own case, says that he drank nothing but water for a considerable length of time. And Pytheas says, "But you see the demagogues of the present day, Demosthenes and Demades, how very differently they live. For the one is a water-drinker, and devotes his nights to contemplation, as they say; and the other is a debauchee, and is drunk every day, and comes like a great potbellied fellow, as he is, into our assemblies." And Euphorion of Chalcis writes in this way:— "Lasyrtas the Lasionian never required drink as other men do, and still it did not make him different from other men. [45] And many men, out of curiosity, were careful to watch him, but they desisted before they ascertained what was the truth. For they continued watching him for thirty days together in the summer season, and they saw that he never abstained from salt meat, and yet that, though drinking nothing, he seemed to have no complaint in his bladder. And so they believed that he spoke the truth. And he did, indeed, sometimes take drink, but still he did not require it. Antiphanes says -
  A change of meat is often good,
  And men, when tired of common food,
  Redoubled pleasure often feel,
  When sitting at a novel meal.

[23.] G   The king of Persia, as Herodotus relates in his first book [ 1.188 ], drank no water, except what came from the river Choaspes, which flows by Susa. And when he was on a journey, he had numbers of four-wheeled wagons drawn by mules following him, laden with silver vessels containing this water, which was boiled to make it keep. And Ctesias the Cnidian explains also in what manner this water was boiled, and how it was put into the vessels and brought to the king, saying that it was the lightest and sweetest of all waters. And the second king of Egypt, he who was surnamed Philadelphus, having given his daughter Berenice in marriage to Antiochus the king of Syria, took the trouble to send her water from the river Nile, in order that his child might drink of no other river, as Polybius relates. And Heliodorus tells us, that Antiochus Epiphanes, whom Polybius calls Epimanes, on account of his actions, mixed the fountain at Antioch with wine; a thing which Theopompus relates to have been also done by the Phrygian Midas, when he wished to make Silenus drunk in order to catch him. And that fountain is, as Bion relates, between the Maedi and the Paeonians, and is called Inna. But Staphylus says, that Melampus was the first who invented the idea of mixing wine with water. And Pleistonicus says that water is more digestible than wine.

[24.] G   Now men who drink hard before eating, are usually not very comfortable in their digestion, which is apt to get out of order, and what they eat often turns sour on the stomach. So that a man who has a regard for his health, ought to take regular exercise, for the sake of promoting frequent perspiration; and he ought also to use the bath regularly for the sake of moistening and relaxing his body. And besides this, and before he bathes, he should drink water, as being an excellent thing,- drinking warm water usually in winter and spring, and cold water in summer, in order not to weaken the stomach. But he should only drink in moderation before the bath or the gymnasium, for the sake of diffusing what he drinks throughout his system beforehand, and in order to prevent the unmixed strength of wine from having too much effect on his extremities. And if any one thinks it too much trouble to live on this system, let him take sweet wine, either mixed with water or warmed, especially that which is called πρότροπος, the sweet Lesbian wine, as being very good for the stomach.

Now sweet wines do not make the head heavy, as Hippocrates says in his book On Diet, which some entitle, The Book on Sharp Pains; others, The Book on Barleywater; and others, The Book against the Cnidian Theories. His words are: "Sweet wine is less calculated to make the head heavy, and it takes less hold of the mind, and passes through the bowels easier than other wine." But Poseidonius says [ Fr_72 ], that it is not a good thing to pledge one's friends as the Carmani do; for they, when at their banquets they wish to testify their friendship for each other, cut the veins on their faces, and mingle the blood which flows down with the liquor, and then drink it; [46] thinking it the greatest proof of friendship to taste one another's blood. And after pledging one another in this manner they anoint their heads with ointment, especially with that distilled from roses, and if they cannot get that, with that distilled from apples, in order to ward off the effects of the drink, and in order also to avoid being injured by the evaporation of the wine; and if they cannot get ointment of apples, they then use that extracted from the iris or from spikenard, so that Alexis very neatly says-
  His nose he anoints, and thinks it plain
  'Tis good for health with scents to feed the brain.

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[34.] G   [50] There is another fruit, called Cherries. — Theophrastus says, in his book on Plants [ 3.3'1 ] , that the cherry-tree is a tree of a peculiar character, and of large size, for it grows to a height of four-and-twenty cubits, and its leaf is like that of the medlar, but somewhat harder and thicker, and its bark like the linden; its flower is white, like that of the pear or the medlar, consisting of a number of small petals of a waxy nature; its fruit is red, like that of the lotus in appearance, and of the size of a bean; but the kernel of the lotus is hard, while that of the cherry is soft. And again he says [ 3.15'6 ], "The κράταιγος, which some call κράταιγων, has a spreading leaf like a medlar, only that is larger, and wider, and longer; and it has no deep grain in it as the medlar has. The tree is neither very tall nor very large; the wood is variegated, yellow, and strong: it has a smooth bark, like that of the medlar; and a single root, which goes down very deep into the earth; the fruit is round, of the size of an olive; when fully ripe it is of a yellow colour, becoming gradually darker; and from its flavour and juice it might almost be taken for a wild medlar." By which description of the krataigos it appears to me that he means the tree which is now called the cherry.

[35.] G   Asclepiades of Myrleia speaks of a tree which he calls the ground-cherry, and says, "In the land of the Bithynians there is found the ground-cherry, the root of which is not large, nor is the tree, but like a rose-bush; in all other respects the fruit is like the common cherry; but it makes those who eat much of it feel heavy, as wine does, and it gives them head-aches." These are the words of Asclepiades. And it appears to me that he is speaking of the arbutus. For the tree which bears the arbutus-berry answers his description, and if a man eats more than six or seven of the berries he gets a headache. Aristophanes says—
  And planted by no hand, the arbutus
  Makes red the sunny hills.

Theopompus says—
  The myrtle berries and red arbutus.

Crates says—
  Beauteous the breast of tender maid,
  As arbutus or apples red.

And Amphis-
  Mulberries you see, my friend, are found
  On the tree which we know as the mulberry;
  So the oak bear the acorn round,
  And the arbutus shines with its full berry.

And Theophrastus tells us, "The κόμαρος (as he calls it) is the tree which bears the arbutus berry."

There is question about the "Agen," a satyric drama, whether it was composed by Python, (and if by him whether he was a native of Catana or of Byzantium,) or by the king Alexander himself.

Then Larensis says— "You, O Greeks, lay claim to a good many things, as either having given the names to them, or hating been the original discoverers of them. But you do not know that Lucullus, the Roman general, [51] who subdued Mithridates and Tigranes, was the first man who introduced this plant into Italy from Cerasus, a city of Pontus; and he it was who gave the fruit the Latin name of Cerasus, cherry, after the name of the city, as our historians relate."

Then Daphnis answers— "But there was a very celebrated man, Diphilus of Siphnos, many years more ancient than Lucullus, for he was born in the time of king Lysimachus, (who was one of the successors of Alexander,) and he speaks of cherries, saying, ‘Cherries are good for the stomach, and juicy, but not very nutritious; if taken after drinking cold water they are especially wholesome; but the red and the Milesian are the best kinds, and are diuretic.’ "

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[51.] G   [58] Now let us speak of provocatives to appetite, called πρόπομα.— When they were brought round by the butler, Ulpianus said, "Does the word πρόπομα occur in any ancient author in the sense in which we use it now?" and when every one joined in the question, "I will tell you," said Athenaeus; " Phylarchus the Athenian, (though some called him a native of Naucratis,) in the book where he speaks of Zelas the king of the Bithynians, who invited to supper all the leaders of the Galatians, and then plotted against them, and was killed himself also, says, if I recollect his words rightly, [ Fr_50 ] ‘A certain πρόπομα was brought round before supper, as was the custom of antiquity." And when Ulpianus had said this, he asked for something to drink from the wine-cooler, saying, that he was in good humour with himself for having been able to remember this so very apropos. But there were things of all sorts, says Athenaeus, used in these προπόματα.

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