Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Archilocus, on drinking

When university philosophy professors start posting poetry, your first reaction is going to be to turn off, right? And when it’s antique poetry, from over two-and-a-half-thousand years ago, you’re gonna turn off real quick, right?

Wrong. Stephen Hicks has posted a series of poems by a Greek called Archilocus that add a huge store to the world’s sum total of human happiness. Hicks explains that in some respects Archilocus is “the anti-Homer poet. While Homer’s subjects are gods and heroes, Archilochus writes of drunkenness, running away to live and perhaps fight another day, the common man with his feet planted firmly on the ground — and, occasionally of sweet love.”

So here’s Archilocus On drinking:

And I know how to lead off
The sprightly dance
Of the Lord Dionysus,
The dithyramb.

I do it thunderstruck
With wine.

And here he is again:

Kindly pass the cup down the deck
And keep it coming from the barrel,
Good red wine, and don’t stir up the dregs,
And don’t think why we shouldn’t be,
More than any other, drunk on guard duty.

Before you pass that cup down from the deck, check out some of Archilocus’ other gems.


  1. Good stuff! And if you can get hold of any poetry by Li Po, it's at least as good.

  2. Before The Cask of Wine 
    The spring wind comes from the east and quickly passes,
    Leaving faint ripples in the wine of the golden bowl.
    The flowers fall, flake after flake, myriads together.

    You, pretty girl, wine-flushed,
    Your rosy face is rosier still.
    How long may the peach and plum trees flower
    By the green-painted house?
    The fleeting light deceives man,
    Brings soon the stumbling age.

    Rise and dance
    In the westering sun
    While the urge of youthful years is yet unsubdued!
    What avails to lament after one's hair has turned white
    like silken threads?

    Li Po

  3. KG

    "What avails to lament after one's hair has turned white
    like silken threads?"

    A little more to drink perhaps?



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