Liminary poems for How to Drink

In other pages, I’ve translated the more substantial liminary poems from the two editions of Vincent Obsopoeus’ Art of Drinking (1536; 1537). This page gathers and translates the last few.

For the other liminary poems and prefatory matter, which I discuss at length, see:

  • Joachim Camerarius’ Greek #1 (“Wine is a bucking bronco.”)
  • Joachim Camerarius’ Greek #2 (“Poetry is a painted crystal bowl.”)
  • Sebastian Hamaxurgus’ Latin (“A view from Olympus”)
  • For the preface to the first edition, click here.
  • For the preface to the second edition, click here.

1: Georg Laetus
a quatrain

Qui bibit, arte bibat, vincit Vincentius omnes,
      quotquot potandi de ratione docent.
Haud, velut apparet, levis ars est, vina bibendi,
      quae nisi fert docto commoda, damna rudi.
He who drinks, should drink artfully. Vincent’s invincible! 
       He outdoes all who profess the art of imbibing. 
It looks easy, but the art of drinking wine is anything but! 
       If it isn't benefitting a pro, it’s destroying the novice.

2: Sebald Heyden
To the Reader

Crimina qui melius fieri docet arte, Magister
      improbus, haud quicquam laudis habere potest.
Quo fit, Naso, tuos ut nunc vitemus amores,
      quod nos insanos cum ratione facis.
Dum ratione regi nequeat quaecumque modo res
      consilioque vacat. Desipit omnis amans.
Ars non est scelerum; virtuti regula servit,
      ut quae sola suis constet ubique modis.
Hinc melius noster Vincentius utitur artis
      nomine, qui sanos cum ratione facit.
Non docet ut nimium potetur; quin magis urget
      ut sit et in potu cum ratione modus.
Ebria detestans convivia, sobria laudat;
      cui parens, numquam plus satis ille bibet.
A naughty teacher should in no way be praised
       if he teaches techniques for committing crimes better.
That’s why we shun your love poetry nowadays, Ovid,
       since you and your system make us go insane.
If it can’t be controlled by reason, then anything is available for
       moderation and advice. Every man in love is nuts.
There is no art of crime; a rule serves virtue,
        Since it alone consists entirely of its limits.
Hence our author Vincent makes better use of the name of
        "art," since he and his system make us sane.
He doesn’t teach us to drink too much; on the contrary, he advises
        that there be moderation and rules even in the case of drinking.
He despises drunken dinner parties and praises sober ones;
        Those who listen to him will never drink more than enough.

3: Thomas Venatorius
a poem

Res indigna viro totam consumere noctem 
       inter thyrsigeri, pocula larga, dei.
Infaustum studium, si cum spumante Lyaeo
       undantes pateras nox alit usque novas.
Res sed digna viro, latices haurire salubres,
       fundat ut aeternum cygnus ab ore, melos.
Sic rigidos olim legimus maduisse Catones,
       triste supercilium sic posuisse sophos.
Scilicet est aliquid certa ratione bibisse;
       haec pars mansurae maxima laudis erit.
It’s unbecoming of a gentleman to spend the entire night
       amid the cups of that god who wields the thyrsus.
It’s a doomed idea, if Night and the spumante of Bacchus
       are constantly refilling fresh bowls till they spill over.
What is becoming of a gentleman, is to drink drafts that promote his health,
       so that he lives to sing a swan song in hoary old age.
That’s how, we read, the stern Catos would drink once upon a time;
       that’s how sages, once upon a time, would unknit their furrowed brows.
It’s obviously an achievement to drink systematically;
       That’ll be the greatest part of your immortal glory.

4: Thomas Venatorius
another poem

Qui didicisse voles quae sint incommoda Bacchi,
       quaeve vicissatim commoda Bacchus habet,
hos lege, non vana conscriptos arte libellos,
       quos hominum generi sobria Musa dedit.
You who want to learn what disasters Bacchus has in store,
or, in turn, what benefits Bacchus has in store,
read these books! They’re shrewdly and skillfully written.
A sober Muse has given them to the human race!

Note: the final line alludes to Obsopoeus’ declaration at the end of the Art of Drinking (3.932), ebria Musa mea est, sobria vita mihi.

The second edition also reprints various ancient Greek poems about wine by Theognis, Panyassis (fr. 19 West), and Eratosthenes (fr. 36), but all are readily found elsewhere.