Monday, September 20, 2010
Carry on Alcaeus
Come, wet thy chest with wine: the dog-star now
Is rising high, the oppressive sultry glow
Of summertime brings parching thirst to all.
Now from the leaves the locust its loud call,
Its sweet shrill song, pours out from 'neath its wings.
The blazing heat, which withereth all things,
O'er all the earth is spread; the blooming thistle
Holds up its head; now womankind doth bristle
With passion most, and man is haggard worn;
For Sirius his head and limbs doth burn.
I always take Alcaeus' advice on drink which is nine times out of ten to get it down your neck, but to forbear if the state is in peril, as in his famous 'Cease Drinking, seize the rudders!" The state has not been in peril this summer and is unlikely to be through the Autumn, so that is jolly good news. The only Greek who gave me serious advice about drink told me to forbear even when the state was not in peril, but I prefer my advice to be of the ancient variety. Alcaeus was a contemporary of course of that frisky 'violet haired, pure, honey-smiling Sappho'. There they are at the top, Alcaeus fiddling as ever with his lyre and Sappho 'bristling with passion most'. They're obviously at some kind of poetry reading: you can tell this from the empty seats and the fact someone's asleep in the back row. That looks like an arts administrator just behind Sappho,too, feigning enthusiasm.