Theognis

(540 BC - 480 BC / Greece)

Fragments - Lines 0467 - 0496


Of those now here with us, do not detain anyone who is unwilling to remain,
Nor show the door to anyone who does not wish to go,
Nor wake anyone who is sleeping, Simonides, should one of us,
Well fortified by wine, be gripped by gentle slumber;
Nor bid the wakeful man to sleep against his will;
For everything that is forced is by nature painful.
For the one who wants to drink, let the boy stand close and pour;
Not on all nights is it possible to enjoy delights like these.
But as for me, since I have reached my limit of honey-sweet wine,
I shall think of sleep that loosens cares, going home.
I have reached the point when a man feels most pleasure in drinking wine,
Being neither sober at all nor yet excessively drunk.
Whoever goes beyond the limit of drinking, that man no longer
Is master of his own tongue or of his mind;
He talks recklessly, saying things which the sober find disgraceful,
And feels no shame in any action when he is drunk,
A man of sound sense before, and now a fool. But you,
Understanding these things, should not drink to excess,
But either stand up and leave before you get drunk -- don't let your belly
Overpower you as if you were a base laborer hired by the day --
Or else stay put and refrain from drinking. But no, 'Pour me another'
Is what you keep idly chattering, and that's why you get drunk.
For one cup comes around in the name of friendship, another on a bet;
Another you pour out as a libation for the gods, another you keep on hand,
And you do not know how to refuse. That man is truly invincible,
Who though he has drunk many cups says nothing foolish.
As for the rest of you, take care in what you say as you linger around the wine bowl,
Steering well clear of quarrels with one another,
Speaking in a way that any may hear, whether you address one or all together.
Conducted in this way, a drinking-party proves far from unpleasant.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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