the well-tempered symposium

Now the floor is swept clean, and the hands of all who are present
are washed, and the cups are clean. One puts the garlands on,
another passes the fragrant myrrh on a dish. The mixing
bowl is set up and stands by, full of the spirit of cheer,
and more wine still stands ready and promises no disappointment;
sweet wine, in earthen jars, preserving its own bouquet.
In the middle of all, frankincense gives out its holy fragrance,
and we have water there too, cold and crystal and sweet.
Golden-brown loaves are set nearby, and the lordly table
is weighted down underneath its load of honey and cheese.
The altar, in the center, is completely hidden in flowers.
Merriment and singing fill all the corners of the house.
First of all, enlightened men should hymn the God, using
words of propriety, and stories that have no fault.
Then, when they have made libation and prayed to be able
to conduct themselves like gentlemen as occasion demands,
it will not be drunk-and-disorderly to drink as much as one can
and still get home without help—except for a very old man.
Best approve that man who in drinking discloses notable
ideas, as they come to his mind and his good disposition directs.
It’s no use to tell the tale of the battles of Titans and Giants,
or Centaurs either, those fictions of our fathers’ imaginations,
nor wars of the Gods; there’s no good to be got from such subjects.
One should be thoughtful always and right-minded toward the Gods.


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