Smarty Pants Podcast

Here’s to Drinking at Home

Resurrecting a 500-year-old classic on how to partake

By Stephanie Bastek | April 17, 2020
<em>Bacchus</em> (c. 1596) by Caravaggio (Wikimedia Commons)
Bacchus (c. 1596) by Caravaggio (Wikimedia Commons)

In 1536, a now obscure poet named Vincent Obsopoeus published a long verse called The Art of Drinking, or De Arte Bibendi, filled with shockingly modern advice. Moderation, not abstinence, is the key to lasting sobriety, he writes—and then turns around and teaches us how to win at drinking games and give a proper toast. Joining us this week is the man who brought this sound advice to modern English—Michael Fontaine, professor of classics at Cornell University, whose newly rebranded How to Drink: A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing is the first proper English translation of Obsopoeus’s ode to mild inebriation.

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