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.
Go beyond the episode:
- Michael Fontaine’s How to Drink: A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing (read an excerpt here)
- Read his series of posts on the Best American Poetry blog, run by friend of the magazine David Lehman: “We Have Sex Education. Should We Teach Drinking Education, Too?”, “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger,” and more
- Ready to pour yourself a cocktail? May we recommend the sazerac, per Wayne Curtis, which Fontaine also recommends in his list of “Quarantinis” for drinking at home?
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