Monday, December 07, 2009


Horace's Best

Edward Kennard Rand, Founders of the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1928; rpt. New York: Dover Press, 1957), pp. 64-65 (in the chapter on "The Church and Pagan Culture"):
For the moment, I will take as type and symbol a bit of the Eucharistic liturgy of the Church preserved in one of its most ancient monuments, the Missale Gothicum.40 In the benedictio populi in the mass for the eve of the Epiphany, Christ is besought to turn dull hearts to Him, just as at the wedding of Cana He converted plain water into — not just wine, but Falernian. Horace's best! Let this be a symbol of the history of Christian humanism. Though the stricter souls have denounced it and even threatened to break it, that jar of old Falernian has always reposed in the sanctuary of the Church.
Id., n. 40 on p. 299:
Ed. H.M. Bannister, Henry Bradshaw Society, vol. LII (1917), p. 25.
I don't have access to Bannister's edition, but the words from the Missale Gothicum are apparently:
Converte ad te quaerendum stupidas mentes hominum, qui nuptiale convivio vertisti latices in Falernum.
So too Prudentius, Hymns 9.28 (also on the wedding feast at Cana, tr. Sister M. Clement Eagan):
Water poured into the tankards turns to rich Falernian wine.

cantharis infusa lympha fit Falernum nobile.
It is said that Horace mentions Falernian more than any other wine. If references to Falernian vines and grapes are counted, as well as references to Falernian wine, I find fifteen passages: Odes 1.20.10, 1.27.10, 2.3.8, 2.6.19, 2.11.19, 3.1.43; Satires 1.10.24, 2.2.15, 2.3.115, 2.4.19, 2.4.24, 2.4.55, 2.8.16; and Epistles 1.14.34, 1.18.91.

There are some interesting pages on Falernian wine in Andrew Dalby, Empire of Pleasures: Luxury and Indulgence in the Roman World (London: Routledge, 2002), pp. 48-50. I haven't read Steele Commager, "The Function of Wine in Horace's Odes," Transactions of the American Philological Association 88 (1957) 68-80, or Gregson Davis, "Wine and the Symposium," in The Cambridge Companion to Horace (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 207-220.

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