Thursday, May 19, 2005



Minority Report: H.L. Mencken's Notebooks (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956), p. 59, § 71:
There are people who read too much: bibliobibuli. I know some who are constantly drunk on books, as other men are drunk on whiskey or religion. They wander through this most diverting and stimulating of worlds in a haze, seeing nothing and hearing nothing.
Bibliobibuli is a neat coinage, a masculine plural adjective from the Greek noun biblion (book) and the Latin adjective bibulus (fond of drinking), i.e. drunk on books.

Bibliobibulus (masculine singular) or Bibliobibula (feminine singular) would be a good name for a blog devoted to books and reading. Someone already laid claim to Bibliobibuli as a blog name, but the blog has only a single post, and the claim should be revoked.

Cf. Apuleius, Florida 4.20:
The wise man's saying at table is well-known: The first cup [of wine] belongs to thirst, the second to mirth, the third to pleasure, the fourth to madness. But on the other hand, the more often you drink the cup of the Muses and the purer it is, the nearer it approaches to health of mind. The first cup, that of the elementary teacher, frees us from ignorance; the second cup, that of the grammar teacher, instructs us in learning; the third cup, that of the rhetoric teacher, equips us with eloquence. Thus far and no further is drinking done by most people. But I have also drunk other cups at Athens: the imaginative cup of poetry, the clear cup of geometry, the sweet cup of music, the somewhat sour cup of dialectic, and now the cup of universal philosophy, inexhaustible and sweet as nectar.

sapientis viri super mensam celebre dictum est: 'prima,' inquit, 'cratera ad sitim pertinet, secunda ad hilaritatem, tertia ad voluptatem, quarta ad insaniam.' verum enimvero Musarum cratera versa vice quanto crebrior quantoque meracior, tanto propior ad animi sanitatem. prima cratera litteratoris rudimento eximit, secunda grammatici doctrina instruit, tertia rhetoris eloquentia armat. hactenus a plerisque potatur. ego et alias crateras Athenis bibi: poeticae commentam, geometriae limpidam, musicae dulcem, dialecticae austerulam, iam vero universae philosophiae inexplebilem scilicet et nectaream.
For more on this subject see Holbrook Jackson, Anatomy of Bibliomania (New York: Farrar, Straus, 1950), Part X (Of Book-Drinkers).

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