Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Baths, Wine, and Sex

The emperor's slave, Merope, thought that baths, wine, and sex were the things that made life worth living. Here are the views of a later emperor on those things.

Baths (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 8.24; tr. C.R. Haines):
What bathing is when thou thinkest of it—oil, sweat, filth, greasy water, everything revolting—such is every part of life and every object we meet with.

ὁποῖόν σοι φαίνεται τὸ λούεσθαι· ἔλαιον, ἱδρώς, ῥύπος, ὕδωρ γλοιῶδες, πάντα σικχαντά· τοιοῦτον πᾶν μέρος τοῦ βίου καὶ πᾶν ὑποκείμενον.
Wine (id., 6.13):
This Falernian is merely the juice of a grape-cluster.

ὁ Φάλερνος χυλάριόν ἐστι σταφυλίου.
Sex (id.):
Sexual intercourse ... is merely internal attrition and the spasmodic excretion of mucus.

καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν κατὰ τὴν συνουσίαν ἐντερίου παράτριψις καὶ μετά τινος σπασμοῦ μυξαρίου ἔκκρισις.
In my opinion, the slave woman was wiser than the emperor.

Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912), At the Wine Shop (1869),
Guildhall Art Gallery, London, inv. 1513

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