Friday, January 17, 2020


The Divine Right To Be Where You Are

Roger Scruton (1944-2020), I Drink Therefore I Am: A Philosopher's Guide to Wine (2009; rpt. London: Continuum, 2010), pp. 85-86:
Wine has become one of the most important products of the Southern hemisphere. Countries like South Africa, New Zealand and Chile which a century ago were importing wine in small quantities from Europe, are now drinking large quantities of the home-grown product, and exporting the surplus around the globe. The reason for this change is less economic than cultural. During the twentieth century these countries have increasingly understood themselves, not as exiles from Europe, but as historic settlements, with a right to the soil and an identity that is shaped by it. The most important way of expressing this sentiment is by planting vines, symbol of the divine right to be where you are and to enjoy the god's protection. That is how the vine is seen in the Old Testament, in the legends of Dionysus, in the Homeric literature and in the literature of Rome. It is why, in the days of Augustus, Italy was called Oenotria — wine land — and why nobody has ever been able to persuade an Italian, however far from the homeland he may have wandered, that he belongs anywhere else than on the vine-clad hillside where his ancestors were born.

Italian culture celebrates family, city and region; village ceremonies and village saints; local virtues, local vices and the local dishes that produce them. The root assumption of this culture is that it is best to be where you are, and hurrying onwards is dangerous. Maybe it all began as a reaction to Roman imperialism. It was Horace who wrote that caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt, which is another way of saying that travel narrows the mind.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?