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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Imports of Athens; The Best Wines

By Hermippus (Fifth Century B.C.)

  • The following passage from Hermippus, beginning with a Homeric verse, is really important for the light it throws on Attic imports. A bold political allusion or two will remind us how free and powerful a critic Comedy then was.

  • Imports of Athens

    TELL me, ye Muses, now, who hold your Olympian dwellings,

    Whence Dionysus comes, as he sails over wine-colored waters;

    What are the goods men bring in black ships hither to harbor!

    Out of Cyrene the cauliflower comes, and hides of the oxen;

    Out of Italia ribs of beef and grain in abundance;

    Syracuse sends us cheese, and pork she furnishes also.

    As to the Corcyræans, we pray that Poseidon destroy them

    Utterly, vessels and all, for the treacherous heart that is in them!—

    Rhodes provides us raisins, and figs that invite unto slumber.

    Slaves from Phrygia come, but out of Arcadia, allies!

    Carthage, finally, sends to us carpets, and cushions resplendent.

    From the same play we have a loving disquisition on choice wines, ending quite like our modern toast, “Champagne for our real friends, and real pain for our sham friends!”

    The Best Wines

    OVER the Thasian wine there hovers the odor of apples;

    This I account by far most perfect, above all others,—

    Saving only the faultless and painless liquor of Chios.

    Yet there is also a certain wine, men Saprian name it:

    Whensoever from off its jar the cover is taken,

    Then there arises the odor of hyacinth, violets, roses;

    Glorious fragrance, filling the high-roofed palace entirely;—

    That is a nectar indeed; ambrosia and nectar together!

    This is the wine for my friends;—Peparethian proffer my foemen!