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Obsopoeus, Vincent

How to Drink

A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing

Ed. by Fontaine, Michael

Transl. by Fontaine, Michael

Series:Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers


    39,95 € / $45.00 / £38.00*

    eBook (PDF)
    Publication Date:
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    To be published:
    April 2020
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    Aims and Scope

    A spirited new translation of a forgotten classic, shot through with timeless wisdom

    Is there an art to drinking alcohol? Can drinking ever be a virtue? The Renaissance humanist and neoclassical poet Vincent Obsopoeus (ca. 1498–1539) thought so. In the winelands of sixteenth-century Germany, he witnessed the birth of a poisonous new culture of bingeing, hazing, peer pressure, and competitive drinking. Alarmed, and inspired by the Roman poet Ovid's Art of Love, he wrote The Art of Drinking (De Arte Bibendi) (1536), a how-to manual for drinking with pleasure and discrimination. In How to Drink, Michael Fontaine offers the first proper English translation of Obsopoeus's text, rendering his poetry into spirited, contemporary prose and uncorking a forgotten classic that will appeal to drinkers of all kinds and (legal) ages.

    Arguing that moderation, not abstinence, is the key to lasting sobriety, and that drinking can be a virtue if it is done with rules and limits, Obsopoeus teaches us how to manage our drinking, how to win friends at social gatherings, and how to give a proper toast. But he also says that drinking to excess on occasion is okay—and he even tells us how to win drinking games, citing extensive personal experience.

    Complete with the original Latin on facing pages, this sparkling work is as intoxicating today as when it was first published.


    1 b/w illus. 1 table.
    responsible drinking; irresponsible drinking; Mark Forsyth; Short History of Drunkenness; drinking etiquette; gifts for wine lovers; gifts for wine enthusiasts; gifts for foodies; self help; gifts for groomsmen; drinking customs; rules of toasting; Bon Appetit; Wine Spectator; teaching responsible drinking; binge drinking; alcoholism; excessive drinking; wine shops; college drinking; viniculture; wine culture; vineyards; ancient wine; German wine; Bacchus; god of wine

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    Michael Fontaine is professor of classics and associate vice provost of undergraduate education at Cornell University. His books include Funny Words in Plautine Comedy and The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Comedy.


    "How to Drink is a delight—an amusing and at points hilarious book that is also a deeply learned, and occasionally sobering, introduction to ancient drinking customs and their modern parallels."—James Tatum, Dartmouth College

    "I'm grateful to be introduced to Vincent Obsopoeus and his art of drinking, and I hope many other readers will be too! This is a lively, fun translation."—Julia D. Hejduk, Baylor University

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