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Bob Ross

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Saint Augustine and Wine.

by Bob Ross » Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:43 am

Saint Augustine died on August 28, 430.

His relationship with wine -- and his mother of course -- was storied, but perhaps worth recounting on this anniversary of his death; like Augustine, I've wrestled with the devil from time to time, and perhaps some of you have too:

To Milan I came, to Ambrose the Bishop, known to the whole world as among the best of men, Thy devout servant; whose eloquent discourse did then plentifully dispense unto Thy people the flour of Thy wheat, the gladness of Thy oil, and the sober inebriation of Thy wine.
Saint Augustine, Confessions, Book 5. E.B. Pusey translation.

For wine-bibbing did not lay siege to [my mother’s] spirit, nor did love of wine provoke her to hatred of the truth, as it doth too many (both men and women), who revolt at a lesson of sobriety, as men well-drunk at a draught mingled with water. But she, when she had brought her basket with the accustomed festival-food, to be but tasted by herself, and then given away, never joined therewith more than one small cup of wine, diluted according to her own abstemious habits, which for courtesy she would taste.
Saint Augustine, Confessions, Book 6. E.B. Pusey translation.

Yea, and so was he [a drunken beggar-man] then beyond me: for he verily was the happier; not only for that he was thoroughly drenched in mirth, I disembowelled with cares: but he, by fair wishes, had gotten wine; I, by lying, was seeking for empty, swelling praise.
Saint Augustine, Confessions, Book 6. E.B. Pusey translation.

[My mother] would not suffer them, though parched with thirst, to drink even water; preventing an evil custom, and adding this wholesome advice: "Ye drink water now, because you have not wine in your power; but when you come to be married, and be made mistresses of cellars and cupboards, you will scorn water, but the custom of drinking will abide." By this method of instruction, and the authority she had, she refrained the greediness of childhood, and moulded their very thirst to such an excellent moderation that what they should not, that they would not.
Saint Augustine, Confessions, Book 9. E.B. Pusey translation.

And yet (as Thy handmaid told me her son) there had crept upon her a love of wine. For when (as the manner was) she, as though a sober maiden, was bidden by her parents to draw wine out of the hogshed, holding the vessel under the opening, before she poured the wine into the flagon, she sipped a little with the tip of her lips; for more her instinctive feelings refused. For this she did, not out of any desire of drink, but out of the exuberance of youth, whereby it boils over in mirthful freaks, which in youthful spirits are wont to be kept under by the gravity of their elders. And thus by adding to that little, daily littles (for whoso despiseth little things shall fall by little and little), she had fallen into such a habit as greedily to drink off her little cup brim-full almost of wine.
Saint Augustine, Confessions, Book 9. E.B. Pusey translation.

So the other things, piled in and up by the other senses, I recall at my pleasure. Yea, I discern the breath of lilies from violets, though smelling nothing; and I prefer honey to sweet wine, smooth before rugged, at the time neither tasting nor handling, but remembering only. These things do I within, in that vast court of my memory.
Saint Augustine, Confessions, Book 10. E.B. Pusey translation.


It's worth reading from time to time this most human Bishop of Hippo I know of.

Regards, Bobh
Last edited by Bob Ross on Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Saint Augustine and Wine.

by Bob Ross » Mon Aug 28, 2006 1:50 am

PS: The most famous quote of this Saint is probably: "Poetry is devil's wine." Attributed to Saint Augustine.

I've never been able to find where he is supposed to have written these words; any help in finding them would be deeply appreciated.

There are many collections of his works; I've used the collection at Upenn

Regards, Bob
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Thomas

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Re: Saint Augustine and Wine.

by Thomas » Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:24 am

Bob, Try this:

Poesis est vinum daemonum."
~ St. Augustine ~ Contra Academicos Sec. 1,

I believe it's in Book 5 of Confessions.
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Re: Saint Augustine and Wine.

by Bob Ross » Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:13 pm

Many thanks, Thomas.

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