ARCHILOCHUS, FR. 42

Archilochus

Some people call it barleywine and brutos, like Sophocles in the Triptolemos and Archilochus:

“The woman was bent over and working hard [to fellate him] just like a Thracian or Phrygian man sucks brutos with a reed.”

Background

This fragment is preserved in Athenaeus’s Deipnosophists. Athenaeus quotes a passage about beer from the Archaic Greek lyric poet, Archilochus.

Commentary

In order to keep this blog family-friendly, I should not comment extensively on the finer details of this passage. The implied purpose of the female “bending and working” is generally well-established in scholarship (Gerber 1976; Nelson 2001, 282). At the same time, we get another straw-drinking reference and a new beer-word (brutos)!

Thaces_MaryroseB54.png
Source: MaryroseB54, wikimedia.commons.org

Thrace is located in parts of modern Turkey, Bulgaria, and Greece. And, Phrygia is located nearby, roughly in the center of Turkey. Both groups were familiar to the Greeks, but neither the Phrygians nor the Thracians had significant contact with their Aegean neighbors until many years after the Archilochus passage was written.

Hornsey points out that the famous, beer-drinking Celts occupied Thrace only after Archilochus wrote the passage. Thus, the Thracian consumption of beer cannot be attributed to this outside group. As a result, it must be an indigenous practice (Hornsey 2003, 134-135).

In Phrygia, several sieves and drinking vessels were found at many sites. The Phrygian capital, Gordion, even has archaeologically-documented evidence for the consumption of beer (Hornsey 2003, 128-130).

Author’s Note
Archilochus (ca. 680-645 BCE)
One of the most famous “bro” poets (bro-ets?) of early Greece, Archilochus was born to an aristocratic family in Paros. Many have commented on his treatment of women in his poetry. Fun fact: Archilochus’s Greek fraternity used standard English letters for their name (i.e. Latin alphabet).

 

Sources
Gerber, D.E. 1976. “Archilochus, Fr. 42 West.” QUCC 22: 7-14.
Hornsey, I.S. 2003. A History of Beer and Brewing. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry.
Nelson, M.C. 2001. “Beer in Greco-Roman Antiquity.” Ph.D. dissertation, the University of British Columbia.

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