MARCUS SERVIUS HONORATUS, COMMENTARY ON THE GEORGICS OF VERGIL 3.380

Fermento atque A.I.U.S. potionis genus est, quod cervesia nominatur. Et consequens est quod dicit, ut vinum, per naturam calidum, in provincia frigida non possit creari.

It [i.e. the drink of the Scythians] is a type of drink made by fermentation, which is called “cervesia.” And, it is like wine such that it is not able to be made in a cold region, because it is warm by its nature.

Background
Referring to lines in Virgil’s Georgics (rad, farming/nature poetry):
Hic noctem ludo ducunt et pocula laeti
Fermento atque acidis imitantus vitea sorbis.

“Here they [i.e. Scythians] joyfully lead the night with a game and
imitate the cups of wine with fermented liquid [beer] and sour berries.”

Commentary

A commentary on a commentary!!!!! So meta. Here is what we learn from the text(s):

Lesson 1: The Scythians drink beer like others drink wine. This probably involved aggressive slurping and raised pinky fingers.

Lesson 2: Sour fruit beers were possibly in style 2000 years ago, making Cantillon seem like a new, hyped brewery.

Lesson 3: Alcohol makes you warm!

Lesson 4: Lagers were not “a thing” back in the day.

Author’s Note
Maurus Servius Honoratus (ca. 4th-5th c. CE)
The “most learned man of his generation in Italy” according to the ancient encyclopediast, Gaius Vicius Pedius. Much like the current author of this blog, he wrote commentaries on ancient literature.

 

 

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