Musings by Giovanni Pontano and Jacopo Sannazaro on wine

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Giovanni Pontano (1458-1530) was a key figure in the court of Alfonso ‘the Magnanimous’ in Naples, and amongst the many early works he wrote for his patron was the long poem Parthenopeus  (c.1450) which was a eulogy of sort to Bacchus and the restorative powers of wine. This was one of the first works of the Renaissance period written about the god Bacchus in a non-Christian context. Bacchus of course, had for some time been dealt a harsh blow to his reputation, something I will muse on in a later post, but here in both these pieces we see the god Bacchus and wine being praised as restorative, the nurse of love, and the carer for the troubled soul.

“Thanks to wine,  sad cares are driven away from one’s breast:
This liquid lightens the heart of unwelcome sorrow,
This god grants rest to the afflicted and hope to the destitute;
Go page, and pour the Falernum with a generous hand.
Between draughts of wine (for Bacchus is the nurse of love),
I like
To plant drunken kisses on the lips which are joined to mine
And to stroke a soft thigh with my hand and to caress breasts
and to
Engage to sweet battles in a tender lap.”
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Jacopo Sannazaro (1459-1530) wrote of Bacchus and of wine some 50 years after Pontano and albeit in quite a very different pastoral style, but he still mused that wine was restorative and could bring peace to a troubled soul. In his Elegies (2.5) he wrote of Bacchus :

“Holy father, drive away my gnawing cares: clear my clouded breast with aged wine. Bring quiet slumbers to my breast, and enlighten my weary eyes with your inspiration…And provide me with responsive Muses and visit me graciously, your divinity peacefully disposed.”

Till the next meandering…..

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