Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Stir It Up (Herakleitos 50)


That delicious drink, spiced hot Pramnian wine mixed with resin, roasted barley, and grated goat’s cheese, separates in the bowl if it is not stirred.



1. Fragmentary terracotta relief (Roman) of Satyr working a wine press. 1st century AD. British Museum.

2.  Euergides Painter, Kylix drinking cup, Dancing woman with two crotales, tondo of an Attic red-figure, 510–500 BC from Capua. British Museum.

3. Like so many since Herakleitos’ time, I’ve wondered over these words as an image of change, its sequences and consequences.  In the Oxford Companion To Wine (3rd. ed. 2006), the fine wine writer Jancis Robinson informs: “Some individual wines that were praised were two wines of mysterious origins: Bibline and Pramnian. Bibline is believed to be a wine made in a similar style to the Phoenician wine from Byblos, highly praised for its perfumed fragrance by Greek writers like Archestratus.  The Greek version of the wine is believed to have originated in Thrace from a grape variety known as "Bibline". Pramnian wine was found in several regions, most notably Lesbos but also Icaria and Smyrna.  It was suggested by Athenaeus that Pramnian was a generic name referring to a dark wine of good quality and aging potential.”   

4. N.b., I've avoided what I think would have been a predictable, but mistaken, decision to include a link to the Wailers' truly immortal "Stir It Up" here.  You can probably sing it in your head -- every rising and falling line, swoop, sigh and surge -- and feel the bass plucks, clicking cymbals, guitar chops and swirling outer space synthesizer lines.  It will sound much better that way than through any sort of internet music system.  Obviously, however, it's a modern "related item" to this dreamy fragment, also probably composed near the wine-dark sea.


  1. The sequences and consequences of change - expressed here both in terms of separation and reintegration. Both kinds of change can have positive and negative, depressing and exciting implications, I think.

  2. They can indeed. These thoughts and images keep us going. For me, imagining Herakleitos under the stars considering the world through the lens of the Pramnian wine never loses interest and continues to excite passion. I will be happily involved this morning in a seminar away from phones, email, etc. Trading one madding crowd for another. Icy here. Curtis