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About 1600 the sphinx first appeared in the Greek world.Objects from Crete at the end of the middle Minoan period and from the shaft graves at Mycenae throughout the late Helladic age showed the sphinx characteristically winged.
The second is that, in his researches, Forsyth found an absolute wealth of material —much of it quite bizarre — which proves that civilisation has depended on drink for longer than we can imagine. The only ones that weren’t too keen — North America and Australia — have been colonised by those who did.’And in every age and every place, drunkenness is subtly different.In fact, so steadily have people been drinking for so long, it’s amazing we have any civilisation at all. When the ancient Persians had a difficult political decision to make, they would debate the matter twice: once drunk, once sober.If they came to the same conclusion both times, they acted.‘In present-day Britain, for example, though there is no law in place, absolutely everybody knows you must not drink before noon, except, for some reason, at airports and cricket matches.’Why have humans been champion booze-hounds for so long?Benjamin Franklin thought it was because of the position of the elbow.‘If the elbow had been placed nearer the hand, the part in advance would have been too short to bring the glass up to the mouth; and if it had been nearer the shoulder, that part would have been so long, that when it attempted to carry the wine to the mouth, it would have overshot the mark and gone beyond the head.’Still, he also thought that Noah’s flood was intended to punish mankind for drinking water, by trying to drown us in the stuff. Their famous ‘symposia’ were just extended gargling sessions.One of the best chapters describes the precise differences between inns, taverns and alehouses in England between the 12th and 17th centuries.
Essentially, inns were posh hotels, taverns were posh wine retailers and alehouses were people’s kitchens where you could buy drink.
After 1200 the depiction of sphinxes disappeared from Greek art for about 400 years, though they continued in Asia in forms and poses similar to those of the Bronze Age.
By the end of the 8th century, the sphinx reappeared in Greek art and was common down to the end of the 6th century.
And what was the first thing Noah did after the flood waters receded? A detail from the tomb of Nerfertiti, who died in around 1330 BC, shows a female servant holding a wine vessel, while her mistress sits on her right and throws up. The playwright Euboulos wrote: ‘For sensible men I prepare only three kraters [barrels of wine]: one for health, which they drink first, the second for love and pleasure, and the third for sleep.
After the third one is drained, wise men go home.‘The fourth krater is not mine any more — it belongs to bad behaviour; the fifth is for shouting; the sixth is for rudeness and insults; the seventh is for fights; the eighth is for breaking the furniture; the ninth is for depression; the tenth is for madness and unconsciousness.’I think this may be my favourite piece of writing about anything, ever.
sphinx of Boeotian Thebes, the most famous in legend, was said to have terrorized the people by demanding the answer to a riddle taught her by the Muses—What is it that has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?