His memories in a trunk

Reflections on literature, language(s), and music

Here’s a post I wrote a few weeks ago that I thought might interest other readers: it’s on a short Arabic text (written in Syriac letters, a phenomenon known as Garshuni) that lists the effects of wine on the body and soul; English translation provided, along with images from the manuscript. Enjoy! Comments welcome.

hmmlorientalia

Well-known are the biblical praises of wine from the Psalter, “wine that maketh glad the heart of man” (Ps 104:15, ויין ישׂמח לבב אנוש, καὶ οἶνος εὐφραίνει καρδίαν ἀνθρώπου) and from the line in a parable, where a vine says, “Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man?” (Judges 9:13, החדלתי את תירושי המשׂמח אלהים ואנשים, B Μὴ ἀπολείψασα τὸν οἶνόν μου τὸν εὐφραίνοντα θεὸν καὶ ἀνθρώπους, but Α differently, Ἀφεῖσα τὸν οἶνόν μου, τὴν εὐφροσύνην τὴν παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ τῶν ἀνθρώπων). I was pleased and surprised recently to find a few lines in Arabic (Garšūnī) from a fifteenth-century Psalter (parallel Syriac and Garšūnī) in the collection of Saint Mark’s Monastery in Jerusalem (no. 10, dated 1474/5) that list wine’s effects: five for the body and five for the soul. These lines are written at a ninety degree angle to the rest of the text, but they do…

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