An Archæological Drink
Theosophist, April, 1881
Recently, during the progress of some excavations at Marseilles (France), a vast Roman necropolis was found. The tomb of the Consul Caius Septimus proved to be the most interesting among the many opened monuments. Besides weapons and old precious coins, an amphora or vase, covered with half-defaced inscriptions and filled to abut one-third of its capacity with a thick darkened fluid, was found. The learned archæologists directing the work of the excavations, proceeded immediately to make out the inscriptions. It was then ascertained that the red fluid was real Falernian wine—that famous wine of Falerno which was so often celebrated by Horace. Decidedly the Consul Caïus Septimus must have been a great epicurean. Fond, during life, of good cheer, an amphora, full of the Falernian, had been placed thoughtfully thus beside his body in the tomb. The wine, old as it was, must be excellent! Hence a Professor P—— carrying the amphora and contents to Paris, proceeded to summon friends, the daintiest gourmands of the metropolis, to a regular Gargantuan feast. Speeches were pronounced during the repast in honour of the Roman Consul, and the Falernian wine was drunk to his manes with great enthusiasm. Notwithstanding its rather queer taste, it was found delicious, especially when sipped between mouthfuls of the most rotten of Limburger cheeses—one of the chief délicatesses in gastronomy. The guests had hardly swallowed the last drop of Falernian, when a telegram was received from Marseilles running thus:—“Do not drink the wine. Other inscriptions have been deciphered. The Falernian in the amphora contains the entrails of the embalmed Consul.”
Alas! too late. The miserable archæologists and gourmets had already quaffed off the deceased Roman in solution. For one moment at least, they must have deeply regretted not to have pledged themselves in a Temperance Society.