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119 119 Two Stories from al-Masʿūdī’s Meadows of Gold366 Murūj al-dhahab (Meadows of Gold), by Abū l-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn al-Ḥusayn al-Masʿūdī (ca. 282/896–345/956), one of the most entertaining works in Arabic, is a combination of geography and history. A large part of the work is devoted to people other than the Arabs; the historical part begins at the creation of the world and runs to al-Masʿūdī’s own time. It is enlivened by many anecdotes and stories. I. The origin of drinking wine367 Azūr and Khalinjās368 became kings [of the Syrians]; it is said that they were brothers. Their conduct was excellent and they mutually supported each other in reigning. One of these two kings was sitting one day, it is said, when suddenly he saw on the highest part of his palace a bird with a nest and young birds in it; it was beating its wings and screeching. The king looked more closely and saw a snake creeping up toward the nest, in order to eat the chicks. The king called for a bow and shot the snake, killing it, and the young birds were saved. After a short while, the bird came, flapping its wings, with one seed in its beak and two more seeds in its claws. It stood before the king and cast down what it had in its beak and claws, while the king looked on. The seeds fell in front of the king. He looked at them and said, “The bird must have thrown down these things for some reason. Surely it wants to reward us for what we did.” He picked up the seeds and began to look at them closely, but they were not of a kind known in his country. A wise man from his entourage, who saw the king’s perplexity regarding the seeds, said to him, “Sire, this plant ought to be entrusted to the womb of the earth; only then will it show its true nature, will its utility be found out, and the purpose of its stored treasure and hidden nature be fulfilled.” So the king called for some ploughmen and ordered them to sow the seeds and to observe what became of them. They were sown and began to grow, twisting themselves round trees, then producing unripe grapes, then ripe grapes, while the men watched them and the king, too, observed them. Finally they were fully grown. The men did not dare taste them, fearing they might be lethal. The king 120 120 120 120 Prose ordered to have the fruits pressed, the juice put in a container and the seeds separated from it, while leaving some of it intact. When it reached the container as pressed juice, it began to bubble and produce foam, as fragrant odors wafted from it. The king said, “Fetch me an old decrepit man!”369 A man was brought and was given some of the substance in a vessel. What he saw was a ruby color, a luminous radiance, and a wonderful and perfect sight. They made him drink it and he had not had three glasses before he became aggressive , partly loosened his loincloth, clapped his hands, moved his head, stamped his feet on the ground, became elated, raised his voice, and began to sing. Thereupon the king said, “This is a drink that takes away one’s reason. As likely as not it will be lethal. See how that old man has reverted to his childhood, when sanguinity reigns with the force of growth and youth!” Then the king ordered that he be given yet more; the old man got drunk and fell asleep. The king said, “He has died!” But then the old man awoke and asked for more, saying, “When I had drunk it all distress was dispelled; it removed all my sorrows and worries. The bird wanted only to reward you with this noble drink.” Then the king exclaimed, “This is the noblest drink for men!” This was because he saw that the man had a healthy color and was relaxed and elated in a situation that would normally be dominated by sorrow and by phlegm. His digestion was good; he slept and a joyful feeling overcame him. Then the king ordered the planting of many vines, and many vines were planted. He gave orders for it to be forbidden to the masses, saying: “This is the drink...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780814745113
Related ISBN
9780814770276
MARC Record
OCLC
859687281
Pages
496
Launched on MUSE
2013-05-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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