"Now nearly extinct in the wild, grapes (vitis
vinifera) grew throughout the ancient Mediterranean. In Italy,
grape vines were cultivated both in the north by the Etruscans and in the south
by Greek colonists. Wine growing was less important to the Romans, who, in the
early years of the Republic, were fighting to expand their domination of the
peninsula. By the middle of the second century BC, however, with the defeat of
the Etruscans and the Samnites, Pyrrhus and the Greeks, Philip of Macedonia and the Carthaginians,
The Romans celebrated Vinalia, the vinalia urbana or priora, on the 23rd of April (IX. Calend. Mai.), when the prior year's casks were opened for the first time and the wine tasted; and the vinalia rustica or altera on the 19th of August (XIV. Calend. Sept.).
Come, boy, you who serve out the old Falernian,
fill up stronger cups for me,
as the law of Postumia, mistress of the revels, ordains,
Postumia more tipsy than the tipsy grape.
But water, begone, away with you, water,
destruction of wine, and take up abode
with scrupulous folk. This is the pure Thyonian god.
MINISTER uetuli puer Falerni
inger mi calices amariores,
ut lex Postumiae iubet magistrae
ebriosa acina ebriosioris.
at uos quo lubet hinc abite, lymphae
uini pernicies, et ad seueros
migrate. hic merus est Thyonianus.