Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mithridates - A.E.Housman's view

There was a king reigned in the East:
There, when kings will sit to feast,
They get their fill before they think
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
He gathered all the springs to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt.
–I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.


Blogger mayor said...

Great poem by Housman! William Wordsworth, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Cadafy all wrote poems about Mithridates

New scientific and archaeological evidence helps explain some of the toxicological principles behind Mith's famous "universal antidote" and his use of snake venom as a healing medicine. Italian archaeologists have even discovered a vat with residue of the antidote elixir in Herculaneum!

These and other Mithridatic secrets are revealed in The Poison King (Princeton) coming out October 2009

7:43 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

I am looking forward to your book!

7:49 am  

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