Lucian of Samosata’s True History is a delirious read, with nary a true word in it. InDulwich has an interest in beer and wine (as well as literature) and Lucian’s story includes a cracker of a wine tale. But first, he makes a confession; “because I had no matter of verity to employ my pen in (for nothing hath befallen me worth the writing), I turned my style to untruths”. It seems the 2nd century has something in common with the 21st.

Lucian and his companions probably did not sail through a storm for 79 days, landing on an island previously visited by Bacchus and Hercules but let us suppose that they did and that later he came across a river of wine. Following this river to its source, they discovered a number of large grapevines, each with a little spring of wine at its base.

On closer inspection of this wonder, they saw that the vines grew into women, at least from from the hip up. Bunches of grapes grow from their fingertips and hair. They greet the adventurers, kissing them on the lips, which renders them very drunk. The vine women offer “carnal mixture” and two men rather unwisely accept. They are soon knit fast at the nether regions and sprouting tendrils themselves.

Lucian and co abandon their friends and head back to their ship. They set sail next morning, with jars of wine safely stashed on board. From then on, the story gets seriously weird with a journey to the moon, a battle in the heavens, bizarre creatures, noses running honey and people sweating milk, from which mixture they can produce a pretty good cheese. Whether the cheese goes well with the river wine isn't discussed.

True History is available online and is just possibly stranger than 2016.