Dinner parties can be dull, even in ancient Greece. Democritus’ solution was to prank the hosts, eat lots of garlic, and try to sleep with everyone. No wonder he was called the laughing philosopher.
Here is all of his advice, some of it terrible (find the introvert, rub honey on their face, and tell them to lighten up), some not so bad (a cure for garlic breath), some that uses language I wouldn’t have expected (βινεῖν, στύειν, both covered in posts by sententiae antiquae). It’s almost certainly not by Democritus, but still, says something about how people might have imagined a night like this would go.
This text is included in the collection of Greek Magical Papyri, the edition of which is available online, with German translation, at the University of Heidelberg Library (vol 1) (vol 2) and in English translation without the text but with notes at archive.org.
Democritus' Party Tricks
To make bronzeware look golden. Mix unfired (i.e., native) sulfur with chalky earth and wipe it with it.
To make an egg become like an apple. Boil the egg and smear it with a mixture of saffron and wine.
To make it so that the cook can’t light the fire. Put a house-leek plant on his stove.
To make it so that those who eat garlic don’t smell. Bake some beetroot and eat it.
To make an old woman stop blathering and drinking so much. Chop up some pine and toss it in her cocktail.
To make the painted gladiators fight. Smoke some hare's head underneath them.
To make cold hors-d'oeuvres burn the person eating them. Soak squill in warm water and give it to him to wash his hands with. Relieve with oil.
To make those who have a hard time mingling be more easy going. Give them gum with wine and honey to rub on their face.
To make those who drink a lot not get drunk. Eat baked pork lung.
To make those who have to walk home not get thirsty. Chug an egg beaten in wine.
To be able to fuck a lot. Grind up fifty small pine cones with two ladles of sweet wine and pepper corns and drink it.
To get hard whenever you want. Grind up pepper with honey and rub it on your thing.
Τὰ χαλκᾶ χρυσᾶ ποιῆσαι φαίνεσθαι· θεῖον ἄπυρον
μετὰ γῆς κρητηρίας μείξας ἔκμασσε.
Ὠὸν ὅμοιον μήλων γενέσθαι· ζέσας τὸ ὠὸν χρεῖε κρόκῳ
μείξας μετ’ οἴνου. Μάγειρον μὴ δύνασθαι τὴν πυρὰν
ἀνάψαι· βοτάνην ἀεί[ζω]ον θὲς αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν ἑστίαν.
Φαγόντα σκόρδον μὴ ὄζειν· [ῥ]ίζας <σ>εύτλου ὀπτήσας φάγε.
Γραῦν μήτε πολλὰ λαλεῖν μήτε πολλὰ πίνειν· πίτυν
κόψας βάλε αὐτῆς εἰς τ[ὸ] κράμμα. Μονομάχας ἐζωγραφη-
μένους μάχεσθαι· ὑποκάτω αὐτῶν κάπνισον λαγοῦ κεφαλήν.
Ψυχρὰ τρώγοντα κατακαίεσθαι· σκίλλαν εἰς ὕδωρ χλιαρὸν
βρέξας δὸς αὐτῷ νίψασ[θ]αι. λύσις ἐλαίῳ. Τοὺς [μεμ]ει-
[γμ]ένους μόγις ε̣[ὖ] ποι[εῖ]ν̣· κόμι μετὰ οἴνου καὶ [μέλιτο]ς
δὸς εἰς τὴν ὄψιν μυρ[ίσα]σθαι. Πολλὰ πίνοντα καὶ μὴ με-
θύειν· χοιραῖον πνεύμονα ὀπτήσας φάγε. Ὁδοιποροῦντα
μὴ διψᾶν· ὠὸν <εἰς> οἶνον ἀνακόψας ῥόφα. Πολλὰ βι[ν]εῖν
δύνασθαι· στροβίλια πεντήκοντα μετὰ δύο κυά[θ]ων
γλυκέος καὶ κόκκους πεπέρεως τρίψας πίε. Στ[ύ]ειν,
ὅτε θέλεις· πέπερι μετὰ μέλιτος τρίψας χρῖέ σου τὸ πρᾶ̣γ̣μ̣α.