By the Waters of Babylon Questions and Answers
by Stephen Vincent Benét

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In "By the Waters of Babylon," what does John notice about the “drink of the gods”?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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As John enters the "city of the Gods," he realizes that he is hungry, and so goes on the hunt for some food.  He states that it is a well-known fact that the gods didn't hunt for food, but rather got food from "enchanted boxes and jars," and that it was forbidden to eat any of that food, because it often made one sick.  The "enchanted boxes and jars" is probably canned goods, and boxed, pre-prepared dishes, which all have an expiration date, so not eating them was probably a good idea.  If you eat expired canned goods, it makes you very ill.  John finds some canned fruit though, and eats it with no problem.  Then, he is thirsty and drinks liquid from "bottles of glass."  This gives us our first clue as to what the drinks probably were; wine and other liquor is often produced in bottles of class.  John, probably not ever having had alcohol of any kind in his life, notes that this drink "made my head swim."  So, he probably got a bit tipsy on it.  He called it very "strong," and after eating and drinking a bit, he slept it all off for a while before continuing on.

So, the drink that John runs across is probably liquor of some kind, and it makes John a bit disoriented and fuzzy in the head for a bit.  He recovers though, and the drinks are just one of the many enlightening discoveries that he makes on his journey.  I hope that helped a bit; good luck!

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omgcba1 | Student

John notices that the drink never runs out and that it had a sweet taste to it.