Roman firkins from the time depict these harrowing droughts.  In desperation,  people found themselves forced to consume concoctions of distilled lichens and heather.  This bland--to say the least--beverage made most of the ancient MacThoy lugubrious and even more antisocial.--ed


Intercontientius and
the 20 Firkins

Intercontientius and the 20 Firkins is a musical written in 1905 by Alabaster Van Gelt.  It tells of the events leading up to the creation of the Clan's Easter Beer Hunt

The curtain rises on Ancient Rome one spring morning.  A young man, about to perish from lack of drink, bursts into song.  He describes the terrors of the season, as the year's supply of alcohol is about to expire.  Even Caligula's stores are dangerously low.  But hope is around the corner.  In a few weeks the new brews will be ready for consumption.

The ensemble joins him singing of their great hero, Intercontientius Appetitus, honored friend of Caligula, and the creator of the Lichen drink.

The Chorus doesn't care much for the drink but it's all that keeps them from living dry.  The group breaks up as a band of Upstanding Citizens come onto the scene to sing their tale.

The Upstanding Citizens roam the streets, mugging the unwary for their drinks.  They are half mad from sobriety and too proud to quaff the Lichen Fix.  They depart into the night.

Out of the famed Publicus Whatever comes our hero, Intercontientius Appetitus, having concluded an evening of debauch.  His servant helps him with the firkins of beer he has to carry home. These are the last of Intercontientiusí stash and once they are gone, he too will be force to drink the Lichen Fix.

The pair sing of these treasured beers and the dangers that lie between them and home until the new vats are breached.  He sends his servant on ahead with a few of the drinks, carrying the bulk of it himself.  The boy will distract potential muggers and lead them on a merry chase.  This will keep the road clear for his inebriated master.

Before leaving, the boy cautions his master to have care with the firkins.  The drunken Appetitus takes a wild swing at him for his impertinence, falling to the ground.  The boy sits him on a bench that he might rest his eyes before the journey home.

The boy sings of his mission.  He describes his great love for his master-- the man who created the Lichen fix.  He has run the Upstanding Citizens' gauntlet many times and has no fear of them.  The mob enters as this point and chases the boy off into the night.

Appetitus wakes and begins his meander home.  Along the way, several bottles drop out of his robe and bounce under near by bushes and behind rocks.

He arrives at his dwelling to the delight of his Clan.  They have been awaiting his return with the firkins.  Appetitus opens his robes to discover only one left.  The Clan sings a song of lament and woe.  How will they survive without the bottles?  Appetitus is accused of drinking them on the way home.  He is forced to agree. He doesn't remember doing it and it is something that he would do.


Before the debate can go further, Appetitus hands the remaining firkin to the smallest MacThoy and staggers off to bed.  The wee MacThoy sings of the last bottle before taking it to bed with her.

The next day, Appetitus is reunited with his servant who easily escaped the chorus.  He still has the bottles Appetitus entrusted to him.  Appetitus urges the boy to run home with the bottles for his Clan.  Every time the boy moves to leave, the hero detains him; the first time to chastise the boy for leaving his master with nothing to drink; the second for leaving him with a half finished bottle; the third for an empty firkin and so on until all of the firkins have been consumed.  The boy fearing trouble sneaks off, planning to return when his master is in a mellower mood.

Appetitus heads for the Firkin Whatever.  If he cannot have beer, he can at least quench his thirst with a Lichen fix and pass the time with the rogues there.  On his way, he discovers one of the missing drinks hidden behind a rock.  He sings of his delight as he roots around in the shrubbery, producing the others.  He resolves to make it his practice to hide firkins along the trail that he might never be thirsty again.

At the Firkin Whatever, Appetitus sings of his good fortune and raises the ire of the dread Emperor Caligula. The hero adjourns to the loo, leaving Caligula to sing of his rage and his decision to send a phalanx of centurions to find the hidden firkins.  The last of this song is overheard by Appetitus who sneaks out the back.

The Centurions tear up the countryside looking for the firkins.  All the while singing of their devotion to the emperor despite the fact, that given half a chance they will drink the firkins themselves.

Appetitus rallies his Clan.  Most are in favor of leaving and begin packing.  The Wee MacThoy comes forward and offers to give Appetitus her firkin if it will make his friend, Caligula, happy again.  All are amazed that the drink remained unmolested in the MacThoy encampment for so long.  She shows them that she had disguised it as doll.

Appetitus sets the Clan to camouflaging the remaining bottles, singing all the while.

The Centurion attacks continued.  Not all the disguises worked.  Some firkins resembled Ming vases but any centurion worth his salt knew that if the MacThoy got a hold of a Ming they would knock a hole in it and use it as a beer bong.  They tore up hedgerows favored by the Clan for trysting and even disemboweled sheep after hearing stories of the drinks being disguised as lambs.

Over all the planned work, and the MacThoy cache survived until the opening of the new vats.  The final scene has Caligula and Appetitus being reunited in a toast though all concerned know it will start over again the following year, a never-ending battle.

Obviously Alabaster embellished a great deal on MacThoy tradition, white washing the Clan story.  This is a habit the writer had in all the musicals he wrote about his family.  The general history of it is nonetheless accurate and adds another interesting wrinkle in the History of the Clan MacThoy. --the ed

Last modified: October 01, 2005

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