Mu'tamid's gatherings, his audiences, conferences and conversations have been recorded. They treated of literature and manners. There is, for example, a eulogy of the courtier, with an enumeration of his qualities, and a polemic against those addicted to nabidh, as well as passages of verse and prose dealing with these subjects. There are quotations on the manners of the courtier and descriptions of him - his moderation in taking pleasure and his lack of frivolity. The polite formulae for invitations are there as well, with examples of invitation and acceptance; the names of all the numerous different kinds of drinks, details of the various types of concerts; on the principles of singing and its origins among the Arabs and other peoples; the life stories of the most famous singers, ancient and modern; instructions on how to behave at gatherings; the place destined to master and subordinate, the rules of precedence to be observed and the arrangements to be made for seating guests. Lastly, the phrases used for greetings, as the poet al-Atawi says:
Greet those guests who hasten to greet you And who know how to call out for a drink When you forget to pour. Drunk with pleasure At breakfast, by evening they are comatose, But not without life. In between, a carousel Of delights which even the feasts Of the Caliphs cannot equal.*
All this is to be found, with much fuller details, in my Historical Annals. There also you may read a whole mass of hitherto unpublished information on the kinds of wines, on different sorts of nuts and dried fruits and the ways of arranging them on trays and in bowls, either in pyramids or in symmetrical rows, with all kinds of explanations on this subject. There is also a glimpse of the culinary art, some knowledge of which is essential to the subordinate and, indeed, which no cultivated person should be without, and some indications of the new fashions in dishes and of the skilful combination of spices and aromatics in seasonings.