Another Hot Topic: Alexander’s Excessive Drinking and Wonderful Smell

Plutarch, “Table-Talk” Morlia 623: Another Topic – “On Alexander’s Excessive Drinking”

“The discussion was about Alexander the king and decided that he did not drink too much but that he spent too much time drinking and distracted with his friends. Philînos accused everyone of talking nonsense using the royal accounts as proof in which it is written frequently that “he slept off his drinking the whole day” and at times “and the following day too”.

For this reason, he was also somewhat lazy about sex even though his sharp and emotional natural was an indication of the hottest body. It is also said that his skin had the nicest smell and that because of it his clothing was permeated with the most pleasant aroma. This too seems to be a mark of heat. This is why the driest and hottest places in the world produce frankincense and cassia. For Theophrastus says that a good smell comes from when the harmful amount of moisture is removed by heat.

Kallisthenes seems to have gotten on Alexander’s bad side because he had trouble joining him for dinner because of the strong wine. When it was passed to him, he pushed away the big cup, which was called Alexander’s cup, because he said he did not wish to need Asclepius’ tonic because he drank Alexander’s. This was the substance of the conversation about Alexander’s drinking.”

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Περὶ τῆς Ἀλεξάνδρου πολυποσίας

Λόγος ἦν περὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τοῦ βασιλέως ὡς οὐ πολὺ πίνοντος ἀλλὰ πολὺν χρόνον ἐν τῷ πίνειν καὶ διαλέγεσθαι τοῖς φίλοις ἕλκοντος. ἀπεδείκνυεν δ᾿ αὐτοὺς φλυαροῦντας Φιλῖνος ἐκ τῶν βασιλικῶν ἐφημερίδων, ἐν αἷς συνεχέστατα γέγραπται καὶ πλειστάκις ὅτι “τήνδε τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκ τοῦ πότου καθεύδων” ἔστι δ᾿ ὅτε “καὶ τὴν ἐφεξῆς”· διὸ καὶ πρὸς τὰς συνουσίας ἀργότερος ἦν, ὀξὺς δὲ καὶ θυμοειδὴς ἅπερ ἐστὶ σωματικῆς θερμότητος. λέγεται δὲ καὶ τοῦ χρωτὸς ἥδιστον ἀποπνεῖν ὥστε καταπιμπλάναι τοὺς χιτωνίσκους εὐωδίας ἀρωματιζούσης, ὃ δοκεῖ καὶ αὐτὸ θερμότητος εἶναι· διὸ καὶ τῆς οἰκουμένης οἱ ξηρότατοι καὶ θερμότατοι τόποι τήν τε κασίαν καὶ τὸν λιβανωτὸν ἐκφέρουσιν· πέψει γάρ τινι τῶν ὑγρῶν ὁ Θεόφραστός φησιν ἐπιγίγνεσθαι τὴν εὐωδίαν, ὅταν ἐξαιρεθῇ τὸ βλαβερὸν περισσὸν ὑπὸ θερμότητος. δοκεῖ δὲ καὶ Καλλισθένης ἐν διαβολῇ γενέσθαι πρὸς αὐτόν, ὡς δυσχεραίνων τὸ συνδειπνεῖν διὰ τὸν ἄκρατον· ἐπεὶ καὶ κύλικα λεγομένην Ἀλεξάνδρου μεγάλην ἐλθοῦσαν ἐπ᾿ αὐτὸν ἀπεώσατο φήσας οὐκ ἐθέλειν Ἀλεξάνδρου πιὼν Ἀσκληπιοῦ δεῖσθαι. ταῦτα μὲν οὖν περὶ τῆς Ἀλεξάνδρου πολυποσίας.

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