“[Drunk] Lips Sink Ships”: Plutarch on Why You Shouldn’t Drink Too Much Tonight

Plutarch, On Talkativeness 503e-f

“Every person who is orderly and proper, I believe, should take precautions against being drunk. For, while anger is insanity’s neighbor, according to some, drunkenness is his roommate. To put it differently, drunkenness is insanity but shorter-lived, but greater to blame, because there is some choice in the matter. And there is nothing which convicts being drunk as much as a lack of control and limit to speech. For, as the poet says, wine ‘makes a man sing, even if he is really wise and makes him laugh lightly and dance.’

And why is this very terrible? A song, a laugh, and a dance? None of these is so bad> But then ‘he lets out some word which would have been better unsaid.’ Now that is terrible and dangerous.”

Ἔτι τοίνυν τὸ μεθύειν πᾶς ἄνθρωπος αἰδήμων καὶ κόσμιος, οἶμαι, φυλάξαιτ᾿ ἄν· μανίᾳ γὰρ ὁμότοιχος μὲν ἡ ὀργὴ κατ᾿ ἐνίους, ἡ δὲ μέθη σύνοικος· μᾶλλον δὲ μανία τῷ μὲν χρόνῳ ἥττων, τῇ δ᾿ αἰτίᾳ μείζων, ὅτι τὸ αὐθαίρετον αὐτῇ πρόσεστι. τῆς δὲ μέθης οὐθὲν οὕτω κατηγοροῦσιν ὡς τὸ περὶ τοὺς λόγους ἀκρατὲς καὶ ἀόριστον· οἶνος γάρ, φησίν,3

ἐφέηκε πολύφρονά περ μάλ᾿ ἀεῖσαι,καί θ᾿ ἁπαλὸν γελάσαι καί τ᾿ ὀρχήσασθαι ἀνῆκε.

καὶ τί τὸ δεινότατον; ᾠδὴ καὶ γέλως καὶ ὄρχησις; οὐδὲν ἄχρι τούτων·

καί τι ἔπος προέηκεν, ὅπερ τ᾿ ἄρρητον ἄμεινον—τοῦτ᾿

ἤδη δεινὸν καὶ ἐπικίνδυνον.

Drinking Philosophy

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