Thirsty Thursday: Drinking from Infancy

Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, On the Education of Boys (19):

I once heard that there was a Bohemian nobleman who made his children accustomed to drinking from the time they were in the crib by giving them big and frequent swigs of Malmsey or Rhenish wine. He used to say, ‘Once they have become men and have drunk so much, they will never lose their heads because of the influence of wine.’ Thus perhaps had Cyrus the younger been raised. Once, when he was urging the Lacedaemonians to join him, he said that his heart was far more stout than that of his brother, because he had drunk more wine than him and could hold it better to boot. But it seems like a foolish and empty precaution to be always drunk as a way of avoiding drunkenness. Those who are thus raised do not ruin their minds, but rather, ensure the continuation of a stupid mind and a perpetually clinging drunkenness. There is no memory there, no lively intellect, no desire of the good arts, no eagerness for glory or distinction.

Come over to the dark side! Learn about the grim history of food

Relatum est mihi ex Bohemis proceribus quondam fuisse, qui liberos ab infantia suos atque ab ipsis incunabulis solius Malvatici aut Rivoli magnis et crebris haustibus assuefaceret. Sic enim aiebat: ‘postquam viri fuerint multumque biberint, nullius vini potentia mentem amittent.’ Sic fortasse nutritus fuerat Cyrus iunior, qui cum Lacedaemonios, ut secum societatem inirent, hortaretur, cor sibi, dicebat, longe gravius esse quam fratri, nam et plus meri quam ille biberet et melius ferret. Stulta et inanis cautio, ne sis aliquando ebrius, semper erbium esse. Non perdunt, cum maxime bibunt, qui sic nutriti sunt, mentem, sed stultam mentem adhaerentemque semper ebrietatem continuant. Non ibi memoria est, non vivax ingenium, non bonarum cupido artium, non gloriae, non honestatis studium.

Tipsy Tuesday: Some BULLSHIT Advice on Temperance

Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, On the Education of Boys (19):

Since the delight of taste holds back many people in both drink and in food, you should take care that you don’t become fond either of drinking too much or drinking wine which is too good. You should avoid every drink which can make you drunk. Let your drinking be moderate, of the sort which will not depress the mind, but will bear away your thirst. Nothing is more shameful than a boy who is keen on wine. ‘The use of wine,’ according to Valerius, ‘was unknown to Roman women at one time.’ What about the boys? Shall we suffer the minds of our boys to go fully Dionysian, or shall we destroy the rising mind with undiluted drink? Though it be entirely unpardonable in Teutonic custom to mix water with wine, I can in no way be persuaded that strong wine should ever be placed at a boy’s table unless it be corrected with the addition of water.

File:Monk sneaking a drink.jpg
British Library manuscript Sloane 2435, f. 44v.

Verum, cum delectatio gustus plerosque non minus in potu quam in cibo detineat, cavendum est, tibi ne vel multi bibulus vel optimi bibulus fias. Omnem quae potest inebriare potionem vitabis. Sit moderata bibitio; non quae mentem gravet, sed quae sitim auferat. Multum succi in pueris est; lacte sunt et sanguine pleni raroque sitim sentiunt. Appetitore vini puero nihil turpius est. ‘Usus vini’ sicut Valerius ait, ‘Romanis olim feminis ignotus fuit.’ Quid pueris? Feremusne puerorum bacchari mentes aut vini surgentem ingenii iugulabimus mero? Quamvis Teutonico more nefas sit aquam misceri vino, mihi tamen nulla ratione persuasum fuerit fumosum vinum, nisi aqua castigatum, puerorum mensis apponi debere.

Ancient Peoples Liked Beer

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 14.29

“The people of the west have their own alcohol made from soaked grain in many different ways in Gaul and Spain with many different names but with the same idea. The people of Spain have already taught us that these kinds of beverages will last even a long amount of time.

Egypt, too, has worked out a similar drink made from grain and in no corner of the world does intoxication ever take a break. They even drink this type of beverage without diluting them as one does with wine. But, by Hercules, that land used to seem to offer grains alone. Alas, the miraculous inventiveness of vice! A way has also been found to make water intoxicating!”

. Est et occidentis populis sua ebrietas e fruge madida, pluribus modis per Gallias Hispaniasque, nominibus aliis sed ratione eadem. Hispaniae iam et vetustatem ferre ea genera docuerunt. Aegyptus quoque e fruge sibi potus similis excogitavit, nullaque in parte mundi cessat ebrietas; meros quippe hauriunt tales sucos nec diluendo ut vina mitigant; at, Hercules, illic tellus fruges parare videbatur. heu, mira vitiorum sollertia! inventum est quemadmodum aquae quoque inebriarent.

 

Julian the Apostate, Epigrams 1

“Who are you and where are you from Dionysus? By the Bakhos true
I know only the son of Zeus and I do not know you.
He smells like nektar, but you smell like goat.
Did the Celts make you from grain because of their lack of grapes?
Ah, we should call you not Dionysus, but Demetrios instead.
And Bromos*** not Bromios since you are born of wheat**.”

Τίς πόθεν εἶς Διόνυσε; μὰ γὰρ τὸν ἀληθέα Βάκχον,
οὔ σ᾿ ἐπιγιγνώσκω· τὸν Διὸς οἶδα μόνον.
κεῖνος νέκταρ ὄδωδε· σὺ δὲ τράγου. ἦ ῥά σε Κελτοὶ
τῇ πενίῃ βοτρύων τεῦξαν ἀπ᾿ ἀσταχύων.
τῷ σε χρὴ καλέειν Δημήτριον, οὐ Διόνυσον,
πυρογενῆ μᾶλλον καὶ Βρόμον, οὐ Βρόμιον.

 

Aeschylus fr. 124 from Lykourgos (from Athenaeus 10.447c)

“He used to drink beer from these [heads] once he dried them
And then boast proudly about it in his man-cave.”

κἀκ τῶνδ᾿ ἔπινε βρῦτον ἰσχναίνων χρόνῳ
κἀσεμνοκόμπει τοῦτ᾿ ἐν ἀνδρείᾳ στέγῃ

The note from the Loeb attributes an understanding of this fragment to Hermann who compares it to Nonnos, Dionysiaca, 20.149–153, 166–181

Nonnos, Dion. 20.149-153

“The was a certain murderous man living there, of Ares’s line
Who was a mimic of his father’s wretched customs.
The criminal would drag faultless strangers to their doom,
That dread maniac Lykourgos, and then when he cut off
Their mortal heads with steel he hung them in his doorway…”

ἔνθα τις, ῎Αρεος αἷμα, μιαιφόνος ᾤκεεν ἀνήρ,
ἤθεσι ῥιγεδανοῖσιν ἔχων μίμημα τοκῆος,
ὀθνείους ἀθέμιστος ἀμεμφέας εἰς μόρον ἕλκων,
αἰνομανὴς Λυκόοργος· ἀποκταμένων δὲ σιδήρῳ
ἔστεφεν ἀνδρομέοισιν ἑὸν πυλεῶνα καρήνοις

Abb. 8: Jorg Prewmaister, Mendel Band I (1437), Seite 60 

Come and Drink! A Blessing Equal to Fire

Panyasis is an epic poet from the 5th century BCE. We have a few long fragments of his Heraklea.

Panyasis fr. 19 [also cited at Athenaeus 37a 12–13; Stob. 3.18.21]

“Friend, come and drink! For this itself is also a virtue,
Whenever someone drinks the most wine at the feast
Using the best techniques, and also encourages his friends.

Yes, the man who is fast at the feast is equal to one in war,
Working through the grievous battles, where few people
Are actually brave and withstand the rushing war.

I think that his glory is equal when someone delights in
Being there at the feast and encourages the rest of the band too.
For a mortal does not seem to me to live or to have the life
Of a mortal who knows pain, if he sits there
Restraining his heart from wine—no, he’s an idiot.

For wine is a blessing for mortals equal to fire,
A fine armor against evil and companion for song.
It has its own share of the feast and of reward,
It has the power of dance, of bewitching love,
And is a shelter from worry and sadness.

So, you need to drink to the dedication at the feast
With a happy spirit—don’t sit with a full stomach,
Sated like a vulture who has forgotten happiness.”

“ξεῖν᾿, ἄγε δὴ καὶ πῖν᾿· ἀρετή νύ τίς ἐστι καὶαὕτη,
ὅς κ᾿ ἀνδρῶν πολὺ πλεῖστον ἐν εἰλαπίνηι μέθυ πίνηι
εὖ καὶ ἐπισταμένως,ἅμα τ᾿ ἄλλον φῶτα κελεύηι.
ἶσον δ᾿ ὅς τ᾿ ἐν δαιτὶ καὶ ἐν πολέμωι θοὸς ἀνήρ,
ὑσμίνας διέπων ταλαπενθέας, ἔνθά τε παῦροι
θαρσαλέοι τελέθουσι μένουσί τε θοῦρον ἄρηα.
τοῦ κεν ἐγὼ θείμην ἶσον κλέος, ὅς τ᾿ ἐνὶ δαιτί
τέρπηται παρεὼν ἅμα τ᾿ ἄλλον λαὸν ἀνώγηι.
οὐ γάρ μοι ζώειν γε δοκεῖ βροτὸς οὐδὲ βιῶναι
ἀνθρώποιο βίον ταλασίφρονος, ὅστις ἀπ᾿ οἴνου
θυμὸν ἐρητύσας μείνηι πότον, ἀλλ᾿ ἐνεόφρων.
οἶνος γὰρ πυρὶ ἶσον ἐπιχθονίοισιν ὄνειαρ,
ἐσθλὸν ἀλεξίκακον, πάσης συνοπηδὸν ἀοιδῆς.
ἐν μὲν γὰρ θαλίης ἐρατὸν μέρος ἀγλαΐης τε,
ἐν δὲ χοροιτυπίης, ἐν δ᾿ ἱμερτῆς φιλότητος,
ἐν δέ τε μενθήρης καὶ δυσφροσύνης ἀλεωρή.
τώ σε χρὴ παρὰ δαιτὶ δεδεγμένον εὔφρονι θυμῶι
πίνειν, μηδὲ βορῆς κεκορημένον ἠΰτε γῦπα
ἧσθαι πλημύροντα, λελασμένον εὐφροσυνάων.”

Add MS 27695 f. 14r K057778
British Library, from a treatise on the Seven Vices, Add MS 27695, f. 14r

Don’t Conceive While Drunk!

Plutarch, de liberis educandis, 2a:

“Those who go to bed with their wives for the sake of making children should do so while sober or at least only moderately intoxicated. For those whose fathers happened to be drunk at the moment of first sowing their seed tend to be wine-loving and prone to drunkenness. For this reason, when Diogenes saw a man raving and quite out of his mind, said, ‘Young man, your father must have begotten you when he was drunk!'”

τοὺς ἕνεκα παιδοποιίας πλησιάζοντας ταῖς γυναιξὶν ἤτοι τὸ παράπαν ἀοίνους ἢ μετρίως γοῦν οἰνωμένους ποιεῖσθαι προσήκει τὸν συνουσιασμόν. φίλοινοι γὰρ καὶ μεθυστικοὶ γίγνεσθαι φιλοῦσιν ὧν ἂν τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς σπορᾶς οἱ πατέρες ἐν μέθῃ  ποιησάμενοι τύχωσιν. ᾗ καὶ Διογένης μειράκιον ἐκστατικὸν ἰδὼν καὶ παραφρονοῦν “νεανίσκε” ἔφησεν, “ὁ πατήρ σε μεθύων ἔσπειρε.”

A New Reason to Be Cautious When Drinking

Hippocrates, Epidemics 5.86

“A young man who had drunk too much unmixed wine was sleeping on his back in a tent. A bright snake entered his mouth. When he felt it, and he couldn’t imagine what to do, he clamped his teeth down and bit off the snake. Then he was overcome by a severe pain and put his hands up as if he was choking and thrashed around. He had seizures and died.”

  1. Νεηνίσκος δέ τις πολὺν ἄκρητον πεπωκὼς ὕπτιος ἐκάθευδεν ἔν τινι σκηνῇ· τούτῳ ὄφις ἐς τὸ στόμα παρεισεδύετο ἀργής. καὶ δὴ ὅτε ᾔσθετο, οὐ δυνάμενος φράσασθαι, ἔβρυξε τοὺς ὀδόντας, καὶ παρέτραγε τοῦ ὄφιος, καὶ ἀλγηδόνι μεγάλῃ εἴχετο, καὶ τὰς χεῖρας προσέφερεν ὡς ἀγχόμενος, καὶ ἐρρίπτει ἑωυτόν, καὶ σπασθεὶς ἔθανεν.
Medieval Bestiary : Snake Gallery
From the Medieval Bestiary and the British Library

Hey Kids, Drinking is For the Middle-Aged

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 10, 440c

“This is the reason why the most divine Plato rightly legislated in his second book of Laws that boys should not taste wine at all until they are 18 years old. For it is not right to heat fire with fire! It is permissible to taste a limited amount of wine up to thirty, but a young man should completely refrain from being drunk or drinking a lot.

When a man is forty years old he can pray to the rest of gods in the common mess and then may appeal to Dionysus and the rites of the elders and the games they have. Wine is the drug which Dionysus granted to humans as a companion for harsher old age, so we might recover ourselves and forget our despair.”

Διόπερ ὁ θειότατος Πλάτων καλῶς νομοθετεῖ ἐν τῷ δευτέρῳ τοὺς παῖδας μέχρι ἐτῶν ὀκτωκαίδεκα τὸ παράπαν οἴνου μὴ γεύεσθαι· οὐ γὰρ χρὴ πῦρ ἐπὶ πῦρ cὀχετεύειν. οἴνου δὲ μετρίου γεύεσθαι. μέχρι τριάκοντα ἐτῶν, μέθης δὲ καὶ πολυοινίας τὸ παράπαν τὸν νέον ἀπέχεσθαι. τετταράκοντα δὲ ἐπιβαίνοντα ἐτῶν ἐν τοῖς συσσιτίοις εὐωχηθέντα καλεῖν τούς τε ἄλλους θεοὺς καὶ δὴ <καὶ> Διόνυσον παρακαλεῖν εἰς τὴν τῶν πρεσβυτῶν τελετὴν ἅμα καὶ παιδιάν, ἣν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἐπίκουρον τῆς τοῦ γήρως αὐστηρότητος ἐδωρήσατο τὸν οἶνον φάρμακον, ὥστε ἀνηβᾶν ἡμᾶς καὶ δυσθυμίας λήθην γίγνεσθαι.

Related image
Luttrell Psalter

 

And, if we believe the news, it just might help us live a little longer…