A New Year’s Day Tradition — Hangovers: Words for Them and Some Dubious Cures

Crapulous: def. 2: Sick from excessive indulgence in liquor.

kraipale

 Latin: crapula, from Grk. Kraipalê

Apuleius, Apologia 59

“Where in the world is Crassus? Did he slink back to Alexandria because he was tired of his home? Is he cleaning his walls? Or, more likely, is the drunk suffering from a hangover?”

Crassus ipse ubi gentium est? An Alexandriam taedio domus remeavit? An parietes suos detergit? An, quod verius est, ex crapula helluo attemptatur?

From the Suda:

Kraipalê: The pounding that comes from drinking too much wine. We also have the participle “carousing” which is when someone acts poorly because of drinking, or just being drunk. It derives from the word “head” (kara) and “pound” (pallein). Or, it could also come from screwing up (sphallesthai) timely matters (kairiôn)

Κραιπάλη: ὁ ἐκ πολλῆς οἰνώσεως παλμός. καὶ Κραιπαλῶν, ἀντὶ τοῦ ἐκ μέθης ἀτακτοῦντα, μεθύοντα. ἀπὸ τοῦ κάρα πάλλειν τοὺς μεθύοντας. ἢ ἀπὸ τοῦ σφάλλεσθαι τῶν καιρίων.

Kraipalôdês: “Prone to drunkenness”: The ancients knew well the weaknesses of the spirit, weather it was a person who was prone to excessive drinking or a love-seeker who has his brain in his genitals.”

Κραιπαλώδης· τῆς ψυχῆς τὰ ἐλαττώματα κατηπίσταντο, εἴτε κραιπαλώδης τις εἴη καὶ μέθυσος εἴτε φιλήδονος καὶ ἐν τοῖς αἰδοίοις ἔχων τὸν ἐγκέφαλον.

Kraipalaikômos“Hangover-revel”: Metonymically, this a song that happens while drunk

Κραιπαλαίκωμος: μετωνυμικῶς ὁ κατὰ μέθην γινόμενος ὕμνος.

Image result for Ancient Greek puking vase

Hippocrates of Cos, Epidemics 2.30

“If someone has head pain from a hangover, have him drink a cup of unmixed wine. For different head pains, have the patient eat bread warm from unmixed wine.”

Ἢν ἐκ κραιπάλης κεφαλὴν ἀλγέῃ, οἴνου ἀκρήτου κοτύλην πιεῖν· ἢν δὲ ἄλλως κεφαλὴν ἀλγέῃ, ἄρτον ὡς θερμότατον ἐξ οἴνου ἀκρήτου ἐσθίειν.

Plutarch, Table-Talk 3 (652F)

“Those who are suffering bodily from drinking and being hungover can find relief from sleeping immediately, warmed with a cover. On the next day, they can be restored with a bath, a massage, and whatever food does not cause agitation but restores the warmth dispelled and lost from the body by wine.”

 ἰῶνταί γε μὴν τὰς περὶ τὸ σῶμα τῶν μεθυσκομένων καὶ κραιπαλώντων κακώσεις εὐθὺς μὲν ὡς ἔοικε περιστολῇ καὶ κατακλίσει συνθάλποντες, μεθ᾿ ἡμέραν δὲ λουτρῷ καὶ ἀλείμματι καὶ σιτίοις, ὅσα μὴ ταράττοντα τὸν ὄγχον ἅμα πράως ἀνακαλεῖται τὸ θερμὸν ὑπὸ τοῦ οἴνου διεσπασμένον καὶ πεφυγαδευμένον ἐκ τοῦ σώματος.

Aristotle, Problemata 873a-b

“Wine (being of a wet nature) stretches those who are slow and makes them quick, but it tends to restrain those who are quick already. On that account, some who are melancholic by nature become entirely dissipated in drunken stupors (kraipalais). Just as a bath can make those who are all bound up and stiff more readily able to move, so does it check those who are already movable and loose, so too does wine, which is like a bath for your innards, accomplish this same thing.

Why then does cabbage prevent drunkenness (kraipale)? Either because it has a sweet and purgative juice (and for this reason doctors use it to clean out the intestines), even though it is itself of a cold nature. Here is a proof: doctors use it against exceptionally bad cases of diarrhea, after preparing it by cooking it, removing the fiber, and freezing it. It happens in the case of those suffering from the effects of drunkenness (kraipalonton) that the cabbage juice draws the wet elements, which are full of wine and still undigested, down to their stomachs, while the body chills the rest which remains in the upper part of the stomach. Once it has been chilled, the rest of the moist element can be drawn into the bladder. Thus, when each of the wet elements has been separated through the body and chilled, people are likely to be relieved of their drunkenness (akraipaloi). For wine is wet and warm.”

καὶ ὁ οἶνος (ὑγρὸς γάρ ἐστι τὴν φύσιν) τοὺς μὲν βραδυτέρους ἐπιτείνει καὶ θάττους ποιεῖ, τοὺς δὲ θάττους ἐκλύει. διὸ ἔνιοι τῶν μελαγχολικῶν τῇ φύσει ἐν ταῖς κραιπάλαις ἐκλελυμένοι γίνονται πάμπαν. ὥσπερ γὰρ τὸ λουτρὸν τοὺς μὲν συνδεδεμένους τὸ σῶμα καὶ σκληροὺς εὐκινήτους ποιεῖ, τοὺς δὲ εὐκινήτους καὶ ὑγροὺς ἐκλύει, οὕτως ὁ οἶνος, ὥσπερ λούων τὰ ἐντός, ἀπεργάζεται τοῦτο.

Διὰ τί ἡ κράμβη παύει τὴν κραιπάλην; ἢ ὅτι τὸν  μὲν χυλὸν γλυκὺν καὶ ῥυπτικὸν ἔχει (διὸ καὶ κλύζουσιν αὐτῷ τὴν κοιλίαν οἱ ἰατροί), αὐτὴ δ’ ἐστὶ ψυχρά. σημεῖον δέ· πρὸς γὰρ τὰς σφοδρὰς διαρροίας χρῶνται αὐτῇ οἱ ἰατροί, ἕψοντες σφόδρα καὶ ἀποξυλίζοντες καὶ ψύχοντες. συμβαίνει δὴ τῶν κραιπαλώντων τὸν μὲν χυλὸν αὐτῆς εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν κατασπᾶν τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς ὑγρά, οἰνηρὰ καὶ ἄπεπτα ὄντα, αὐτὴν δὲ ὑπολειπομένην ἐν τῇ ἄνω κοιλίᾳ ψύχειν τὸ σῶμα. ψυχομένου δὲ ὑγρὰ λεπτὰ συμβαίνει εἰς τὴν κύστιν φέρεσθαι. ὥστε κατ’ ἀμφότερα τῶν ὑγρῶν ἐκκρινομένων διὰ τοῦ σώματος, καὶ καταψυχομένου, εἰκότως ἀκραίπαλοι γίνονται· ὁ γὰρ οἶνος ὑγρὸς καὶ θερμός ἐστιν.

Livy, Ab Urbe Condita 11.14          

“This misery and fear have easily relieved me of my hangover.”

miseria haec et metus crapulam facile excusserunt

If you have read this far, you’re probably not that hungover

Plautus, Rudens 585-590

“But why am I standing here, a sweating fool?
Maybe I should leave here for Venus’ temple to sleep off this hangover
I got because I drank more than I intended?
Neptune soaked us with the sea as if we were Greek wines
And he hoped to relieve us with salty-beverages.
Shit. What good are words?”

sed quid ego hic asto infelix uuidus?
quin abeo huc in Veneris fanum, ut edormiscam hanc crapulam,
quam potaui praeter animi quam lubuit sententiam?
quasi uinis Graecis Neptunus nobis suffudit mare,
itaque aluom prodi sperauit nobis salsis poculis;
quid opust uerbis?

Plautus, Stichus 226-230

“I am selling Greek moisturizers
And other ointments, hangover-cures
Little jokes, blandishments
And a sycophant’s confabulations.
I’ve got a rusting strigil, a reddish flask,
And a hollowed out follower to hide your trash in.”

uel unctiones Graecas sudatorias
uendo uel alias malacas, crapularias;
cauillationes, assentatiunculas,
ac periuratiunculas parasiticas;
robiginosam strigilim, ampullam rubidam,
parasitum inanem quo recondas reliquias.

This is a topic we have covered at great length before

Alexis, fr. 287

“Yesterday you drank too much and now you’re hungover.
Take a nap—this will help it. Then let someone give you
Cabbage, boiled.”

ἐχθὲς ὑπέπινες, εἶτα νυνὶ κραιπαλᾷς.
κατανύστασον· παύσῃ γάρ. εἶτά σοι δότω
ῥάφανόν τις ἑφθήν.

Nikokharês

“Tomorrow we will boil acorns instead of cabbage
To treat our hangover.”

εἰσαύριον .. ἀντὶ ῥαφάνων ἑψήσομεν
βαλάνιον, ἵνα νῷν ἐξάγῃ τὴν κραιπάλην.

Alexis, fr. 390

“If only we got hangovers before we drank
Then no one would ever drink more
Than is good for them. But now, because
We do not expect to escape drinking’s penalty,
We too eagerly drink unmixed wines”

εἰ τοῦ μεθύσκεσθαι πρότερον τὸ κραιπαλᾶν
παρεγίνεθ’ ἡμῖν, οὐδ’ ἂν εἷς οἶνόν ποτε
προσίετο πλείω τοῦ μετρίου. νυνὶ δὲ τὴν
τιμωρίαν οὐ προσδοκῶντες τῆς μέθης
ἥξειν προχείρως τοὺς ἀκράτους πίνομεν.

Sopater

“It is sweet for men to drink at dawn
Streams of honey when they are struck by thirst
Driven by the last night’s hangover”

νᾶμα μελισσῶν ἡδὺ μὲν ὄρθρου
καταβαυκαλίσαι τοῖς ὑπὸ πολλῆς
κραιπαλοβόσκου δίψης κατόχοις.

Related image

Illumination from a copy of Li livres dou santé by Aldobrandino of Siena. British Library manuscript Sloane 2435, f. 44v.

Gift-Giving is Like Getting Drunk: Fronto with Seasonal Advice

Cornelius Fronto, To Appian from Fronto 7

“The person who sends rather weighty gifts causes no less grief than the one who throws the ball too hard to his teammate or offers a big cup to his fellow drinker in toast. For the latter seems to toast not for pleasure but for getting drunk. Just as in wise drinking parties we see that the wine is mixed with a little pure alcohol and a lot of water, so too are gifts mixed best with a lot of thought and a little expenditure.

For who should we say gets the benefit from expensive gifts? Is it the poor? They are not capable of giving them. The rich? They don’t need to get them. In addition, it is not possible to constantly give expensive gifts—there will be a failure of resources if someone should often send out immense gifts. It is possible, however, to give small gifts endlessly and without regret—since someone owes only small thanks to the one who gave a small gift.”

  1. Ὁ δὲ τὰ βαρύτερα δῶρα πέμπων οὐχ ἧττον λυπεῖ τοῦ βαρεῖαν πέμποντος ἐπὶ τὸν συσφαιρίζοντα ἢ μεγάλην κύλην προπίνοντος τῷ συμπότῃ・ εἰς γὰρ μέθην οὐκ εἰς ἡδονὴν προπίνειν ἔοικεν. ὥσπερ δὲ τὸν οἶνον ἐν τοῖς σώφροσιν συμποσίοις ὁρῶμεν κιρνάμενον ἀκράτῳ μὲν πάνυ ὀλίγῳ, πλείστῳ δὲ τῷ ὕδατι, οὕτω δὴ καὶ τὰ δῶρα κιρνάναι προσῆκεν πολλῇ μὲν φιλοφροσύνῃ, ἐλαχίστῳ δὲ ἀναλώματι. τίσιν γὰp ἂν Φαίημεν ἁρμόττειν τὰ πολυτελῆ δῶρα; ἆρά γε τοῖς πένησιν; ἀλλὰ πέμπειν οὐ δύνανται・ ἢ τοῖς πλουσίοις; ἀλλά λαμβάνειν οὐ δέονται. τοῖς μὲν οὖν μεγάλοις δώροις τὸ συνεχὲς οὐ πρόσεστιν, ἢ ἐκπεσεῖν ἀναγκὴ τῶν ὑπαρχόντων, εἴ τις μεγάλα τε πέμποι καὶ πολλάκις. τοῖς δὲ μικροῖς δώροις τό τε συνεχὲς πρόσεστιν καί τὸ ἀμεταγνωστόν, εἰ <καὶ μικρὰ δεῖ τε>λέσαι μικρὰ πέμψαντι.†

 

Image result for Fronto medieval manuscript

Hermit at work on a manuscript, from the Estoire del Saint Graal, France

Charming Words in a Fight: Some Fragments for A Saturday Night

Demetrios on Anacreon fr. 396

“The rhythm is that of a drunk old man”
μεθύοντος γὰρ ὁ ῥυθμὸς ἀτεχνῶς γέροντος

Anacreon fr. 402c

“For the children might adore me for my words
Since I sing with charm I know how to say charming things.”

ἐμὲ γὰρ † λόγων † εἵνεκα παῖδες ἂν φιλέοιεν·
χαρίεντα μὲν γὰρ ᾄδω, χαρίεντα δ᾿ οἶδα λέξαι.

Anacreon fr. 412

“Won’t you let me return home again since I am drunk?”

οὐ δηὖτέ μ᾿ ἐάσεις μεθύοντ᾿ οἴκαδ᾿ ἀπελθεῖν;

Anacreon, 429

“Whoever wants to fight,
Since it’s possible, let him fight…”

ὁ μὲν θέλων μάχεσθαι,
πάρεστι γάρ, μαχέσθω.

The Difference between Being Tipsy and Being Drunk, A Critical Holiday Debate

N.B. ὁ νήφων, “sober”

ὁ ἀκροθώραξ, “tipsy”

ὁ μεθύων, “drunk”

ὁ δὲ παντάπασι μεθύων, “shit-faced”

Plutarch, Moralia 653: Table-Talk Book 3, Question 8

Why are those who are actually drunk, less messed up than those we call tipsy?

“Since we have hassled Aristotle,” my father said, “Shouldn’t we also try to say something particular about those who are called “tipsy”. For even though he was the sharpest in these kinds of explorations, he seems to me to have insufficiently examined the cause of this. For he says, I think, that it is possible for a sober man to make a judgment well and in line with reality while one who is pretty drunk is too wrecked to have control over his perception even as one who is only tipsy remains strong in imagination but has compromised logic. For this reason, he makes judgments and does it badly because he following imaginary things. What do you think about these things?” He said.

“When I was reading this,” I said, “the argument was fine regarding the cause. But if you want me to work up some contribution of my own, look first at whether we should credit the difference you have mentioned to the body. For, the tipsy mind alone is messed up, the body is still capable of serving impulses because it is not yet completely permeated. But when the body is overcome and soaked, it betrays its movements and ignores them and it does not move on to actual deeds. Those who have a body that still responds to them are reproved not by their lack of logical thought but by their greater strength.”

Then I said, “And, if we were to consider it from another principle, nothing stops the strength of wine from being variable and from changing alongside its amount. In the same way, fire, if it is measured, gives strength and hardness to pottery; but if it strikes it too much, it melts it and makes it liquid. In another way, spring revives and increases fevers as it begins while the heat of summer settles them and makes them desist.

Therefore, what prevents the mind, once it is moved by wine naturally, when it has been disturbed and excited, from calming and settling down as drinking increases? Hellebore has at its onset of purging pain for the body. But if less then the right amount is given, it disturbs but does not cleanse. And some people are made a little manic when they have a smaller does of sleeping medicine, but sleep once they take more.”

Image result for Ancient Greek drinking vessels

Διὰ τί τῶν ἀκροθωράκων λεγομένων οἱ σφόδρα μεθύοντες ἧττον παρακινητικοί εἰσιν

 “Οὐκοῦν,” εἶπεν ὁ πατήρ, “ἐπεὶ παρακεκινήκαμεν τὸν Ἀριστοτέλη, καὶ περὶ τῶν ἀκροθωράκων τι καλουμένων ἴδιον ἐπιχειρήσομεν εἰπεῖν; οὐ γὰρ ἱκανῶς μοι δοκεῖ, καίπερ ὀξύτατος ὢν ἐν τοῖς τοιούτοις ζητήμασι, διηκριβωκέναι τὴν αἰτίαν. φησὶ γὰρ οἶμαι τοῦ μὲν νήφοντος εὖ καὶ κατὰ τὰ ὄντα κρίνειν τὸν λογισμόν, τοῦ δ᾿ ἄγαν μεθύοντος ἐκλελυμένην κατέχεσθαι τὴν αἴσθησιν, τοῦ δ᾿ ἀκροθώρακος ἔτι μὲν ἰσχύειν τὸ φανταστικὸν ἤδη δὲ τεταράχθαι τὸ λογιστικόν· διὸ καὶ κρίνειν καὶ κακῶς κρίνειν ἐπακολουθοῦντα7 ταῖς φαντασίαις. ἀλλὰ πῶς,” εἶπεν, “ὑμῖν δοκεῖ περὶ τούτων;”

 “Ἐμοὶ μέν,” ἔφην, “ἐπισκοποῦντι κατ᾿ ἐμαυτὸν ἀποχρῶν οὗτος ἦν πρὸς τὴν αἰτίαν ὁ λόγος· εἰ δὲ κελεύεις ἴδιόν τι κινεῖν, ὅρα πρῶτον εἰ τὴν εἰρημένην διαφορὰν ἐπὶ τὸ σῶμα μετοιστέον ἐστίν. τῶν γὰρ ἀκροθωράκων ἡ διάνοια μόνον τετάρακται, τὸ δὲ σῶμα ταῖς ὁρμαῖς ἐξυπηρετεῖν δύναται, μήπω βεβαπτισμένον· ὅταν δὲ κατασεισθῇ καὶ πιεσθῇ, προδίδωσι τὰς ὁρμὰς καὶ παρεῖται, μέχρι γὰρ ἔργων οὐ πρόεισιν· ἐκεῖνοι δὲ τὸ σῶμα συνεξαμαρτάνον ἔχοντες οὐ τῷ μᾶλλον ἀλογιστεῖν ἀλλὰ τῷ μᾶλλον ἰσχύειν ἐλέγχονται. ἀπ᾿ ἄλλης δ᾿,” εἶπον, “ἀρχῆς σκοποῦντι τοῦ οἴνου τὴν δύναμιν οὐδὲν κωλύει ποικίλην εἶναι καὶ τῇ ποσότητι συμμεταβάλλουσαν· ὥσπερ τὸ πῦρ τὸν κέραμον, ἂν μὲν ᾖ μέτριον, συγκρατύνει καὶ πήγνυσιν, ἂν δ᾿ ὑπερβολῇ πλήξῃ, συνέτηξε καὶ ῥεῖν ἐποίησεν· ἀνάπαλιν δ᾿ ἡ ὥρα τοὺς πυρετοὺς ἀρχομένη μὲν ἀνακινεῖ καὶ ἐκκαίει, προϊούσης δὲ μᾶλλον καθίστανται καὶ ἀπολήγουσιν. τί οὖν κωλύει καὶ τὴν διάνοιαν ὑπὸ τοῦ οἴνου φυσικῶς κινουμένην, ὅταν ταραχθῇ καὶ παροξυνθῇ, πάλιν ἀνίεσθαι καὶ καθίστασθαι πλεονάζοντος; ὁ γοῦν ἑλλέβορος ἀρχὴν τοῦ καθαίρειν ἔχει τὸ ταράττειν τὸν ὄγκον· ἂν οὖν ἐλάτων τοῦ μετρίου δοθῇ, ταράττει μὲν οὐδὲν δὲ καθαίρει. καὶ τῶν ὑπνωτικῶν ἔνιοι λαβόντες ἐνδοτέρω τοῦ μετρίου θορυβωδέστερον διατίθενται, πλέον δὲ λαβόντες καθεύδουσιν.

Dinner Conversation Prompts from Plutarch: Old Men and Strong Wine

If you experience any lulls in conversation during your holiday meals and gatherings, here’s another topic ready-to-hand.

Plutarch, “Table-Talk”, Moralia 624: Why Do Old Men Prefer Strong Wine?

“Next was examined the issue of old men, in particular why they enjoy drinking stronger wine. Some were supposing that their core, which is rather cold and difficult to warm, appearsto accord well with a stronger proof. This was not at all sufficient, in the light of cause nor in that they said anything true. For, in respect to the rest of the senses, the same thing happens: old men are hard to move, hard to change in regards to experiences of this sort, unless they fall on him with full strength and no subtlety. The reason for this is the decline of his constitution. Because it is weakened and dulled, it prefers to be struck hard.

Therefore stronger flavors are more to the taste of old men. Their sense of smell undergoes similar alterations regarding odors—for it is moved to pleasure by those that are really pure and pressing. Their sense of touch is harmed by scars and while they suffer wounds from time to time, they don’t really feel them. Similar too is their sense of hearing—musicians as they grow old play more sharply and loudly as if trying to wake up their senses with the clash  of sound. The treatment that gives steel an edge provides the body’s perception with breath. When this begins to surrender and is weak, the senses are left dull and muddy and needing some shaking—this is what need strong wine fills.”

Image result for Ancient Greek old man drinking

Διὰ τί μᾶλλον ἀκράτῳ χαίρουσιν οἱ γέροντες

Ἐζητεῖτο περὶ τῶν γερόντων, διὰ τί μᾶλλον ἀκρατοτέρῳ τῷ ποτῷ χαίρουσιν. οἱ μὲν οὖν κατεψυγμένην τὴν ἕξιν αὐτῶν καὶ δυσεκθέρμαντον οὖσαν οἰόμενοι διὰ τοῦτο τῇ σφοδρότητι τῆς κράσεως ἐναρμόττειν ἐφαίνοντο κοινόν τι καὶ πρόχειρον οὐχ ἱκανὸν δὲ πρὸς τὴν αἰτίαν οὐδ᾿ ἀληθὲς λέγοντες· καὶ γὰρ ἐπὶ τῶν ἄλλων αἰσθήσεων τὸ αὐτὸ συμβέβηκεν· δυσκίνητοι γάρ εἰσι καὶ δυσμετάβλητοι πρὸς τὰς ἀντιλήψεις τῶν ποιοτήτων, ἂν μὴ κατάκοροι καὶ σφοδραὶ προσπέσωσιν. αἰτία δ᾿ ἡ τῆς ἕξεως ἄνεσις· ἐκλυομένη γὰρ καὶ ἀτονοῦσα πλήττεσθαι φιλεῖ. διὸ τῇ τε γεύσει μάλιστα τοὺς δηκτικοὺς προσίενται χυμούς, ἥ τ᾿ ὄσφρησις αὐτῶν ὅμοια πέπονθε πρὸς τὰς ὀσμάς, κινεῖται γὰρ ὑπὸ τῶν ἀκράτων καὶ σφοδρῶν ἥδιον· ἡ δ᾿ ἁφὴ πρὸς τὰ ἕλκη δυσπαθής, τραύματα γὰρ ἐνίοτε λαμβάνοντες οὐ μάλα πονοῦσιν· ὁμοιότατον δὲ γίγνεται τὸ τῆς ἀκοῆς, οἱ γὰρ μουσικοὶ γηρῶντες ὀξύτερον ἁρμόζονται καὶ σκληρότερον οἷον ὑπὸ πληγῆς τῆς συντόνου φωνῆς ἐγείροντες τὸ αἰσθητήριον. ὅ τι γὰρ σιδήρῳ πρὸς ἀκμὴν στόμωμα, τοῦτο σώματι πνεῦμα παρέχει πρὸς αἴσθησιν· ἐνδόντος δὲ τούτου καὶ χαλάσαντος, ἀργὸν ἀπολείπεται καὶ γεῶδες τὸ αἰσθητήριον καὶ σφοδροῦ τοῦ νύττοντος, οἷον ὁ ἄκρατός ἐστι δεόμενον.

If I were in this conversation I would add: the older man also needs to urinate more frequently. A stronger drink means less liquid consumed for the desired result. And, therefore, fewer trips to the bathroom.

Want to Make Friends at Holiday Parties? Plutarch on Why Drinking is Useful

Plutarch, Moralia 644e: Table-Talk, On the Usefulness of Drinking for Getting to Know People

“When the Poet Simonides, my Sossios Senecios, saw a stranger at a drinking party sitting there in silence and talking to no one he said “Man, if you are a fool, you are doing something wise; but if you are wise, you are doing a foolish thing.” For, as Heraclitus says, “it is better to hide ignorance” and it is really hard to do this while drinking “which makes even a very wise man sing / and causes him to laugh gently and dance /and then to speak whatever word which was unsaid” [Hom. Od. 14.464-6).

In this, it seems to me, the poet demonstrates the differences between being a little tipsy and drunkenness. For song, merriment, dancing and dancing are coming to those who have drunk moderately. But talking too much and saying what is better kept silent is the work of too much wine, of being drunk. For this reason also, Plato believes that we can see the character of most men while drinking, as Homer said, “those two did not learn one another’s nature even at the table”.

It is clear that Homer knows the talkativeness of wine and how it creates much conversation. For it is not possible to know people who sit eating and drinking in silence. Drinking leads to chatting, and by chatting someone emerges and much that is otherwise hidden is disclosed—drinking together provides some way of getting to know each other.

For this reason, it is not wrong to chastise Aesop, “Why are you searching out these gateways, sir, through which different people can gaze upon the mindset of one another? This lays waste our well made modes of behavior, from the most basic custom by which we were trained, as if by a teacher.” This is why drinking is useful to both Aesop and Plato, and for anyone else looking for a method of inquiry.

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Σιμωνίδης ὁ ποιητής, ὦ Σόσσιε Σενεκίων, ἔν τινι πότῳ ξένον ἰδὼν κατακείμενον σιωπῇ καὶ μηδενὶ διαλεγόμενον, “ὦ ἄνθρωπ᾿,” εἶπεν, “εἰ μὲν ἠλίθιος εἶ, σοφὸν πρᾶγμα ποιεῖς· εἰ δὲ σοφός, ἠλίθιον.” “ἀμαθίην γὰρ ἄμεινον,” ὥς φησιν Ἡράκλειτος, “κρύπτειν,” ἔργον δ᾿ ἐν ἀνέσει καὶ παρ᾿ οἶνον

ὅστ᾿ ἐφέηκε πολύφρονά περ μάλ᾿ ἀεῖσαι,
καί θ᾿ ἁπαλὸν γελάσαι καί τ᾿ ὀρχήσασθαι ἀνῆκεν,
καί τι ἔπος προέηκεν, ὅπερ τ᾿ ἄρρητον ἄμεινον·

οἰνώσεως ἐνταῦθα τοῦ ποιητοῦ καὶ μέθης, ὡς ἐμοὶ δοκεῖ, διαφορὰν ὑποδεικνύντος. ᾠδὴ μὲν γὰρ καὶ γέλως καὶ ὄρχησις οἰνουμένοις μετρίως ἔπεισι· τὸ δὲ λαλεῖν καὶ λέγειν, ἃ βέλτιον ἦν σιωπᾶν, παροινίας ἤδη καὶ μέθης ἔργον ἐστίν. διὸ καὶ Πλάτων ἐν οἴνῳ μάλιστα καθορᾶσθαι τὰ ἤθη τῶν πολλῶν νομίζει, καὶ Ὅμηρος εἰπὼν

οὐδὲ τραπέζῃ / γνώτην ἀλλήλων

δῆλός ἐστιν εἰδὼς τὸ πολύφωνον τοῦ οἴνου καὶ λόγων πολλῶν γόνιμον. οὐ γὰρ ἔστι τρωγόντων σιωπῇ καὶ πινόντων γνῶσις· ἀλλ᾿ ὅτι τὸ πίνειν εἰς τὸ λαλεῖν προάγεται, τῷ δὲ λαλεῖν ἐμφαίνεται καὶ τὸ ἀπογυμνοῦσθαι πολλὰ τῶν ἄλλως λανθανόντων, παρέχει τινὰ τὸ συμπίνειν κατανόησιν ἀλλήλων· ὥστε μὴ φαύλως ἂν ἐπιτιμῆσαι τῷ Αἰσώπῳ· “τί τὰς θυρίδας, ὦ μακάριε, ζητεῖς ἐκείνας, δι᾿ ὧν ἄλλος ἄλλου κατόψεται τὴν διάνοιαν; ὁ γὰρ οἶνος ἡμᾶς ἀνοίγει καὶ δείκνυσιν οὐκ ἐῶν ἡσυχίαν ἄγειν, ἀλλ᾿ ἀφαιρῶν τὸ πλάσμα καὶ τὸν σχηματισμόν, ἀπωτάτω τοῦ νόμου καθάπερ παιδαγωγοῦ γεγονότων.” Αἰσώπῳ μὲν οὖν καὶ Πλάτωνι, καὶ εἴ τις ἄλλος ἐξετάσεως τρόπου δεῖται, πρὸς τοῦτο χρήσιμον ὁ ἄκρατος·

 

A Crucial Conversational Debate Before The Holidays

In his “Table-Talk”, Plutarch provides a series of conversations on specific topics. Here’s the first. Win over new friends and impress your family by bringing these topics to holiday meals!

Table Talk, Moralia 612-613: Question 1:

“It is right to practice philosophy while drinking?”

The question of philosophizing while drinking has been put first of all—for you must remember that in Athens once there was a discussion after dinner whether it is right and what the limit is for having philosophical conversations while drinking. Ariston, one of those present, said “Dear Gods! Are there really people who don’t provide room for philosophers while drinking?”

I responded “Really, there are, my friend, and they say very seriously by way of explanation that philosophy has no more right to speak over wine than the lady of the house does. Indeed, they also claim that the Persians act rightly in drinking and dancing not with their wives but their mistresses instead.

They believe it is right that we introduce these things to our drinking party—acting, and music—and that we should not touch philosophy. For they also believe that it is not appropriate to play games with philosophy and that in these situations we are not in earnest moods. They claim, moreover, that Isocrates the sophist submitted to pleas to speak during wine only to say “I am skilled at matters not right for the present time; in matters right for the present time, I am not skilled.”

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“And so philosophers, whenever they engage in subtle and dialogic problems while drinking, annoy most people who cannot follow them. These guests in turn commit to singing any kind of song, nonsense stories, and talk of business and the market. The aim of the shared space of the party goes out the window and Dioynsus himself is offended. In the same way, when Phrynichus and Aeschylus added myths to tragedy and suffering, people asked “What has this to do with Dionysus?”

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Εἰ δεῖ φιλοσοφεῖν παρὰ πότον

Πρῶτον δὲ πάντων τέτακται τὸ περὶ τοῦ φιλοσοφεῖν παρὰ πότον. μέμνησαι γὰρ ὅτι, ζητήσεως Ἀθήνησι μετὰ δεῖπνον γενομένης εἰ χρηστέον ἐν οἴνῳ φιλοσόφοις λόγοις καὶ τί μέτρον ἔστι χρωμένοις, Ἀρίστων παρών, “εἰσὶν γάρ,” ἔφησε, “πρὸς τῶν θεῶν οἱ φιλοσόφοις χώραν ἐπ᾿ οἴνῳ μὴ διδόντες;”

Ἐγὼ δ᾿ εἶπον, “ἀλλὰ γὰρ εἰσίν, ὦ ἑταῖρε, καὶ πάνυ γε σεμνῶς κατειρωνευόμενοι λέγουσι μὴ δεῖν ὥσπερ οἰκοδέσποιναν ἐν οἴνῳ φθέγγεσθαι φιλοσοφίαν, καὶ τοὺς Πέρσας ὀρθῶς φασι μὴ ταῖς γαμεταῖς ἀλλὰ ταῖς παλλακίσι συμμεθύσκεσθαι καὶ συνορχεῖσθαι· ταὐτὸ δὴ καὶ ἡμᾶς ἀξιοῦσι ποιεῖν εἰς τὰ συμπόσια τὴν μουσικὴν καὶ τὴν ὑποκριτικὴν ἐπεισάγοντας φιλοσοφίαν δὲ μὴ κινοῦντας, ὡς οὔτε συμπαίζειν ἐκείνην ἐπιτήδειον οὖσαν οὔθ᾿ ἡμᾶς τηνικαῦτα σπουδαστικῶς ἔχοντας· οὐδὲ γὰρ Ἰσοκράτη τὸν σοφιστὴν ὑπομεῖναι δεομένων εἰπεῖν τι παρ᾿ οἶνον ἀλλ᾿ ἢ τοσοῦτον· ‘ἐν οἷς μὲν ἐγὼ δεινός, οὐχ ὁ νῦν καιρός· ἐν οἷς δ᾿ ὁ νῦν καιρός, οὐκ ἐγὼ δεινός.’”

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οὕτω τοίνυν, ὅταν οἱ φιλόσοφοι παρὰ πότον εἰς λεπτὰ καὶ διαλεκτικὰ προβλήματα καταδύντες ἐνοχλῶσι τοῖς πολλοῖς ἕπεσθαι μὴ δυναμένοις, ἐκεῖνοι δὲ πάλιν ἐπ᾿ ᾠδάς τινας καὶ διηγήματα φλυαρώδη καὶ λόγους βαναύσους καὶ ἀγοραίους ἐμβάλωσιν ἑαυτούς, οἴχεται τῆς συμποτικῆς κοινωνίας τὸ τέλος καὶ καθύβρισται ὁ Διόνυσος. ὥσπερ οὖν, Φρυνίχου καὶ Αἰσχύλου τὴν τραγῳδίαν εἰς μύθους καὶ πάθη προαγόντων, ἐλέχθη τὸ ‘τί ταῦτα πρὸς τὸν Διόνυσον;’

Wine: A Family Planning Secret

Plutarch, Table-Talk 3.5 (652 D)

“Men who drink a lot of wine are rather sluggish at intercourse and they ejaculate semen not at all strong or good for fertilization; instead their attempts at sex with women are cursory and incomplete because of the weakness and frigidity of their seed.

Indeed, however much men suffer because of the cold occurs to them when they are drunk: tremors, heaviness, paleness, sudden jumps in the limbs, senseless speech, a lack of feeling in the joints and extremities. For most men, being drunk results in paralysis, whenever the wine totally expels and defeats the heat.”

οἱ δὲ πίνοντες πολὺν ἄκρατον ἀμβλύτεροι πρὸς τὰς συνουσίας εἰσὶν καὶ σπείρουσιν οὐδὲν εἰς γένεσιν ἰσχυρὸν οὐδὲ κεκρατημένον, ἀλλ᾿ ἐξίτηλοι καὶ ἀτελεῖς εἰσιν αἱ πρὸς τὰς γυναῖκας ὁμιλίαι αὐτῶν διὰ φαυλότητα καὶ κατάψυξιν τοῦ σπέρματος. καὶ μὴν ὅσα πάσχουσιν ἄνθρωποι ὑπὸ κρύους, πάντα συμβαίνει τοῖς μεθυσκομένοις, τρόμοι, βαρύτητες, ὠχριάσεις, σάλοι τοῦ περὶ τὰ γυῖα πνεύματος, ἀσάφεια γλώττης, ἔντασις τῶν Eπερὶ τοῖς ἄκροις νεύρων καὶ ἀπονάρκησις· τοῖς δὲ πλείστοις εἰς πάρεσιν αἱ μέθαι τελευτῶσιν, ὅταν ἐκπλήξῃ παντάπασιν καὶ κατασβέσῃ τὸ θερμὸν ὁ ἄκρατος.

“If Wine Could Tell A Story”

Plautus, Truculentus 829-833

“This is no good. You are blaming the silent who cannot speak.
If wine could tell a story it would defend itself.
Wine doesn’t control men—men usually control wine!
Well, that’s how it is when men are fit for anything—certain fools
When they drink a little or not at all remain fools by nature.”

non placet: in mutum culpam confers quit loqui.
nam uinum si fabulari possit se defenderet.
non uinum moderari, sed uiri uino solent,
qui quidem probi sunt; uerum qui improbust si quasi Bibit
siue adeo caret temeto, tamen ab ingenio improbust.

 

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