previous next

FLORUS thought it strange that Aristotle in his discourse of Drunkenness, affirming that old men are easily, women [p. 269] hardly, overtaken, did not assign the cause, since he seldom failed on such occasions. He therefore proposed it to us (we were a great many acquaintance met at supper) as a fit subject for our enquiry. Sylla began: One part will conduce to the discovery of the other; and if we rightly hit the cause in relation to the women, the difficulty, as it concerns the old men, will be easily despatched; for their two natures are quite contrary. Moistness, smoothness, and softness belong to the one; and dryness, roughness, and hardness are the accidents of the other. As for women, I think the principal cause is the moistness of their temper; this produceth a softness in the flesh, a shining smoothness, and their usual purgations. Now when wine is mixed with a great deal of weak liquor, it is overpowered by that, loses its strength, and becomes flat and waterish. Some reason likewise may be drawn from Aristotle himself; for he affirms that those that drink fast, and take a large draught without drawing breath, are seldom overtaken, because the wine doth not stay long in their bodies, but having acquired an impetus by this greedy drinking, suddenly runs through; and women are generally observed to drink after that manner. Besides, it is probable that their bodies, by reason of the continual defluction of the moisture in order to their usual purgations, are very porous, and divided as it were into many little pipes and conduits; into which when the wine falls, it is quickly conveyed away, and doth not lie and fret the principal parts, from whose disturbance drunkenness proceeds. But that old men want the natural moisture, even the name γέροντες, in my opinion, intimates; for that name was given them not as inclining to the earth (ῥέοντες εἰς γῆν), but as being in the habit of their body γεώδεις and γεηροί, earthlike and earthy. Besides, the stiffness and roughness prove the dryness of their nature. Therefore it is probable that, when they drink, their body, being grown spongy by the [p. 270] dryness of its nature, soaks up the wine, and that lying in the vessels it affects the senses and prevents the natural motions. For as floods of water glide over the close grounds, nor make them slabby, but quickly sink into the open and chapped fields; thus wine, being sucked in by the dry parts, lies and works in the bodies of old men. But besides, it is easy to observe, that age of itself hath all the symptoms of drunkenness. These symptoms every body knows; shaking of the joints, faltering of the tongue, babbling, passion, forgetfulness, and distraction of the mind; many of which being incident to old men, even whilst they are well and in perfect health, are heightened by any little irregularity and accidental debauch. So that drunkenness doth not beget in old men any new and proper symptoms, but only intend and increase the common ones. And an evident sign of this is, that nothing is so like an old man as a young man drunk.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Gregorius N. Bernardakis, 1892)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: