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It is worth while, I say, to inquire whether the ancients drank out of large cups. For Dicæarchus the Messenian, the pupil of Aristotle, in his Essay on Alcæus, says that they used small cups, and that they drank their wine mixed with a good deal of water. But Chamæleon of Heraclea, in his essay on Drunkenness, (if I only recollect his words correctly,) says—“But if those who are in power and who are rich prefer this drunkenness to other pleasures, it is no great wonder, for as they have no other pleasure superior to this, nor more easy to obtain, they naturally fly to wine: on which account it has become customary among the nobles to use large drinking-cups. For this is not at all an ancient custom among the Greeks; but one that has been lately adopted, and imported from the barbarians. For they, being destitute of education, rush eagerly to much wine, and provide themselves with all kinds of superfluous delicacies. But in the various countries of Greece, we neither find in pictures nor in poems any trace of any cups of large size being made, except indeed in the heroic times. For the cup which is called ῥυτὸν they [p. 728] attributed only to the heroes, which fact will appear a per- plexing one to some people; unless indeed any one should choose to say that this custom was introduced because of the fierceness of the appearance of these demigods. For they think the heroes irascible and quarrelsome, and more so by night than by day. In order, then, that they may appear to be so, not in consequence of their natural disposition, but because of their propensity for drinking, they represent them as drinking out of large cups. And it appears to me not to have been a bad idea on the part of those people who said that a large cup was a silver well.” In all this Chamæleon appears to be ignorant that it is not a small cup which in Homer is given to the Cyclops by Ulysses; for if it had been a small one, he would not have been so overcome with drunkenness after drinking it three times only, when he was a man of such a monstrous size. There were therefore large cups at that time; unless any one chooses to impute it to the strength of the wine, which Homer himself has mentioned, or to the little practice which the Cyclops had in drinking, since his usual beverage was milk; or perhaps it was a barbaric cup, since it was a big one, forming perhaps a part of the plunder of the Cicones. What then are we to say about Nestor's cup, which a young man would scarcely have had strength enough to carry, but which the aged Nestor lifted without any labour; concerning which identical cup Plutarch shall give us some information. However, it is time now to lie down at table.
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