II[2arg] That Plato in the work which he wrote On the Laws expressed the opinion that inducements to drink more abundantly and more merrily at feasts were not without benefit.
A MAN from the island of Crete, who was living in Athens, gave out that he was a Platonic philosopher and desired to pass as one. He was, however, a man of no worth, a trifler, boastful of his command [p. 63] of Grecian eloquence, besides having a passion for wine which fairly made him a laughing stock. At the entertainments which it was the custom of us young men to hold at Athens at the beginning of each week, as soon as we had finished eating and an instructive and pleasant conversation had begun, this fellow, having called for silence that he might be heard, began to speak, and using a cheap and disordered rabble of words after his usual fashion, urged all to drink; and this he declared that he did in accordance with the injunction of Plato, maintaining that Plato in his work On the Laws had written most eloquently in praise of drunkenness, and had decided that it was beneficial to good and strong men. And at the same time, while he was thus speaking, he drenched such wits as he had with frequent and huge beakers, saying that it was a kind of touchwood and tinder to the intellect and the faculties, if mind and body were inflamed with wine. However, Plato in the first 1 and second 2 books of his work On the Laws did not, as that fool thought, praise that shameful intoxication which is wont to undermine and weaken men's minds, although he did not disapprove of that somewhat more generous and cheerful inspiration of wine which is regulated by some temperate arbiters, so to speak, and presidents of banquets. For he thought that by the proper and moderate relaxation of drinking the mind was refreshed and renewed for resuming the duties of sobriety, and that men were gradually rendered happier and became readier to repeat their efforts. At the same time, if there were deep in their hearts any errors of inclination or desire, [p. 65] which a kind of reverential shame concealed, he thought that by the frankness engendered by wine all these were disclosed without great danger and became more amenable to correction and cure. And in the same place Plato says this also: that exercises of this kind 3 for the purpose of resisting the violence of wine, are not to be avoided and shunned, and that no one ever appeared to be altogether selfrestrained and temperate whose life and habits had not been tested amid the very dangers of error and in the midst of the enticements of pleasures. For when all the license and attractions of banquets are unknown, and a man is wholly unfamiliar with them, if haply inclination has led him, or chance has induced him, or necessity has compelled him, to take part in pleasures of that kind, then he is as a rule seduced and taken captive, his mind and soul fail to meet the test, but give way, as if attacked by some strange power. Therefore he thought that we ought to meet the issue and contend hand to hand, as in a kind of battle, with pleasure and indulgence in wine, in order that we may not be safe against them by flight or absence, but that by vigour of spirit, by presence of mind, and by moderate use, we may preserve our temperance and self-restraint, and at the same time by warming and refreshing the mind we may free it of whatever frigid austerity or dull bashfulness it may contain. [p. 67]