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If any one will take the trouble duly to consider the matter, he will find that upon no one subject is the industry of man kept more constantly on the alert than upon the making of wine; as if Nature had not given us water as a beverage, the one, in fact, of which all other animals make use. We, on the other hand, even go so far as to make our very beasts of burden drink1 wine: so vast are our efforts, so vast our labours, and so boundless the cost which we thus lavish upon a liquid which deprives man of his reason and drives him to frenzy and to the commission of a thousand crimes! So great, however, are its attractions, that a great part of mankind are of opinion that there is nothing else in life worth living for. Nay, what is even more than this, that we may be enabled to swallow all the more, we have adopted the plan of diminishing its strength by pressing it through2 filters of cloth, and have devised numerous inventions whereby to create an artificial thirst. To promote drinking, we find that even poisonous mixtures have been invented, and some men are known to take a dose of hemlock before they begin to drink, that they may have the fear of death before them to make them take their wine:3 others, again, take powdered pumice4 for the same purpose, and various other mixtures, which I should Feel quite ashamed any further to enlarge upon.

We see the more prudent among those who are given to this habit have themselves parboiled in hot-baths, from whence they are carried away half dead. Others there are, again, who cannot wait till they have got to the banqueting couch,5 no, not so much as till they have got their shirt on,6 but all naked and panting as they are, the instant they leave the bath they seize hold of large vessels filled with wine, to show of, as it were, their mighty powers, and so gulp down the whole of the contents only to vomit them up again the very next moment. This they will repeat, too, a second and even a third time, just as though they had only been begotten for the purpose of wasting wine, and as if that liquor could not be thrown away without having first passed through the human body. It is to encourage habits such as these that we have introduced the athletic exercises7 of other countries, such as rolling in the mud, for instance, and throwing the arms back to show off a brawny neck and chest. Of all these exercises, thirst, it is said, is the chief and primary object.

And then, too, what vessels are employed for holding wine! carved all over with the representations of adulterous intrigues, as if, in fact, drunkenness itself was not sufficiently capable of teaching us lessons of lustfulness. Thus we see wines quaffed out of impurities, and inebriety invited even by the hope of a reward,—invited, did I say?—may the gods forgive me for saying so, purchased outright. We find one person induced to drink upon the condition that he shall have as much to eat as he has previously drunk, while another has to quaff as many cups as he has thrown points on the dice. Then it is that the roving, insatiate eyes are setting a price upon the matron's chastity; and yet, heavy as they are with wine, they do not fail to betray their designs to her husband. Then it is that all the secrets of the mind are revealed; one man is heard to disclose the provisions of his will, another lets fall some expression of fatal import, and so fails to keep to himself words which will be sure to come home to him with a cut throat. And how many a man has met his death in this fashion! Indeed, it has become quite a common proverb, that "in wine8 there is truth."

Should he, however, fortunately escape all these dangers, the drunkard never beholds the rising sun, by which his life of drinking is made all the shorter. From wine, too, comes that pallid hue,9 those drooping eyelids, those sore eyes, those tremulous hands, unable to hold with steadiness the overflowing vessel, condign punishment in the shape of sleep agitated by Furies during the restless night, and, the supreme reward of inebriety, those dreams of monstrous lustfulness and of forbidden delights. Then on the next day there is the breath reeking of the wine-cask, and a nearly total obliviousness of everything, from the annihilation of the powers of the memory. And this, too, is what they call "seizing the moments of life!10 whereas, in reality, while other men lose the day that has gone before, the drinker has already lost the one that is to come.

They first began, in the reign of Tiberius Claudius, some forty years ago, to drink fasting, and to take whets of wine before meals; an outlandish11 fashion, however, and only patronized by physicians who wished to recommend themselves by the introduction of some novelty or other.

It is in the exercise of their drinking powers that the Parthians look for their share of fame, and it was in this that Alcibiades among the Greeks earned his great repute. Among ourselves, too, Novellius Torquatus of Mediolanum, a man who held all the honours of the state from the prefecture to the pro-consulate, could drink off three congii12 at a single draught, a feat from which he obtained the surname of "Tricongius:" this he did before the eyes of the Emperor Tiberius, and to his extreme surprise and astonishment, a man who in his old age was very morose,13 and indeed very cruel in general; though in his younger days he himself had been too much addicted to wine. Indeed it was owing to that recommendation that it was generally thought that L. Piso was selected by him to have the charge and custody14 of the City of Rome; he having kept up a drinking-bout at the residence of Tiberius, just after he had become emperor, two days and two nights without intermission. In no point, too, was it generally said that Drusus Cæsar took after his father Tiberius more than this.15 Torquatus had the rather uncommon glory—for this science, too, is regulated by peculiar laws of its own—of never being known to stammer in his speech, or to relieve the stomach by vomiting or urine, while engaged in drinking. lie was always on duty at the morning guard, was able to empty the largest vessel at a single draught, and yet to take more ordinary cups in addition than any one else; he was always to be implicitly depended upon, too, for being able to drink without taking breath and without ever spitting, or so much as leaving enough at the bottom of the cup to make a plash upon the pavement;16 thus showing himself an exact observer of the regulations which have been made to prevent all shirking on the part of drinkers.

Tergilla reproaches Cicero, the son of Marcus Cicero, with being in the habit of taking off a couple of congii at a single draught, and with having thrown a cup, when in a state of drunkenness, at M. Agrippa;17 such, in fact, being the ordinary results of intoxication. But it is not to be wondered at that Cicero was desirous in this respect to eclipse the fame of M. Antonius, the murderer of his father; a man who had, before the time of the younger Cicero, shown himself so extremely anxious to maintain the superiority in this kind of qualifica- tion, that he had even gone so far as to publish a book upon the subject of his own drunkenness.18 Daring in this work to speak in his own defence, he has proved very satisfactorily, to lay thinking, how many were the evils he had inflicted upon the world through this same vice of drunkenness. It was but a short time before the battle of Actium that he vomited forth this book of his, from which we have no great difficulty in coming to the conclusion, that drunk as lie already was with the blood of his fellow-citizens, the only result was that he thirsted for it all the more. For, in fact, such is the infallible characteristic of drunkenness, the more a person is in the habit of drinking, the more eager he is for drink; and the remark of the Scythian ambassador is as true as it is well known—the more the Parthians drank, the thirstier they were for it.

1 He does not state the reason, nor does it appear to be known. At the present day warmed wine is sometimes given to a jaded horse, to put him on his legs again.

2 Though practised by those who wished to drink largely, this was considered to diminish the flavour of delicate wines.

3 See B. xxii. c. 23, and B. xxv. c. 95; also c. 7 of the present Book. Wine is no longer considered an antidote to cicuta or hemlock.

4 See B. xxxvi. c. 42.

5 This seems to be the meaning of "lectum;" but the passage is obscure.

6 Tunicam.

7 He satirizes, probably, some kind of gymnastic exercises that had been introduced to promote the speedy passage of the wine through the body.

8 "In vino veritas."

9 Fée remarks that this is one proof that the wine of the ancients was essentially different in its nature from ours. In our day wine gives anything but a "pallid" hue.

10 "Rapere vitam."

11 See B. xxiii. c. 23.

12 Three gallons and three pints!! There must have been some jugglery in this performance.

13 Probably towards those guilty of excesses in wine.

14 As Præfectus Urbis.

15 Love of drinking.

16 The mode of testing whether any "heeltaps" were left or not. It was this custom, probably, that gave rise to the favourite game of the cottabus.

17 Dr. Middleton, in his Life of Cicero, in his unlimited partiality for the family, quotes this as an instance of courage and high spirit.

18 According to Paterculus, lie was fond of driving about in a chariot, crowned with ivy, a golden goblet in his hand, and dressed like Bacchus, by which title he ordered himself to be addressed.

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