Ancient Greek and Roman Explanations for Drunkenness (Article)

Courtesy of Steve Thompson, Avondale College, Cooranbong NSW Australia

How did ancient Greeks and Romans explain drunkenness? Recent close scrutiny of relevant Greek and Roman literature has turned up three explanations for drunkenness brought about by wine consumption. 

The first was that it was cased by something in the drinker's nature. The second was that there was something present in wine. These two explanations could be considered precursors to contemporary scientific explanations of drunkenness as a physiological response to a chemical cause. 

The third and most widely-expressed explanation for drunkenness among Greeks and Romans however was spiritual--the drinker "took in" the god, or spirit of wine, which then assumed control of the drinker's life for a time. This view was expressed by a wide range of highbrow as well as lowbrow Greek and Roman authors, and crops up in every phase of Greek and Roman literature. 

For details see Steve Thompson, "Daimon Drink: Ancient Greek and Roman Explanations for Drunkenness," Christian Spirituality and Science 8/1 (2010): 7-24. Full text available at the following link: https://research.avondale.edu.au/css/vol8/iss1/2

Posted by Cynthia on July 29, 2010 at 01:10 PM in Alcohol (general), Greece, Literature, Religion | Permalink

Plato, drug culture, ecstasy, and philosophy in ancient Greece (book)

Interview with Michael A. Rinella is available here. Rinella says the objective of the symposium was intoxication.  Ancient wine included what we today call "recreational drugs."  He is the author of Pharmakon: Plato, Drug Culture, and Identity in Ancient Athens (Lexington Books, 2010)

Posted by David Fahey on May 24, 2010 at 09:04 PM in Books, Drugs (general), Greece, Wine | Permalink

Plato, drug culture, and identity in ancient Athens (book)

Michael A. Rinella, Pharmakon: Plato, Drug Culture, and Identity in Ancient Athens (Lexington Books, forthcoming May 2010).


Table of Contents for Pharmakon: 

  • Introduction - The Pharmakon, Ecstasy, and Identity 

  • Part I. Plato and the Politics of Intoxication 
    • Chapter 1. Wine and the Symposion 
    • Chapter 2. The Symposion and the Question of Stasis 
    • Chapter 3. Plato's Reformulation of the Symposion 

  • Part II: The Pharmakon and the Defense of Philosophy 
    • Chapter 4. Drugs, Epic Poetry, and Religion 
    • Chapter 5. Socrates Accused 
    • Chapter 6. Socrates Rehabilitated 

  • Part III. Plato through the Prism of the Pharmakon 
    • Chapter 7. Medicine, Drugs, and Somatic Regimen 
    • Chapter 8. Magic, Drugs, and Noetic Regimen 
    • Chapter 9. Speech, Drugs, and Discursive Regimen 
    • Chapter 10. Philosophy's Pharmacy 
    • Afterword: Towards a New Ethics of the Pharmakon 

    Posted by David Fahey on March 5, 2010 at 07:29 AM in Books, Drugs (general), Greece | Permalink

    Plato, drug culture, and identity in ancient Athens (book)

    Michael Rinella, Pharmakon: Plato, Drug Culture, and Identity in Ancient Athens (Lexington Books, forthcoming).  A political scientist, Dr. Rinella formerly was an editor at the State University of New York Press.

    Posted by David Fahey on November 6, 2009 at 08:23 AM in Books, Drugs (general), Greece | Permalink

    7 New Emerging Wine Regions

    Global warming is partly responsible for emerging grape growing regions according to an article by Simon Majumdar at AskMen.com - here is the link.

    Posted by Dave Trippel on June 3, 2009 at 12:01 AM in Alcohol (miscellaneous), Brazil, Britain, Canada, Greece, Romania, Switzerland, Ukraine, Wine | Permalink

    Typsy hero in ancient Greece

    In the New York Times series, "Proof: Alcohol and American Life," literature professor Alexander Nazaryan looks at wine in ancient Greece.  For his column, see here.  By the way, fewer than half of the contributions to this series have been posted here, as most are autobiographical.

    Posted by David Fahey on January 31, 2009 at 08:41 AM in Alcohol (general), Greece | Permalink

    Coffee cheaper in Buenos Aires than in Moscow

    Coffee is most expensive in Europe: US$10.19 per cup in Moscow, $6.77 in Paris, and $6.62 in Athens. It is cheaper in the southern hemisphere: $2.36 in Johannesburg and $2.03 in Buenos Aires. For more, see here.

    Posted by David Fahey on July 27, 2008 at 05:17 PM in Argentina, Coffee, France, Greece, Russia, South Africa | Permalink

    Instant coffee in Greece and South Korea

    According to Fresh Cup, July 2007, Greece remains a stronghold of instant coffee in the form of iced coffee. This taste for iced coffee (mixing the instant coffee with water and ice and shaking the combination) is new, maybe fifty years old. Counting all types of coffee, Greece ranks 13th per capita in the world as a coffee consumer. Another trade magazine (Barista, I think), notes that Koreans are fond of instant coffee too, in this case hot and heavily sugared.

    Posted by David Fahey on July 15, 2007 at 09:56 PM in Coffee, Greece, Korea | Permalink

    Gendering production and consumption of wine in ancient Greece (thesis)

    Lisa Marie Elliott, "Gendering the production and consumption of wine and olive oil in ancient Greece" (M.A. thesis, Miami University, 2006).

    Posted by David Fahey on May 22, 2007 at 08:35 PM in Greece, Wine | Permalink

    Opium in ancient Greece and Rome (thesis)

    Premala Palan, "The history of the opium poppy in ancient Greece and Rome" (B.Sc. thesis, University of London, 2003).

    Posted by David Fahey on April 19, 2007 at 10:08 PM in Greece, Italy, Opium | Permalink