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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: http://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