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LJ Academics and the US Election

Me, I spent the day reading about the virtuousness of alcohol in ancient Rome and the crucifiction as played out by personified virtues.


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Nov. 5th, 2004 06:38 am (UTC)
Virtuousness of alcohol? Any citations or particular points of interest? (Booze is frowned upon in general in the Buddhisms I know, incidentally, but is often listed among the offerings for the kami. Which, come to think of it.... Hm.)
Nov. 5th, 2004 07:00 am (UTC)
Mostly I was reading Pliny's Natural History, book 23, chapters 11-29 since I needed to find out what the humoral properties of wine were. I'll give you some highlights here.

From Chapter 29:
There are two liquids that are peculiarly grateful to the human body, wine within and oil without; both of them the produce of trees, and most excellent in their respective kinds. Oil, indeed, we may pronounce an absolute necessary, nor has mankind been slow to employ all the arts of invention in the manufacture of it. How much more ingenious, however, man has shown himself in devising various kinds of drink will be evident from the fact, that there are no less than one hundred and ninety-five different kinds of it; indeed, if all the varieties are reckoned, they will amount to nearly double that number. The various kinds of oil are much less numerous--we shall proceed to give an account of them in the following Book.

From Chapter 23:
Pure wine, too, acts as an antidote to hemlock, coriander, henbane, mistletoe, opium, mercury, as also to stings inflicted by bees, wasps, hornets, the phalangium, serpents, and scorpions; all kinds of poison, in fact, which are of a cold nature, the venom of the hæmorrhois and the prester, in particular, and the noxious effects of fungi. Undiluted wine is good, too, in cases of flatulency, gnawing pains in the thoracic organs, excessive vomitings at the stomach, fluxes of the bowels and intestines, dysentery, excessive perspirations after prolonged fits of coughing, and defluxions of various kinds. In the cardiac disease, it is a good plan to apply a sponge soaked in neat wine to the left breast: in all these cases, however, old white wine is the best. A fomentation of hot wine applied to the genitals of beasts of burden is found to be very beneficial; and, introduced into the mouth, with the aid of a horn, it has the effect of removing all sensations of fatigue. It is asserted that in apes, and other quadrupeds with toes, the growth will be impeded if they are accustomed to drink undiluted wine.

It is, however, best to mix one's wine with a generous amount of water. From Chapter 24:
For persons of all ranks, however, the most serviceable wine is that the strength of which has been reduced by the strainer;3 for we must bear in mind that wine is nothing else but juice of grapes which has acquired strength by the process of fermentation. A mixture of numerous kinds of wine is universally bad, and the most wholesome wine of all is that to which no ingredient has been added when in a state of must

Ultimately, though, given the unreliability of many vintages and wines from various regions, wine is hardly a consistently virtous beverage. From Chapter 19:
We have already described the various kinds of wine, the numerous differences which exist between them, and most of the properties which each kind possesses. There is no subject that presents greater difficulties than this, or, indeed, a more varied field for discussion, it being extremely difficult to pronounce whether wine is more generally injurious in its effects, or beneficial.

All of these texts were copied from the Pliny edition hosted by the Perseus Project.
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