Page images

polluted things to come near to the altar. This, now, is the second point of view in which this question may be regarded, by which we have shown that it is not inconsistent with the character of the wise man to get drunk.

XL. There is a third way of looking at this subject, which depends chiefly on the exceeding plausibility of an argument derived from etymology. For some persons think that drunkenness (néon) derives its name not merely from the fact of its being admitted after sacrifice, but also because it is the cause of relaxation (uédeois) to the soul. But the reason of foolish men is relaxed so as to get strength for many sins; while that of those inclined to be sensible is relaxed, so as to enjoy freedom from care, and cheerfulness, and lightness of heart. For the wise man, when he is intoxicated, becomes more good-humoured than when he is sober; so that in this respect we should not be at all wrong in saying that he may get drunk. And besides all this, we must likewise add, that we are not speaking of a stern. looking and sordid kind of wisdom, contracted by profound thought and ill-humour; but, on the other hand, of that wisdom which wears a tranquil and cheerful appearance, being full of joy and happiness, by which men have often been led on to sport and divert themselves in no inelegant manner, indulging in amusements suitable to their dignified and earnest character, just as in a well-tuned lyre ono may have a combination uniting, by means of opposite sounds, in one melodious harmony.

At all events, according to the most holy Moses, the end of all wisdom is amusement and mirth, not such mirth as is pursued by foolish people, uncoinbined with any prudence, but such as is admitted even by those who are already grey, not only through old age alone, but also through deep thinking. Do you not see that he speaks of the man who has drunk deeply of that wisdom which is to be derived from a man's own hearing, and learning, and study; not as one who partakes of mirth, but who is actually mirth in itself ? This is Isaac, for the name Isaac being interpreted means "laughter," with whose character it is very consistent that he should have been sporting with "perseverance," which the Hebrews call Rebekkah.

XLI. But it is not lawful for a private individual to

behold the divine instruction of the soul, but the king may behold it, as one with whom wisdom bas dwelt for a very long time, if we may not rather say that it dwells with him all his life. His name is Abimelech, who, looking out through the window with the well-opened and radiant eye of the mind, saw Isaac sporting with Rebekkah his wife. For what employ. ment is more suitable for a wise man than to be sporting, and rejoicing, and diverting himself with perseverance in good things ? From which it is plain that he will become intoxicated, since intoxication contributes to good morals, and also produces relaxation and advantage; for unmixed wine seems to increase and render more intense all the natural qualities, whether they be good or the contrary, as many other things do too. For money is to a good man a cause of good things, and to a bad man, as some one has said, it is a cause of bad things. And again, high rank makes the wickedness of a fool more conspicuous, but it renders the virtue of the just man more glorious.

So also unmixed wine, being poured forth in abundance, makes the man who is the slave of his passions, still more subservient to them, but it renders him who has them under control more manageable and amiable. Who, indeed, is there who does not know that of two opposite things, when one kind is suitable to most people

, the other kind must of necessity be suited to some ? As, for instance, white and black are two opposite colours: if white is suitable both to good and to bad things, then black must also be necessarily equally suitable to both, and not to one of the two alone. And, again, to be sober and to be drunk are two opposite things; accordingly, both bad men and good, as the ancient proverb says, partake of sobriety; therefore, also, drunkenness is suitable to both classes. Therefore the virtuous man will get drunk without losing any of his virtue by it.

XLII: But if, like persons before a court of justice, one must bring forward not only such proofs as are in accordance with the rules of art, but those too which have no connection with art, one of which is proof by testimony, we will then produce many sons of physicians and philosophers of high repute to give evidence, not by words alone, but also by writings. For they have left behind ten thousand commentaries entitled 'treatises on drunkenness; in which they consider

nothing beyond the bare use of wine, without pursuing any investigation with respect to those who are accustomed to behave foolishly in their cups, and in fact omitting every thing which has reference to conduct under the influence of wine ; so that it is very plainly confessed in their writings that drunkenness is the same as drinking wine freely. And to drink a superabundant quantity of wine on proper occasions is not unsuitable to a wise man ; therefore we shall not be wrong if we say that a wise man may get drunk.

But since no one is ever inscribed on the rolls as a conqueror if he has contended by himself alone, for if he does this he appears only to be fighting with a shadow, and very naturally too; it follows that we must also produce the arguments of those who contend for the opposite side of the question, that by this means a most just judgment may be formed, and that the other side of the question may not be decided against through default. And the first and the most powerful argument is this: if no one in bis senses would entrust a secret which he wished to be kept to a drunken man, then a good and wise man will not get drunk. But before we collect all the other arguments in their order, it may be better to reply to each objection separately, in order that we may not appear to be too prolix, and consequently to be troublesome.

Some one then will say in opposition that, according to the argument that has been advanced, the wise man must

ave a bilious attack, and never go to sleep, and above all must never die. But he to whom some of these things happens is either an inanimate being or a divine one; but beyond all question he is not a man at all. Imitating this perversion of the arguments, one may apply it equally to a bilious man, or to a sleeping man, or to a dying man; for no one in his senses would tell a secret to a man in any of ihose conditions, but it would be reasonable for him to tell it to a wise mån, for the wise man is never bilious, nerer goos to sleep, and never dies.




I. What has been said by other philosophers about drunk enness we have to the best of our ability recorded in the treatise before this present one. But now let us consider what is the opinion of the law giver, who was in all respects great and wise, on this subject ; for in many places of his history of the giving of the law he mentions wine, and the plant which produces wine, namely the vine; and he commands some persons to drink it, but some he does not permit to do so; and at times he gives contrary directions to the same people, ordering them sometimes to drink and some times to abstain. These therefore are the persons who have taken the great vow, to whom it is expressly forbidden to drink unmixed wine, being the priests who are engaged in offering sacrifices. But those who are numerous beyond all calculation, and among them are all those who are especially praised by the lawgiver for their virtue. But before we begin to talk of these subjects we will examine with accuracy some points that concern this argument, and, as I at least imagine they are these.

II. Moses looks upon an unmixed wine as a symbol not of one thing only but of many, namely of trifling, and playing the fool, and of all kinds of insensibility and of insatiable greediness, and of a covetousness which is hard to be pleased, and of a cheerfulness which comprehends many other objects, and of a nakedness which is apparent in all the things now mentioned, such as that which he says Noah, when drunk, displayed himself in. Wine, then, is said to produce all these effects. But great numbers of persons who, because they never touch unwixed wine, look upon themselves as sober, are involved in the same accusation. And one may see some of them acting in a foolish and senseless manner, and others possessed by complete insensibility; and others again who are never satisfied, but are always thirsting for what cannot be obtained, because of their want of knowledge ; others, on the other hand rejoicing and exulting; and others in good truth naked. The cause now of behaving foolisbly isa mischievous ignorance; J mean by this expression, not an ignorance of such things

ns are matters of instruction but an alienation from, and dislike of knowledge.

The cause again of insensibility is a treacherous and mutilated ignorance. The cause of insatiability is a most grievous appetite for the indulgence of the passions of the soul. The cause of cheerfulness is at once the acquisition and the employment of virtue. Of nakedness there are many causes-an ignorance of such things as are opposite to one another; complete innocence and simplicity of manners; truth, which strips off all the coverings of such things as are concealed, on the one side revealing virtue to our eyes, and on the other side, in its turn, uncovering vice; for no one can possibly put off both these things at one time, nor can he either strip them both off together But when any one discards the one, he must of necessity take up and clothe himself with the other. For as the old story tells us, God, when he had combined pleasure and pain, two things naturally at variance, under one head, gave to us an outward sense capable of appreciating them both, not at the sume moment, but at different times, fixing the period of the return of one to be simultaneous with the moment of the flight of the other. Thus from one root of the dominant principle, the two shoots of virtue and vice spraug up, neither blossoming nor bearing fruit at the same time; for when the one loses its leaves and fades away, then the other begins to shoot, and blossom, and look green, 80 that one might fancy that the one withered through dissatisfaction at the blooming appearance of the other.

It is with reference to this that Moses represents in a most natural manner the departure of Jacob to be contem. poraneous with the arrival of Esau ; “ For it came to pass,”: says he, " that as Jacob went out his brother Esau came in.' As long, indeed, as prudence dwells in and makes his abode in the soul, so long every companion of folly is discarded and banished to a distance; but when prudence departs then folly rejoices and enters, since its enemy and adversary, for whose sake it was driven away and banished, is no longer inhabiting the same place as before.

III. We have now then said enough by way of preface to this treatise. We will proceed to adduce the proofs of:

* Genesis xxvii. 30.

« PreviousContinue »