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Abstract

What did ancient Greek and Roman wine drinkers believe was the mechanism, force, or process which caused their drunkenness? Three primary answers to this question emerge from the extensive ancient Greek and Roman literary references to wine and drinking. The first is that drunkenness is caused by some property resident in the drinker, the result of a bodily response to wine. This will be designated below as the “human cause.” The second is that drunkenness is caused by a property resident in the wine itself. This will be designated below as the “wine cause.” The third of these answers, the one most widely encountered, was that drunkenness was the work of the god of wine, known to Greeks as Dionysus and Bacchus. This will be designated as the “divine cause.” The purpose of this paper is to describe and document these three explanations of drunkenness within the setting of Greco-Roman culture. Relevant original sources will be cited and translated.

Avondale Research Centre

Spirituality and Worship Research Centre

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