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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Drunkenness

DRUNKENNESS IN HISTORY

The Chinese royal astronomers Ho and Hi dedicated too much of their time to consuming alcohol. On October 22, 2137 BC. they failed to predict a forthcoming eclipse. The emperor was very cross because, without knowing that there was an eclipse coming, he was unable to organize teams to beat drums and shoot arrows in the air to frighten away the invisible dragon. The Sun did survive, but the two astronomers lost their heads for such negligence.

The Old Testament records an early example of drunkenness. It tells us how Lot, the nephew of Abraham, settled with his two daughters in the mountains. The two girls were unmarried and unlikely to meet any men to help them to produce children so on two successive nights each of them got their elderly father drunk and lay with him. They both become impregnated and the products of their incest were Moab and Ben Ammi.

Within a few hundred years, the Moabites and Ammonites, the descendants of Moab and Ben Ammi, were two of the fledgling country Israel’s greatest enemies.

The Torah, given from God to Moses on Mount Sinai, imposed dietary restrictions that formed the basis for kosher food requirements. There was also a command to the Hebrew priests on duty at the sanctuary to drink neither wine nor "strong drink," lest they become intoxicated.

Several Old Testament prophets criticized those who revel in too much wine. Isaiah, for instance claimed that not only were the common people prone to overindulging but even priests and prophets had stumbled and blundered in judgement "through strong drink."

Ancient Persians believed that every argument should be debated twice: once while drunk and once while sober.

The strange power of intoxicants such as wine to release the human spirit from the control of the mind meant they were regarded with superstitious reverence by the ancients and their use was frequently linked with religious rites. For instance in Greece, Orphism, a religious cult aimed at securing eventual immortality involved the use of wine in its ceremonies, and festivals celebrating Dionysus, the Greek God of wine involved much hedonistic excess.

In the more disciplined city-state of Sparta, overindulgence of alcoholic beverages was not encouraged. The Spartans were known to make their slaves drunk to show the Spartan youths the results of intemperance.

The Aztecs had punishments for being drunk which ranged from head-shaving to the death penalty.

In 1400 Holy Roman Emperor Wenceslas IV was deposed on account of drunkenness.

Drunkards in seventeenth century north west Europe were sometimes made to wear a wooden barrel with holes for their hands and head in order to shame the victim into sobriety.

Drunkenness was scarcely mentioned in medical writing during the Middle Ages except to warn against the use of drink to relieve melancholia. In 1684, the English physician, Thomas Willis (1621-1675), suggested that habitual drunkenness resulted in `stupidity' but physicians frequently prescribed wine, beer, and spirits as medicines.

Gentlemen in England at the turn of the eighteenth century were frequently in the habit of arriving in their local town on horseback in order to pass away the evening in a tavern or gaming house. Whilst there they send out the occasional drink to the boys who look after their horses. These boys were known as newts and by the time their horses wee ready for collection, the young “newts” were often completely inebriated. So frequently was this happening that the phrase as “drunk as a newt” came into existence.

During the Gin Craze of the 1730s London had 207 inns, 447 taverns, 5875 alehouses and 8659 brandy shops for a population of around 1.5 million.

In the 18th century habitual drunkenness came to be seen as a disease. The American physician, Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), concocted a rum and tartar emetic which he used as aversion therapy for men who preferred the tavern to domestic society. Doctors began to associate drink with insanity.

James Gordon Bennett, Jr. (May 10, 1841 – May 14, 1918) was the New York-born son of a publishing magnate. A successful publisher himself of the New York Herald, he sponsored explorers including Henry Morton Stanley's trip to Africa to find David Livingstone, and the ill-fated USS Jeannette attempt on the North Pole.

Portrait of James Gordon Bennett, Jr.

An outlandish international playboy, Bennett's exploits gave rise to the exclamation ‘Gordon Bennett!’, to express shock. He’d turn up drunk to restaurants and cause havoc, and enjoyed driving round New York stark naked save for a top hat.

The first driver to be charged with a DWI offense by police was George Smith, a cab driver in Great Britain who got drunk and drove into a building in 1897. He had to pay a 20 shilling fine.

Indianapolis police, dealing with a surge in drink- driving due to the end of prohibition and an increase in cars, introduced the world’s first breath tests on December 31, 1938. People had to blow into a balloon, the contents of which were then mixed with a chemical that became darker if alcohol was present.

In 1996, the President of Colombia introduced a bill to make drunken walking illegal.

FUN DRUNKENNESS FACTS

Every language known to man has numerous words for drunk but not for sober.

At any one time, 45 million people in the world are drunk.


It’s estimated that at any one time around 0.7% of the world’s population is drunk.

Figures show that around 13 per cent of fatal road accidents in the UK involve a drunken driver.

The Russians have a word, “Zapoi”, which describes several days of continuous drunkenness during which one withdraws from society.


In 2013, a feral pig in Australia stole 18 beers from a campsite, got drunk, and then tried to fight a cow.

The ant always falls over on its right side when intoxicated.

Birds that consume alcohol slur their songs, much like a human would slur their speech.

Sources History.World, Daily Mail

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