Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 370: 224-225

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Pliny: Natural History

quae civilis ac modica est, in C. Caesaris Germanici filii principatu, annis clx, singulas uncias vini eo1 constitisse nobili exemplo docuimus referentes vitam Pomponii Secundi vatis cenamque quam principi illi dedit: tantum pecuniarum detinent vini apothecae. 57nec alia res maius incrementum sentit ad vicensimum annum, maiusve ab eo dispendium non proficiente pretio. raro quippe adhuc fuere, nec nisi in nepotatu, singulis testis milia nummum. Viennenses soli picata sua, quorum genera diximus, pluris permutare, sed inter sese amore patrio, creduntur; idque vinum frigidius reliquis existimatur in frigido potu.

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VII. Vino natura est hausto accendendi calore viscera intus, foris infuso refrigerandi. nec alienum fuerit commemorare hoc in loco quod Androcydes sapientia clarus ad Alexandrum Magnum scripsit intemperantiam eius cohibens: ‘Vinum poturus, rex, memento bibere te sanguinem terrae. cicuta homini venenum est, cicutae vinum.’ quibus praeceptis ille si obtemperavisset, profecto amicos in temulentia non interemisset, prorsus ut iure dici possit neque viribus corporis utilius aliud neque voluptatibus2 perniciosius si modus absit.

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Book XIV

principate of Gaius Caesar, son of Germanicus, 160a.d. 39. years after the consulship of Opimius, the wine cost that amount for one-twelfth of an amphora—this appears in our biographya of the bard Pomponius Secundus and the banquet that he gave to the emperor mentioned: so large are the sums of money that are kept stored in our wine-cellars! Indeed there is nothing else which experiences a greater increase of value up to the twentieth year—or a greater fall in value afterwards, supposing that there is not a rise of price.b Rarely indeed has it occurred hitherto and only in the case of some spendthrift’s extravagance, for wine to fetch a thousand sesterces a cask. It is believed that the people of Vienne alone sell their wines flavoured with pitch, the varieties of which we have specified, for a higher§ 18. price, though out of patriotism they only sell it among themselves; and this wine when drunk cold is believed to be cooler than all the other kinds.

VII. Wine has the property of heating the parts ofPhysiological effect of wine. the body inside when it is drunk and of cooling them when poured on them outside. And it will not be out of place to recall here what the famous philosopher Androcydes wrote to Alexander the Great in an attempt to restrain his intemperance: ‘When you are about to drink wine, O King, remember that you are drinking the earth’s blood. Hemlock is poison to a human being and wine is poison to hemlock.’ If Alexander had obeyed this advice, doubtless he would not have killed his friendsc in his drunken fits; so that in fact we are justified in saying that there is nothing else that is more useful for strengthening the body, and also nothing more detrimental to our pleasuresd if moderation be lacking.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938