Day Twenty-Three of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.
This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.
Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!
Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂
As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “W” post is about wine in Ancient Greece and its uses (or misuses) in Greek mythology. This all coming from a teetotaler (not that it should affect the post).
I took an Intro to Ancient Greece course in college and I vaguely remember discussing wine and its importance in the lives of ancient Greeks.
But wine was viewed both as a gift and as punishment by some philosophers.
A gift because it could ail illness (more like numb you to it) and it was attributed to the gods, so in a way it could open your mind up spiritually.
But it was seen as punishment because it could drive you loco – though I guess that depends more on what kind of drunkard you are? A happy one, or a seriously mopey one, or are you a danger to everyone because your anger is explosive when you’re out of it?
Wine was definitely present at symposia where philosophers would gather and chat and drink. And, of course, in vino veritas. Nothing like a little alcohol to loosen that heavy tongue.
Archeological digs unearthing gold goblets used for wine suggest that wine was extremely important to the ancient civilizations in the Near East and the Mediterranean. (source)
Wine became a strong commercial product and was traded by the Greeks in those large amphorae, but it was also kept for religious services and enjoyed by the people. Heck, they had a god for wine (Dionysus)!
Now I also heard about diluting wine, and that wine drunk straight was often seen as barbaric. But doing some research (source), I now understand wine was used to purify water and the Greeks (and Romans, if you’re interested) “were putting wine into their water more than they were putting water into their wine. Back then, wine was seen as a way to purify and improve the taste of the (often stagnant) water source.” Very interesting.
Now some more interesting maybe-not-so-entirely-factual tidbits hurled your way…
Ten Bowls of Wine – or a measurement of just how drunk you are, and what is the appropriate limit to cut yourself off before you toe over that line of good times and move into crazy land. Dionysus supposedly capped himself at 3 bowls of wine. Now how BIG are these bowls, I have no clue. But no more than three bowls.
Bowl One was for Health, ” the 2nd to Love and pleasure, and the 3rd to Sleep. The 4th bowl, they say, belongs to Violence; the 5th to Uproar, the 6th to Drunken Revel, and the 7th to Black Eyes. The 8th, they proceed, belongs to the Police, the 9th to Biliousness, and the 10th to Madness and hurling the furniture.” (source)
Self-explanatory really. In Ancient Greece, keep within the 3rd bowl and you’ll avoid crazy town, straight ahead.
Gods got drunk too!
None but the virginal goddess, Athena, Artemis, and Hestia could be affected by alcohol. This was the eternal gift of vowing to remain chaste. It’s a pretty super cool superpower if you ask me!
One tale I like is Hephaestus’s feud with Hera.
Supposedly Hephaestus, Mr. God of the smithy and volcanic fire, was born a cripple – and therefore an immediate embarrassment to his mom, Hera. Not sure why she should be shocked: he’s an incestual product. You’re lucky he doesn’t have more health problems.
Anyways, she decided to literally give him the boot from Mt. Olympus, shoving him off to fall for “nine days and nine nights” on the island of Lemnos where nymphs hurried to his aid, tending to his wounds. In other cases he fell into the ocean and was “raised by Thetis and Eurynome”.
In another variant it wasn’t Hera at all, but Zeus who angrily shoved his son off of Mt. Olympus.
But let’s go the Hera-kicked-him-out route; it makes this story so much funnier.
No matter his new living situation, Hephaestus learned his trade and he learned it well. He also plotted revenge. He constructed a golden throne for his dearest mother. When Hera got her gift, she didn’t think, “Gee, maybe I should seriously get this checked out. I mean the god who made it is pissed at me for humiliating him…”
Nope, she just sat down and BAM! She’s trapped in the magical throne, unable to stand again. None of the other gods could free her, so they went to beg Hephaestus to undo his charm. He told them to “beat it”.
It sounds all so childish, and it gets worse.
With the other gods unable to get him to sway from his harsh punishment, Dionysus decided to intervene. He was not yet an Olympian god, and remember, Hera hated him for being Zeus’s son – another product of his many mortal and nymph lovers. So Dionysus brings his wine with him, loosens Hephaestus up and hauls him over his donkey.
Donkey and gods make their trip to Mt. Olympus where Hephaestus is offered a trade: he frees Hera and he gets Aphrodite as a trophy wife. And he’s like, “sure”. (Not that that marriage was on a healthy track at all.)
And Dionysus gets his prize too, Hestia’s seat at the Olympian table when she willingly steps down for him.
MORAL: Stick by your guns (or magical thrones) to stick it to them.
Sources that helped me with this post:
Check them out when you can!