[FOUNTAIN]Imbibe in moderationThe first drunkard in human history was Noah. According to the Old Testament, Noah planted a vineyard, made wine and became drunk after the Flood. He was so drunk that he was not even aware he was naked. Alexander the Great was also a mean drunk. On drunken rampages, he killed a friend with a spear and even set the ancient Persian capital of Fars on fire. There is a myth that a drinking contest was the cause of his sudden death. Proteas, who was an opponent, finished a large glass of wine rapidly and asked for more, but Alexander the Great fell on the spot.
Joseph Stalin was also an ostentatious drinker. When asked why he had expelled Leon Trotsky to Siberia, he got furious and said, “He has bad taste in whisky.” Mr. Stalin only drank fine wine and single malt whisky produced in the capitalist countries he detested. His subordinates had to carry the drunken leader to bed, and he would brandish his stick and say they had stolen his drinks.
Winston Churchill is also famous for his love for alcohol. As a war correspondent covering the Boer War, he took 36 bottles of wine, 18 bottles of Scotch whisky and six bottles of brandy to the front. At a party, a woman said, “Mr. Churchill, you are terribly drunk.” He responded, “And madam, you are terribly ugly. In the morning, I will be sober but you, however, will still be ugly.”
As may be expected of the first drunkard in history, Noah could explain the cause of these rather unpleasant drinking habits. In the Talmud, Satan came to Noah when he was planting his vineyard. Satan offered to help make wine, and killed a sheep, a lion, a pig and a monkey and sprinkled their blood on the field. So when a person drank alcohol, the drinker become as innocent as a sheep initially and then as bold as a lion. After a few drinks more, he became as filthy as a pig and then made a racket like a monkey.
Our Korean ancestors realized the vice of drinking long ago. While enjoying drinking, dancing and singing, they controlled themselves and kept to a “way” of drinking. Joseon-period poet Jeong Cheol sang, “Drink a glass and then another. Let’s drink while plucking and counting flowers.” Instead of testing their limits, he encouraged people to count their drinks and keep themselves under control. Another Joseon-period poet, Yun Seon-do, said, “If you drink alcohol but lack virtue, you seem disorderly, and if you dance but lack manners, you seem indecent. If you stand by virtue and manners, you will enjoy a long happy life.” The lawmaker who sexually harassed a female reporter and blamed alcohol for his misbehavior is not the only one who should have followed the teachings of our ancestors.
by Lee Hoon-beom
The writer is the head of the JoongAng Ilbo’s “week&” team.