AuthorJames G. Wigmore
If one “Googles” ethyl alcohol (which will be referred to here simply as al-
cohol), it will be found described as, a mong other things, a “central nerv-
ous system depressant” drug. Although th is will seem counterintuitive
to many people (who drinks to get to sleep?), there is ample pharmaco-
logical literature to conf‌irm t his description. Indeed, there is undoubt-
edly no other single drug that ha s been the subject of so much research
or has had so much written about it over such a long period of time.
The pleasures associated w ith the consumption of moderate doses
of alcohol probably began to be enjoyed around , B.C.E. when it was
discovered somewhere in central Asia that grapes, if allowed to stand
and ferment, turn as if by magic into wine. As a result, it has been ob-
served that “liquor dri nking is a part of human behaviour in wh ich man-
kind has indulged forever” (Chaftez, ). The explanation for this m ay
be found in the book of Proverbs: “Let him drink and forget his poverty,
and remember his misery no more” (:).
Ancient literature, and stories about some ancients in more recent
literature, contains references to the use of alcohol. For example, at
some time in the seventh or eighth century BCE, Homer (or whoever
wrote under that name) described behavior that may be obser ved in any
tavern, even today: “The wi ne urges me on, the bewitching wine, which
sets even a wise man to singi ng and to laughing gently and rouses him
up to dance and brings forth words which were better unspoken” (The
Odyssey, Book XIV, lines –).
More recently, Chesterton rhymed in a couple of poems (a,
b): “And Noah he often said to his wife when he sat down to dine / I
don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine”; and,

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