As for hard drinking, it was the accepted thing. A statesman was proud to be know as a one-bottle, two-bottle, three-bottle man . . . Cæsar was abstemious, but the fact that this was remarked upon showed it was rather unusual. The great Marius had ended his life in a prolonged drunk. There were scandalous reports of the drinking parties of Sulla after he laid down his dictatorship. Cato at times would spend a whole night over his wine. Mark Antony was a terrific drinker. Cicero was blameless in his habits, be we have a letter that he wrote to a friend about a dispute at dinner over their wine in which he speaks of returning home “at a late hour comfortably mellow.” It was reputed to be the high ambition of his irresponsible son to outdrink Mark Antony. He was so successful that on one occasion because a minor scandal by throwing a drinking cup at a distinguished general. Long drinking parties after formal dinners were common. While Italian wines were not so potent as the liquors served in England, continued drinking could send the guests staggering into the streets prepared for any wild adventure.
an adjective. Sparing, not self-indulgent, especially in food and drink. Used of persons, habits, meals. Hence abstemiously, an adverb; abstemiousness, a noun.
[from Latin abstemius, abs– + tēm– (base of tēmētum, an intoxicating drink) + -OUS]
This post is a part of the Cicero series, reading This Was Cicero, by H.J. Haskell.