Background of Alcohol in Antiquity
Wine was a prominent feature in Mediterranean culture. Through trade with ancient Egypt, Greece was introduced to alcohol. Wine became an essential part of religious rituals, celebrations, and conference. In Athens, wine consumption was considered a civic duty. Everyone received an equal amount of wine during public feasts, forming the concept of democracy. For the Greeks, drinking wine was associated with happiness and well-being.
Boys under the age of 18 were not allowed to drink. After they turned 18, they were allowed to drink wine in moderation. Plato later argued in his Republic that young people should learn to drink so they can learn moderation. While Greeks promoted drinking, they looked own on drunkenness. The only exception would be the cult of Dionysus, which people believed that they would get close to their god.
Romans consumed alcohol since the founding of Rome. They considered wine to be important to their society. Once the Roman Empire started to expand, the traditional values on temperance and simplicity were replaced with heavy drinking and corruption. Intoxication was not rare anymore and men were often praised for their moderation in drinking.
The ancient Greeks and Romans made wine that was aromatic and sweet. The Greeks used small, shallow cups to drink.Wine could vary from inky black to a dark red or white. The wine was also much stronger at the time and was made to be diluted with water. The Greeks considered undiluted wine to be barbaric. In the winter, they used snow to dilute the wine for a cleaner taste.
Greeks mixed five parts water and two parts wine to dilute their wine. They sometimes added honey or salt water to flavor the wine. They believed that undiluted wine could cause blindness or insanity. Romans and Greece both chilled their wine with snow in straw-lined pits. The wine was stored in a krater until it was time to drink.