XXXVI. (146) Having then learnt this beforehand, the wise man will never of his own accord think fit to enter upon a contest of hard drinking, unless there were great things at stake, such as the safety of his country, or the honour of his parents, or the preservation of his children, or of his nearest relations, or in short, the success and prosperity of some important public or private interest. (147) For he would not take a deadly poison unless the occasion compelled him very strongly to depart from life, as it might urge him to depart from his country. And at all events it is plain, that unmixed wine is a poison, which is the cause, if not of death, at least of madness, and why may we not pronounce madness to be death, since by it the most important thing in us dies, namely, the mind? But it appears to me that a man would without the slightest hesitation choose (if a choice was permitted him), that death which separates and disunites the soul and the body as a lesser evil in preference to that greater oneùthe alienation of the mind. (148) On this account, forsooth, men of old time called skill in the art of making wine madness (mainomeneµ), and called the Bacchae who were carried away under the influence of wine, mad women (Mainades), since wine is the cause of madness and folly to those who indulge in it insatiably.
XXXVII. (149) Such then are, as it were, the prefaces of this discussion or investigation. Let us now go on to the other parts of this question which is divided into two heads as is natural; the one view affirming that the wise man will occasionally be drunk, and the other, on the contrary, insisting that he will not get drunk. (150) Now it is well to ruminate the arguments which are adduced in support of the former view, having first of all take our beginning from this point, that of things some are homonymous, and others are only synonymous. And it is admitted that the being homonymous and the being synonymous are two opposite things, because homonymy is predicated of many subjects which have one common name; and synonymy is the application of many different names to one subject. (151) For instance, the name of dog is beyond all question a homonymy, inasmuch as it comprehends many dissimilar things which are signified by that appellation. For there is a terrestrial barking animal called a dog; there is also a marine monster with the same name: there is also the star in heaven, which the poets calls the autumnal star, because it rises at the beginning of autumn, for the sake of ripening the fruits and bringing them to perfection. Moreover, there were the philosophers who came from the cynic school. Aristippus and Diogenes; and other too who chose to practise the same mode of life, an incalculable number of men. (152) Again there are other appellations which differ from one another, but still signify but one thing, as a shaft, a bolt, and arrow; for all these terms are applied to the weapon which is sent from the string of the bow against the mark; and again there are the words, oar, scull, and blade, to express the instrument used for propelling a vessel, of equal power with sails; for whenever a ship, by reason of a calm or of unfavourable winds cannot use its sails, then, those, whose business it is, sitting down as rowers, and stretching out their oars on each side like wings, compel to it proceed onwards as if borne on wings; and so the vessel being borne on the top of the waves, and rather running over them than cutting through them, hastens along with a speedy voyage, and speedily anchors in a safe harbour. (153) And again, a staff, and a stick, and a cane, are all different appellations of one subject with which we can strike, or support one’s self steadily, and on which one can lean, and do many other things besides. And we have enumerated these instances not for the purpose of making a long story, but in order that the matter under investigation may be more clearly understood.