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I. (1) What has been said by other philosophers about drunkenness we have to the best of our ability recorded in the treatise before this present one. But now let us consider what is the opinion of the lawgiver, who was in all respects great and wise, on this subject; (2) for in many places of his history of the giving of the law he mentions wine, and the plant which produces wine, namely the vine; and he commands some persons to drink it, but some he does not permit to do so; and at time he gives contrary directions to the same people, ordering them sometimes to drink and some times to abstain. These therefore are the persons who have taken the great vow, to whom it is expressly forbidden to drink unmixed wine, being the priests who are engaged in offering sacrifices. But those who drink wine are numerous beyond all calculation, and among them are all those who are especially praised by the lawgiver for their virtue. (3) But before we begin to talk of these subjects we will examine with accuracy some points that concern this argument, and, as I at least imagine they are these.

II. (4) Moses looks upon an unmixed wine as a symbol not of one thing only but of many, namely of trifling, and playing the fool, and of all kinds of insensibility and of insatiable greediness, and of a covetousness which is hard to be pleased, and of a cheerfulness which comprehends many other objects, and of a nakedness which is apparent in all the things now mentioned, such as that which he says Noah, when drunk, displayed himself in. Wine, then, is said to produce all these effects. (5) But great numbers of persons who, because they never touch unmixed wine, look upon themselves as sober, are involved in the same accusation. And one may see some of them acting in a foolish and senseless manner, and others possessed by complete insensibility; and others again who are never satisfied, but are always thirsting for what cannot be obtained, because of their want of knowledge; others, on the other hand rejoicing and exulting; and others in good truth naked. (6) The cause now of behaving foolishly is a mischievous ignorance; I mean by this expression, not an ignorance of such things as are matters of instruction but an alienation from, and dislike of knowledge. The cause again of insensibility is a treacherous and mutilated ignorance. The cause of insatiability is a most grievous appetite for the indulgence of the passions of the soul. The cause of cheerfulness is at once the acquisition and the employment of virtue. Of nakedness there are many causes–an ignorance of such things as are opposite to one another; complete innocence and simplicity of manners; truth, which strips off all the coverings of such things as are concealed, on the one side revealing virtue to our eyes, and on the other side, in its turn, uncovering vice; (7) for no one can possibly put off both these things at one time, nor can he either strip them both off together. But when any one discards the one, he must of necessity take up and clothe himself with the other. (8) For as the old story tells us, God, when he had combined pleasure and pain, two things naturally at variance, under one head, gave to us an outward sense capable of appreciating them both, not at the same moment, but at different times, fixing the period of the return of one to be simultaneous with the moment of the flight of the other. Thus from one root of the dominant principle, the two shoots of virtue and vice sprang up, neither blossoming nor bearing fruit at the same time; (9) for when the one loses its leaves and fades away, then the other begins to shoot, and blossom, and look green, so that one might fancy that the one withered through dissatisfaction at the blooming appearance of the other. It is with reference to this that Moses represents in a most natural manner the departure of Jacob to be contemporaneous with the arrival of Esau; “For it came to pass,” says he, “that as Jacob went out his brother Esau came In.”{1}{#ge 27:30.} (10) As long, indeed, as prudence dwells in and makes his abode in the soul, so long every companion of folly is discarded and banished to a distance; but when prudence departs then folly rejoices and enters, since its enemy and adversary, for whose sake it was driven away and banished, is no longer inhabiting the same place as before.