In vino veritas

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This article is about the Latin phrase. For the Law & Order episode, see In Vino Veritas (Law & Order).
Sun dial in the Chateau de Pommard, France

In vino veritas is a Latin phrase that translates “in wine [there is the] truth". The expression, together with its counterpart in Greek, “Ἐν οἴνῳ ἀλήθεια” (En oinōi alētheia), is found in Erasmus' Adagia, I.vii.17.[1] Pliny the Elder's Naturalis historia contains an early allusion to the phrase.[2] The Greek expression is traced back to a poem by Alcaeus.[3]

Herodotus asserts, and it is likely enough, that if the Persians took a decision while drunk, they made a rule to reconsider it when sober. Few authors between Herodotus and Lévi-Strauss would have dared to add, as Herodotus does, that if the Persians took a decision while sober, they made a rule to reconsider it when they were drunk (Histories, book 1, section 133).[4]

The Roman historian Tacitus described how the Germanic peoples always drank while holding councils, as they believed nobody could lie effectively when drunk.[5]

The phrase is often continued as, "In vino veritas, in aqua sanitas", i.e., "In wine there is truth, in water there is health."

Similar phrases exist across cultures and languages.

Russian[edit]

In Russian, «Что у трезвого на уме, то у пьяного на языке» ("What a sober man has in his mind, the drunk one has on his tongue").

Talmud[edit]

The Babylonian Talmud (תלמוד בבלי) contains the passage: "נכנס יין יצא סוד", i.e., "Wine enters, secrets exit."[6] It continues, "בשלשה דברים אדם ניכר בכוסו ובכיסו ובכעסו", i.e., "In three things is a man revealed: in his wine goblet, in his purse, and in his wrath."[7] (In the original Hebrew, the words for "his goblet" (coso), "his purse" (ciso - lit. his pocket), and "his wrath" (co'aso) rhyme, and there is a further play on words, as they all use the root "כס".)

Persian[edit]

In Persian, مستی و راستی ("With drunkenness comes the truth").

Chinese[edit]

In Chinese, ("After wine blurts truthful speech").

Music[edit]

In the 1770s, Benjamin Cooke wrote a glee by the title of In Vino Veritas. His lyrics (with modern punctuation):

Round, round with the glass, boys, as fast as you can,
Since he who don't drink cannot be a true man.
For if truth is in wine, then 'tis all but a whim
To think a man's true when the wine's not in him.
Drink, drink, then, and hold it a maxim divine
That there's virtue in truth, and there's truth in good wine![8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ See W. Barker, The Adages of Erasmus (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), pp. 100-103. Ἐν οἴνῳ ἀλήθεια: Diogenianus, Cent. 4.81. See Andreas Schottus, Paroimiai hellēnikai (Antwerp: Plantin, 1612), p. 215.
  2. ^ Nat. hist. 14, 141: "...volgoque veritas iam attributa vino est."
  3. ^ Alc. fr. 366 Voigt: "οἶνος, ὦ φίλε παῖ, καὶ ἀλάθεα" (oinos, ō phile pai, kai alāthea), "Wine, dear boy, and truth...". Nothing is known about the poem except for these words, which are quoted by a later scholiast. See G. Tsomis, Zusammenschau der Frühgriechischen Monodischen Melik: Alkaios, Sappho, Anakreon (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1999), pp. 160-161.
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of Food and Culture, Vol. 2, Food Production to Nuts, Solomon H. Katz (Editor in Chief), 2003, Charles Scribner’s Sons, p. 198. ISBN 0-684-80566-9 (v. 2).
  5. ^ Tacitus, Germania, 22-23.
  6. ^ See Tractate Eruvin 65a (מסכת עירובין, פרק ו, דף סה,א גמרא).
  7. ^ Id. at 65b (דף סה,ב גמרא).
  8. ^ Warren, Thomas, ed. A collection of catches, canons & glees. Wilmington, Delaware: Mellifont Press, 1970. ISBN #0842000267. Reprint of a collection, originally in thirty-two volumes, of glees published by various publishers in London, from 1762 to 1793. Thomas Warren (ca. 1730–1974) was the original editor of the collection. The reprint is not complete. For more information, see the University of Michigan library's holding here.

External links[edit]