dimecres, 8 de febrer de 2017

Vi grec amb aigua i els misteris d'Eleusis

En El camino a Eleusis de Wasson, Hofmann i Ruck hi ha una explicació del costum grec de diluir el vi amb aigua. La idea bàsica es que, al no coneixer la destilació, a partir d'un 14% d'alcohol, els fongs que produeixen la fermentació moren. Per tant, no podien passar d'aquest volum. Aleshores, perquè ho havien de barrejar amb aigua si, com a màxim era tan fort com una cervessa intensa? Com podia ser necessari barrejar-ho fins amb 20 parts d'aigua? Perquè li ficaven de tot...

En l'edició castellana de FCE ho teniu a les pàgines 64 a 66

This custom of diluting wine deserves our attention since the Greeks did not know the art of distillation and hence the alcoholic content of their wines could not have exceeded about fourteen per cent, at which concentration the alcohol from natural fermentation becomes fatal to the fungus that produced it, thereby terminating the process. Simple evaporation without distillation could not increase the alcoholic content since alcohol, which has a lower boiling point than water, will merely escape to the air, leaving the final product weaker instead of more concentrated. Alcohol in fact was never isolated as the toxin in wine and there is no word for it in ancient Greek. Hence the dilution of wine, usually with at least three parts of water, could be expected to produce a drink of slight inebriating properties. 

That, however, was not the case. The word for drunkenness in Greek designates a state of raving madness. We hear of some wines so strong that they could be diluted with twenty parts of water and that required at least eight parts water to be drunk safely, for, according to report, the drinking of certain wines straight actually caused permanent brain damage and in some cases even death. Just three small cups of diluted wine were enough in fact to bring the drinker to the threshold of madness. Obviously the alcohol could not have been the cause of these extreme reactions. We can also document the fact that different wines were capable of inducing different physical symptoms, ranging from slumber to insomnia and hallucinations.
The solution to this apparent contradiction is simply that ancient wine, like the wine of most early peoples, did not contain alcohol as its sole inebriant but was ordinarily a variable infusion of herbal toxins in a vinous liquid. Unguents, spices, and herbs, all with recognized psychotropic properties, could be added to the wine at the ceremony of its dilution with water. A description of such a ceremony occurs in Homer's Odyssey, where Helen prepares a special wine by adding the euphoric nepenthes to the wine that she serves her husband and his guest. The fact is that the Greeks had devised a spectrum of ingredients for their drinks, each with is own properties. 

Thus the wine of Dionysus was the principle medium whereby the classical Greeks continued to partake of the ancient ecstasy resident in all the vegetative forms that were the Earth's child. In social situations, the drinking was regulated by a leader, who determined the degree of inebriation that he would impose upon the revelers as they ceremonially drank a measured sequence of toasts. At sacral events, the wine would be more potent and the express purpose of the drinking was to induce that deeper drunkenness in which the presence of the deity could be felt.

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