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"You Can’t Sit with Us": Drinking Too Much at the Symposium

By Emma Mendez Correa (NYU)

We probably all feel that we know what alcoholism is, but: how should we describe it? Liver cirrhosis? Drinking alone, in social isolation? When studying alcoholism, both representations are relevant: the former in the biomedical sphere, the latter in a psychological one. The face of alcoholism depends on your perspective; defining alcoholism proves to be an elusive task. Adding a historical dimension to this task makes finding pathological features even harder. Both drinking and drink transform over time.

Lament and Substance Abuse

By Paul Eberwine (Princeton University)

As early as Homer, Greek literature treats lamentation as a controlled substance: an indulgence which must be approached with moderation. This may seem strange, considering the brutal and graphic terms in which lament is often described. Nevertheless, the affect most consistently associated with Homeric lament is not pain, but pleasure (Flatt 2017). The poems repeatedly deploy formulae which thematize the terpsis gooio, the peculiar pleasure of lamentation.

Ebrietas in Seneca’s Philosophical Prose: Between Vice and Illness

By Nikolaos Mylonas (Durham University)

Seneca often discusses mental illness in his philosophical prose, explaining it in physical terms by showing its detrimental effects on the individual’s suffering body (e.g., Tranq. 1.2, 2.1, 2.6). In his writings, ills of the mind and moral flaws are not clearly differentiated, with vices often portrayed as forms of mental illness. This is the case for Seneca’s approach to drunkenness (ebrietas), discussed at length in his Epistulae morales (Ep. 83; 59), and philosophical essays and dialogues (Tranq. 17; Ir. 1.13; Q. Nat. 3.20).

Toxic Beauty: Aphrodite and Narcosis in Apuleius’ Cupid and Psyche

By Catalina Popescu (University of Texas at Austin)

Scholarship has investigated the pharmaceutical value of love filters as situated in between aphrodisiacs and poisons. The ancients were aware of the nefarious properties of these filters, as we see in Antiphon’s Speech against the Stepmother. In societies with arranged marriages, where romantic relationships appeared suspicious (see Elpinice’s romance with Callias, Laurin 2005, pp.