Born into the barbaric bacchanalia of 4th century Macedonia, to a dipsomaniac Dad who invented the ‘Conga’ and a Mother mastered in the art of revelry, Alexander The Great’s licentious life-path was laid out right from the start.
As a child, Alexander was tutored in the ways of wine, amongst other things, by Aristotle – one of the founding fathers of philosophy. Aristotle instructed his scholar to imbibe in moderation but Alexander, quite rightly, didn’t listen to a man who believed buzzards had three testicles, claimed hedgehogs made love face-to-face (the lady hedgehog on her back); and licked his hands to go to sleep.
As a Macedonian, Alexander was an amazing drinker but an awful drunk – and when the wine flowed, bad things happened. After a goblet too many in 328, Alexander killed his childhood friend and his closest general Cleitus The Black – piercing his heart with a javelin.
Another of Alexander’s ill-fated and wine-fuelled acts occurred five years later when Alexander organised a drinking Olympics. Compared to the Macedonians – the hardest drinking people in the world, the Indians lacked a certain stamina. All the ‘athletes” died, making for a rather solemn closing ceremony. As Olympic legacies go, it was a disaster.
Alexander definitely drank too much. But while most of us can’t find our keys with a hangover, Alexander the Great went from being the Prince of an uncouth enclave to the educated ruler of the largest empire, spanning from Greece to India, the world has ever seen.
Not only that, the pocket-sized, epileptic bisexual also introduced a whole load of exotic things to Europe including cotton, crucifixion, bananas, ring-necked parakeets and, crucially, rum. After sampling the sugar-based alcohol in India, Alexander exported sugar cane to Europe, calling it the “the grass that gives honey without bees.”
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