Shakespeare on the Benefits of Wine, Laughter and a Sense of Humor

nor a man cannot make him laugh, but that's no wonder he drinks no wine“…nor a man cannot make him laugh; but that’s no marvel, he drinks no wine.”
(King Henry IV, part 1 act 4, sc. 3)

Tips for Use. Comment on anyone impervious to humor or chide a first-time or born-again teetotaler. Equally, a good start for an after-dinner speech, especially if the wine was good or figured prominently as an item of consumption. Wine, historically frowned upon in Protestant cultures, was re-rehabilitated at the end of the ’90 thanks to the analysis (by the Americans, who else) of the so called “French Paradox” – that is, the French who consume wine abundantly, seem less affected by the cardiovascular complaints that affect the US population and others. On the other hand, wine has a long history of use in health care of the mind and of the body – as an early form of meditation, being recommended variously as a safe alternative to drinking water, an antiseptic for treating wounds and a digestive aid, as well as a cure for a wide range of ailments from lethargy and diarrhea to easing the pain of child birth.
In fact ancient Egyptian Papyri and Sumerian tablets dating back to 2200 BC detail the medicinal role of wine, making it the world’s oldest documented man-made medicine. Wine continued to play a major role in medicine until the late 19th and early 20th century, when changing opinions and medical research on alcohol and alcoholism cast doubt on the role of wine as part of a healthy lifestyle and diet. A view that changed after a TV broadcast of 60 minutes as per previous paragraph. Almost proving that if “truth is a matter of style” (Oscar Wilde), health-care is a matter of advertising.
That wine enhances humor and creativity was already mentioned by the same character (Falstaff, see the entry on  Jun 26, 2012 or search for “benefits of wine”). Wine is also associated with passion. Here is Tolstoi’s description of Anna Karenina, seen through the eyes of Kitty (Ekaterina), “She could see that Anna was drunk with the wine of the rapture she inspired. She knew that feeling, knew the signs of it, and she saw them in Anna—saw the tremulous, flashing light in her eyes, the smile of happiness and excitement that involuntarily curved her lips, and the precise gracefulness, assurance, and lightness of her movements. “Who is it?” she asked herself. “All or one?”…She watched, and her heart was wrung more and more. “No, it’s not the admiration of the crowd she’s drunk with, but the rapture of one man.” The man in question is Count Vronsky, her soon-to-be lover.
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In the play. Falstaff ‘s opinion of Lancaster, younger brother of the Prince of Wales.

Image Source. Detail from the Medieval Illuminated Book “Taccuino Sanitatis Casanatense” (Notebook of Good Health).

This entry was posted in After Dinner Quotes, Amusing Shakespeare, Best Shakespeare Quotes, Medicine in Shakespeare, Philosophical, Psychological & Historical Considerations, Presentation Ideas, Sayings about Life, Shakespeare on Food, Shakespeare on Health Care, Social Exchanges Shakespeare style and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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