“The second property of an excellent sherris is, – the warming of the blood, which, before cold and settled, left the liver white and pale, which is the badge of pusillanimity and cowardice: but the sherris warms it, makes it course from the inward to the parts extremes. It illumines the face: which, as a beacon, gives warning to all the rest of this little kingdom, man to arms.”
(King Henry IV, part 2., act 2, sc. 3)
Comment. In the first part of this long quote (see the article of March 27 – Shakespeare and the Medicinal Good Effects of a Good Wine), Falstaff extols the power of wine to sharpen the wit. Today we would say that spirits contribute to the enhancement of natural, hidden or cultivated power of communication and audience empathy.
In the second part of the quote Falstaff expands on the medical and psychological effects of a good drink. As a courage-enhancement drug , the matter may have had to be of interest to the Pentagon. However, currently enemies are killed as literal pawns in a video game played at a console and this specific property of one is destined to history archives.
Not so in antiquity, starting with Homer who, in the Odyssey, describes his warriors as carrying wine on their peregrinations and pouring out libations to the gods, when not otherwise employed. They had no meals without wine. And in the Iliad, Athena, “distilled in Achilles’ breast nectar and pleasant ambrosia, that grievous hunger might not assail his knees.” He is further advised that “the man who having bhis fill of food and wine fighteth thus all day against the enemy, his heart will be of good cheer within him.”
Wine does not grow in Mesopotamia and there is a reason for it. The wine god Dionysus, on learning that the Mesopotamian inhabitants drank beer, became angry and maybe said, “My heart for anger burns; I cannot brook it.” (King Henry VI, part 3) and withdrew his licence.
Tips for Use. Express your disapproval of a decision that you feel destructive.
In the play. This is Falstaff’s second round in praise of the benefits and effects of a good drink, Falstaff is the redoubtable youth companion of the Prince of Wales (the future Henry V).
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