The Story of Tricongius

Pliny the Elder devoted an entire section of Book XIV in his encyclopaedic Natural History to the topic of drunkenness. He commented particularly on the lifestyle of one goverment official, Novellius Torquantus of Milan, who earned the surname of Tricongius (about 2.6 U.S. gallons), because of his ability to drain that measure of wine in one draught. Criticisms that he leveled at the drunks of his day surely reflect the prevalent mood in Roman society, being less directed at their excesses per se than at the fact that a hangover prevented someone from taking full advantage of the daylight hours in pursuit of his business or craft. A sleepy, befuddled head would not make money in Rome's aggressive economic world:

"Whereas other men daily lose their yesterdays, these people lose their tomorrows also."
(Pliny, Natural History XIV.143)