The Saddest Tale

The scale of the matter

Surely the most unpleasant image of a drunken woman comes from another 1st century A.D. satirist, Juvenal, in his description of the kind of wife to be avoided at all cost:

"She frequents the baths at night; not till night does she order her oil flasks and her quarters to be shifted thither. Meanwhile her unfortunate guests are overcome with sleep and hunger, till at last she comes with a flushed face, and with thirst enough to drink dry the flagon containing a full urna [half an amphora] of wine which is laid at her feet, and from which she tosses off a sextarius before her dinner, to create a raging appetite. Then she brings it all up again and souses the floor with the washings of her inside. The stream runs over the marble pavement; the gilt basin reeks of Falernian, for she drinks and vomits like a big snake that has tumbled into a vat. The sickened husband closes his eyes and so keeps down his bile." (Juvenal, The Satires VI.419)