HOW TO DRINK: A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing | Vincent Obsopoeus, Princeton University Press, p285.
This Latin poem, written in 1536 by German Vincent Obsopoeus, became, for its time, a best seller. Given that the standard practice at its publication was allocating 7 liters of wine per day to hospital patients, one can understand the culture's demand for such a guidebook. It went through several reprints. Sixteenth-century Europe saw the rise of competitive drinking contests as a replacement for jousting, pressured drinking, and a general culture of imbibing that overtook many aspects of life.
While some are clearly pure jest, Obsopoeus addresses his topic more seriously. He divides his approach into three "books:" 1) The Art of Drinking, Sustainability with Discrimination. 2) Excessive Drinking, What it Looks Like, and 3) How to Win at Drinking Games.
The author argues moderation, not abstinence, is the key to lifelong sobriety. (Reflexively, I recall Wilde's: Everything in moderation, including moderation.) Obsopoeus approves of binge drinking and drunkenness, particularly at festivals, but scorns it as a chronic habit. He advises a full meal before heavy consumption, ideally of a "nimble cow's roasted lung," along with plenty of water. Timeless advice.
Some of the tome's guidance reads like advice column content or Stephen Covey fodder. For example, Steer clear of people always picking fights… bragging is a character flaw… your drink should allow for frank talk but not snooty criticism… you should enter a party with a relaxed smile.
This work is made all the more impressive, knowing it was penned by Luther's foremost translator. Obsopoeus is even tolerant enough to encourage Papists to be fine drinking companions, "they fill cups generously," so long as they don't engage in blasphemy. Book 1 is well worth the read, even for teetotalers.