Illustration of alcohol use in classical Farsi-Dari (Persian) literature
Journal of Behavioral Health. 2020;
Alcohol has been known to people of Central Asia for millennia, and in line with local mythology, wine was used as an anaesthetic for the Caesarean birth of the mythical hero Rostam. In classical Farsi-Dari (Persian) literature, the term alcohol and/or wine is used in two different contexts; firstly, as an allegory; referring to a ‘divine wine’ and as a source of spiritual intoxication bringing the consumer closer to his Creator. This school of thoughts is symbolised by Rumi and Sufi poets; secondly, as a source of physical intoxication, bringing the drinker happiness and the ability to forget about everyday concerns. This school of opinions is represented by Khayyam and Manuchehri. From a religious point of view, alcohol is described as “the mother of all evil”. Nevertheless, there are also a lot of those, who praise wine for its hypnotic properties describing it as ‘a remedy for sleepless nights’, or for its anxiolytic characteristics, ‘taking away worries and bringing peace to one’s mind’; and notably for its antidepressant effects declaring ‘there is nothing better than wine to banish sadness’. The aim of this paper is to review Persian literature of Central Asia and neighbouring regions between the 10th and 14th centuries with the focus on alcohol and its illustration in the works of influential authors of the period, including Rudaki, Manuchehri, Khayyam, Rumi, Hafez, etc.