The Romans of the Decadence (detail), by Thomas Couture, 1847. Musée d'Orsay.

The Romans of the Decadence (detail), by Thomas Couture, 1847. Musée d’Orsay.

Intoxication

Volume VI, Number 1 | winter 2012

Miscellany

In 1387 the physicians to Charles II of Navarre, in order to treat his illness, soaked his sheets in aqua vitae, a distilled wine, and wrapped him in them to enhance the curative power that the liquid was supposed to possess. The sheets were then sewn shut by a maid, who, instead of cutting the final bit of string, set a candle to it. The alcohol-soaked king went up in a blaze and the maid ran away, leaving him to burn to death.

It is impossible to live pleasurably without living wisely, well, and justly, and impossible to live wisely, well, and justly without living pleasurably.

—Epicurus, c. 300 BC

Lapham’sDaily

The World in Time

David S. Brown

Lewis H. Lapham speaks with the author of The Last American Aristocrat: The Brilliant Life and Improbable Education of Henry Adams. More