The Corner

Drink and the Russians

Ha! First paragraph on page 14 here.

“They are addicted to alcohol, which they drink night and day. Sometimes one of them dies with the cup still in his hand.”

That is from “Ibn Fadlan and the Rusiyyah,” by James E. Montgomery. The paper includes a translation of Ibn Fadlan’s account of his embassy to the king of the Volga Bulgars in A.D. 921. A footnote (#47) adds the story about Vladimir the Great ( A.D. 958-1015) rejecting Islam because “drinking is the joy of the Rus, and we cannot live without its pleasure.”

We’re talking about nigh on eleven hundred years ago here, folks. The Russian liked his drink then as he does now. (Though the identification of the “Rusiyyah” with Slavic-speakers is controversial. They may have been Varangians, a species of Viking, speaking some dialect of Norse. Whoever they were, they were undoubtedly one component of the ancestry of modern Russians.)

Thanks to a pal at the Washington Times for that.


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