The Twelve Types of Drunkenness.

Oswald von Wolkenstein – Portrait from the Innsbrucker Handschrift, 1432.

In three sections of the poem “Und swig ich nu,” Oswald lets us read (or hear) just how much experience hanging around drunk people he has accumulated over the years.

Often a person believes himself to be so wise
and believes to gain highest fame thereby,
when the juice of the grapes has affected him negatively.
The next one believes that he is so rich
that even the emperor might not be an equal to him.
The third appears like an extremely hungry horse,
so no one can push enough of fresh or rotten food
into the ever open mouth.
The fourth one screams cries over his heavy sins,
and his heart is passionately in flames out of deep repentance
for strange reasons that no one can comprehend.

The fifth one desires to do unchaste actions,
to which he is dedicated day and night,
once he has become addicted to the power of wine.
The sixth has a miserable practice:
He condemns the soul through [false] oaths
so that she will be entirely exhausted when facing God.
The seventh is ready to fight, he growls like a dog
held by a chain and who barks all the time;
its round head is ready for a fight.
The eighth becomes so happy out of drunkenness
that he is ready to sell his honor, property, wife, and children;
the evilness of drunkenness shows in him.

The ninth helplessly becomes crazy,
everything what he knows, sees, or hears,
he presents openly to everyone.
The tenth fights against sleep.
The eleventh sings wild songs
and screams totally uninhibited both in the evening and in the morning.
The twelfth becomes so drunk from heavy drinking
that he feels the alcohol already at the top portion of his throat
and voluntarily pays a tribute to the innkeeper.

(trans. Albrecht Classen, The Poems of Oswald von Wolkenstein)

You can read more about Oswald von Wolkenstein here.

See also:

The Anatomy of Drunkenness, by Robert Macnish, fifth edition; 1834; W.R. M’Phun, Glasgow.

The expanded fifth edition of Robert Macnish’s The Anatomy of Drunkenness, a work by the Glaswegian surgeon, first published in 1827, and based on his doctoral thesis of a year two years earlier. The book examines inebriety from a wide range of angles: although that caused by alcohol is the main focus, he also explores use of opium (popular at the time), tobacco, nitrous oxide, and also other various poisons, such as hemlock, “bangue” (cannabis), foxglove and nightshade. Included in his examination are some wonderful descriptions of the different kinds of drunk according to alcohol type, methods for cutting drunkenness short, and an outlining of the seven different types of drunkard (Sanguineous, Melancholy, Surly, Phlegmatic, Nervous, Choleric and Periodical). The seventh chapter of the book examines the phenomenon of “spontaneous combustion” which apparently tends to strike drunkards in particular.


  1. voyager says

    The only one I’m able to do is #10. Just a few sips of alcohol and I’m asleep at the table, apparently missing out on 11 other ways to make a fool of myself.

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