- Now when Darius reigned, he made a great feast unto all his subjects, and unto all his household, and unto all the princes of Media and Persia,
- And to all the governors and captains and lieutenants that were under him, from India unto Ethiopia, of an hundred twenty and seven provinces.
- And when they had eaten and drunken, and being satisfied were gone home, then Darius the king went into his bedchamber, and slept, and soon after awaked.
- Then three young men, that were of the guard that kept the king's body, spake one to another;
- Let every one of us speak a sentence: he that shall overcome, and whose sentence shall seem wiser than the others, unto him shall the king Darius give great gifts, and great things in token of victory:
- As, to be clothed in purple, to drink in gold, and to sleep upon gold, and a chariot with bridles of gold, and an headtire of fine linen, and a chain about his neck:
- And he shall sit next to Darius because of his wisdom, and shall be called Darius his cousin.
- And then every one wrote his sentence, sealed it, and laid it under king Darius his pillow;
- And said that, when the king is risen, some will give him the writings;
and of whose side the king and the three princes of Persia shall judge that his sentence is the wisest, to him shall the victory be given, as was appointed.
- The first wrote, Wine is the strongest.
- The second wrote, The king is strongest.
- The third wrote, Women are strongest: but above all things Truth beareth away the victory.
- Now when the king was risen up, they took their writings, and delivered them unto him, and so he read them:
- And sending forth he called all the princes of Persia and Media, and the governors, and the captains, and the lieutenants, and the chief officers;
- And sat him down in the royal seat of judgment;
and the writings were read before them.
- And he said, Call the young men, and they shall declare their own sentences.
So they were called, and came in.
- And he said unto them, Declare unto us your mind concerning the writings.
Then began the first, who had spoken of the strength of wine;
- And he said thus, O ye men, how exceeding strong is wine!
it causeth all men to err that drink it:
- It maketh the mind of the king and of the fatherless child to be all one;
of the bondman and of the freeman, of the poor man and of the rich:
- It turneth also every thought into jollity and mirth, so that a man remembereth neither sorrow nor debt:
- And it maketh every heart rich, so that a man remembereth neither king nor governor;
and it maketh to speak all things by talents:
- And when they are in their cups, they forget their love both to friends and brethren, and a little after draw out swords:
- But when they are from the wine, they remember not what they have done.
- O ye men, is not wine the strongest, that enforceth to do thus?
And when he had so spoken, he held his peace.