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Read an excerpt from HIGH.

From “Doing it Old School: The History of Getting High”

Veni Vidi Vino

After important dinners and symposiums (some of which presumably involved sumptuous banquets with castratos fanning guests with palm fronds), Romans would sometimes indulge in a game of convivium, which sounds a lot more congenial than it actually was. The rules were simple but strict. To start, the host determined how much everyone was going to drink (anywhere from one to eleven glasses of alcohol). Next, like a game of boozy Russian roulette, people took turns drinking. And while staying in the contest reaped few rewards (other than a reputation for being able to hold your liquor), being voted out had its social repercussions. If you couldn’t keep up or keep down your drink, if you passed or passed out, or even burped during the rounds, you would be banned from joining a future convivium. And since only the creme de la creme were invited, losing was the social equivalent to getting banished from the cool kids’ table. 

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