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Table Of Contents

1 The Ancient Crucible
2 Ancient Medicines
3 Greeks, Romans, and Recreational Drugs
4 Promethean Euphoria
5 Drawing Down the Moon
6 The Divine Gift of Mind-Bending Intoxication
7 The Pharmacology of Western Philosophy
8 Democracy, Free Speech, and Drugs
11. Livy Ab urbe condita 22.51
15. Ibid. 4.662-69 16. Ibid. 4.671 and following.
16. R. Gordon Wasson. Albert Hofmann, and Carl A. P. Ruck The Road to Eleu-
17. Plato Phaedrus 244 A 18. Ibid. 245 A. 19. Ibid. 259. 20. Ibid. 246-7.
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The Chemical Muse: Drug Use and the Roots of Western Civilization

The Chemical Muse: Drug Use and the Roots of Western Civilization

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Published by asa_ladd
Citing examples in myths, medicine, and literature, D. C. A. Hillman shows how drugs have influenced and inspired the artists, philosophers, and even politicians whose ideas have formed the basis for civilization as we know it. Many of these ancient texts may seem well-known, but Hillman shows how timid, prudish translations have left scholars and readers in the dark about the reality of drug use in the Classical world.

Hillman’s argument is not simply “pro-drug.” Instead, he appeals for an intellectual honesty that acknowledges the use of drugs in ancient societies despite today’s conflicting social mores. In the modern world, where academia and university life are often politically charged, The Chemical Muse offers a unique and long overdue perspective on the contentious topic of drug use and the freedom of thought.
“The role of psychoactive drugs has been airbrushed out of the conventional picture of Western civilization. The academics who have created this drug-free Greco-Roman world have found their nemesis in Dr. Hillman’s The Chemical Muse. With clarity and directness the author gives us back a lost chapter of our Classical heritage and by doing so restores our understanding of this past.”—Richard Rudgley, author of Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age

“In addition to demonstrating the importance of medicinal botanicals and chemicals in alleviating the sufferings of humanity in the ancient Greco-Roman world, Dr. Hillman unveils the role that many of them played as recreational drugs, not for the lunatic fringes of society, but as sources of knowledge and religious sacraments by the leading artists, thinkers, and politicians, central to the very formation of what we admire and enshrine as the Classical tradition. The Chemical Muse inspired democracy itself and the greatest minds of antiquity.”—Carl A. P. Ruck, author of Sacred Mushrooms: The Secrets of Eleusis

“David Hillman has given us a penetrating insight into our permanent romance with altered consciousness. This important work is a myth-buster.”—Mike Gray, author of Drug Crazy and The China Syndrome

“At once defensive and pugnacious, classicist Hillman uses this book to get back at the ‘overly conservative’ academics who forced him to delete from his doctoral dissertation a chapter on the widespread recreational drug use in antiquity. The world was rife with disease, war and natural catastrophes, Hillman reminds readers, and ‘extreme suffering demands extreme relief.’ Ancient Greeks and Romans used substances from plants and animals to heal the body, but also, Hillman says, to heal the mind and as a source of creative inspiration. Taking up an old thesis of such scholars as Morton Smith and John Allegro, Hillman contends that ancient poets and playwrights from Homer to Aristophanes, and philosophers from Pythagoras to Empedocles, featured the use of mind-altering drugs in their writings. Despite being tiresomely polemical throughout, Hillman ends with a peroration on the roots of the Western notion of freedom in ancient Greece and on the right to use recreational drugs as a core freedom.”—Publishers Weekly

“In ancient Greece and Rome the right to use recreational drugs was not just accepted, but an important aspect of personal freedom. Conservative academics don't want this to get around, claims debut author Hillman, asserting that he was told to delete material on recreational drug use from his dissertation for a doctorate in classics from the University of Wisconsin. That incident provided the incentive for this book, which argues that psychotropic drugs played a crucial role in the history of Western intellectual development. The earliest Greek philosophers, Hillman avers, ‘flourished in a society that embraced the intellectual, social, and political freedoms associated with recreational drug use.’ They understood the value of mind-altering substances in assisting creativity and advocated their use. In the ancient world, he continues, such botanical medicine
Citing examples in myths, medicine, and literature, D. C. A. Hillman shows how drugs have influenced and inspired the artists, philosophers, and even politicians whose ideas have formed the basis for civilization as we know it. Many of these ancient texts may seem well-known, but Hillman shows how timid, prudish translations have left scholars and readers in the dark about the reality of drug use in the Classical world.

Hillman’s argument is not simply “pro-drug.” Instead, he appeals for an intellectual honesty that acknowledges the use of drugs in ancient societies despite today’s conflicting social mores. In the modern world, where academia and university life are often politically charged, The Chemical Muse offers a unique and long overdue perspective on the contentious topic of drug use and the freedom of thought.
“The role of psychoactive drugs has been airbrushed out of the conventional picture of Western civilization. The academics who have created this drug-free Greco-Roman world have found their nemesis in Dr. Hillman’s The Chemical Muse. With clarity and directness the author gives us back a lost chapter of our Classical heritage and by doing so restores our understanding of this past.”—Richard Rudgley, author of Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age

“In addition to demonstrating the importance of medicinal botanicals and chemicals in alleviating the sufferings of humanity in the ancient Greco-Roman world, Dr. Hillman unveils the role that many of them played as recreational drugs, not for the lunatic fringes of society, but as sources of knowledge and religious sacraments by the leading artists, thinkers, and politicians, central to the very formation of what we admire and enshrine as the Classical tradition. The Chemical Muse inspired democracy itself and the greatest minds of antiquity.”—Carl A. P. Ruck, author of Sacred Mushrooms: The Secrets of Eleusis

“David Hillman has given us a penetrating insight into our permanent romance with altered consciousness. This important work is a myth-buster.”—Mike Gray, author of Drug Crazy and The China Syndrome

“At once defensive and pugnacious, classicist Hillman uses this book to get back at the ‘overly conservative’ academics who forced him to delete from his doctoral dissertation a chapter on the widespread recreational drug use in antiquity. The world was rife with disease, war and natural catastrophes, Hillman reminds readers, and ‘extreme suffering demands extreme relief.’ Ancient Greeks and Romans used substances from plants and animals to heal the body, but also, Hillman says, to heal the mind and as a source of creative inspiration. Taking up an old thesis of such scholars as Morton Smith and John Allegro, Hillman contends that ancient poets and playwrights from Homer to Aristophanes, and philosophers from Pythagoras to Empedocles, featured the use of mind-altering drugs in their writings. Despite being tiresomely polemical throughout, Hillman ends with a peroration on the roots of the Western notion of freedom in ancient Greece and on the right to use recreational drugs as a core freedom.”—Publishers Weekly

“In ancient Greece and Rome the right to use recreational drugs was not just accepted, but an important aspect of personal freedom. Conservative academics don't want this to get around, claims debut author Hillman, asserting that he was told to delete material on recreational drug use from his dissertation for a doctorate in classics from the University of Wisconsin. That incident provided the incentive for this book, which argues that psychotropic drugs played a crucial role in the history of Western intellectual development. The earliest Greek philosophers, Hillman avers, ‘flourished in a society that embraced the intellectual, social, and political freedoms associated with recreational drug use.’ They understood the value of mind-altering substances in assisting creativity and advocated their use. In the ancient world, he continues, such botanical medicine

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Published by: asa_ladd on May 27, 2012
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