1Now king Darius made a great feast unto all his subjects, and unto all that were born in his house, and unto all the princes of Media and of Persia,
2and to all the satraps and captains and governors that were under him, from India unto Ethiopia, in the hundred twenty and seven provinces.
3And when they had eaten and drunken, and being satisfied were gone home, then Darius the king went into his bedchamber, and slept, and awaked out of his sleep.
4Then the three young men of the body-guard, that kept the king’s person, spake one to another:
5Let every one of us say one thing which shall be strongest: and he whose sentence shall seem wiser than the others, unto him shall Darius the king give great gifts, and great honours in token of victory:
6as, to be clothed in purple, to drink in gold, and to sleep upon gold, and a chariot with bridles of gold, and a headtire of fine linen, and a chain about his neck:
7and he shall sit next to Darius because of his wisdom, and shall be called Darius his cousin.
8And then they wrote every one his sentence, and set to their seals, and laid the writing under king Darius his pillow,
9and said, When the king is risen, some shall give him the writing; 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 it is written.
10The first wrote, Wine is the strongest.
11The second wrote, The king is strongest.
12The third wrote, Women are strongest: but above all things Truth beareth away the victory.
13Now when the king was risen up, they took the writing, and gave it unto him, and so he read it:
14and sending forth he called all the princes of Persia and of Media, and the satraps, and the captains, and the governors, and the chief officers;
15and sat him down in the royal seat of judgment; and the writing was read before them.
16And he said, Call the young men, and they shall explain their own sentences. So they were called, and came in.
17And they said unto them, Declare unto us your mind concerning the things ye have written. Then began the first, who had spoken of the strength of wine,
18and said thus, O sirs, how exceeding strong is wine! it causeth all men to err that drink it:
19it 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:
20it turneth also every thought into jollity and mirth, so that a man remembereth neither sorrow nor debt:
21and it maketh every heart rich, so that a man remembereth neither king nor satrap; and it maketh to speak all things by talents:
22and when they are in their cups, they forget their love both to friends and brethren, and a little after draw their swords:
23but when they awake from their wine, they remember not what they have done.
24O sirs, is not wine the strongest, seeing that it enforceth to do thus? And when he had so spoken, he held his peace.