1Now king Darius made a great feast for all his subjects, for all who were born in his house, for all the princes of Media and of Persia,
2and for all the local governors and captains and governors who were under him, from India to Ethiopia, in the one hundred and twenty seven provinces.
3They ate and drank, and when they were satisfied went home. Then King Darius went into his bedchamber slept, but awakened out of his sleep.
4Then the three young men of the bodyguard, who guarded the king, spoke one to another:
5“Let every one of us state what one thing is strongest. King Darius will give he whose statement seems wiser than the others great gifts and great honours in token of victory.
6He shall be clothed in purple, drink from gold cups, sleep on a gold bed, and have a chariot with bridles of gold, a fine linen turban, and a chain around his neck.
7He shall sit next to Darius because of his wisdom, and shall be called cousin of Darius.”
8Then they each wrote his sentence, sealed them, and laid them under King Darius’ pillow,
9and said, “When the king wakes up, someone will give him the writing. Whoever the king and the three princes of Persia 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 is the victor.”
13Now when the king woke up, they took the writing and gave it to him, so he read it.
14Sending out, he called all the princes of Persia and of Media, the local governors, the captains, the governors, and the chief officers
15and sat himself down in the royal seat of judgement; and the writing was read before them.
16He said, “Call the young men, and they shall explain their own sentences. So they were called and came in.
17They said to them, “Explain what you have written.” Then the first, who had spoken of the strength of wine, began
18and said this: “O sirs, how exceedingly strong wine is! It causes all men who drink it to go astray.
19It makes the mind of the king and of the fatherless child to be the same, likewise of the bondman and of the freeman, of the poor man and of the rich.
20It also turns every thought into cheer and mirth, so that a man remembers neither sorrow nor debt.
21It makes every heart rich, so that a man remembers neither king nor local governor. It makes people say things in large amounts.
22When they are in their cups, they forget their love both to friends and kindred, and before long draw their swords.
23But when they awake from their wine, they don’t remember what they have done.
24O sirs, isn’t wine the strongest, seeing that it forces people to do this?” And when he had said this, he stopped speaking.