This website is part of The New York Public Library's Online Exhibition Archive. For current classes, programs, and exhibitions, please visit
Russia Engages the World, 1453-1825
1453 Through the Reign of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584) The Time of Troubles to the First Romanovs (1598-1682) Peter the Great and His Legacy (1682-1762) The Age of Catherine the Great (1762-1801) The Reign of Emperor Alexander I (1801-1825)


Explore this Section:

Russia Symbol Drunkenness
Engagement Symbol Ivan the Terrible’s Punishment of Novgorod in 1570
Special Features

Russia's Globalization:
A Key

Events marked Russia Symbol are specific to Muscovy/Russia's internal development.
Those marked World Symbol are important world historical or cultural events.
Engagement Symbol indicates specific points of sociocultural or military engagement between Muscovy/Russia and foreign powers or individuals.



 Russia Symbol     Drunkenness

The Domostroi, edited by Ivan the Terrible's spiritual advisor Sil'vestr' (d. ca. 1566), was a "self-help" book of sorts intended to provide the reader with practical advice about daily life, conduct, and family roles. It also included sections dealing with the Orthodox faith, and why and how to offer one's unwavering obedience to the Tsar. The following passage suggests the kind of wide-ranging advice offered.

If you drink to the point of intoxication, and don't go home to sleep, but fall asleep in the place where you were drinking, not caring where you are, many others will be there - you won't be alone. In your drunk­enness and carelessness, you will dirty your gown, you will lose your cap and your hat. If you have money in a pocket or a bag, others will take it; they will take your knives too. The host with whom you drank will sue you, and you him. You will have lost your property and have been shamed before others. All those who had to protect a drunkard from himself will gossip about how you got drunk and fell asleep. So you see what shame, ridicule, and property loss lie in great intoxica­tion.

Furthermore, if you get drunk and do set off for home, but fall asleep on the way, and do not reach your home, you will suffer even greater ills. Thieves will take everything from you - all your clothes and everything you have on you - and will not leave you even your undergarments.. Many drunkards die from their liquor; they freeze to death on the road. I don't say, "Don't drink at all," but I do say, "Don't drink to the point of evil intoxication."

Reprinted from Carolyn Johnston Pouncy, The Domostroi: Rules for Russian Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible. Copyright © 1994 by Cornell University. Used by permission of the publisher, Cornell University Press.