Once upon a time there was a book of etiquette. In the Middle-Ages it was forbidden to talk business at the table
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Nobody talks about etiquette, today. This must be because we are all educated. But all societies have long known rules of "etiquette" to encourage decent behavior. Some standards endure through time, others change, but all are concerned with the ethics and aesthetics of human behavior. To jump a queue, argue in public, make use of obscene words or swear, to yawn or fart in public are all considered unpleasant occurrences.
Etiquette is at the root of the concept of grace, decorum, and respect for those whom you live with.The goal (not an unimportant one) is to live with others in a world of respect, formal refinement and harmony.
From the Middle Ages, there has come down to us a friendly little list of rules of etiquette for being at the table. The anonymous author writes: "When you're at the table, your face should be ready to smile (Voltes hilares habeatis), you should sit with your back straight (sic sedeatis limbs), and if you need the salt, take it, but only with the tip of your knife (sal cultello capiatis); avoid asking for things to eat (quid edendum sit ne peteatis); do not eat what others have left (non depositum capiatis); do not give others what you are eating (nullis partem tribuatis), do not leave bitten or chewed deposits on the plate (non morsus rejecitatis); try not to talk business (inter pocula silent negozia), do not provoke quarrels, squabbles or disputes, nor speak ill of someone who is not present (rixas, fugiatis murmur). Finally, drink in small sips, and in moderation (sed modicum crebro bibeatis).
On the other hand, the Anonymous educator suggests that, while eating, one should not make noises with the mouth, remember that clothes should not be used to wipe grease from one’s hands (in those days the hands were used for eating), while he solemnly advises us not to burp, nor fart either silently or explosively at the table, not to stand up to allow the stomach to digest swallowed food and, above all, not to use one’s clothes as a sort of basket to carry home whatever should remain on the table.
Today, these rules are part of popular culture everywhere, and the rules for being at table have essentially been reduced to three: do not get up nor leave the table until the termination of the meal, do not smoke or talk loudly. Punctuality, it is understood, is essential at lunches, dinners and other formal occasions.
Good manners, however, are not confined to table manners. The Japanese today consider it "impolite" to eat and drink on the street, to touch one’s nose or blow it in front of others, to point a finger at a person, to groom or chew one’s nails in front of others. Equally, it is considered inappropriate to stare at strangers, or visit even well-known friends without an invitation.
Lord Brummel used to say that "form is not everything, but the man who lacks it is missing something important."
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Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2012 10:43:46 +0200 Subject: Sul GALATEO di Gino Carbonaro