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“The act of reclining at meals. The Greeks and Romans were accustomed, in later times, to recline at their meals; but this practice could not have been od great antiquity in Greece, since Homer always describes persons as sitting at their meals; and Isidore of Seville, an ancient grammarian, also attributes the same custom to the ancient Romans. Even in the time of the early Roman emperors, children in families of the highest rank used to sit together, while their fathers and elders reclined on couches at the upper part of the room. Roman ladies continued the practice of sitting at table, even after the recumbent position had become common with the other sex. It appears to have been considered more decent, and more agreeable to the severity and purity of ancient manners for women to sit, more especially if many persons were present. But, on the other hand, we find cases of women reclining, where there was conceived to be nothing bold or indelicate in their posture. Such is the case in the following woodcut, which seems intended to represent a scene of matrimonial felicity. The husband and wife recline on a sofa; their two sons are in front of them; and several females and a boy are performing a piece of music for the entertainment of the married pair.” — Smith, 1873


William Smith, A School Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1873) 2


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