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Dining Posture in Ancient RomeBodies, Values, and Status$
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Matthew B. Roller

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691178004

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691178004.001.0001

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Dining Women: Posture, Sex, and Status

Dining Women: Posture, Sex, and Status

(p.96) Chapter Two Dining Women: Posture, Sex, and Status
Dining Posture in Ancient Rome

Matthew B. Roller

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the historical and ideological aspects of women's dining. The scholarship reveals that, during early periods, women sat to dine while men reclined; whereas “now,” women too recline to dine, just as men do—their posture must therefore have changed at some point. On the other hand, by linking the alleged shift in women's posture to overall moral decline, these studies reveal that the distinction between the two postures has ideological implications. That is, dining posture is a locus where practice, gender, and ethics intersect. The chapter suggests that the seated posture functioned pragmatically, placing women under male scrutiny and control. Moreover, whatever the vagaries of actual social practice, the seated posture for women remained at all times the “strict protocol,” even in the Imperial period.

Keywords:   women's dining, posture, moral decline, historical aspects, ideological aspects, male scrutiny, social practice, Imperial period

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