Monday, October 13, 2008

The Ancient Art of Conversation

Roman writer Plutarch put together a book called Quaestiones Conviviales, which was supposed to help hosts of dinner parties get exciting conversations started. It's available on line, of course, and I'm going to take a stab at some of Plutarch's questions.

Why is it forbidden to give and receive gifts from one's spouse?
Because it's such a pain to sort them out when they get divorced.

Why do men returning home from the country or from abroad send ahead to tell their wives they are coming?
To give her time to send her lovers away.

Why do they adopt the month of January as the beginning of the new year?
Because the weather is miserable and the people need a reason to celebrate, and there are no other holidays in the month (apart from the birthday of M. Luterus Rex the Younger).

Why did Quintus Metellus forbid divination from birds after August?
Because the birds had all flown south for the winter by then.

Why, when they gave a public banquet for men who had celebrated a triumph, did they formally invite the consuls and then send word to them requesting them not to come?
Because you should always take any opportunity you get to totally burn the consuls. Seriously, they're such dicks.

Why were patricians not allowed to live near the Capitoline Hill?
Patricians? Shit. There goes the neighborhood...

So, do you think I'd be a hit at the villas of Pompeii?

1 comment:

Saravá! said...

Why did Quintus Metellus forbid divination from birds after August?

Because they had all crossed the Appian Way to get to the other side.