Today’s Wacky Word Wednesday paints the quintessential picture of ancient Greece and Rome, combining food, relaxation, and ancient customs.
Here is the definition of today’s wacky word from TermWiki.com:
the act of reclining on a couch, as practiced in ancient times at meals
The etymology is simply enough: accubation is derived from accubare, Latin for “to recline”.
The ancient Greeks and Romans influenced one another greatly with many overlapping similarities, from shared mythological gods and goddesses to dining habits. Just from researching the furniture of these ancient civilizations alone, one can imagine how prominent accubation was while dining. For the ancient Greeks, a kline was used for both sleeping and eating, the design of the furniture encouraging accubation. This type of couch included a headboard, but no footboard, and was high off the ground; a footstool was sometimes necessary for occupants to climb up onto the kline. The height allowed easy access to food, and tables could fit under the kline before and after meals.
The Romans adopted this custom, creating a kline-equivalent, which was the lectus. During this time, it was traditionally the men who were able to practice accubation, though later on, women were also permitted to do so as well. Although the Greeks were the first to practice accubation, the Romans are well known for their triclinium, which is defined as a formal dining room. Within the triclinium, each couch could hold up to three people, all of whom would lean on their left side or stomach while eating, pillows surrounding them for comfort and support.
Fast forwarding to modern times, accubation still produces strong beliefs in certain cultures. Here are some examples:
- In , an individual practicing accubation will turn into a snake in the next life.
- In certain Western countries, the belief that acid reflux and heartburn occur more frequently if an individual practices accubation directly after eating a meal. The lack of gravitational force from reclining horizontally creates digestion problems.
- According to Rwandan belief, a couple eating in bed while lying down will give birth to selfish children.
Are you a fan of accubation? Any particular beliefs that scared you from accubation as a child? If so, we’d love to hear about them, so feel free to leave a comment!
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