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Etiquette is not only a series of rules and suggestions on how to behave, but a system of values whose aim is to teach us how to be pleasant company. In this treatise by Monsignor Giovanni Della Casa, one can find a veritable anthology of themes that were dear to Renaissance society: from the cult of beauty to the importance of discretion, from the sense of pleasure and breeding to the importance of having control over one’s instincts.
Reading the suggestions and guidelines of Della Casa leads us to imagine that the common comportments of the era were rather crude, and that his manual of good behavior was absolutely indispensable.
Following is an excerpt from Galateo: or, A treatise on politeness and delicacy of manners. By Giovanni Della Casa
I repeat it again, therefore, that whatever happens it is very indecent for a man to discover his anger at table; and if he cannot entirely suppress his rage, he ought, at least, so far to check it, as not to give any uneasiness to the company; and more particularly ought you to guard against it, if you happen to have brought strangers to dine with you; because you are supposed to have invited them to a scene of pleasure, and therefore ought by no means to make them miserable.
(via the Google books)
Photo courtesy Consorzio La Venaria Reale