he Romans surely had quite a unique and luxurious lifestyle that separated them from the rest of the world. The most different factor within their culture is the preference for lying down whilst eating. Usually, most people would find this uncomfortable.
In most depictions of the Roman lifestyle, we see a person lying down whilst eating something. There is no benefit to eating whilst lying down, it actually makes it more difficult for food to reach the stomach and for the stomach to process it.
The reason behind this lifestyle is to show opulence in front of lower social groups. Lying down whilst eating was something performed mostly by the rich and the powerful to show that they were more important and they should always be relaxed no matter what action they performed.
This was picked up from Greek ancestors who started this trend around the 7th century BCE. This was usually performed when a feast or a banquet took place where those of higher social class would be served various foods and drinks for hours and their only reason to get up was to go to the toilet to make some more space.
The trend in Ancient Greece only allowed men to lie down whilst the women would bring the food and sit at another table on chairs. As the trend became famous in Rome, women were also integrated to take part in such feasts whilst lying down, but it was only still reserved for the wealthy and powerful.
Couldn’t poor people do the same thing?
I knew that this question was burning in your mind from the very beginning, so it must be answered as soon as possible. Yes, those in the lower social classes would have been able to just sit on the ground whilst eating, but let’s be honest it would not be comfortable and only a child would probably prefer this in present times.
We need to also take into consideration that most people were below the poverty line, meaning that they could only afford the bare minimum and nothing else like a couch or table to eat from whilst lying down, and even if they would have had the money they would most probably have bought chairs.
The idea was for them to be different and special as they were so wealthy and powerful. At the time, there were no designer clothes or exotic chariots to differentiate the rich from the poor, most people wore the same rags although you would imagine that those from a lower social class would look a bit scruffy from all the labor.
In old ancient writing, we also see ancient gods being depicted in a certain lifestyle similar to the ones followed by the Romans, this is because the powerful Romans wanted to aspire to be seen as gods by the rest of the population.
I would even go as far as saying that these people were hungrier for attention than most influencers on social media today. This just goes to show that humanity hasn’t changed much when it comes to social behaviors, even in the span of 2000 years.