Faith. Allegorical Female Figure, 1590-1642. Creator: Guido Reni. (Photo by Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images)
Italian Renaissance Etiquette Had Meal Farting Protocol—And It's The Same As Today
By Nick Johnson
People have been inventing stringent sets of rules around mealtimes for thousands of years, and as a result, different etiquette systems have emerged from every culture. Renaissance Italy is often viewed as a period that gave birth to new ideas in art, philosophy, and science, but it also produced an informal meal farting protocol.
Desiderius Erasmus, a Dutch philosopher who was a renowned thinker in the field of Christian Humanism, took time away from his theological explorations to lay down some ground rules in regards to farting at the table. In his 1530 treatise “On Good Manners,” he explained that a person shouldn't bear the discomfort associated with retaining one's flatulence for the sake of civility.
He noted that the bodily function should be done discreetly in a public setting, saying, “If you may withdraw, do so in private. But if not, then in the words of the old adage, let him cover the sound with a cough." Though Erasmus wrote his suggestions for proper meal farting protocol hundreds of years ago, the delicate art of faking a cough to cover the sound of your broken wind remains a common practice.