Are they still relevant today?
You learn something new everyday.
For example, nearly 500 years ago, a slightly grouchy Italian uncle wrote for his young nephew a “manual” on how to navigate in polite society. That book, called Galateo, was the Emily Post of its day and is still in print today. It was written by archbishop and diplomat Giovanni Della Casa, and contains such charming subjects as “Petulant and pompous and self-serving people” (and after reading this chapter, I do have some hope for the human race as apparently the rude behavior we credit to modern times has as old as the sands of time) and “Bad table manners and getting knee-walking drunk” and contains this golden nugget: “It is not polite, while at the table, to scratch your head, or somewhere else. ”
This is an amusing read. Della Casa has little patience with ill-informed, un-educated, aragont and just plain rude folks, and makes that abundantly clean, early and often. He preaches to fit in with the culture you are visiting as well, a very cosmopolitan idea for the 1550s, I thought.
My favorite passage, which resonates from 1550 to 2014 and beyond, “Our manners are attractive when we regard others’ pleasure and not our own delight.” Well said, Signore Della Casa. Well said.