Kissing, an evolving social function

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Kissing, an evolving social function

This is an interesting article, kissing has evolved throughout european history and in some cultures is really not an issue....
times online



... Quote:
Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! Tsonga people of southern Africa on the European practice of kissing, 1927.
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The subject also has a medical dimension. For the attitude to kissing can change when breath and saliva are regarded as potential instruments of infection.

The Roman Emperor Tiberius (AD14-37) issued a decree banning kissing, because it was believed to be responsible for the spread of an unpleasant fungoid disease called mentagra, which disfigured the faces and bodies of Roman nobles.

Not that the avoidance of bodily contact was always so rational.

Some bodily habits, which had been happily tolerated in one age, became wholly unacceptable in another. No one has ever exceeded the Roman epigrammatist Martial (late 1st century AD) in evoking the nauseous experience of having to kiss lips and faces covered with dirt, snot, ulcers and scabs.

Thereafter there were many such complaints. The social and physical squeamishness of 18th-century doctors prevented them from adopting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as a respectable medical practice, even though they were aware of its life-saving potentialities.

In the same century, authorities on politeness condemned the practice of those who put their faces so close to yours as to offend you with their breath as a horrid and disgustful habit.

When aristocratic Romans of the imperial age took up the practice of kissing friends and clients, they perfumed their breath with myrrh. How far, one wonders, have modern dentistry and breath-sweeteners been a precondition of the return of the social kiss in modern times?
By netchicken: posted on 26-7-2005








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