Friday, October 03, 2008

Eating your Last Meal Means you Give up the Right to Haunt You Executioner

In pre-modern Europe, the ritual of granting the condemned a last meal has its seeds in common superstition: a meal was a highly symbolic social act. Accepting food, which was offered freely, meant to make one's peace with the host - the guest agreed tacitly to take an oath of truce and symbolically abjured all vengeance. Consequentially, in accepting the last meal the condemned was believed to forgive the executioner, the judge, and the witnessing mob. The ritual was supposed to prevent the delinquent from haunting those people, who were responsible for his or her killing, as a ghost or a revenant. The meal was therefore mainly a superstitious precaution and - following that logic - the better the food and the drinks, the safer the condemned's oath of truce

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