To carry away the meal from the grave. The Greeks and Persians
used to make feasts at certain seasons (when the dead were supposed to
return to their graves), and leave the fragments of their banquets on
the tombs (Eleemosynam sepulcri patris).
With one foot in the grave.
At the very verge of death. The expression was used by Julian, who
said he would “learn something even if he had one foot in the grave.”
The parallel Greek phrase is, “With one foot in the ferry-boat,”
Solemn, sedate, and serious in look and manner. This is the
Latin gravis, grave; but “grave,” a place of interment, is the
Anglo-Saxon græf, a pit; verb, graf-an, to dig.
More grave than wise. “Tertius e cælo cecidit Cato.”
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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