Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

The movables in a Grecian house were divided into classes after a very characteristic manner. First, as a mark of the national piety, everything used in domestic sacrifices was set apart. The second division, placing women immediately after the gods, comprehended the whole apparatus of female ornaments' worn on solemn festivals. Next were classed the sacred robes and military uniforms of the men; then came the hangings, bed-furniture, and ornaments of the harem ; afterwards those of the men's apartments. Another division consisted of the shoes, sandals, slippers, &c., of the family, from which we pass to the arms and implements of war, mixed up familiarly in a Greek house with looms, cards, spinning-wheels, and embroidery-frames, just, as Homer describes them in the Thalamos of Paris at Troy. Even yet we have not reached the end of our inventory in mere classification. The baking, cooking, washing, and bathing vessels formed a separate class, and so did the breakfast and dinner services, the porcelain, the plate of silver and gold, the mirrors, the candelabra, and all those curious articles made use of in the toilette of the ladies.”

In well-regulated families a second division took place, a separation being made of such articles as

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

might be required for daily use, from those brought forward only when routs and large parties were given. The movables of all kinds having been thus arranged in their classes, the next step was to deposit every thing in its proper place. The more ordinary utensils were generally laid up in a spacious store-room, called tholos, a circular building detached from the house, and usually terminating in a pointed roof, whence in after ages a sharp-crowned hat obtained among the people the name of Tholos. When a gentleman first commenced housekeeping, or got a new set of domestics, he delivered into the care of the proper individuals his kneading troughs, his kitchen utensils, his cards, looms, spinning wheels, and so on; and, pointing out the places where all these, when not in use, should be placed, committed them to their custody.

Of the holiday, or show articles, more account was made. These, being brought forward only on solemn festivals, or in honour of some foreign guest, were entrusted to the immediate care of the housekeeper, a complete list of everything having first been taken; and it was part of her duty, when she delivered any of these articles to the inferior domestics, to make a note of what she gave out, and take care they were duly returned into her keeping:

But the above comprehensive glance over the articles of furniture made use of in an Athenian gentleman’s establishment, though it may give some notion of the careful and economical habits of the people, affords no conception of the splendour and magnificence often found in a Grecian house : for, as we have already seen, their opinions are highly erroneous who imagine that in the Attic democracy the rich were by any prudential or political considerations

1 Cicero ap. Columell. De Re Ithaca. — Odyss. X: 442, 459, Rust. xii. 3.

466. Odysseus had a storehouse of this kind in his palace at 3 Xen. Econom, ix. 10. 57.

restrained from indulging their love of ostentation by the utmost display they could make of wealth.' In fact, not content with outstripping their neighbours in the grandeur of their dwellings, furniture, and dress, these persons had often the ludicrous vanity, when they gave a large party, to excite the envy of such dinnerless rogues as might pass, by throwing out the feathers of game and poultry before their doors. Indeed, since the Athenians exactly resembled other men, the exhibition of magnificence tended but too strongly to dazzle them; so that, among the arts of designing politicians, one generally was, to create a popular persuasion that they possessed the means of conferring important favours on all who obliged them.

To proceed, however, with the furniture. Though the principal value of many articles arose from the exquisite taste displayed in the design and workmanship, the materials themselves, too, were often extremely rare and costly. Porcelain, glass, crystal, ivory, amber, gold, silver, and bronze, with numerous varieties of precious woods, were wrought up with inimitable taste and fancy into various articles of use or luxury. Among the decorations of the dining-rooin was the side-board, which, though sometimes of iron, was more frequently of carved wood, bronze, or wrought silver, ornamented with the heads of satyrs and oxen. Their tables, in the Homeric age, were generally of wood, of variegated colours, finely polished, and with ornamented feet. Myrleanos, an obscure writer in Athen

1 That the sycophants were down to the final overthrow of sometimes troublesome, however, the state. is certain; that is to say, in later 2 Aristoph. Acharn. 398. ages. Speaking of the time of Mitchell. The learned editor fails his youth, Isocrates says:- Ov-. to remark how little this custom dels otr' dTEKPÚTTETO piy ovolav harmonizes with the fears which our' ÖKVEL ovuld lev. k. 7.d.- he imagines rich people felt at Areop. $ 12. Cf. Berginann. in Athens. loc. p. 362. But their persecu 3 On the attractive power of tion must always have been con- this substance, see Plat. Tim. t. fined to a very few individuals, vii. p. 118. as people generally continued to • Athen. V. 45. Lys. Frag. display whatever they possessed 46. Orat. Att. t. ii. p. 647.

æus, imagines ? ther were round, that ther might resemble the dise of the sun and moon; but from the passage in the Odvostri and the interpretation of Eustathius, they may be inferred to have been narrow parallelograms, like our own dining-tables. The luxury of table-cloths being unknown, the wine spilled, &c., was cleansed away with sponges. But the poet had witnessed a superior degree of magnificence, for he already, in the Odysser, makes mention of tables of silver. The poor were, of course, content with the commonest wood. But as civilisation proceeded, the tables of the wealthy became more and more costly in materials, and more elegant in form.

It grew to be an object of commerce, to import from foreign countries the most curious kinds of wood, to be wrought into tables, which originally supported on four legs, rested afterwards on three, fancifully formed, or on a pillar and claws of ivory, or silver, as with us. There was a celebrated species of table manufactured in the island of Rhenea; the great, among the Persians, delighted in maple tables with ivory feet, and, in fact, the knotted maple appears at one time to have been regarded as the most rare and beautiful of woods. But the rage for sumptuous articles of furniture of this kind did not reach its full height until Roman times, when a single table of citron wood

(Gorgeous feasts
On citron tables or Atlantic stone)

Deipnosoph. xi. 78. 2 a. 111. 138.

3 This is also the opinion of Potter, ii. 376, 377; and Damm. in v. Ipoteca, col. 18.22.

+ Odyss. 7. 259. Pind. Olymp. i. 26.

t. viii. p. 397. Sometimes, also,
of brass. Athen. ix. 75.

6 Plin. Nat. Hist. xvi. 27.
i Athen. xi. 27.
8 Athen, ii. 31.

5 K. 351, seg. 361, seg. In the letters attributed to Plato we find mention made of silver tables.

9 Paradise Regained, iv. 114, seg. where see Mitford's curious and learned note. ii. 350, seq. and cf. Plin. v. 1. t. i. p. 259. Hard. not. a. 261. xiii, 29. t. iv. p. 746,

Ormchairs with

lion in the one on the seven,

sometimes cost six or seven thousand pounds sterling. Already, however, in the best ages of Greece, their tables were inlaid with silver, brass, or ivory, with feet in the form of lions, leopards, or other wild beasts.

In more early times, before the effeminate Oriental habit of reclining at meals obtained, the Greeks made use of chairs which were of various kinds, some being formed of more, others of less costly materials, but all beautiful and elegant in form, as we may judge from those which adorn our own drawing-rooms, entirely fashioned after Grecian models. The thrones of the gods represented in works of art, however richly ornamented, are simply arm-chairs with upright backs, an example of which occurs in a carnelian in the Orleans Collection, where Apollo is represented playing on the sevenstringed lyre. This chair has four legs with tigers' feet, a very high upright back, and is ornamented with a sculptured car and horses. They had no Epicurean notions of their deities, and never presented them to the eye of the public lounging in an easy chair, which would have suggested the idea of infirmity. On the contrary, they are full of force and energy, and sit erect on their thrones, as ready to succour their worshipers at a moment's warning. In the Homeric age these were richly carved, like the divans, adorned with silver studs, and so high that they required a footstool.* The throne of the Persian kings was of massive gold, and stood beneath a purple canopy, supported by four slender golden columns thickly crusted with jewels.

sqq. Petronius speaks of the “ citrea mensa,” p. 157. Erhard. Symbol. ad Petron. 709, seq. shows that Numidian marble was in use at Rome.

upright back, beautifully turned legs, and thick and soft cushions, with low footstool. t. i. tav. 29. p. 155. Athen. xi. 72.

1 Potter, ii. 377.

2 In the Antichita di Ercolano, we have the representation of a very handsome armed chair, with

3 Pierres Gravées, du Cabinet du Duc d'Orleans, t. i. No. 46. Cf. No.7, representing Zeus thus seated.

4 Odyss. 7. 162. Il. 8.390,422.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »