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Title: The Home Life of the Ancient Greeks

Author: Hugo Blümner

Translator: Alice Zimmern

Release date: March 28, 2020 [eBook #61689]
Most recently updated: January 24, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Chuck Greif, deaurider and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)


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List of Illustrations
(In certain versions of this etext [in certain browsers] clicking on the image will bring up a larger version.)

List of Authorities Consulted for This Book.

(etext transcriber's note)







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A GREEK LADY’S TOILET (Fig. 88, see p. 162).







Late Scholar of Girton College, Cambridge

With Numerous Illustrations




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The following pages do not claim to be an absolutely literal translation of Dr. Blümner’s text. Such slight alterations have been made as the different and more concise character of the English language seemed to demand, assuming that, in a work of this character, the most faithful translation is that which clearly presents the author’s meaning in the different dress of another language. In one or two cases I have ventured to make some slight alterations. Thus, on page 277, my translation of the passage from Lucian (Philopseudes 18) describing Myron’s Discobolus differs slightly from Dr. Blümner’s, and, as a result, the inference drawn as to the original position of the head is also different. This interpretation is in accord with more recent criticism, and has the support of Dr. Murray, Head of the Antiquities Department at the British Museum. The list of{viii} authorities consulted is printed on pages 533 to 536. The illustrations are taken from the German work, and a list is given on pages xi to xv.


I take this opportunity to express my warm thanks to those friends who have kindly helped me with the proof-sheets, and in particular to Mrs. Henry Unwin for her very welcome assistance.

Alice Zimmern.

Tunbridge Wells, October, 1893.



List of Illustrationsxi
Chapter ICostume1
Chapter IIBirth and Infancy78
Chapter IIIEducation99
Chapter IVMarriage and Women133
Chapter VDaily Life Within and Without the House175
Chapter VIMeals and Social Entertainments202
Chapter VIISickness and Physicians, Death and Burial233
Chapter VIIIGymnastics265
Chapter IXMusic and Dancing306
Chapter XReligious Worship323
Chapter XIPublic Festivals349
Chapter XIIThe Theatre392
Chapter XIIIWar and Seafaring450
Chapter XIVAgriculture, Trade, and Handicraft489
Chapter XVSlavery519



1.Ancient Male and Female Costumes. Vase-painting from Élite céramographique, II. 275
2.Antique Male Chiton with Himation. Vase-painting from Gerhard. Etruskische und campanische Vasenbilder. Plate 216
3.Antique Costumes (Dance) from the François Vase. From the Wiener archæologische Vorlegeblätter. Series II. Plates 3 and 148
4.Costumes of the Fifth Century B.C. (Rape of Helen.) Vase-painting by Hiero. From Gerhard. Trinkschalen und Gefäsze. Plates 11 and 1210
5.Short Male Chiton with Kolpos. Vase-painting from Gerhard. (See 2.) Plates 6 and 713
6.Warrior in Exomis. Relief on a Tombstone. From Bulletin de correspondence hellénique, IV. Plate 714
7.Statue of Sophocles in the Lateran. From a Photograph.16
8.Citizen in Chiton and Himation. Terra-cotta from Bull. de corr. hell., VII. Plate 12.17
9.Costume of Ephebos (Adoration of a Hermes). Vase-painting from Schreiber. Kulturhistorischer Atlas, Altertum. Plate 14, 318
10.Dress of Attic Ephebos (Farewell of a Young Warrior). Vase-painting from Baumeister. Denkmäler des classichen Altertums. Fig. 421.19
11.Antique Female Costumes from the François Vase. From Wiener arch. Vorlegebl.23
12.Antique Female Costume. Vase-painting by Exekias. From Mon. d’Inst. Archéol., II. 22.24
13.Antique Female Costume. Vase-painting from Stephani. Kampf des Theseus and Minotaurus. Plate I.25
14.Antique Female Dress, from the François Vase. (See 3.) Plate V.26
15.Antique Female Costumes. Vase-painting from El. céram., III. 36, B.27
16.Ancient Female Costume with Kolpos. Vase-painting from Gerhard. Auserlesene Vasenbilder, III. 72729
17.Dress of the Fifth Century B.C. From a Vase-painting by Euphronios. From the Wiener arch. Vorlegebl. Series V. Plate 731
18.Female Costume of the Fifth Century B.C. (Mænads), from a Vase by Hiero. Idem. Plate 432
19.Female Costume of the Fifth Century B.C., from a Vase by Brygos. From Mon. d’Inst., V. 1434
20.Modes of arranging Chiton. V.-P. from Tischbein. Vases Hamilton, I. 735
21.Putting on the Chiton and arranging the Bib. Bronze Statue from Herculaneum. From a Photograph.36
22.Caryatid from the Erechtheum. From Baumeister. (See 10.) Fig. 53537
23.High-girt Chiton with Himation. Statue of a Daughter of Niobe in the Museo Chiaramonti in the Vatican. From a Photograph38
24.Ungirt Chiton with Himation. V.-P., Gerhard. (See 2.) Plates 6 and 740
25.Open Chiton with Mantle. Vase-painting from the Wiener arch. Vorlegebl. Series II. Plate 6, 241
{xii} 26.Open Chiton with Mantle. Vase-painting from El. céram., III. 5642
27.Lady in Walking Dress. Terra-cotta Figure from Stackelberg. Gräber der Hellenen. Plate 6741 and 45
28.Lady in Walking Dress. Idem46
29.Sandals. Collected from Works of Art (chiefly Vase-paintings)49
30.Sandals with High Straps. Idem50
31.Antique Men’s Shoes. Idem51
32.Men’s and Women’s Shoes. Idem52
33.High Boots (Endromides). Idem53
34.High Boots with Overhanging Lappets. Idem54
35.Various Shapes of the Petasos. Idem56
36.The Common Forms of Petasos. Idem57
37.Uncommon Forms of Petasos. Idem58
38.Youth in Travelling Costume. Vase-painting from Overbeck. Gallerie heroischer Bildwerke. Plate 2, 159
39.Exomis and Pilos. Statuette of Odysseus. From Winckelmann. Monumenti mediti, No. 15460
40.Sailor’s Costume. V.-P. from Welcker. Alte Denkamäler, III. Plate 39, 161
41.Lady with Petasos. Terra-cotta Figure from Kekulé. Terra-cotten von Sicilien. Plate 3362
42.Lady with Sunshade. V.-P. from Gerhard. Vases grecs. Plate 863
43 and 44.Antique Modes of Dressing the Hair. Vase-painting and Marble Head from Schreiber. (See 9.) Plate 85, 3 and 1466
45 and 46. Antique Coiffures. Marble Heads from Mitteilungen des Deutschen archäologischen Instituts in Athen, VIII. (1883.) Plate X. 12a and XI. 167
47.Antique Coiffure. Marble Head. Idem. Plate XII. 4a and 4b68
48.Antique Coiffure. V.-P. by Euphronios. Idem. Plate XI. 569
49.Antique Coiffure. Bronze Head from Pompeii. From a Photograph70
50.Antique Mode of Wearing the Beard. Relief from Nuove memorie dell’Inst. Archeol. Plate 1373
51 and 52.Female Coiffure. Terra-cotta Heads from Kekulé. (See 41.) Plates 161 and 22, 674
53 and 54. Female Coiffure. Idem. Plates 16, 5 and 16275
55, 56, 57.Female Coiffure. Idem. Plates 17, 1; 18, 5; and 19, 576 and 77
58.Relief from a Tomb representing Child in Swaddling-clothes. From Ann. d’Inst. 1830. Add. Plate, G79
59.Hermes in the Cradle. V.-P. from Arch. Zeitg. for 1844. Plate 2081
60.Child’s Bed on Rollers. V.-P. from Nuove mem. dell’Inst. Arch. Plate 15, 282
61.Mother giving her Child the Breast. Terra-cotta Figure from Gerhard. Gesammelte Abhandlungen. Plate 80, 283
62.Mother and Child. Relief from a Tomb at Athens. From a Photograph86
63.Boy with small Cart and Dog. V.-P. from Stackelberg. (See 27.) Plate 1787
64.Child’s Cart. Vase-painting from Compte-rendu de la commission archéologique de St. Pétersbourg. 1871. Plate 5, 488
65.Child with Cart drawn by Dogs. V.-P. from Baumeister. (See 10.) Fig. 76689
66.Jointed Doll. Terra-cotta Figure. From Antiqu. du Bosph. Cimmér. Plate 74, 890
67.Boy with Hoop. Vase-painting from El céram., I. 1891
68.Toy Quiver. From Compte-rendu de St. Pètersb. for 1873. Plate 3892
69.Girl flying a Kite. Vase-painting from Arch. Ztg. for 1895, p. 12593
70.Boy with Wheel. V.-P. from Benndorf. Griech. u. Sicil. Vasenbilder, p. 6294
71.Woman with Wheel. Vase-painting from Gerhard, Vases grecs.
Plate 10
95 {xiii}
72.Child’s Swing. V.-P. from Ann. d’Inst. 1857. Add. Plate, A96
73.See-saw. Vase-painting from Schreiber. (See 9.) Plate 79, 696
74.See-saw on the Foot. V.-P. from Baumeister. (See 10.) Fig. 83497
75.Attic School Instruction. Vase-painting by Duris. From Arch. Ztg. for 1869. Plate 1105
76.Ephebi racing on Horseback. V.-P. from Schreiber. (See 9.) Plate 24, 9125
77.Female Racer from Elis. Statue in the Vatican. From a Photograph131
78.Reception of Bride at Bridegroom’s House. Vase-painting from Stackelberg. (See 27.) Plate 32143
79.Women at the Well. Vase-painting from Gerhard. (See 16.) IV. 308, 9150
80.Woman Spinning. Vase-painting. Idem, IV. 302 and 3, M 3153
81.Woman at the Loom (Penelope). V.-P. from Mon. d’Inst., IX. 42, 1154
82.Women at Bath and the Toilet. Vase-painting from Stackelberg. (See
27.) Plate 33
83.Women Washing. Vase-painting from Gerhard. (See 16.) III. 218156
84.Folding-up Clothes. Vase-painting. Idem, IV. 301157
85.Women’s Toilet and Bath. V.-P. from Baumeister. (See 10.) Fig. 220158
86.Washing at the Well and Completion of Toilet. (Athene and Hera before the Judgment of Paris.) V.-P. from Mon. d’Inst., IV. 18160
87.Women’s Public Bath. Vase-painting from El. céram., IV. 18161
88.Toilet Scene. Vase-painting from Gazette archéologique for 1879. Plate 23Frontispiece
89.Lady Arranging her Hair. Terra-cotta from Tanagra. Idem. 1878. Plate 10163
90.Lady (Bride?) at her Toilet. V-P. from Benndorf. (See 70.) Plate 45, 1164
91.Scene from the Life of Women. V.-P. from Gerhard. (See 4.) Plate 14, 1165
92.Toilet Scenes. From Compte-rendu de St. Pétersbourg. 1860. Plate 1, 3168
93.Diagram of a Water-clock187
94.Bronze Razors, from Helbig. Das homerische Epos. Fig. 49188
95.Hair-dresser. Terra-cotta Group, from Tanagra. From Arch. Ztg., XXXII. Plate 14189
96.Men’s Public Bath. Vase-painting from Schreiber. (See 9.) Plate 21, 9193
97 and 98.Drinking Scenes. V.-P. from Mon. d’Inst., III. 12210 and 211
99.Female Juggler. Vase-painting from Mus. Borbonico, VII. 35217
100.Female Juggler, from Baumeister. (See 10.) Fig. 631218
101.Cottabus. Vase-painting from Mon. d’Inst., VII. 51, 2222
102.Playing “Board-games.” Terra-cotta Group from Arch. Ztg., XXI. Plate 173, 1224
103.Girl Playing Astragals. Terra-cotta Figure from Tanagra; from Baumeister. (See 10.) Fig. 156226
104.Morra Players. Vase-painting from Arch. Ztg., XXIX. Plate 56, 1227
105.Cock-fighting. Vase-painting from Baumeister. (See 10.) Fig. 695228
106.Consequences of Intemperance. Vase-painting from Arch. Vorlegebl. Series VIII. Plate 5229
107.Scene at a Nocturnal Comus (Hercules and Satyrs). Vase-painting from Benndorf. (See 70.) Plate 95231
108.Funeral Lament. Vase-painting from Mon. d’Inst., III. 60247
109.Funeral Lament. V.-P. from Ann. d’Inst. 1869. Plate 299, O.P.248
110.Burial. Vase-painting from Mon. d’Inst., VIII. 4, 1b252
111.Corpse in the Tomb. V.-P. from Stackelberg. (See 27.) Plate 38253
112.Extinguishing the Funeral Pile. V.-P. from Mon. d’Inst., IV. 41256
113 and 114.Athenian Beliefs on Tombs. From Arch. Ztg., XXIX. Plates 43 and 44257 and 259
{xiv} 115.Care of a Grave. Vase-painting from Stackelberg. (See 27.) Plate 44260
116.Care of a Grave. Vase-painting from Benndorf. (See 70.) Plate 25261
117.Relief from an Athenian Tomb. From a Photograph263
118.Gymnastic Exercises. V.-P, from Baumeister. (See 10.) Fig. 611267
119.Exercise with Dumb-bells. Engraving from a Bronze Discus. From Ann. d’Inst. Plate B268
120.Racers. Vase-painting from Mon. d’Inst., X. 48m272
121.Runners and Jumpers. Vase-painting from Gerhard. (See 16.) IV. 259273
122.Armour Race. Vase-painting from Mon. d’Inst., X. 48e, 3274
123.Standing Discobolus of the Vatican. Marble Statue. From a Photograph276
124.Throwing Discobolus (after Myron) in the Vatican. Marble Statue. From a Photograph279
125.Discobolus after the Throw. Bronze Statue at Naples. From a Photograph280
126.Spear-thrower. Engraving. Reverse of Fig. 119282
127.Running, Jumping, Spear-throwing, Boxing. Vase-painting by Pamphaios, From Mon. d’Inst., XI. 24283
128.Wrestlers. Marble Group in the Uffizzi at Florence. From a Photograph287
129.Wrestlers. Vase-painting from Mon. d’Inst., II. 24288
130.Wrestlers. Vase-painting. Idem, X. 48e, 1289
131.Wrestlers. Vase-painting from Gerhard. (See p. 4.) Plate 20291
132.Boxers. Vase-painting from Mon. d’Inst., 48e, 2294
133.Boxers. Vase-painting from Benndorf. (See 70.) Plate 31, 2a295
134.Gymnastic Exercise with a Sphere. Bas-relief from Schreiber. (See 9.) Plate 23, 2300
135.Archery. Vase-painting from Schreiber. (See 9.) Plate 80, 7301
136.Women playing Musical Instruments. V.-P. from El. céram., II. 86310
137.Woman playing the Trigonon. Vase-painting from Mon. d’Inst., V. 37313
138 and 139.Flute player. Bronze Statuette from Dodona. From Carapanos. Dodone et ses ruines. Plate 10314 and 315
140.Flute-player. Vase-painting from Mon. d’Inst., X. 10317
141.Performance of a Flute-player. Vase-painting by Euphronios. From Wiener arch. Vorlegebl. Series V. 4318
142.Female Flute-player and Dancer with Castanets. Vase-painting by Hiero. Idem. Series C. 5319
143.Lustral Sacrifice. Vase-painting from Heydemann. Griechische Vasenbilder. Plate 11, 3331
144.Presentation of Sacrificial Offerings. Vase-painting from Mon. d’Inst., VI. and VII. Plate 37332
145 and 146.Presentation of Sacrificial Offerings. Vase-paintings from Benndorf. (See 70.) Plate 45, 2333 and 334
147.Sacrificial Scene, Vase-painting from Mon. d’Inst., IX. 53339
148.Leaden Tablet with Question addressed to the Oracle of Delphi. From Carapanos. (See 138.) Plate 36, 2345
149.Putting Horses to a Chariot. Vase-painting from Gerhard. (See 16.) IV. 249 and 250355
150.Plan and Section of the great Theatre of Dionysus at Athens. From the Zeitschrift für Bildende Kunst for 1878, p. 193393
151.Theatre of Syracuse in its present Condition. From a Photograph395
152.Theatre of Syracuse: Ground plan. From Strack. Griechisches Theater. Plate V. 1396
153.Theatre of Segesta, Reconstructed. Idem. Plate I.397
154 and 155.Tragic Mask. Terra-cotta from Vulci. From Ann. d’Inst.
{xv}1881. Plate K
156 and 157.Comic Masks. Idem. Plate J431
158.Comic Actor. Terra-cotta from Arch. Ztg. for 1854 Plate 69, 3432
159.Comic Actor. Terra-cotta from Kekulé. (See 41.) Plate 51, 5433
160.Masks from the Andromeda-myth. Pompeian Wall-painting from Arch. Ztg. for 1878. Plate 3435
161 and 162.Tragic Actor. Ivory Statuette from Mon. d’Inst., XI. 13437
163.Scene from Comedy (The Sick Chiron?) Vase-painting from El. céram., II. 94439
164.Scene from Comedy. (Adventure of Hercules.) Vase-painting from Arch. Vorlegebl. Series B. Plate 32, a441
165.Scene from Comedy. (Soldier and Parasite.) Pompeian Wall-painting from Mus. Borbon., IV. 18443
166.Military Chariot. Vase-painting from Compte-rendu for 1874. Plate 5453
167 and 168.Warriors putting on their Armour. From Gerhard. (See 16.) IV. 269458 and 458
169.Murder of Dolon. Vase-painting from Gerhard. (See 4.) Plate C, 1460
170.Achilles binds up the Wounds of Patroclus. Vase painting from Mon. d’Inst., I. 25461
171.Farewell of Amphiaraus. Idem, III. 54463
172.Equipment of a Warrior. Vase-painting by Duris. Idem, VIII. 41464
173. 174, and 175. Ancient Greek Helmets. From Helbig. (See 94.) Figs. 70-72466
176.Warriors playing Draughts. Vase-painting from Mon. d’Inst., II. 22467
177.Death of Memnon. Vase-painting from Gerhard. (See 4.) Plate D469
178, 179, 180, 181.Spear-heads from Dodona. From Carapanos. (See 138.) Plates, 57, 8; 58, 1; 3 and 5 471 and 472
182, 183, 184. Swords from Mycenae. From Helbig. (See 94.) Figs. 90, 86 and 87 473
185 and 186. Swords from Italian Lake-dwellings. Idem. Figs. 88 and 89474
187.Head of an Arrow from Megalopolis477
188 and 189.Greek Spurs from Dodona. From Carapanos. (See 138.) Plate 52, 1 and 2479
190.Sailing Vessel. Vase-painting from Schreiber. (See 9.) Plate 45, 11481
191.Ship of Odysseus. Vase-painting from Mon. d’Inst., I. 8482
192 and 193.Antique Ships with Spurs at the Prow. Vase-painting from Helbig. (See 94.) Figs. 3 and 3483
194.Ship with two Rows of Oars. V.-P. from Schreiber. (See 9.) Plate 45, 12484
195.Attic Trireme. Relief from Ann. d’Inst. 1861. Plate M, 2485
196.Men Ploughing, Vase-painting from Berichte der Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaft for 1867. Plate I. 1494
197.Olive Harvest. Idem. Plate III. 2495
198.Artisan in Exomis. Terra-cotta from Bull. de corr. hell., VII. Plate 12502
199.Shoemaker. Vase-painting. (See 196.) Plate III. 5503
200.Shoemaker’s Workshop. Vase-painting from Mon. d’Inst., XI. 28, 1505
201.Smithy. Idem. Plate 28, 2507
202.Brass Foundry. Vase-painting. (See 196.) Plate V. 4508
203.Vase Factory. From Ann. d’Inst. 1876. Plates D, E509
204.Cook(?). Terra-cotta from Tanagra. From Arch. Ztg. for 1874. Plate 14511
205.Trade in silphium. Vase-painting from Mon. d’Inst., I. 47515
206.Slave. Terra-cotta from Bull. de cor. hellén.528




If the account of Greek life and customs given in this work does not present all sides of life in due proportion, we must lay the blame on the insufficiency of the sources whence a description of this kind is derived. These are of three kinds: literary, artistic, and epigraphic. The literary sources supply us with a large amount of detail for the work in hand, but seldom give complete pictures or descriptions of social conditions. Those writers of the Free Age of Greece whom we still possess entirely, or in considerable fragments, are not all equally in a position to touch on matters of private or domestic life. The Homeric Epics give a good deal of insight into the life of those early times; but after Homer epic poetry disappears from the ranks of available testimony, and what remains to us of the Alexandrine Epic, which was essentially a learned style of poetry, supplies no useful material, if only because it seeks its subjects in the mythological period, and describes them on essentially Homeric lines. The lyric poets, too, afford little help; now and then they enable us to add a few details to our picture, but, as a rule, the results are small, and not till we reach the Alexandrine period, and there chiefly in bucolic and epigrammatic poetry, do we obtain richer results in this domain. Here the{xviii} poems of Theocritus are of especial value. Unfortunately, very much of this period, which would have thrown most interesting lights on different aspects of Greek life, has been entirely lost, or survives only in small fragments. Tragedy again, which usually takes its subjects from mythology, cannot be considered at all. Ancient poetry possesses no “middle-class epic” like modern poetry, which will assuredly some day supply valuable material for the social historian. But ancient comedy is of the greatest value for our purpose, and may indubitably be regarded as the most fertile source of our knowledge of private life. The comedies of Aristophanes deal with the immediate present, and, although full of extravagant notions and fantastic inventions, yet treat of actual circumstances, and thus supply a mine of wealth for the student of Attic life. We can only judge, from numerous fragments of their comedies, how valuable would have been the other poets of the so-called “Older Comedy” of the fifth century B.C., who are, unfortunately, lost to us. Even though we must exercise some caution in the use of these authorities, distinguishing comic inventions and poetical exaggeration from actual fact, yet in the majority of cases it will not be very difficult to come to a decision on such questions. No less valuable, perhaps even more useful, for our purpose would be the so-called “New Comedy” of Menander and others, if we possessed more than a few scattered fragments of it. The imitations of Plautus and Terence compensate to some extent for the lost originals, yet even here we must be on our guard, since the Roman poets in their adaptation often introduced traits from Roman life. Still, as a rule they adhered to Greek, or, rather, Attic manners, upon which the original comedies were based.{xix}

Among prose writers we must chiefly consider the historians and orators. The former are of comparatively little use. They deal with great political and military events; the daily life going on around them gave them no subjects for description; apart from the fact that it probably never occurred to them that anyone in later ages would ever care to hear about the social conditions of that time. A writer like Herodotus, who introduces not only political history, but also geographical, ethnological, and social information, directs his attention for this very reason chiefly to foreign nations, and gives his countrymen a great deal of information about the life and customs of the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Persians; concerning the Greeks themselves he is absolutely silent. It is quite natural that historians should only mention by the way facts which we could use with advantage in a description of Greek life. The orators, on the other hand, supply richer material, not so much in political speeches as in private orations dealing with law-suits, of which a considerable number have come down to us. Here side-lights fall on many events of daily life, and we obtain an insight into private affairs such as we seldom gain elsewhere. Philosophical writings supply some material, though comparatively little; especially those that take actual life as their basis and deal with philosophical problems in connection with existing circumstances. Among these may be included such writings as the “Characters” of Theophrastus, and here we can but regret that we possess only mutilated fragments of these admirable descriptions of character, based on much accurate observation, and taken direct from real life.

The Greek literature of the Roman period can only be utilised in selections and with care, to illustrate{xx} the period with which we have to deal. After Greece came under Roman dominion, new manners and customs took root there, unknown during the period of Greek freedom and the Hellenistic epoch. This diminishes the value for our purpose of the writings of Plutarch, and even more of Lucian, that excellent delineator of the customs of the second century A.D. But even in this later literature there is a good deal which we have a right to use in our description, for some of its habits and customs obtained through the whole of antiquity; besides which, the later writers often turned to past centuries for descriptions, and sought their material in older sources or old historians and other authors, on whose accuracy we cannot, however, always depend. The same was the case with the materials which we are able to use in Roman literature.

From all this it is plain that the account given here deals especially with the real “classic” period of Greek antiquity from about the sixth to the third century B.C. It is impossible to give a connected history of the development of Greek civilisation from the beginning, if only on account of the nature of our authorities and the incompleteness of tradition. Between Homeric culture and that which we meet with afterwards in the poets and prose writers of the best time, lies a period of several centuries, about which we know very little, and that little chiefly in a legendary form. We can only determine in a few cases how the conditions of the sixth and fifth centuries gradually developed, for instance in the rise of the constitution, while it is impossible for us to trace the genesis of manners and civilisation. We shall, therefore, not attempt to give a separate account of Homeric civilisation, but content ourselves{xxi} with introducing a few of its details in appropriate places; nor shall we go beyond the period of Hellenism, since even here foreign, and especially Oriental, influence produced many alterations, while Roman influence afterwards made many essential changes.

The artistic authorities are also chosen in accordance with this scheme. The vase paintings, of which so many have been preserved to us, supply a great quantity and variety of pictures of Greek life, and we have drawn largely on this valuable source of information, which supplies most of the pictures chosen as illustrations. Compared with this there is little else of importance. The statues to which we have access are chiefly figures of gods and heroes, or portraits. These we can only use to illustrate Greek costume. But a few genre pictures are preserved to us in the artistic productions of the best Greek period, and some of these we shall have occasion to discuss. For this purpose the small terra-cotta figures are more useful, which often represent with vigorous truth subjects from real life. Here, too, as in the case of the statues, we must always remember the difference between Hellenic and Roman work, and it is just this consideration which greatly limits our choice of sculptures; for the great majority of those which would be suitable for our purpose date from the Roman period, and usually represent Roman life. For this reason mosaics and frescoes can scarcely be regarded, since none have come down to us from the Greek period. Undoubtedly many of them imitate Greek models, or, at any rate, those of the Alexandrine epoch, but it is not always easy to decide in particular cases; and, moreover, the greater part are mythological pictures. It is obvious that works of Etruscan art, such as{xxii} sarcophagi, pictures on mirrors, and the like, cannot be regarded. Thus the works of art suitable for supplementing our literary sources are limited in number. Of these the vase paintings constitute the great majority, and this is entirely in accordance with the chronological limits which we have set to our description; for they almost all belong to the centuries mentioned above, and only a few that would be suitable for our purpose are of greater antiquity.

The nature of our authorities not only sets a limit of time, but also one of space. When we speak of Greek life we ought to include in it not only life in actual Greece or Hellas, but also that in the numerous colonies on the Aegean and Black Seas, in Southern Italy, Northern Africa, etc. But we know very little of the conditions in those Greek settlements outside Greece, and even in Greece itself, where, in consequence of the political and racial differences, these circumstances are by no means everywhere identical, our knowledge is limited in many ways. Even though the difference in manners and customs was greater in early times than afterwards, when increase in trade and greater facility of travel produced more equal conditions, yet certain local and national peculiarities always prevailed. Life at Sparta differed in many respects from that at Athens. The other large towns of Greece—Corinth, Sicyon, Thebes, not to speak of the colonies of Miletus, Syracuse, and Cyrene—doubtless showed many local peculiarities which are entirely hidden from our knowledge. Our literary sources are for the greater part Athenian. The majority of our monuments, too, are of Attic origin, or, at any rate, influenced by it, though Southern Italy supplies some of the vases, and in many cases the customs of Magna Graecia are represented in these pictures. Most of our{xxiii} knowledge of Greek life, then, refers to Athens, and to be quite accurate we ought to call our description “Life in Ancient Athens.” Every now and then we are enabled to enlarge our pictures by details from other parts of Greece. Still, we must beg our readers to remember that most of the traits here introduced relate to Athens between the sixth and fourth centuries B.C. We have scarcely the remotest conception of the mode of life at that time in any small Greek city or in the country.

Here the third class of our sources comes in to help us, viz., the inscriptions. These not only give us most of our material for a knowledge of political conditions, legal and religious antiquities, etc., but they also supply interesting details of private life; and as they are found not only in Attica, but all over Greece, the islands, and the colonies, they supply much very valuable information about matters which our literary sources entirely ignore. As in most cases the period of the inscription can be ascertained by the character of the writing or by other peculiarities, we are not so liable here to make chronological mistakes and refer customs of a later period to earlier times. Compared with our literary sources, the inscriptions are also far safer material; for the accuracy of a writer may be sometimes called in question, especially when his information is supplied at second-hand.{1}{xxiv}




Costumes, Stitched and Draped—The Chiton—The Himation or Chlaina—Drapery—The Uniform Male Dresses of Sparta—The Chlamys—Similarity Between Male and Female Costumes—The Difference Between Doric and Ionic Garments—The Fashion at Athens in the Fifth Century B.C.—The Materials—Footgear—Leggings—Head-Coverings—Mode of Dressing the Hair.

To obtain a complete insight into the life of former ages we require primarily a knowledge of the historical and geographical, political, and religious conditions of the people in question, as well as of its intellectual development in art and science. These, however, it is not our purpose to consider here. The second requisite for a vivid picture is a clear notion of the surroundings in which the people of that time lived: their dwellings, furniture, utensils, etc. And lastly, there is another point, the knowledge of which is no less indispensable in order to obtain a clear image of the past, and that is the costume. Our knowledge of the customs and habits of daily life appears far more real, and stands out more vividly, if we can also form in our minds a picture of the people of that time. Thus no one can expect to form a clear picture of mediaeval life without at least a general{2} notion of the costume of that period. This is equally true of every epoch of civilisation, even of a period so little distant from us in time as the eighteenth century.

We therefore preface our description of Greek life with an account of the details of Greek costume, and of its historical development; and our reasons for going into greater detail here than in other domains is that there are so many wrong, or at any rate incomplete, notions extant concerning it. For when we speak to-day of Greek costume we may generally assume that the majority of people, if female dress is in question, think of the drapery of the magnificent female figures in the Parthenon marbles; while, as regards male costume, their minds will at once recur to the classic figure of Sophocles in the Lateran or of the Aeschines of Naples, and form their notion of Greek male costume accordingly. It is, however, absolutely wrong to regard these as typical of Greek dress. They represent neither the costume of all Hellas nor that of the whole Greek age. That “noble simplicity and quiet greatness,” which is as conspicuous in the dress of the age of Pericles as in its art, is, like the latter, the product of slow development through various phases, concerning which, with the exception of a few literary allusions, the monuments give us all the information we possess.


Generally speaking, we may distinguish, both in male and female Greek costume, two kinds of garments—those which are cut in a certain shape and partly stitched, and mantles of various shapes which are draped on the figure and only acquire their form by means of this draping. This distinction holds good with few exceptions throughout the whole{3} history of Greek costume; and, generally speaking, it is the under garments which are stitched, while the upper garments are draped. Yet we must observe that, while male clothing is, as a rule, confined to two garments, we very often find in female costume a third, or even a fourth, belonging sometimes to the first and sometimes to the second of the above-mentioned classes.

The names which were used throughout almost the whole of Greek antiquity for the two chief articles of dress are, for the under garment, chiton; for the upper garment, himation. These terms are used for both male and female garments, but several other designations are used, and the word himation is not found in the Homeric period, but the cloak which is worn over the chiton is called chlaina.

We may treat first of male costume. As regards the chiton of the oldest period, we infer, from allusions in epic poetry, with which the oldest monuments agree (for the discoveries at Mycenae give us no distinct notion of pre-Homeric costume), that both the short and the long kinds were in use. The short chiton seems to be the usual dress of daily life; it was especially worn when free movement was required, and was therefore the suitable garment for war or hunting, for gymnastic exercises or manual labour. The long chiton, which was afterwards regarded as especially Ionic, and certainly maintained itself longer in Ionia and in Attica than in the rest of Greece, was not, however, unknown to the Doric races. It was the usual dress for men of advanced age and good position; it was also worn by young people on festive occasions. We therefore find on the monuments of the oldest style that not only the older gods wear a long chiton, but also that young men are clothed in it on{4} festive occasions, or if they are in any way connected with religious functions, as, for instance, priests, harp-players, flute-players, charioteers, etc. This use of the long chiton remains up to the classic period. Thus, for instance, we see the figure known as the Archon Basileus in the central group of the Eastern Parthenon frieze in this dress; and tragic actors, if they represented men of good position and in peaceful circumstances, also continued to wear the long chiton.

Epic poetry itself gives us no direct information about the shape of the chiton in the Homeric period. Helbig maintains, basing his assertions on some casual indications, and chiefly on the oldest monuments, that it differed from the dress of the classic period in being close-fitting and free from folds. It is true that the old vase paintings show us the short chiton fitting closely round the body and drawn quite firmly round the legs. It is girt fast round the hips, and as a rule does not go below the knee. However, it is not safe to draw conclusions of this kind from ancient pictures, for much which might be regarded as characteristic of ancient costume may be due only to the incompleteness of art, which was not yet capable of representing full garments with folds. Thus, in ancient works of art, the long chiton also appears quite narrow in the upper part, but then falls perpendicularly from the waist, sometimes gradually, but more often straight without any folds to the feet. (Compare the figure of Apollo in Fig. 1 and of Priam in Fig. 2.) Both the long and short chitons as a rule have no sleeves, but only an armhole; we sometimes find short sleeves not quite covering the upper arm. Unfortunately, we cannot form a clear notion from the pictures of the mode in which it was put on. It is, however, probable that the{5}

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Fig. 1.

Luk de Binleail A Roy. sc


short chiton was sewn together all round and thrown over the head, where there may have been an additional slit connected with this opening, and fastened with a pin. There are, however, no traces of this on the monuments, nor are fibulae or brooches mentioned in the Homeric descriptions in connection with the male chiton. Probably the long chiton was cut in the manner of a chemise. Helbig’s hypothesis that there was a slit down the middle of the front is just as uncertain as his similar assumption with regard to Homeric female dress.

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Fig. 2.

Besides the chiton, the older male costume also had a sort of loincloth or apron. It is not at all improbable that at one period the Greeks wore merely the apron and cloak, and no chiton. When the latter became universally fashionable (which, according to recent surmises, was due to Semitic influence) the cloth disappeared, or continued only as part of military dress.

The himation, or chlaina, appears on ancient monuments stiff and free from folds, like the chiton. This is{7} a garment resembling a mantle, which appears in many archaic vase pictures in two distinct forms: either as a wide cloak covering the greater part of the body, or as a narrow covering lightly draped. The first form, corresponding to the later male himation, is most commonly combined with the long chiton. The cut of this cloak is four-cornered, probably oblong, and it is worn in such a way that the greater part of it falls behind and covers the back and part of the legs, while in front it is thrown over the shoulders and arms, and falls down over the body, two of its points falling within the arms and the other two without. The other form, which may be in general compared with the later chlamys, is found with both the long and the short chiton, and is also sometimes worn as the only covering, without any under garment. This may, however, be regarded as the ideal clothing, which does not correspond to real life, just as in later monuments we find the chlamys alone without the chiton. It is put on in such a way that the lower arm is left uncovered, and the two points fall down in front over the shoulder and upper arm, while behind it either covers only the upper part of the back, or else the cloak falls down so far that its edge is almost as low as the points in front. (Compare Fig. 3, representing a dance from the François vase.) We cannot pronounce with certainty on the shape of this cloak. It appears, however, to have been oval or elliptical, and to have ended in two points; it was folded in such a way that the folded part was worn inside, while the edges, which were ornamented with wide borders, fell outside. In Fig. 2, where the shape of the cloak is that of an ellipse cut through the long axis, the folding is also evident. I should therefore differ from Helbig in regarding this narrower{8} chlaina as the garment called in epic poetry diplax. Neither kind of cloak is fastened, and they both differ from that of later periods in being worn open in front. In Homeric poetry another kind of chlaina is also mentioned, which corresponds more closely to the later one; since it is stated that the folded chlaina is fastened on the shoulder with a brooch. No proof of this, however, has as yet been found in the older monuments.

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Fig. 3.

As a remnant of the most primitive dress, clothes made of skins, such as were afterwards worn only by country people, huntsmen and the like, still existed in the Homeric age. Homer several times mentions skins as the dress of soldiers; on the older monuments we see them drawn over a short chiton, and sometimes even fastened with a girdle.

How long this ancient dress continued in use we cannot determine with any certainty; but the majority even of vase pictures with black figures show a different dress. It is true, as we mentioned just now, that the long chiton still continued in use besides the short one, but the cut and the mode of wearing it changed.{9}

The monuments of this period almost always show signs of drapery, and this is, moreover, of an artificial, exaggerated, and pedantic kind. It must have been the fashion at that time, that is, from the sixth till nearly the middle of the fifth century, to lay the folds of men’s dress, as well as of women’s, in symmetrically parallel lines. In pictures the lower edges of dresses and cloaks show various regularly cut-out points, while on the inner side there are many small zigzag folds arranged with laborious symmetry. (Compare Fig. 4, “The Rape of Helen,” after a vase picture by the vase painter Hiero.) This may be partly due to the artistic style, which at that period inclined to over-elaboration; yet it is impossible to doubt that we find here not only an expression of archaic art, but also the representation of a dress laboriously and artificially folded, stiffened, and ironed, in which the folds were produced by external aids, such as ironing, starching, pressing, even stitching of the stuff laid in folds, or sewing such folds on to the material. We cannot determine when this custom began in Greece. In works of art we find it comparatively late in the sixth century B.C.; yet, as Helbig remarks, it is by no means impossible that this fashion existed at a far more ancient period, since the custom of laying material in artificial folds by means of stiffening or ironing was already known in Egypt in 4000 B.C.; and it therefore seems extremely probable that the Phoenicians adopted the practice at a very early period, and introduced it into Greece. It is a very natural assumption that this mode of draping would in the first instance be adopted for linen material, and that it would therefore be introduced among the Greeks with the linen chiton, which took the place of the woollen one formerly worn.{10}

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Fig. 4.


On the other hand, however, it is probable that, as woollen clothing was afterwards worn as well as linen, they attempted to ornament this in similar fashion by artificial folds; the works of art, however, show that these folds were far less in quantity and less sharply defined in woollen clothing than in linen, which is naturally much better adapted for the purpose.

Apart from the folds, the clothes now became wider and more comfortable, and were less closely girt round the hips. The chiton is still a garment made by sewing, and the long differs from the short only in length, not in shape. Both are, as a rule, so cut as to be sewn together regularly below the girdle; above the girdle they are sometimes provided with a slit on one side to facilitate putting on. They usually have sleeves, sometimes short, sometimes long; these are either fastened all round, or, as is also the case in female dress, open at the top and fastened by pins or buttons. In this case the chiton is sewn in such a manner as to be all in one above the girdle as far as the sleeve, and open at the top, so that the slits for the arms and neck are connected; the wearer puts the chiton over his head, draws up the sleeve on the upper arm, and thus supplies the opening for the neck. Besides this, there is often an ornamental arrangement such as we find in the female dress of the same period a puff of regular folds (kolpos), formed by drawing up the dress over the girdle and letting the piece drawn up all round fall again over the girdle; and, in addition, a bib falling over the breast in zig-zag folds, which appears, as a rule, to be a separate piece sewn on the dress at the opening of the neck. In Fig. 4 we observe the kolpos and bib over the short chiton of Hermes in the centre, the bib{12} also over the long chiton of Paris (on the left), and of Tyndareus (on the right).

In this dress we already find the elements of the male costume common throughout classic Greece in the fifth century. It is modelled on the ancient elaborate style, and the sewing is reduced as much as possible, while the garment falls in regular free folds, and fits closely to the figure. According to Thucydides, it was at Sparta that it first became customary to adopt a uniform dress for the whole male population, and thus to do away with a distinction which had hitherto prevailed between the dress of poor and rich. This distinction, at any rate, held in so far that at Athens the richer people, as Thucydides states, wore the long linen chiton, the poorer people the short woollen one. At Athens and in Ionia the long linen chiton remained as the dress of older people till shortly before the time of Thucydides; but then it was universally discarded, or rather reserved for the classes mentioned above, and for festive occasions; while the short woollen chiton from that period became the universal dress. This is usually found in the form of a widish garment sewn together below the girdle, and above it divided into two parts, a front and back piece, put on in such a manner as to be fastened together by pins or fibulae on the shoulder. If the chiton was allowed to fall quite free it usually fell down about as far as the knees; but it was customary, especially when unimpeded and free movement was necessary, to draw up a part above the girdle and let it fall in folds below it. (Compare Fig. 5.) Workmen, countrymen, sailors, and others whose occupation required free movement of the right arm, used only to fasten the two pieces of the chiton on the left shoulder, then the points of the other side hung down in front and behind, and left the{13}

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Fig. 5.

right breast, shoulder, and arm exposed. This costume, of which the relief in Fig. 6 gives a representation, was called exomis. Strictly speaking, it is no actual garment, but only a particular way of wearing the chiton; but special tunics for labourers were made in{14}

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Fig. 6.


this fashion. Besides this, chitons were afterwards made with the upper part also sewn together, and with armholes or short sleeves, which, however, never covered more than a part of the upper arm. Long sleeves falling to the hand belong exclusively to barbarian costume. Yet the bib, which as late as the first half of the fifth century was worn with the male chiton also, is not a part of later costume.

From this time onward the name “himation” was used for the cloak worn with the chiton, while “chlaina” was only retained for a special kind, distinct rather by its material than by its shape. The himation was often worn in the oldest period in the way described above, that is, with two points falling on the two sides in front. (Compare the Hermes in Fig. 4.) But it became more and more common, and from the classic period onwards quite universal, to fold the cloak tightly round, and this was done as follows. One point was drawn from the back over the left shoulder and held fast here between the chest and arm, then the cloak was drawn round over the back in wide folds reaching to the shins, and from there back again to the front on the right side. This was done in two ways. If the right arm was to be kept free the himation was drawn through under the right shoulder and in front folded across the body and chest, while the last piece was thrown back across the left shoulder (compare the Paris in Fig. 4 on the left), or else over the left arm (compare the man on the right in Fig. 4). The other mode, and the one common in the dress of an ordinary citizen, was to draw the cloak over the right arm and shoulder, so that at most the right hand was exposed, and then to throw it back again over the left shoulder. This arrangement was facilitated by small weights of clay or lead sewn on{16}

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Fig. 7.


the points, which helped to keep the cloak firm in its place. It was, however, a special art, which required practice, and probably also assistance, to produce a beautiful and harmonious drapery in this kind of dress; and the position of the wearer showed itself in the way in which he wore his himation, which ought neither to be drawn up too far, nor fall too low. It was also regarded as inelegant to wear the cloak from right to left. There is no nobler or more perfect example of this costume, in which the chiton is combined with the himation, than the portrait statue of Sophocles in the Lateran given in Fig. 7. Here the wide cloak with its many folds covers the form in such a way as not to hide the shape of the body, and the various folds caused by the position of the arm and the mode of draping the cloak are combined together in the most harmonious manner. A humorous counterpart of this ideal figure is Fig. 8 in terra-cotta, representing a vulgar citizen in chiton and himation.

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Fig. 8.

The “chlamys” was a special kind of cloak which originated in Thessaly, but from the fifth century{18}

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Fig. 9.

onwards became common in Greece. Originally it was a soldier’s or rider’s dress, and is, therefore, only seen on statues worn over armour. It is a short cloak of light material and oval shape, fastened by means of a brooch either in front at the neck, or more commonly on the right shoulder, thus covering the left arm and leaving the right free. (Compare Figs. 9 and 9, of which Fig. 9 shows the former mode of wearing the cloak, while in Fig. 10 the youth with the spear has his whole left side covered by the chlamys.) The chlamys was the common dress of youths as soon as they attained their majority ἐϕηβεία and entered the cavalry; till that age they wore no upper garment over the chiton in the ancient period, but in later times a wide himation, in which they usually enveloped themselves entirely. It was regarded as correct for modest boys not to have their arms exposed. Hermes also, the divine representative of youth, usually appears in the chlamys, but this is{19} generally lightly folded and thrown over the left arm. Apollo too, except where he wears the long chiton as harp-player, is usually represented on works of art with the chlamys. It is, however, unusual in male dress, with the exception of military costume, and is never found in combination with the long chiton.

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Fig. 10.

At home, as a rule, only the chiton was worn. It was, however, not considered correct to be seen thus in the street: only artisans or eccentric people went out without a cloak; but it was just as incorrect to appear without the chiton, only in the himation or chlamys. It is true this is very common on works of art: Zeus, Poseidon, and some other gods are represented without the chiton, and only in the himation, and Hermes and Apollo only in the chlamys; and even in representations of daily life we very often see in statues, reliefs, vase pictures, etc.,{20} men without under garments, clad only in the cloak (compare the youth in Fig. 9), and also in portrait figures. This is, however, a liberty taken by artists in order to avoid concealing the body entirely by the dress, but by no means corresponding to reality. Only those who specially desired to harden their bodies, and also poor people and certain philosophers who wished to proclaim their cynic principles by exceedingly scanty dress, went out, even in winter, in a cloak without an under garment. Shirt and trousers were unknown in Greek male dress; the latter are Oriental, and therefore only appear on monuments representing barbarous persons.

As regards female dress, it may be stated at once that the strong contrast found in modern times between the dress of men and women is foreign to Greek antiquity: both have essentially the same elements, sometimes even the same shape; and this similarity becomes greater the nearer we get to antiquity. This was not carried so far that a woman could simply have put on a man’s under garment; in fact, even the Homeric epics distinguish the woman’s peplos from the man’s chiton. Unfortunately, both the shape and the mode of wearing the Homeric peplos are matters of dispute which cannot be satisfactorily settled by the words of the epic. According to Helbig, it was not essentially different from the long male chiton; like this, it descended to the feet, fitting closely and without folds to the figure, and was provided with an opening for head and arms. The girdle was worn rather low down, not immediately under the breast or round the waist, but round the hips, and fell down somewhat in front. The peplos was put on by means of a slit between the breasts, which often descended as far as{21} the feet, and was fastened by a large number of fibulae, or hooks. Helbig thinks that this fashion was due to Oriental influence, since such openings are very commonly found on monuments representing Oriental nations.

There is much in favour of Helbig’s hypothesis, especially the circumstance that a dress similar in many respects appears to have maintained itself for several centuries. The vase pictures, as well as several works of art, show, as Boehlau has remarked, that in almost all the Greek states (especially Corinth, Chalcis, Athens, Megara, Sparta, as well as Ionian and Sicilian towns) a closely-fitting chiton was worn by women as late as the seventh, perhaps even the sixth, century. This was not drawn over the head, but put on like our dress of the present day, and open in front. Numerous monuments of the oldest style show that slit in front, and it appears to be seldom wanting in very ancient pictures of the deities. This chiton is provided with tight sleeves falling down to the elbows, and is generally adorned at all the edges (accordingly round the neck and armholes, as well as round the hem) with broad stripes and patterns of various colours; and as a further peculiarity it has folds drawn up over the girdle and falling on each side over the hips.

Helbig’s hypothesis concerning the Homeric peplos: that it had a long opening in front extending to the feet, has been energetically combated by Studniczka, who attempts to explain differently all the passages quoted from the epics in support of the other theory, and regards the strips down the front found on monuments as merely meant for ornamental purposes, and not a reminiscence of that opening. Studniczka, for his part, considers the Homeric female{22} dress identical with the so-called Doric, which is described to us by writers as the oldest Greek female dress, in place of which the Ionic afterwards came. His first assumption, therefore, is that the dress was not sewn and arranged for slipping on, but rather consisted in a shawl-shaped piece of stuff fastened on the shoulders by means of pins. This is not the fitting place to discuss this controversy; we must therefore content ourselves with alluding to it, and refrain from deciding in favour of either opinion, since this would not be the purpose of our book.

Herodotus informs us, concerning the female dress of the historic period, that the Athenian women in olden times wore the Doric dress, a woollen chiton fastened with fibulae, but afterwards, instead of this, adopted the Ionic dress, a stitched linen chiton. However simple this statement may sound, it is by no means so easy to trace this change of dress on the works of art. These show us female dresses in ancient times which appear to have been sewn rather than pinned together; while the chiton which we find in the classic period of Greek art may really be traced back to the Doric type. It is, therefore, comprehensible that attempts lately made, especially by Boehlau and Studniczka, to trace the transition from the ancient Doric to the later Ionic costume on works of art, should have led to very different results.

If we look at the female dress on the oldest vase pictures (compare Figs. 1, 3, 11-15), we almost always find a stiff chiton descending without folds to the feet (the Homeric name “peplos” gradually falls into disuse), which could, however, in no case be as narrow as it is depicted, else it would be impossible to walk in it; the feet as a rule are uncovered, but sometimes the dress is lengthened behind in the form{23}

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Fig. 11.

of a train, and there touches the ground. (Compare Fig. 15.) The girdle is regularly worn with this chiton, rather high up, and so as to be visible. There is also a second garment covering breast and shoulders, and falling down nearly as far as the girdle. How this{24}

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Fig. 12.

chiton was put on, and how the upper garment was connected with it, is not clear. When we see long borders descending from the girdle to the feet on some figures, and also continued above the girdle (as in the case of two women in Fig. 11), we might assume that here was an opening for putting on the dress; but we have already shown above that these borders are often of a purely ornamental character, and have no structural importance; and, indeed, they are entirely wanting on many chitons. It is, therefore, generally assumed that the garment represented here was sewn together below, and thus fastened all round, but above the girdle was open at the side, and that the bib was produced by making this upper part double, and fastening the folded ends on the shoulders with pins, thus corresponding to that style which is commonly called Doric. In fact, the point of the dress, passed from the back to the front, is often visible on the shoulder (compare Figs. 1, 3, and 11); sometimes even the long pin which fastened both points can be plainly recognised (Fig. 11); but in spite of this there is a great deal that this hypothesis does not explain. It is true we may reconcile with it the occasional appearance of different borders at the neck of the bib, for these might be sewn on, and thus this garment would be constructed ready for the wearer, while in the corresponding dress of the{25} later period it rested with the wearer to draw down a shorter or longer piece of her chiton. But how are we to explain that upper part of the chiton in such a case as Fig. 12? Here it is closely fastened at the side. Clearly the artist wished to represent an armhole. These two facts are in opposition to the previous hypothesis, unless we assume that the upper part also was sewn together on one side, and its open side with the pins must be sought on the left side of the woman, which is not visible here. It is still more remarkable when, as in Fig. 13, the painter represents the lower part of the chiton with a pattern and the upper plain; or, as in Fig. 14, gives different patterns to the two parts. If we do not attribute this to the arbitrary fancy of the artist, or assume that the upper part of the chiton was ornamented with a different material behind, we are reduced to the opinion which, in view of similar developments in the dress of a later period, is not improbable—that this upper part was sometimes quite separate from the chiton, and was put on as a special garment.

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Fig. 13.

With this costume we sometimes find an over garment, which must not, however, be confused with the himation. This is worn over the chiton, but{26} fastened in by the girdle also, and is usually open on one side. (Compare Fig. 15.) This upper garment, which usually is only seen below the girdle, is sometimes made of the same material as the bib, sometimes of a different one, but it usually differs in colour and pattern from the garment worn under it. It is not very evident from the vase pictures how this was put on, but it seems to have been draped and not sewn, and worn over the chiton for more elaborate dress, and fastened together with it by means of the girdle.

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Fig. 14.

With this antique costume the himation was worn as a cloak, which, both in its shape and in the mode of wearing, corresponded absolutely to the large himation worn by men; like this, it specially covered the back and fell over the arms in two points. There is, however, this distinction between the male and female costume, that the women often drew this cloak up so high as to cover the back of the head (compare Fig. 1), a fashion which also continued in later times.

The change which we see gradually produced in this costume on works of art has been often regarded as a real change in the fashion, but was probably{27}

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Fig. 15.


in great part only a consequence of the development of art, which rendered it possible to represent a great deal which at an earlier stage could not be depicted. As in the case of male dress, the dresses on the vase pictures gradually become wider with fuller folds. At first, it is true, they are still so narrow that if a long step is taken the shape of the body becomes very distinct; but the cylindrical form, quite free from folds, which the earliest vase style gives to the woman’s dress below the girdle, disappears entirely. Besides this we find, instead of the outer wrap, a puffing, or kolpos, which henceforth is the characteristic of the female dress. This was arranged in various ways, though in later times it was sometimes dispensed with altogether. There are different modes of producing this kolpos: sometimes it belongs to the dress itself; the length of the dress then so far exceeds that of the body that, in order to prevent the hem from dragging on the ground, a piece must be drawn up above the girdle, which then falls down in folds below it, and in the fashion of the time, which we have first to deal with, often descends a long way, not, however, equally all round the waist, but only in front, and probably also behind. But as the vase pictures often represent this upper part as of an entirely different material from the under dress, it is possible that it was sometimes not connected with the chiton, but was a distinct garment worn over the under dress, and, like the chiton, fastened in by the girdle. (Compare Fig. 16.) If we remember that in the ancient dress of the previous period, the bib was sometimes a distinct garment, we may surmise that this gradually developed into the kolpos close round the waist, and that the fashion of constructing this girding by means of the chiton itself, and not by a separate piece, was a further stage in this development. With this costume we usually find longish sleeves, reaching below the elbow, as a rule wide and puffed, though very narrow round the armholes. It is evident that a chiton of this description, as well as the upper garment, if it was separate, was entirely constructed by sewing, and was put on over the head by passing the arms into the sleeves; for we nowhere find an opening above the girdle in this dress. We do, however, find, when the upper garment is separate, that the chiton has an opening on one side below the girdle. If we remember the remark of Herodotus previously quoted about the introduction of the stitched Ionic linen chiton, it is a natural assumption that this chiton, which was entirely put together by sewing, and worn without pins, was an Ionic garment; and in accordance with this we find this particular form of sleeve on Athenian reliefs as well as on those of Asia Minor.

in great part only a consequence of the development of art, which rendered it possible to represent a great deal which at an earlier stage could not be depicted. As in the case of male dress, the dresses on the vase pictures gradually become wider with fuller folds. At first, it is true, they are still so narrow that if a long step is taken the shape of the body becomes very distinct; but the cylindrical form, quite free from folds, which the earliest vase style gives to the woman’s dress below the girdle, disappears entirely. Besides this we find, instead of the outer wrap, a puffing, or kolpos, which henceforth is the characteristic of the female dress. This was arranged in various ways, though in later times it was sometimes dispensed with altogether. There are different modes of producing this kolpos: sometimes it belongs to the dress itself; the length of the dress then so far exceeds that of the body that, in order to prevent the hem from dragging on the ground, a piece must be drawn up above the girdle, which then falls down in folds below it, and in the fashion of the time, which we have first to deal with, often descends a long way, not, however, equally all round the waist, but only in front, and probably also behind. But as the vase pictures often represent this upper part as of an entirely different material from the under dress, it is possible that it was sometimes not connected with the chiton, but was a distinct garment worn over the under dress, and, like the chiton, fastened in by the girdle. (Compare Fig. 16.) If we remember that in the ancient dress of the previous period, the bib was sometimes a distinct garment, we may surmise that this gradually developed into the kolpos close round the waist, and that the fashion of constructing this girding by means of the chiton itself, and not by a separate piece, was a{29} further stage in this development. With this costume we usually find longish sleeves, reaching below the elbow, as a rule wide and puffed, though very narrow round the armholes. It is evident that a chiton of this description, as well as the upper garment, if it was separate, was entirely constructed by sewing, and was put on over the head by passing the arms into the sleeves; for we nowhere find an opening above the girdle in this dress. We do, however, find, when the upper garment is separate, that the chiton has an opening on one side below the girdle. If we remember the remark of Herodotus previously quoted about the introduction of the stitched Ionic linen chiton, it is a natural assumption that this chiton, which was entirely put together by sewing, and worn without pins, was an Ionic garment; and in accordance with this we find this particular form of sleeve on Athenian reliefs as well as on those of Asia Minor.

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Fig. 16.

Contemporaneously with this change in female dress, the elaboration of the folds mentioned above{30} with cut-out corners and regular zigzag folds, produced by stiffening and ironing, becomes more and more apparent, especially round the hems of the lower garments. It is true we must not depend too much on the monuments, for we often observe on these that only the front hem of the garment has the zigzag folds, while the back hem is quite plain, with only a suggestion of the necessary stiff folds. (Compare Figs. 17 and 17.) It is evident, therefore, especially in the case of the vase painters, that this drapery is not so much an imitation of actual costume as a peculiarity of the artist’s style.

If we may draw any conclusion from the above-mentioned facts as to the differences between Doric and Ionic costume, these do not appear to be fundamental, affecting the shape and appearance of the whole dress, but rather to have depended essentially on the mode of wearing, for the Doric chiton was shaped by pinning, the Ionic constructed by sewing. There is, however, a difference of material, since the Doric chiton was woollen and the Ionic linen. Nor must we understand Herodotus to mean that the Doric dress disappeared entirely after the introduction of the Ionic, for the monuments show us clearly that both kinds existed side by side; so that just at the time of Herodotus the chiton, which, at any rate in its upper part, was not sewn, but fastened by pins or buttons, was the more common. It is true that fashion, which was just as important in antiquity as now, is apparent in various changes, and these are especially conspicuous in pictures by the vase painters of the fifth century, such as Hiero, Duris, Brygos, etc. On these monuments (compare Figs. 4, 18, 19) the female dress is much wider and fuller than before, the kolpos goes all round the{31}

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Fig. 16.

body, and falls down below the hips almost to the knees. There is a sort of mantle, which falls a little way below the breast; there are almost always sleeves, as there were in the previous fashion, but they are generally less puffed and have no narrow armhole, but a wide opening at the arms. The mode of putting on the chiton is also different, and corresponds to the Doric fashion; the sleeves are not sewn together all round, but have a slit at the top, so that when the chiton is put on it is quite open there.{32} The drawing together of the sleeve openings by little fibulae or buttons fastens the chiton together at the neck, and gives the whole dress consistency. Fig. 17, a cithara player about to tie, or possibly to unloose, the girdle which fastens her upper garment, shows this method of putting on and fastening the upper garment very plainly. However, the bib, which is usually found, is absent here.

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Fig. 18.

But if we look somewhat more closely at this costume, we find in it a sort of combination of the{33} Doric and Ionic. The mantle is due to the former, the kolpos to the latter: the fastening with fibulae is characteristic of the former, the sewing of the latter. For we must regard a chiton like that worn by the Maenad on the left in Fig. 18 as one connected piece, one wide garment, more than twice the length of the body, sewn together round the sides, open at top and bottom, out of which the wearer constructed the bib and sleeves by drawing up the folds and letting them fall over the girdle, and by fastening or buttoning on the arms and shoulders. There is, however, reason to suppose that parts of this dress were sometimes separately constructed of different material. On the vase pictures of that period the various parts of the dress are sometimes characterised by different drapery. As a rule, the folds of the dress are marked by unbroken black lines: but, besides these, we sometimes find reddish brown, zigzag, or wavy lines (thus in Fig. 17, the upper part of the woman’s dress; in Fig. 18, the kolpos of the Maenad on the right; in Fig. 19, the kolpos and the sleeve). When we observe (as in Fig. 18) that in other figures the corresponding parts of the dress are all marked by the same lines, we find ourselves almost forced to the conclusion that the artists wished to represent distinct garments separately put on, especially as this distinction of unbroken and zigzag folds can also be traced in sculpture. It would be very easy to imagine it in such a dress as that in Fig. 17; for if in Fig. 16 the upper garment above the girdle is distinct, it might also be the case in Fig. 17. But such an assumption would be more difficult, nay, almost impossible, for Fig. 18. If we assume distinct material for the kolpos, the woman would be wearing three separate garments—the long chiton, which simply covers the whole body, the kolpos, and{34} over that a distinct upper garment with sleeves. The dress in Fig. 19 would be no less complicated. It seems, therefore, that we ought not to lay too much stress on that treatment of the folds; probably the artists made use of it in order to distinguish sometimes between the wavy folds of full garments, sleeves, etc., and the stiff folds of the perpendicular skirt. For we may observe that the wavy folds are never found in these perpendicular garments, such as the chiton and the bib.

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Fig. 19.

If the vase painters are to be relied on, especially in the arrangement of the girding, the fashion at Athens in the middle of the fifth century B.C. was still rather heavy and awkward. It was not until the excessive fulness of the girding was limited that it developed that regular and truly noble dress which we admire in the female figures of classic art and the following period. Still the dress is by no means uniform, for the same chiton can be worn in various ways, according to the arrangement of the girding and bib. The vase picture in Fig. 20 gives examples of this. There were, in particular, two methods. The one was to cover the body from the feet to the shoulders with a piece of stuff, and to fasten this by drawing the points of the folded back piece over the shoulders and hooking them to the points of the front piece, which was also doubled{35}

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Fig. 20.

back. Then the extra piece fell down at the back and front, and the girdle was passed over it. The stuff was then drawn up a little over the girdle, while the ends of the garment fell down over the hips. Strictly speaking, the kolpos here fell over the bib. (Compare the figure on the left.) The second plan was to take a longer piece of the chiton than was required below the girdle, so that the remainder fell on the ground; the upper part was drawn up to the shoulders and fastened there by fibulae, either in such a way that these were visible (in that case the doubled pieces were fastened together), or so that the pins were hidden by the front piece{36}

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Fig. 21.

(then the doubled piece at the back was fastened to the under layer of the front piece, as in Fig. 20). The bib then fell freely over the breast and back till a little above the waist, the superfluous piece below was drawn up over the girdle. The manner of arranging this kind of dress, which is the commoner, is very clearly seen in the bronze statue from Herculaneum represented in Fig. 21. The girl, who is in the act of dressing herself, has already girded the chiton, and is now arranging the bib; she has fastened it on the left shoulder{37} and is now drawing the folded back piece over the right shoulder with her right hand, in order to pin to it the front piece, which she holds in her left hand in such a way that the back piece may fall over the front piece. The points of both then fall over the hips to right and left a little more than half-way down the front breadth. To complete her dress, the girl will then draw up part of the garment, which is too long for walking, over the girdle, and this will appear below the bib. In the dress of the best period this puffing does not fall as low as before (or as that on Fig. 20). It is so arranged that the folds fall lower on the sides than in the middle, so that its lines may follow the outline of the bib, the points of which fall lower at the sides. Thus originated that beautiful costume, inspired by a truly artistic spirit, which we admire in the best Attic works of the age of Pheidias. As an example of this, compare Fig. 22, a Caryatid, from the Erechtheum at Athens.

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Fig. 22.


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Fig. 23.


With this dress sleeves, like those above described, are sometimes, but not always, worn. They are usually half-sleeves, with openings fastened by buttons or fibulae, not pieces separately sewn on, but part of the actual chiton.

The last-described form of the chiton, which formed the kolpos and bib by means of the girdle and pins, continued in the next period, and seems not only to have extended throughout Greece, but also throughout later Greek antiquity down to the Roman period. But there were also several other styles of dress, distinguished partly by their shape, partly by the manner of wearing. Thus, for instance, the general form of the chiton was retained, but the dress was made more comfortable by the separate construction of the bib, which, as we observed, was probably the case at an earlier period too, and by sometimes omitting it altogether. Sometimes, again, only a light chiton was worn without any kolpos or bib, either with a girdle which was sometimes worn above the waist (compare Fig. 23, “A Daughter of Niobe”), or sometimes falling quite freely (compare Fig. 24). Afterwards it was not unusual for the bib to fall below the girdle, while the kolpos was entirely absent (compare Fig. 25), or else fell above the bib (compare Fig. 20). In the graceful female figure in Fig. 26 there is another peculiarity. Here, as in Fig. 25, the chiton is open at one side, even below the hips, which was not the case with the ordinary dress, especially that worn out of doors. It is probable that this was the original form of the so-called Doric chiton, for it is thus that the Doric maidens were dressed, and on this account were mockingly described as “showing their hips.” In the ideal figures the chiton of Artemis and the Amazons,{40}

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Fig. 24.

though shorter, is of the same kind. The form of the chiton fastened together all round originated so early that we only find the kind open at the side in rare instances on the oldest monuments. This{41} chiton corresponds in shape most closely to the short male chiton; like this, it often only extends to the knees, and is fastened on the shoulders by pins without forming the bib. The dress with regular sleeves is also found in the later costume, either connected with the under garment or specially constructed so as to cover only the upper part of the body. It was fastened together all round, and opened at the sleeves, which were constructed by buttons.

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Fig. 25.

The himation continued to be the usual upper garment. In the older costume of the sixth and fifth centuries it is often treated as a scarf in the manner above described, with two points falling down in front over the shoulders (compare Figs. 4 and 4), but afterwards women began to wear the himation in the same way as men, either enveloping the arms entirely or leaving the right arm free (compare Fig. 23). A third mode of wearing the himation, which, however, is commoner in older than in later costume, is to draw it from the right shoulder across the breast to the left hip, leaving the left breast uncovered, and letting the points fall down on the right{42}

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Fig. 26.

side of the body. In the pictures it often looks as though the himation were fastened on the shoulder by pins, or even stitched together. We also find a light kind of shawl, put on something in the manner{43} of the scarf worn by ladies some forty or fifty years ago. In fact, there seem to have been many varieties of female dress in the Alexandrine period, but we are not intimately acquainted with the details, as our principal authorities, the vase pictures, at that time no longer confined themselves as strictly as in the older periods to the prevailing fashion. In one of Theocritus’ idylls a woman puts on first her chiton, then a peronatris (a robe fastened by clasps) of costly material, and over that an ampechonion. It is not clear what sort of garment this peronatris was. On the other hand, the terra-cottas of that period often represent graceful female forms in walking dress, that is, in the chiton and himation. Thus in Fig. 27, a and b, we see a woman in a long dress with a train, wearing over it a cloak drawn over her head in such a manner that only her face is visible. To promote freedom of motion her cloak is drawn up over both arms, which are closely enveloped. In a similar matron-like dress is the lady represented in the terra-cotta figure, No. 28. She holds up her long himation daintily with both hands, to enable her to walk more easily.

We cannot with certainty prove the existence of a chemise, since those expressions which are generally thus interpreted appear to relate to different kinds of chitons. Sometimes we see in vase pictures representing scenes from the baths short garments with little sleeves, which cannot well be anything but chemises, worn under the actual chiton. We must not, however, assume that these were universally worn; far commoner was the band called strophion, corresponding to the modern corset, used to check the excessive development of the breasts, or to hold them up when the firmness of youth was gone.{44}

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Fig. 27a.

We know very little about the colour and pattern of the dresses. The clothing worn by men, or, at any rate, those of the lower classes who laboured in the workshop or in the field, was certainly dark, either of the natural colour of the wool or dyed brown, grey, etc. Otherwise the commonest colour for the chiton and himation was white, and, as such garments naturally soon got dirty, they were often sent to the fuller, who washed them and gave them fresh brightness by means of pipeclay and similar methods. On festive occasions gaily-coloured dresses were usually worn, and then even simple people indulged in the luxury of bright colour; though, as a rule, to display this in ordinary, every-day life was regarded in the better ages of Greek antiquity as a mark of vanity or characteristic of a dandy. Naturally, women were more inclined to{45}

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Fig. 27b.

bright hues, and they were especially fond of saffron-coloured dresses, and also of materials with coloured borders and rich designs. Generally speaking, we may infer from the works of art that bright colour and rich ornamentation were most popular in the oldest period, and afterwards again in the epoch of declining taste; while the classic period made but a sparing use of either. The older vase pictures almost always represent materials with coloured patterns, either purely ornamental designs (compare Figs. 10, 11, 13), or with representations of figures. Sometimes whole scenes full of figures in coloured embroidery were part of the dress, and this was sometimes arranged in rows, like the decorations on pots in ancient art. (Compare Fig. 12.) This is quite natural if we consider that in the more ancient costume there was scarcely any drapery; both the chiton and the cloak were drawn tightly round the figure, and, therefore, the pictures could be fully developed and seen without any interruption{46} from folds. Purely ornamental patterns are also very common, and show great variety, but very seldom good designs. Checks and diamonds were especially popular.

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Fig. 28.

As the fashion in dress changed, so did the use of materials with patterns; for garments worn at religious ceremonies, or by actors, the coloured embroidery was retained; but in ordinary life the men, and even women, gradually discarded it, or at any rate reduced it to moderate proportions compared with the rich fulness of ornament in the older fashion, which almost concealed the real colour of the dress. This is especially noticeable in the chiton when it falls in free folds, while the old-fashioned chiton, which had very few folds, bore bolder designs. It is also the case with the himation, which even in the classic period, when{47} it no longer fell stiff and straight over the back, but was drawn round the body in plentiful drapery, was often richly adorned with embroidery. The reason is probably because such shawl-like garments are more loosely related to the body, and therefore the introduction of a pattern which weakened the impression of the figure is less disturbing here than in the chiton. However, these bright-coloured cloaks were exceptional luxuries. The fashion of the better period shows its classic sense of beauty in forming chiton and cloak from materials of one colour, and merely introducing ornaments at the seams and edges, and these such as are of especial beauty and noble simplicity.

In the fourth century B.C. a gradual decline is again observable, and after the time of Alexander the Great rich designs, sometimes introducing figures, become commoner, even in purely Hellenic dress. Numerous examples on works of art show us the unaesthetic and absurd side of this fashion. The elaborate patterns give a disturbing appearance to the whole figure; the outline of the body is completely hidden by the dress; and when the drapery is disturbed or folded, in the case of borders or materials covered with figures, the result is sometimes very ridiculous.

As regards the material of the dresses, we mentioned above that when the change described by Herodotus was made, the linen chiton was introduced, but woollen materials were not on that account discarded; and as men ceased to wear the chiton long, it became commoner to make it of wool. The oldest sculpture as a rule represents two distinct materials when once we get beyond the tight-fitting costume of the earliest period. One of these shows fine and flat{48} folds, while the other falls in large, deep folds. We cannot always maintain with certainty that these are two distinct materials, the former wool, the latter linen; sometimes it seems as though there were only two qualities of the same material, one being fine and thin, and the other coarse and thick. Yet the frequent use of linen is proved by the regular parallel and zigzag folds so common in the older art, which could only be produced in linen by artificial means.

As a rule, they wore, as we do, lighter stuffs in the summer and heavier ones in the winter; but though we very often find on archaic monuments transparent garments showing distinctly the outline of the body (compare Figs. 18, 24), we are scarcely justified in assuming a very widespread use of really transparent garments. Even though such thin materials may have been worn at that time, especially by hetaerae, their extensive use in vase painting is probably due to the fact that the painters, not knowing how to represent the outline of the body and the movements of the limbs under the dress, and yet desiring not to hide them completely by the clothes, resorted to this expedient of letting the outline appear through the dress material. These thin stuffs were always common in the dress of the hetaerae, but respectable women used them only as under garments. We may, however, assume that this was also a matter of fashion, since materials from the looms of the island of Amorgos, which were especially noted for their fineness and transparency, were only fashionable for a short time in the period of the older Attic comedy. Later allusions to these stuffs are made chiefly by the learned, and do not refer to actual reality. Moreover, it is natural that the circumstances of the persons concerned played a part in the choice of coarser or{49} finer materials. The stuffs introduced from foreign parts, such as cotton and muslin, could only be worn by the rich, as also silk, which, even in the Alexandrine period, was very rare and expensive. On the other hand, common men wore felt-like materials, and countrymen even tunics of skin or leather.

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Fig. 29.

In Greek antiquity coverings for the feet were not so essential an article of clothing as at the present day, at any rate not for the male portion of the population. At home, and in summer, men as a rule went barefoot; artisans and other members of the lower classes and slaves did so out-of-doors also, as well as people who desired to harden their bodies, like Socrates, or those who perhaps only affected an ascetic mode of life, like some of the Cynic philosophers. At Sparta, where the State took cognisance of the dress and food of the citizens, young men were actually forbidden to wear shoes, and many adhered to this habit even in old age, as, for instance,{50} Agesilaus, who, even as an old man, used to go without shoes and chiton, dressed only in his cloak. Still, it was unusual for men to go out of doors in winter barefoot, as Socrates is said to have done during his campaign in Macedonia.

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Fig. 30.

Generally speaking, the footgear of the Greeks was of two kinds: sandals, that is, mere soles tied under the foot, and actual boots. Between the two, however, there were a great number of transition stages, so that it is sometimes impossible to say to which of the two classes some kinds belonged. Sandals, which were probably the oldest kind, and in Homer apparently the only one, were worn by men and women alike, though far more commonly by the{51}

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Fig. 31.

latter. They consisted of a sole made of several thicknesses of strong leather, with sometimes a layer of cork; to this straps were fastened, which passed across the foot and held them firm. For this purpose (compare the selection in Fig. 29, taken from works of art) a pair of straps passing over the instep and heel were often sufficient, and these were either tied or fastened in such a way that another strap, passing between the first and second toes, was connected with the other two, which were fastened to the edge of the sole and buckled on the instep, the buckle usually having the shape of a heart or a leaf. But these straps were often more numerous, and so complicated as to cover almost the whole foot, and thus resemble a perforated shoe. Sometimes they were continued as far as the ankle, or even the shins (compare the examples in Fig. 30), but this is only the case in{52} men’s dress. Costly and brightly-coloured leather, with gilt and other ornaments, made this footgear, which was naturally simple, both ornamental and expensive.

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Fig. 32.

The boots were something like ours; they covered the whole foot, and were laced or buttoned in front, over the instep, or at the side. In the older period men’s boots generally went above the ankle, and at the front edge had a more or less pointed tongue bent forward. (Compare examples in Fig. 31, which also show us how this tongue gradually became smaller, and at last disappeared entirely.) Afterwards, low shoes, generally stopping short of the ankle, were the rule, especially for women, if they did not wear sandals. Fig. 32 gives various examples of this: they{53}

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Fig. 33.

are usually pointed at the toes, and old Spartan reliefs even represent shoes with points in front as part of female dress. Huntsmen, countrymen, and the like, wore high boots reaching to the shins (ἐνδρομίδες), laced or buttoned in front, as in Fig. 33.{54}

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Fig. 34.

These generally had broad toes and thick soles, but like the ordinary shoes they had no heels. A common decoration of such boots were broad zigzag lappets of leather, falling down from the upper edge, as in the examples in Fig. 34. Between sandals and boots we find various forms of low shoes, in which the foot is partly covered with leather and partly with straps. Thus there was a kind of slipper covering the upper part of the foot in front, while the back was covered with straps, and another kind which left the toes quite free and covered the rest of the foot. Probably the crepida, which only originated in the Alexandrine period, but then became very common, belonged to this class, and was a shoe with low leather sides, from which straps passed across the foot. Other kinds of shoes we know only by their antique names. Thus there was an elegant kind worn by guests invited to dinner (βλαυταί); and a coarser kind worn chiefly by peasants (καρβατιναί) made of rough leather, and probably not on a block, but roughly sewn together by the country people them{55}selves. In fact, the number of names for footgear used by the ancient writers is very large, and we may thence conclude that the fashion changed frequently. Thus in Greece there were shoes of the Persian fashion. At Athens they wore Laconian shoes; Amyclaean, Sicyonian, Rhodian shoes, and others which are also mentioned, probably refer more to the shape than to the origin. There were also shoes called after celebrated men, who probably made use of them, such as Alcibiades shoes, Iphicrates shoes, etc.; but we cannot illustrate all these from works of art, in spite of the rich variety supplied by them. They also distinguished between shoes which, like our slippers, could be worn on either foot, and those which were made on particular lasts for the right and left foot. The latter were regarded as more elegant, for they laid great stress on having shoes well-fitting and not too wide. They said of people who wore too comfortable shoes that they “swam about” in them. It was a mark of poverty or avarice to wear patched boots, and heavy nailed shoes were only worn by soldiers or country people, and for others were regarded as a mark of rusticity.

The material used was, as a rule, leather, but occasionally felt. They were mostly black; but we also find coloured shoes mentioned, especially for women, and sometimes see them represented on polychrome vases.

Stockings were unknown to antiquity, but sometimes in extreme cold it was the custom to wrap fur or felt round the legs. Thus, in Homer, old Laertes, when doing rough work in his garden wears gaiters of neat’s leather, and also gloves to protect himself against the thorns. As a rule, the latter were{56} also unknown; only actors wore something of the kind, but their object was, by apparent lengthening of the arms, to harmonise them with the artificial increase in height.

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Fig. 35.

As a rule, men went bare-headed, or wore caps in bad weather. Generally speaking, they distinguished, as we do, between hats and caps. The hat, whose distinguishing mark was the brim, bore the name petasos. It originated in Thessaly, but spread to other places, and at Athens was regarded as the characteristic riding hat, and as such was worn with the chlamys by youths. We see many in this dress on the Parthenon frieze. Otherwise the petasos was essentially a part of travelling dress, and, therefore, a usual attribute of Hermes as messenger of the gods. When older men wore the petasos there was generally some distinct reason for it. (Compare Figs. 9 and 9.) The shapes of the petasos on works of art are so various that it is sometimes difficult to tell whether they ought all to be included under the same name.{57}

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Fig. 36.

Some of the hats are so very like caps that we can scarcely decide whether they ought to bear the name of petasos. In the oldest period the petasos almost always had a pointed, rather high crown, and a broad brim turned up in front and behind. (Compare the examples in Fig. 35.) Afterwards varieties were introduced; sometimes the crown was semi-circular, sometimes flattened, now high, now low, or with a little point like a button; the brim, too, was sometimes broad, shading the whole face, sometimes quite narrow; now turned down, now horizontal; at other times, again, turned up or bent round the head. Thus in the first half of the fifth century, we find a very peculiar shape. The brim projects in front in{58}

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Fig. 37.

a narrow point, and at the back is turned up as far as the high conical crown. (Compare Fig. 35.) The commonest shape is that of which examples are given in Fig. 36; the crown is tolerably flat, generally not higher than the skull; the brim, which is rather broad, and generally turned down, is not circular all round, but cut out at several places—either between the ears and the forehead, so that a point falls over the latter, while the brim extends in semi-circular form round the back of the head; or else this half is cut out in the same way as the front part, so that the brim ends in four points, which generally fall over the forehead, back of the head, and ears. Still, we sometimes find instances where it is only cut out over the forehead, and the points fall to the right and left of the face. This shape is very common in the best period, that is, in the fifth and fourth centuries. Afterwards, there were some very strange shapes, such as that in Fig. 37, on the left, which is found on vase pictures of the best period and reminds us of the hats pointed in front and behind worn at the beginning of this century. The petasos was fastened under the chin with a cord;{59} when it was not wanted it was pushed down below the neck, where it was kept in place by the cord; and we find it frequently in this position. (Compare Fig. 38.)

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Fig. 38.

When, as sometimes happens, the petasos has a high crown, and a narrow turned-up brim, it is often very like the pilos, a cap of leather or felt, which was the common dress of workmen, especially smiths, countrymen, fishermen, sailors, etc. Odysseus, as sailor, is almost always represented with it; and so is Charon, the ferryman of the nether world, Hephaestus, as smith, etc. Invalids who were obliged to protect their heads from the weather, also wore such caps. These caps, too, were of various shapes; semi-circular, fitting closely to the head, and half-oval, projecting somewhat beyond the head, or of a more pointed conical shape. (Compare that of Odysseus, Fig. 39, and the sailors, Fig. 40, where, as is often the case, it has a narrow, lower brim.) It is evident from the drawing that the material must have been skin, which was the commonest next to felt. These caps were often fastened with strings below the chin, and there was sometimes a bow at the apex by which they could be hung up.{60}

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Fig. 39.

Women, who were seen out of doors much seldomer than men, had even less need for head-coverings. Especially in the oldest period, where scarves covering the greater part of the hair were in fashion, they probably contented themselves with drawing the himation over their heads when they went out. (Compare Fig. 4.) This was often done{61} in later periods also, as we see in terra-cotta figures (compare Figs. 27 and 27); but even at that time women in the country, or travelling, often wore a petasos similar to that of the men, though with a narrower brim. A graceful Sicilian terra-cotta, represented in Fig. 41, shows a lady wearing one of these, and it is very becoming to the face. On the other hand, after the Alexandrine period, the tholia is very common. This is a light straw hat, with a pointed crown and broad brim, fastened by a ribbon and balanced on the head—no doubt very convenient, since the broad brim protected the wearer from the rays of the sun, but by no means becoming. Terra-cotta figures from Tanagra give numerous examples of this hat, which was evidently very common at the time, and is also mentioned by writers.

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Fig. 40.

For further protection against the sun women often used sunshades, which were made to fold up like ours. Such sunshades are common on old{62}

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Fig. 41.

monuments, but, as a rule, ladies did not carry them themselves, but were accompanied by a slave, who performed this office for them. The sunshades were{63}

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Fig. 42.

usually round (compare Fig. 42), but there are also examples of a fan-shaped kind, which enabled the servant who walked behind to hold the sunshade by its long handle comfortably over her mistress without going too near her. Sometimes we even see men on vase pictures with sunshades. This, however, was regarded as effeminate luxury. The stick belonged to the ordinary equipment of a man. Old people walked{64} with the help of a heavy knotted stick, or leant on it as they stood, like the Athenian citizens on the Parthenon frieze; and young people also used them. They seem always to have used natural sticks; but the Laconian canes, with curved handles, were considered specially convenient, and were used at Athens by those who liked to imitate Spartan manners and customs. In the fourth century the use of sticks seems to have become less common.


The last heading to be considered is the fashion of wearing the hair; and, although the writers and statues give us considerable information, there are several difficulties here which have not yet been solved.

In the heroic period long curly hair was regarded as a suitable ornament for a man. This is proved by the favourite epithet, “The curly-haired Achaeans,” and by other quotations from epic poetry; various indications prove that the curls were not always left to fall naturally, but that artificial means were sometimes adopted for facilitating and preserving their regular arrangement. When the “effeminate Paris” is said to rejoice in his “horn” (κέρᾳ ἄγλαε), old commentators state that this horn was a twisted plait. It is possible that this might be produced by the mere use of stiffening pomades or other cosmetic means, which had been introduced from the East in the Homeric period; but the statements in the Iliad about the gold and silver “curl-holders” of the Trojan Euphorbus clearly point to artificial aids. The oldest sculptures and vase pictures give sufficient proof that this mode of wearing the hair in regular curls continued for a long time, for they almost always represent hair falling far down the neck, generally in{65} regular stiff locks with horizontal waving, while small curls surround the forehead, arranged with equal accuracy. As to the means employed for producing these curls, Helbig’s opinion is that the spirals of bronze, silver, or gold wire found in old graves in several parts of the Old World were used as a foundation for the curls, which were twined around them. Certainly these spirals have often been found in Etruscan graves, near the spot where the head rested, and generally one on each side. This might, however, be explained by the other interpretation that they were a kind of primitive ear-ring. Perhaps the “gold and silver” with which Euphorbus “bound together” his locks, according to Homer, was not a particular kind of adornment, but only flexible gold and silver wire.

The monuments as well as the writers teach us that men wore their hair long, in the next period also, down to the fifth century; we sometimes find hair of such length and thickness depicted that it seems almost incredible that a man’s hair could have been so much developed, even by the most careful treatment. However, it did not often hang quite loose, but it was tied back somewhere near the neck by a ribbon, and, unlike the Homeric head-dress, where each curl is separately fastened, the whole mass of hair was bound together, and then spread out again below the fastening, and fell down the back. Sometimes the hair, after being tightly tied together in one place, was interwoven with cords or ribbons lower down, so that it fell in a broader mass than where it was tied together, but by no means hung loose. Another kind of head-dress is that in which the hair is tied together in such a manner as to resemble a broad and thickish band, something like our head-dress of the last century. The hair falls a{66} little way below the neck, and is then taken up again and tied in with the other piece by a ribbon in such a manner that the end of the hair falls down over this ribbon. Here, too, we find variety, for the hair sometimes fell some way down the back, sometimes was fastened up again at the back of the head. An example of the former kind is the bronze head from Olympia represented in Fig. 44; of the latter, Fig. 43, from a vase painting of the fifth century.

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Fig. 43.


Fig. 44.

Most commonly, however, in the sixth and fifth centuries men plaited their long hair and laid the plaits round their head. There were two distinct modes of doing this. One was to take two plaits from the back of the head in different directions and fasten them like bandages round the head; the other was to begin the plaits at the ears, turn them backwards so that they crossed each other at the back of the head, then bring them round to the front and knot them together over the centre of the forehead. This is the head-dress of the figure on the Omphalos known as Apollo (Fig. 45), and the head of a youth (Fig. 46). There are also many other differences in detail; sometimes{67}

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Fig. 46.


Fig. 47.

the two plaits were laid across the hair from the parting to the forehead in the form of a fillet holding the hair fast, as in the marble head (Fig. 47); but sometimes the front hair is laid across the ends of the plait fastened together in front, as in the head from a vase painting represented in Fig. 48. The head in Fig. 47 also shows a peculiar mode of treating the back hair. The lower part of this is plaited, and the plait turned up again and fastened where the other two braids cross each other. Other plaits also fall from behind the ears in regular arrangement over the shoulders in front, often reaching as far as the breast. The hair on the forehead is dressed with equal care. With this fashion also the regular little curls, arranged in one or more rows round the forehead, are very common. Sometimes they are in spiral form, sometimes in that{68} of “corkscrew” curls, as on the archaic bronze head from Pompeii represented in Fig. 49 and in Fig. 48.

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Fig. 47.

These are the principal archaic modes of wearing the hair found on the monuments, but they by no means exhaust the varieties which might be observed. The writers, however, only mention one ancient head-dress. Thucydides, in the passage already quoted, which describes the long chitons formerly worn by the Athenians, also tells us that at the same time that this old-fashioned dress was abandoned, the Athenians gave up the old way of dressing their hair in the crobylus (κρωβύλος), into which they fastened golden grasshoppers. It has not yet, however, been possible to determine with any certainty which of the head-dresses found on the statues corresponded to this crobylus, which seems to be identical with the corymbus (κόρυμβος) mentioned in other places; nor has it been possible to find any traces of the grasshoppers. Consequently almost all the head-dresses above described have been claimed for the crobylus, even the double plaits behind the ears; and the grasshoppers{69} have been explained sometimes as the above-mentioned spirals, sometimes as hair-pins or fibulae. Perhaps some day a fortunate discovery may throw light on this difficult question.

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Fig. 48.

It would be scarcely possible to assign a chronological order to all these various archaic head-dresses. However, in the latter half of the fifth century they all disappear, and here we have another proof of the increasing aesthetic sense noticeable in all domains of life in the classic period. The allusions in Aristophanes show that in his time it was only old-fashioned people, who probably also went about in long chitons, who still wore the grasshoppers. From the time of Pheidias, the elaborate head-dresses entirely vanish; and though they are continued for a longer period on the vase paintings, that is probably because painting adhered longer than sculpture to the old forms and fashions, since its free development in style was also of later growth. After this time the long, flowing hair of the men, and the pigtail disappear; and though only youths and athletes wore their hair quite short, yet the men’s hair was also shortened, and owed its chief beauty to nature, which has granted the gift of graceful curl to Southern and Oriental nations. The portrait heads of this and the following period depict the hair as simply curled, soft, and not too abundant. This seems to have continued during the following centuries; at any rate,{70}

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Fig. 49.


the monuments show no trace of a return to the artificial head-dresses fashionable in ancient times. Just as wigs, powder, and pigtails have disappeared for ever among us, so antiquity, when it had once recognised the beauty of hair in its natural growth, never returned to the stiff and laborious head-dress of the past. Of course, there were various fashions in the mode of wearing the hair and having it cut; in fact, there are a number of different names for the modes of cutting it, such as the “garden,” the “boat,” but we do not know what these were like, since the monuments afford no clue. Probably it was only dandies who laid any stress on such matters. It is but natural that there should have been many local variations in the mode of wearing the hair, as in the dress, and probably these were of some importance in the oldest period; but we know very little about them. At Sparta it was the custom at the time of the Peloponnesian War to shave the hair quite close to the head, but as the Spartans wore long, carefully-curled hair at the time of the Persian wars, a change in the fashion must have taken place at Sparta in the course of the fifth century.

No special ornaments were worn in the hair by men after they gave up the old-fashioned curl-holders and the mysterious grasshoppers. The “band” or fillet laid round the forehead, which Dionysus commonly wears in works of art, was only actually used as the reward of victory in gymnastic or other contests. The diadem is a token of royal dignity, and, therefore, unknown in free Greece.

The change of fashion in the mode of wearing the beard can also be traced in Greek antiquity. There is no direct account of it in the Homeric poems, but probably some indirect hints. A well{72} known simile in Homer mentions the razor. As the Achaeans wore their hair long, and certainly were not smooth shaven, the question arises, what use they could have made of the razor. Helbig points to the analogy of the Egyptian and Phoenician custom, which had considerable influence on Hellenic culture, and also shows, by means of old Greek monuments, that very probably the Ionians of the Homeric period shaved the upper lip; as, in fact, the Dorians also did in older times. It is true this period must have been preceded by an older one unacquainted with this custom, for the gold masks found in graves at Mycenae bear a moustache; and the best example of these is treated in such a way as to point to the use of some stiffening pomade, as well as the artificial cutting of the moustache.

The monuments also show us that the custom of shaving the upper lip continued for some time in the following centuries; but it was not the only prevailing one, for we also find whiskers, beard, and moustache. It is but natural that in the period when the hair was elaborately dressed, special care was taken also with the treatment of the beard. It was not only regularly cut, and usually in a point (compare Fig. 50), but it was also cut short at certain places, especially between the lower lip and the chin, so that the part thus treated presented a different appearance from the rest of the beard. They also curled the moustache, and arched it upwards; and if we may believe the testimony of archaic monuments, we must assume that curling-irons were sometimes used for the artificial arrangement of the beard. It was not till the latter half of the fifth century that the beard was allowed to fall naturally and simply, at the time when they began to treat the hair in a{73}

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Fig. 50.

similar manner. The beard, although not entirely abandoned to its natural growth, since it was cut into a shape corresponding to the oval of the face, instead of the former point, at any rate was no longer treated by artificial means, such as pomades, elaborate curling, etc. The portrait type of Pericles or Sophocles (compare Fig. 7) shows us the finest example of a simple and dignified mode of wearing the beard, while the ideal head of Zeus from Otricoli, with its artificially parted beard, in spite of the grandeur of the treatment, is far removed from the classic simplicity of the age of Pheidias. After Alexander the Great and his successors it became the custom to shave the whole face. The portrait statues show us that old men especially, who had formerly allowed their beard to grow, now almost always shaved it off. Aristotle, Menander, Poseidippus, the princes of the Alexandrine age, etc., have smooth-shaven faces.{74} Youths and middle-aged men at that period sometimes let their beard grow, but old men only did so when they wished to indicate, by a long, ragged beard, that they were followers of the Cynic school; for even down to the time of the Empire the long beard was the distinguishing mark of the philosopher.

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Fig. 51.


Fig. 52.

The head-dress of women also underwent many changes. We do not know how their hair was bound up and arranged in the Homeric period, when it was treated with sweet-scented oils and pomades, which were, in fact, very common during the heroic period. Mention is especially made of a cap-like arrangement of the hair, and a plaited braid connected with it. Helbig believes he has recognised the same fashion in the women’s head-dress on old Etruscan pictures, on which it is possible to distinguish a high-pointed cap and a band laid over it. However this may be, Andromache’s head-dress, as described by Homer, has{75} a distinctly Oriental character. In the next period the works of art are again our best guide. They show us that, apart from external ornament, the head-dress of men and women in ancient times was essentially similar. We find the long hair either falling freely or in single plaits down the back (compare Figs. 11 and following); curls falling on the shoulders; and little ringlets surrounding the forehead; we find the hair tied up at the back of the neck, or the mode described above of tying it up in band-like fashion in several places. (Compare also the peculiar hair-knot in Fig. 11.) We also find that arrangement of double plaits laid several times round the back of the head, which has been claimed as the crobylus, although this is only mentioned as a male head-dress. This last fashion is even found in the graceful Caryatides of the Erechtheum, but here it is probably a reminiscence of the old custom, natural in these female figures, which are, as it were, in the service of the goddess. Otherwise none of these fashions continue beyond the last quarter of the fifth century, either for women or men.

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Fig. 53.


Fig. 54.

About the middle of the fifth century the fashion{76}

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Fig. 55.


Fig. 56.

of wearing many-coloured kerchiefs, covering the greater part of the hair, must have been very prevalent. Polygnotus paints his women thus, and we find the same fashion in the pediments of Olympia, and on some of the female figures on the Eastern Parthenon frieze, and on numerous vase paintings of that period. (Compare Fig. 17, where the kerchief even seems to develop into a cap, with a bow at the apex.) But at the same period, when the men began to emancipate themselves from the stiff head-dresses, and to wear their hair in a natural manner, a simple and beautiful fashion also became commoner among the women. The hair was usually parted in the middle and either fell in slight ripples loosely down the back or else was drawn up into a knot at the back of the head. (Compare Figs. 20 and 20.) The latter fashion, which we still call the “Greek knot,” is the commonest and most beautiful in the next period too. Sometimes the knot fell far down the neck (compare Figs. 51 and 52), which was certainly the most graceful, or else it was higher up the head (compare Fig. 53), where the hair is combed upwards from the face, or else (compare Fig. 54) the knot developed into{77} a flattened nest or wreath. A simple ornament frequently found is a narrow band or fillet entwined with the hair or laid around the hair and forehead. (Compare Figs. 16, 20, 24, and 52.) Kerchiefs were also much worn afterwards, sometimes put on in such a way as to cover almost the whole hair (compare Figs. 55 and 55), sometimes only a part, so that the hair at the back of the head is visible beneath it. (Compare Fig. 25.) There were also a variety of metal ornaments, which were fastened into the hair either to keep it firm or else for decorative purposes—golden circlets or diadems (compare Fig. 57), pins, etc. Detailed consideration of these ornaments show us that the age of Pericles and that immediately following it, were the periods when the style and technique attained their highest development and artistic beauty. Thus dress, hair, and ornament all combined harmoniously to represent the people of that age in surroundings corresponding in the fullest degree to the poetic and artistic attainments of the epoch.

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Fig. 57.




An Athenian Home—The Birth of a Child—Its Dedication—Its First Years—Learning to Walk—Playthings—Amusements.

We must now transport ourselves in imagination to the house of an Athenian citizen of the better classes. He is a rich man, who not only owns a comfortable, though simple, town house and land outside the gate managed by slaves, but also draws considerable interest from capital invested in trading vessels, and from the numerous slaves who work in factories for wages. But, in spite of his comfortable circumstances, his joy has hitherto been troubled by one sorrow—he has been married for several years, and as yet no heir to his possessions has been given him. A little daughter is growing up in the house to the joy of her parents, but even this cannot console the father for the sad prospect of seeing the possessions inherited from his ancestors, and increased by his own industry and economy, pass into the hands of strangers.

But to-day joy and gladness have entered this man’s house. His wife has borne him the much-longed-for son and heir. The neighbours, who had seen the well-known nurse enter the house, were anxious to see in what manner the front door would be decked—whether, as before, woollen fillets would announce the birth of a daughter, or the joyous wreath of olive branches proclaim the advent of a son and heir. While the slaves are festively decking the door{79}

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Fig. 58.

outside, within the house the new-born child is receiving its first care. With a happy smile the young mother looks on from her couch while the nurse and maids are busily occupied in preparing the bath for{80} the little one. For this only tepid water and fine oil are used, for the Spartan custom of adding wine to the baby’s first bath is unknown at Athens. After the bath, too, the baby has a warmer bed than would have fallen to his lot in the sterner city. True, the father intends, as soon as possible, to send to Sparta for one of those celebrated nurses known and prized for their success in rearing children; but still he shrinks from beginning the hardening process at this tender age, and rearing up the child according to Spartan customs without the warm swaddling clothes. So the baby is carefully wrapped in numerous swaddlings, in such a manner that even the arms are firmly swathed, and only the little head is visible. (Compare Fig. 58.) The ancient physicians prescribe for the new-born child soft woollen swaddling three fingers broad, and direct that the swaddling should begin with the hands, then pass on to the chest, and at last cover the feet, swathing each part separately but loosely, only drawing the bandages tight at the knees and the soles of the feet; the head also must be enveloped, and, finally, a second covering is put over the whole body. When modern physicians maintain that this swaddling must injure the child and check the development of its organs, they forget that the Greeks treated their children thus for centuries and yet were a healthy nation. But it is quite incredible that they should have been thus swaddled for the first two years of their life, as a passage in Plato seems to indicate, for this would not only have been extraordinary, but also injurious to the health. It can only be a question of maintaining a covering suitable to the age for these two years, instead of the children’s dress afterwards worn. A physician of the age of the Empire recommends the end of the fourth{81} month as the time for gradually leaving off the swaddling; and probably this was also the Greek custom. Antiquity does not seem to have been acquainted with our soft cushions, but the little Athenians also had their cradles, though these did not stand on the ground on rockers like ours, for such cradles are not mentioned till the Roman period, and seem to have been unknown in the classic age; but they resembled a basket of woven osier, suspended from ropes like a hammock, and thus made to rock. The cradle in which Hermes, who seems already to have attained the age of boyhood, is depicted on a vase painting represented in Fig. 59, is of a peculiar shape, quite like that of a shoe; the handles at the side, through which ropes were probably passed, show that this was also made to rock. Fig. 60 shows a different kind of cradle. It is a bed on rockers, which may have been used in the same way as the babies’ cots common among us.

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Fig. 59.

The young mother now for the first time gives the new-born baby the breast (compare Fig. 61, taken from a Greek terra-cotta), and rejoices that she is able to perform this duty herself. However, in case she should not have been able to do it, a poor peasant woman from the neighbourhood had been brought to the house and paid for her services. Meantime, the husband sits down by the bed and discusses with his wife the steps which must next be taken. A question that sometimes causes a good deal of difficulty presents none on this occasion—viz., the legitimation of the child. And as the boy is strong and healthy, there cannot be a question of the barbarous custom{82}

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Fig. 60.

of exposing it, which, though rarely resorted to at Athens, was still quite common at Sparta. Even had the child been a second daughter, the kindly-disposed master of the house would not have resorted to this cruel step; although, had he done so, his fellow-citizens would not have blamed him for it. But the parents have to settle on which day the family festival shall take place, to welcome and dedicate with religious rites the newborn child (Amphidromia) and what name they shall give it. They decide upon the tenth day after the birth for the festival. Many parents, it is true, celebrate this as early as the fifth day, and then on the tenth hold a second festival{83} with an elaborate banquet and sacrifices, and but few rich people content themselves with a single celebration. But though in this case there is no lack of means, yet, as the young mother wishes to take part herself in the Amphidromia, they decide to be content with one celebration, which is to take place in ten days. According to old family custom, the boy receives the name of his paternal grandfather.

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Fig. 61.

When the appointed day has come, and the house is festively decked with garlands, messengers begin to arrive early in the morning from relations and friends, bringing all manner of presents for the mother and child. For the former they bring many dishes which will be useful at the banquet in the evening, especially fresh fish, polypi, and cuttle-fish. The baby receives various gifts, especially amulets to protect him against the evil eye. For, according to widespread superstition, these innocent little creatures are specially exposed to{84} the influence of evil magic. Therefore the old slave, to whom the parents have confided the care of the child, chooses from among the various presents a necklace which seems to her especially suitable as an antidote to magic, on which are hung all manner of delicately-worked charms in gold and silver: such as a crescent, a pair of hands, a little sword, a little pig, and anything else which popular superstition may include in the ranks of amulets; and hangs this round the child’s neck.

The festival begins with a sacrifice, and is followed by the solemnity in which mother and child, who, according to ancient notions, are regarded as unclean by the act of birth, are purified or cleansed, along with all who have come in contact with the mother. This part of the ceremony is the real “Amphidromia” (literally “running round”). The nurse takes the child on her arm, and, followed by the mother and all who have come in contact with her, runs several times round the family hearth, which, according to ancient tradition, represents the sacred centre of the dwelling. Probably this was accompanied by sprinkling with holy water. At the banquet the relations and friends of the family appear in great numbers. In their presence the father announces the name which he has chosen for the child. After this all take their places at the banquet, even the women, who, as a rule, do not take part in the meals of the men. The standing dishes on this occasion are toasted cheese and radishes with oil; but there is no lack of excellent meat dishes such as breast of lamb, thrushes, pigeons, and other dainties, as well as the popular cuttle-fish. A good deal of wine is drunk, mixed with less water than is generally the custom. Music and dancing accompany the banquet, which extends far into the night.{85}

The first years of his life were spent by the little boy in the nursery, in which things went on in much the same way as with us. During this period boys and girls alike were under the supervision of mother and nurse. If the baby had bad nights and could not sleep, the Athenian mother took him in her arms just as a modern one would do, and carried him up and down the room, rocking him, and singing some cradle song like that which Alcmene sings to her children in Theocritus:—

“Sleep, children mine, a light luxurious sleep.
Brother with brother: sleep, my boys, my life:
Blest in your slumber, in your waking blest.”[A]

At night a little lamp burnt in the nursery. Although, as a rule, in small houses the apartments for the men were below and those for the women and children in the upper storeys, yet it was customary for the women to move into the lower rooms for a time after the birth of a child, partly in order that they might be near the bath-room, which was necessary both for mother and child. During the first years of their life the children had a tepid bath every day; later on, every three or four days; many mothers even went so far as to give them three baths a day. When the child had to be weaned, they first of all gave it broth sweetened with honey, which, in olden time, took the place of our sugar, and then gradually more solid food, which the nurse seems to have chewed for the child before it had teeth enough to do this itself. Aristophanes gives us further details about Greek nurseries, and even quotes the sounds first uttered by Athenian children to make known their various wants.{86}

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Fig. 62.

They do not seem to have had any special mechanical contrivances for learning to walk. In the time of the Empire baskets furnished with wheels are mentioned. Apparently they were in no great{87} hurry about this. For the first year or two the nurses carried the children out into the fields, or took them to visit their relations, or brought them to some temple; then they let them crawl merrily on the ground, and on numerous vase pictures we see children crawling on all fours to some table covered with eatables, or to their toys. (Compare the Stele, represented in Fig. 62, on which a child has crawled to its mother and is trying to raise itself.) When the child made its first attempt at walking, prudent nurses took care that it should not at first exert its feeble legs too much, and so make them crooked; though Plato probably goes too far when he desires to extend this care to the end of the third year, and advises nurses to carry the children till they have reached that age.

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Fig. 63.

Children’s dress must have given but little trouble during these first years. At home—at any rate in summer—boys either ran about quite naked or else{88}

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Fig. 64.

with only a short jacket open in front, like the little boy with the cart in Fig. 63. The girls, however, had long dresses reaching to their feet, fastened by two ribbons crossing each other in front and behind. Naughty children were brought to obedience or quiet by threats of bogies, but, curiously enough, these Greek bogies were all female creatures, such as Medusae or witches: “Acco,” “Mormo,” “Lamia,” “Empusa,” etc.; and when the children would not stay quiet indoors, they seem to have threatened them with “The horses will bite you.” The mothers and nurses used to tell the children all sorts of legends and fairy tales—Aesop’s Fables were especially popular—and little stories from mythology or other tales of adventure, which often began, like ours, with the approved “Once upon a time.” Among the many poetical legends of gods and heroes there were, it is true, some which were morally or aesthetically objectionable, and the{89} philosophers were not wrong in calling attention to the danger which might lie in this intellectual food, supplied so early to susceptible childish minds; yet this was undoubtedly less than what is found in our own children’s stories.

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Fig. 65.

Greek children had toys of various kinds, though the excessive luxury attained in these at the present day was unknown to antiquity. A very ancient toy is the rattle, usually a metal or earthenware jar filled with little stones, sometimes made in human form; and there were other noisy toys, with which the children played and the nurses strove to amuse them; though complaints were sometimes made that foolish nurses by these means prevented the children from going to sleep. A very popular toy, found in many pictures in children’s hands, was a little two-wheeled cart (compare Fig. 63), or else a simple solid wheel, without spokes, on a long pole—a cheap toy which could be purchased for an obol (about three-halfpence). Larger carriages were also used as toys, which the children drew themselves, and drove about their brothers and sisters or{90} companions, as we see in Fig. 64. Sometimes tame dogs or goats were harnessed to them, and the boys rode merrily along, cracking their whips. (Compare Fig. 65.) The custom of letting the nurses draw the children in perambulators in the street seems to have been unknown, but baby-carriages, in which the children were drawn about in the room, are mentioned by the ancient physicians. (Compare Fig. 60.)

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Fig. 66.

The little girls liked to play with all kinds of earthenware vessels, pots, and dishes; and, like our little girls, they made their first attempts at cooking with these. Many such are found in the graves. More popular however, even in ancient times, were the dolls, made of wax or clay and brightly coloured; sometimes{91}

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Fig. 67.

with flexible limbs, like the one in Fig. 66, or with clothes to take on and off, and representing all manner of gods, heroes, or mortals; dolls’ beds were also known. Though boys may have sometimes played with these figures, or even made them for themselves out of clay or wax, yet we generally find them in the{92} hands of girls, who seem to have taken pleasure in them even after the first years of childhood; indeed, it was not uncommon, since Greek girls married very early, for them to play with their dolls up to the time of their marriage, and just before their wedding to take these discarded favourites, with their whole wardrobe, to some temple of the maiden Artemis, and there dedicate them as a pious offering.

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Fig. 68.

The boys delighted in other more masculine pleasures. Like our own boys, they played with box-wood tops and whips, singing a merry song the while, or else they bowled their iron hoops, to which bells or rings were attached. The hoop was a favourite toy until the age of youth, and we often find it on vase paintings in the hands of quite big boys. (Compare Fig. 67.) We may certainly assume that{93}

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Fig. 69.

they also had little imitations of warlike implements such as swords and shields; a little quiver, which can hardly have served any other purpose (compare Fig. 68) has been found. Clever boys made their own toys, and cut little carts and ships out of wood or leather, and carved frogs and other animals out of pomegranate rinds. Our hobby-horse, too, was known to the ancients, as is proved by a pretty anecdote told of Agesilaus. He was once surprised by a visitor playing with his children, and riding merrily about on a hobby-horse. It is said that he begged his friend not to tell of the position in which he had found the terrible general, until he should himself have children of his own. Kite-flying also was known to them, as is proved by the vase painting represented{94} in Fig. 69, which, though rough in drawing, distinctly shows the action.

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Fig. 70.

They were also acquainted with the little wheels, turned by means of a string which is wound and unwound, that are still popular among the children of our day, and about a hundred years ago were fashionable toys known as “incroyables.” What we see in the boy’s hand in Fig. 70 can hardly be anything else. This was a game in which even grown-up people seem to have taken pleasure. On the vases of Lower Italy we often see in the hands of Eros, or women, a little wheel, with daintily jagged edge and spokes, fastened to a long string in such a way that,{95} when this is first drawn tight by both hands and then let go, the wheel is set revolving. (Compare Fig. 71.) Probably this was not a mere toy when used by grown up people, but rather the magic wheel so often mentioned as playing a part in love charms; but about this we have no exact information.

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Fig. 71.

Swings must also be mentioned as popular with both young and old. These were exactly like ours: either the rope itself was used as a seat and held fast with both hands, or else a comfortable seat was suspended from the cords. (Compare Fig. 72.) This was a merry game, in which grown-up women sometimes liked to take part; and so was the see-saw, of which even big girls made use. (Compare Fig. 73.) Sometimes the mother or older sister took the little boy by the{96} arm and balanced him on her foot, as the girl in Fig. 74 does with Eros, and, as in the well-known beautiful statue, “The Little Dionysus,” is carried on the shoulders of a powerful satyr. Many a Greek father probably gave his son a ride on his shoulders.

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Fig. 72.

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Fig. 73.

It is a matter of course that the young people of that day were acquainted with all the games which{97} can be played at social gatherings by children, without any assistance from without. The various games of running, catching, hiding, blind-man’s-buff, etc., in which our young people still take pleasure, were played in Greece in just the same manner, as well as the manifold variety of games with balls, beans, pebbles, coins, etc.

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Fig. 74.

Games of ball served as recreation for youths and men, and some of the above-mentioned games of chance, rather than skill, were especially popular with grown-up people, particularly games of dice or “knuckle-bones,” to which we shall refer later on in another section.{98}

Thus our young Athenian spends the first years of his life amid merry play with his companions, under the watchful care of his mother. During the first six years the nursery, where girls and boys are together, is his world, though he is sometimes allowed to run about in the street with boys of his own age. He is not yet troubled with lessons, and although, should he be obstinate or naughty, his mother will sometimes chastise him with her sandal, yet in a family in which a right spirit prevails, the character of the education at this early age is a beneficent mixture of severity and gentleness. Sometimes, it is true, the father does not trouble himself at all about the education of his children, and leaves this entirely to his wife, who may lack the necessary intellectual capacity, or even to a female slave. This, of course, has bad results, and the same happens when the wife, like the mother of Pheidippides, in the “Clouds” of Aristophanes, is too ambitious for her little son, and, in constant opposition to the weak, though well-intentioned, father, spoils him sadly. Let us assume that the boy whose entrance into life we described above, is free from such deleterious influences, and, sound in mind and body, passes in his seventh year out of his mother’s hands into those which will now minister to his intellectual and physical development.{99}



Schools—At Sparta—At Athens—Methods of Instruction—Reading Lessons—Music—Geometry—The Gymnasia—Physical Training—The Education of Girls.

Here, as in so many other domains of which we must treat, there is a marked distinction between the Doric and Ionic states. In the latter the education of boys was a private duty of the parents, and the State only retained a general right of control; while in the Doric states, and especially at Sparta, with whose institutions we are best acquainted, boys were regarded as belonging, not to the family, but to the State, which undertook the entire charge of their physical and intellectual well-being.

At the age of seven years the Spartan boy left his father’s house to live with companions of his own age, whose occupation and mode of life were regulated by definite rules. All the boys were divided into companies, according to age. Several of these companies were again combined into a troop. At the head of each company and of each troop was a superintendent, chosen from among the youths. His duty was to direct the occupations and exercises of the boys under his charge, and, as leader in their gymnastic exercises, to help them by his example. The general care of their education was in the hands of the trainers (παιδόνομοι), themselves under the control of a Board of Inspection (βιδιαῖοι), but in other respects their power was unlimited, and they had the right, by{100} means of “scourge-bearers” (μαστιγόϕοροι), to inflict punishment for disobedience or other faults. In this office, which was a very responsible one for a single man, they were assisted by the whole body of citizens, who were not only permitted, but even bound by their duty, to take part in the exercises of the boys, instructing, encouraging, or even punishing them. Every Spartan citizen could, in a measure, exercise paternal rights over every boy, and, again, was regarded by every boy in the same light as his own father. Obedience towards their elders, modest and reverent bearing, were impressed on the Spartan boys from their earliest years, and they were thus advantageously distinguished from the somewhat precocious Attic youth. The aim of their whole education was to harden the body and to attain the greatest possible bodily skill. The boys had only the most necessary clothing; from their twelfth year onwards they wore only an upper garment, even in winter, and in all other respects their life was of the simplest, so that it is not a mere figure of speech to talk of Spartan discipline. They received only sufficient food for the barest needs, and, though the boys were often taken to the meals of the grown men, yet these too were anything but luxurious. Their bed was hay or straw; from their fifteenth year onwards reeds or rushes, which they had themselves to fetch from the Eurotas. Indifference to physical pain was carried to an excess which appears to us absolutely barbarous, even in later times, when they had departed in some respects from the original severity of the so-called laws of Lycurgus.

The instruction at Sparta also corresponded to these principles. There was little question of developing the intellect, nor was this part of the public duty, but only a private matter. Those who wished to learn reading{101} and writing doubtless found an opportunity of doing so, but not in the institutes conducted by the State; at any rate, we find no mention of such. Probably most Spartans did learn so much, but very little more. A little arithmetic was added, as mental arithmetic especially was regarded as important on account of its practical utility. But this was all the literary culture which a young Spartan received. They also studied music, for which the Doric race had always natural ability and liking; and this instruction was compulsory. The boys learnt to play the cithara and flute, and to sing songs or choruses of serious moral nature. The inspectors were careful to see that nothing unsuitable was admitted here, and that traditional methods were adhered to in harmony and metre; therefore, every innovation on the domain of music was regarded with suspicion, and departure from the traditional custom was sometimes even punished.

The most important part of the instruction consisted in gymnastic exercises. These were methodically studied on rational principles; the exercises were graduated according to age, and only those were admitted which developed strength and skill, and did not merely fit a man for the career of an athlete. Their first aim was to make their men good warriors, and this they certainly attained. But it was a necessary consequence of the excessive development of the physical side, and the disregard of all higher intellectual developments, that Sparta never attained any real greatness in literature or art. Again, however attractive the moral seriousness developed by the Spartan education may seem to us, we cannot deny that the deadening of the family feeling, and the complete abandonment of everything to the State,{102} produced that hardness and cruelty which we so often meet with in the history of Sparta.

Very different was the system of education at Athens. Here it was left entirely in the hands of individuals. The State provided no public schools, but only appointed certain boards, whose duty it was to see that there were no offences against tradition or morality committed in the private institutes. This duty was entrusted to the superintendents (ἐπιμεληταί and σωϕρονισταί). These were, however, chiefly concerned with the youths, and thus especially with the instruction in the gymnasia. We do not know how far the Areopagus took part in this control.

As a rule, Athenian boys, when they had completed their sixth year, were entrusted to the charge of an old slave, called Paidagogos, whose duty it was, not to train or instruct the boys, but simply to accompany them to school, or on their walks, and to watch over their behaviour. As it was not considered correct for the son of an Athenian citizen to carry his school utensils himself, it was the duty of the paidagogos who accompanied him, to carry his books or his cithara, his strigil, or even his ball. Very often the paidagogos remained in the room (or perhaps in an ante-room) during the lesson, and at the end again accompanied his charge home. Though he was only a slave, and often but slightly educated, he generally had authority given him over the boys entrusted to his care. When they reached the age of eighteen the control of the paidagogos either ceased entirely, or assumed a different character.

It is impossible not to recognise that there were many objections to this system. It was by no means always the worthiest and most trustworthy slaves who were chosen for this office, but rather old men{103} who were of no use for other work, and who were not only entirely ignorant intellectually, but whose manners were often bad. As foreigners they often spoke barbarous Greek, set their charges a bad example by fondness for drink, or else winked at their faults and bad habits; in short, were by no means fitted to have the charge of growing boys. Many complaints seem to have been made, but the practice still continued; in fact, in some respects matters grew worse in the Hellenistic period. On monuments, where we often see them accompanying boys, even in mythological representations (e.g., The Children of Niobe, Archemorus, Medea, etc.), the paidagogoi appear in a special dress corresponding to their non-Hellenic origin—in a chiton with sleeves, rough cloak, and high boots. However, this corresponds to the practice of Greek tragedy, which had fixed costumes for certain characters. In reality the paidagogoi probably dressed much like other citizens.

The instruction at Athens is divided into two headings: music and gymnastics. Let us first consider the former. It appears to have been very rare for boys to be taught at home by private teachers. They were usually sent to some school conducted by an elementary teacher. We know very little about the arrangement and curriculum of these schools. It seems that boys from the same neighbourhood generally attended the nearest school, and were taught there in the same room by one teacher, who had to instruct in turns the beginners and the more advanced pupils. Cases of over-filled classes are mentioned, but these do not refer specially to Athens. It is not improbable that classes not only received different instruction, but were also taught in separate rooms; and that besides the master who was the{104} director and proprietor of the schools, assistants paid by him also took part in the instruction. But in reality we know very little about these matters; it is however, certain that some teachers had no schoolroom at all, but sat out in the street with their scholars—a thing which is only possible in the sunny South. No doubt these were only schools for the poor, and the sons of rich parents did not attend them.

The furniture of the schoolroom was doubtless very simple. A music teacher sometimes set up in his school statues of Apollo and the Muses, but he would be well paid, and we must not expect to find such luxuries in the furniture of ordinary elementary schools. Here probably, there was little more than the benches for the boys, a seat for the master, and some aids to teaching, such as we see hanging on the walls on the few ancient monuments which introduce us to Greek schoolrooms. (Compare Fig. 75.) Among the requisites was a white board. It is not probable that the charts, used in the Roman period to impress dates of mythology and history on the pupils’ minds by plastic representation, were already known to Greek antiquity. The master supplied the ink required for instruction in writing: we may infer this from the fact that Aeschines, who as a boy used to help his father, a schoolmaster, had to mix the ink and sweep out the schoolroom. The salary which the master received for his instruction probably depended on his knowledge and ability; doubtless popular teachers were well paid. But it was not a paying profession, for it is not likely that the school fees, usually paid monthly, were high; also negligent fathers often put off paying them for a long time; while stingy parents kept their children at home{105} during a month in which there were many holidays, in order to save the school fees. We must not assume high culture in these elementary teachers, and we find that the pupils feared their masters more than they loved them, which is natural, seeing that they seem to have made a freer use of canes and sticks than our present pedagogic principles would permit. Still we do not find any Greek pendant to Horace’s Plagosus Orbilius.

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Fig. 75.


Instruction usually began early in the morning; we do not know how long it lasted, but there certainly were lessons given in the afternoon; an ordinance of Solon’s forbade their continuance after sunset. We do not know how the elementary and gymnastic instruction were combined. There were plenty of holidays, owing to the numerous feasts and festivals; there were also special school festivals, especially those of the Muses for the grammar schools, and of Hermes for the gymnasia.

A very interesting picture by the vase painter Duris, represented in Fig. 75, gives us, in spite of some artistic liberties, an excellent idea of Attic school teaching in the fifth century B.C. The scenes are represented on the outside of a bowl; on each half five people are depicted: two masters, two pupils, and an oldish man looking on. This cannot, therefore, represent one of the ordinary schoolrooms, where a single master instructs together a whole class of boys, for each boy is being instructed by a separate teacher. Perhaps this is a liberty on the part of the painter, who has grouped together four separate scenes, or else this individual instruction may really have taken place even in the public schools. Masters and pupils are dressed alike, wearing only the himation. It is important, however, to remember what was stated on page 20, that this dress on the monuments by no means corresponds to reality, and, as a rule, the chiton cannot have been wanting under the himation. The masters, some of whom are young and beardless, others more advanced in age, sit on simple stools; with the exception of one pupil, who is learning the lyre, the boys stand upright before them, both arms wrapped in their cloaks, as was considered fitting for well-bred youths. Of course, the boy with{107} the lyre must have the upper part of his body free, and his himation is folded over his knee. There is a difference of opinion as to the two bearded men leaning on their sticks, who are present at these scenes, and attentively looking on; it has been suggested that they are paidagogoi, who have accompanied the boys to school, and are superintending them during the instruction; or else, on account of the manner in which they are sitting, it has been assumed that they are fathers or inspectors.

The subjects taught here all belong to musical instruction (that is, instruction over which the Muses preside), and are partly concerned with grammatical teaching, partly with actual teaching of music. On one side we see a young teacher playing the double pipe, while the boy standing in front of him listens attentively. It is usually assumed that the boy is learning to play the flute, but then it is curious that he has not an instrument in his own hands, like the boy who is learning the lyre; for if he wished to imitate what the teacher is showing him, he would have to take the master’s instrument. There is something, therefore, to be said for the hypothesis that the boy is learning to sing, and the master is giving him on the flute the notes or the melody which he has to sing. The scene on the right of this represents instruction in writing. The boy stands in the same position as the other, before another young teacher, who holds a triptych consisting of three little folding tablets, open before him, and has a pencil in his right hand. He is looking attentively at the tablet, either correcting the boy’s writing or about himself to write a copy for the pupil. On the other side of the picture we have, on the left, musical instruction. Both master and{108} pupil have seven-stringed lyres in their hands; at the moment represented the master seems to be only showing the boy how to grasp the chords by the fingers of the left hand, and is making no use of the rod (πλῆκτρον), which he holds in his right. The boy, who sits bent forward, is trying to imitate the master’s action. The last group represents a pupil who appears to be reciting a poem, the beginning of which is written on the scroll which the master holds in his hand.

Various implements hang on the walls of the schoolroom: at one side a roll of manuscript with a handle; next to it a writing tablet, with a cord fastened round it, and a handle; next, a lyre and a curious cross, which is not easy to interpret; some think that it is meant for a sextant for the geometrical instruction. On the other side hang two drinking-cups, which the pupils are probably allowed to use during the intervals; two seven-stringed lyres; a basket with handle and feet, probably used to contain the manuscripts; and finally, a case for a flute, with the capsule for the mouthpieces hanging to it.

We must now examine more closely the special implements used in musical instruction, and the mode in which that instruction was given. Elementary knowledge of reading and writing was very common, at any rate in Attica, and people who were unacquainted with either were even rarer in ancient Greece than in our own day. In the school of the teacher who had charge of the boys’ elementary grammatical instruction (γραμματιστής), the boy was probably first taught his letters, their names and shapes, and very likely some external helps were used for this purpose; at any rate, these were common in later periods. The next process was combining the{109} letters in syllables; and thus gradually they advanced to reading whole words. At the same time, probably, instruction in writing began. The master made single letters and words for the pupils to copy in the space left free under his lines, and probably helped them a little by guiding their hands. The place of our slate was taken by a wax tablet. This was a wooden tablet covered with a thin coating of wax, in which the letters were scratched with a pointed style, made of bone, ivory, or metal; the broad end was used for flattening the wax when the slate was full, and then it could be used again. There were generally two, three, or more of these tablets connected by hinges, and these were called diptych, triptych, etc. It was only more advanced pupils who were allowed to use such expensive material as papyrus and reeds for writing, and even then, on account of the expense, they were not provided with new paper, but wrote on the back of what had already been used. Chance has preserved to us, in a discovery dating from the age of the Ptolemies, some very interesting specimens of Greek instruction in writing—several wax tablets, six inches long and four inches broad, all containing the same Greek trimeter verses, probably by Menander. The writing on one of these tablets, which was probably the master’s copy, is good and careful; that on the others, the pupils’ copies, is inferior. Under one the word “industrious” has been written by the master’s hand. But slight demands seem to have been made on the pupils in the matter of writing, and more stress was laid on clearness than beauty or speed, since there were always experienced slaves ready to do work of this kind.

For reading lessons the poets were chiefly used,{110} and their writings were inscribed in manuscripts which were either rolled or folded. (Compare Fig. 75.) Homer was used as the school book of the Greeks, from the earliest periods to the fall of the Byzantine Empire, and his writings were read and expounded, as well as other poems in various metres, chiefly of a lyrical character. The master then either gave the boys copies, which he had probably made himself, or else, if they were already able to write, dictated longish passages to them; the pupils also had to learn a good deal by heart. Many teachers prepared anthologies of various writers for reading purposes; those especially were chosen which by their contents were well adapted for the reading of youth, such as Hesiod, Theognis, Phocylides, etc. The boys thus, by their reading and learning, acquired a knowledge of mythology, while at the same time the most important ethical principles were impressed on them. We must be careful not to rate too low the results of this instruction, however little we may think of the Athenian acquirements in the mechanical arts of reading and writing. A people who knew how to appreciate the tragedies of Aeschylus, who could understand the comedies of Aristophanes, with their fulness of mythological, literary, and political allusions, must have possessed a degree of culture which in many respects was far above the average of the present day. It was, of course, easier for the pupils to acquire a large amount of mythological and literary knowledge when there were so few subjects to study; since natural science, geography, history, and foreign languages were all disregarded. In reading, the elements of prosody were also learnt, and these were more fully treated in the musical instruction.{111}

We are no longer in a position to state how arithmetic, with whose practical uses the ancients were naturally well acquainted, was taught; but it is probable that—at any rate at Athens—this instruction was given at home and not at school, and was acquired by children in play by means of concrete objects, which enabled them to learn the principal notions and relations. As regards method, counting on the fingers was very common in Greece. The left hand was used to represent all the units and tens, and with the addition of the right hand all the hundreds and thousands; the mode in which a finger was placed on the open palm and the number of the fingers, which were either bent or stretched out, determined the number required. More complicated calculations were performed by help of an abacus with little stones, an ancient invention long known to the Egyptians, in which the arrangement of the stones in the parallel lines on the board determined their value as units, tens, hundreds, etc. We do not, however, know anything further about the arrangement of the Greek abacus.

The instruction in these elementary subjects occupied the first years of school life. In the twelfth or thirteenth year the instruction in music began, and was given by a special master called the harpist (κιθαριστής), the Greeks regarding music not from the standpoint of the modern amateur, as only a pleasant distraction for hours of recreation, but rather as an essential means of ethical development. The main object of the instruction was not the attainment of facility in execution on any instrument, but rather ability to render as well as possible the productions of the poets, especially the lyrists, and at the same time to accompany themselves suitably on a seven-{112}stringed instrument. Accordingly, most weight was given to the instruction in the lyre (which we see in Fig. 75 in the hand of both teacher and pupil), while the cithara, on account of its louder sounding-board, as well as the phorminx, which was connected with it, if not, in fact, identical, were reserved for the use of professionals, and were regarded as a kind of concert instrument, and therefore learned specially by those who desired to attain something more than average proficiency in music. No doubt there was opportunity given in the ordinary schools for learning both kinds of stringed instrument. The flute, which, when used for purposes of accompaniment, could naturally not be played by the singer, was on this account less popular at Athens; at Thebes, on the other hand, it was universally popular, and it has been supposed that the neglect of the flute at Athens was due to the ancient antagonism between Attica and Boeotia; moreover, the flute, which originally belonged to the Bacchic worship of Asia Minor, with its sharp, shrill tone, was regarded as an exciting instrument, hostile to a calm state of mind, and therefore the philosophers all agreed in considering it unsuitable from a pedagogic point of view. We must not forget that the Greek flute was very different from that to which we give the name at the present day, which is regarded as a somewhat sentimental, effeminate instrument. There was, however, a time when flute-playing was popular at Athens among amateurs; according to Aristotle, the flute was introduced into Attic schools after the time of the Persian Wars, and soon became so popular that almost all the youths of the better classes learnt to play on it. Afterwards, however, apparently about the time of the Peloponnesian War, they recognised how very{113} unsuitable this instrument was for intellectual and musical development, and it was again discarded by people of culture, probably in consequence of the example set by Alcibiades, who was regarded as a leader of fashion. Afterwards the flute was still learnt, and on vase pictures we see flutists and hetaerae playing it, as well as youths, but it was no longer a subject of instruction in the ordinary schools—at any rate, not at Athens. Naturally Sparta carefully avoided an instrument which was regarded as absolutely dangerous in its ethical effect.

No musical instruction, besides the elementary subjects and playing on stringed instruments and singing, was given at school during the best period of Athens. Boys attended school until the age of adolescence: that is, about their sixteenth year; though it is not probable that there was a definite limit of age; those who wished to extend their education had opportunities for doing so, even in the fifth century, by attending the sophists’ lectures. However, compared with the cheap fees of the elementary schools, the honorarium paid to these by their pupils was very high. There was no question of organised school instruction.

In the course of the fourth and the third centuries B.C. some other subjects of instruction were added to these. After the time of Alexander the Great, drawing was also taught to boys; probably this was due to the influence of Pamphilus, who was the Principal of the Painting School of Sicyon. The pupils learnt to draw with a style, or brush, on boxwood tablets, specially prepared for the purpose. As the school of Sicyon laid especial stress on correct drawing, and appears to have been{114} rather behind the others in colouring, we may assume that the instruction in drawing was chiefly confined to outline, but we have few exact details concerning it.

At that time instruction in the elements of geometry was added to the teaching in arithmetic, but only the older boys appear to have learnt it. This seems to have begun as early as the fifth century, but Socrates thought it ought to be limited to what was absolutely necessary. The philosophers of the fourth century, however, recommended geometry as an excellent means for developing and sharpening the intellect and logical powers. Plato even suggests teaching boys in play not only arithmetic and geometry, but also the first principles of astronomy, and afterwards continuing the study more seriously till about their eighteenth year. Astronomy, however, would only signify to them what we now include in mathematical geography. Less educated people had a decided prejudice against geometry and other such abstract studies, on the ground that they were quite superfluous, since they were of no practical use in after years, either for the purposes of private or public life; and the opinion so often heard at the present day prevailed even then, that these subjects, since they could not be practically applied in after life, were only learnt for the purpose of being forgotten as soon as possible.

In this manner the grammatical and musical instruction developed the intellect of the boys, while gymnastic exercises were used to strengthen and train their bodies. Although these did not occupy quite so prominent a position at Athens as in the Dorian states, yet considerable time and attention were devoted to them, since the real aim of all pedagogic{115} efforts was supposed to be the harmonious development of body and mind. It is not easy to determine at what age the gymnastic training began; what Plato and Aristotle say on the subject merely gives the pedagogic opinion of these philosophers, but does not refer to actual existing circumstances. Among modern scholars some assume that both musical and gymnastic instruction began with the seventh year, and that from that time onwards boys went every day to two distinct schools. Others suppose that gymnastic instruction came first, but that at first the exercises were easy ones, suited to the previous life of the child and tending to strengthen his body, and that afterwards the training in elementary subjects began. We have too little information to pronounce a definite opinion.

The buildings in which the boys received their gymnastic training were not, as was formerly supposed, the gymnasia, but the wrestling schools (παλαῖστραι)—a name given to these establishments because wrestling and running were regarded as the most important exercises in elementary gymnastic training. No doubt other gymnastic exercises were practised at the wrestling school. Of course, many changes took place in the course of centuries till the time of the Roman Empire, and therefore it is but natural that very various opinions should prevail about the wrestling school and the gymnasium. The most probable theory is, that, at any rate at Athens in its best period, the instruction in gymnastics was given at the wrestling school, while the gymnasium was used for the further training and development of the youths. The wrestling school was not a public institute, but a private undertaking conducted by a teacher of gymnastics, who received a fee for the use{116} of the building and the instruction given by him. These schools were under directors and managers (παιδοτρίβαι); the institutes usually bore their names, but they were sometimes called after the founder. Like other masters, they had a full disciplinary right over their pupils but they were also subject to the supervision of the inspectors mentioned above, whose duty it was to see that nothing which offended against morality took place in the gymnastic institutes, and also that the instruction was methodical and suited to the different ages. Besides these inspectors, no one else, except the paidagogoi who accompanied their charges, was allowed to be present at the instruction in the wrestling school; an ordinance of Solon’s forbade admission to grown men, but in later times this rule seems to have fallen into disuse.

The gymnastic training had a double purpose; in the first place to teach the boys a modest and dignified bearing (much as dancing is taught in the present day), and in the second, which, of course, was most important, to train them in the chief gymnastic exercises. These were jumping, which included both the high and long jump, for which purpose dumb-bells were generally used; racing, throwing the quoit and the spear, and wrestling. Boxing was not included in the instruction given to boys, nor yet the pancratium, a combination of wrestling and boxing, nor the pentathlum, a combination of five exercises specially used in athletic contests, and therefore not generally practised at the wrestling unless boys were to take part in some public contest, in which case they might, of course, be prepared here beforehand. We shall deal later on in greater detail with the separate exercises, and must therefore content ourselves for the present{117} with merely enumerating them, since the exercises of the boys only differed in degree, but not in kind, from those of the youths and men.

Such was the training given to the boys until about their sixteenth year. This was, however, by no means the end of their education, at any rate not for boys of the better classes, who were not obliged to follow any definite profession; and the gymnastic training extended for several years longer. The years between adolescence and somewhere about the twentieth year were generally called ephebeia; but besides this expression we find a good many others, especially in inscriptions, which prove that there were several sub-divisions for the purposes of gymnastic exercises and tests, made according to age; in fact, they generally distinguished between a first, second, and third class of ephebi. But there were other special names in use. In ancient times the only distinction in the gymnastic tests was between boys and men, and the ephebi were therefore included in the former class; but afterwards they distinguished between boys, youths, and men, though these designations and their sub-divisions according to age seem to have varied a good deal according to time and place. In any case, we must distinguish between the use of the term ephebus in the gymnastic classes and in the State. For State purposes it was not applied till the eighteenth or nineteenth year, and the boy had then to take his oath as a citizen; his name was entered in the book of his deme, and he received a warrior’s shield and spear. The oath taken by the ephebi, composed by Solon, has been preserved to us. The youth had to swear “Never to disgrace his holy arms, never to forsake his comrade in the ranks, but to fight for the holy temples and the common welfare, alone or with others; to leave his{118} country, not in a worse, but in a better state than he found it; to obey the magistrates and the laws, and defend them against attack; finally to hold in honour the religion of his country.” The witnesses to this oath were, besides Zeus, a number of special Attic local deities of military or agrarian importance.

When a boy attained to the condition of ephebus he discarded the himation and adopted the chlamys as his characteristic dress. The hair, which was worn long by boys, was cut short, and this act of cutting the hair was a kind of religious ceremony, since the hair cut off was often dedicated to some deity. This sacred rite, the importance of which we can better understand if we imagine our modern rite of Confirmation combined with the attainment of majority, was usually celebrated as a festival in the family circle. The new ephebi, after taking their oath and receiving their arms, were presented publicly to the people in the Theatre. This usually took place at the festival of Dionysus, immediately before the performance of a tragedy. It is, however, not quite certain whether this introduction was confined to the sons of those only who had fallen in battle, whose equipment was presented to them by the State. This, however, like most of the details which we have about the ephebeia in Ancient Greece, refers specially to Athens; at Sparta and other places there were customs, more or less different, of which we know little or nothing. Moreover, at Athens, as well as in the rest of Greece and Asia Minor, the usage concerning the ephebi underwent many changes during the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire. The numerous inscriptions give us far more exact details of this later period than of the best time; but we refrain from discussing them, since this institution,{119} which originally had an essentially warlike character, gradually became a mere matter of form, and was confined to the sons of rich citizens, who merely played with the customs without regarding their ethical or political importance. Most of the information which the inscriptions supply about the officers and teachers of the ephebi also belongs to the later period; a great many boards of management for the arrangements concerning the ephebi, which became more and more complicated, were either created fresh or transformed out of the older ones, but their importance and powers were entirely different. Moreover, our purpose is to confine our attention to the classical and Hellenistic period.

We mentioned above that the place where the ephebi received their gymnastic instruction, or practised on their own account, was the gymnasium. The gymnasia, of which every town possessed one or more, were not, like the wrestling schools, private undertakings on the part of gymnastic teachers, but State institutions. At Athens the two oldest institutions of the kind were the Academy and the Cynosarges, at the foot of the Lycabettos, and in the time of Pericles the Lyceum was added as a third; the gymnasium of Ptolemy was not built till the Hellenistic period. The originally simple structure and arrangement of these institutions became in the course of centuries more complicated and extensive; and, though the first gymnasia were probably not more than simple halls supported by columns, with a racecourse attached, in course of time other rooms were added, and also baths, since the gymnastic exercises rendered bathing immediately afterwards absolutely necessary. At the time of Plato a number of different rooms belonging to the{120} gymnasia are mentioned, which show that even at that time these must have been very extensive. We cannot clearly tell, from the accounts of the Greek writers, how these rooms were arranged and connected, and the description given by Vitruvius of a gymnasium is but unsatisfactory, because in many points he is not clear in his expressions. Moreover, it does not give a general scheme, but only a particular description, and this may not refer to his own period, as has been generally assumed, since the Roman gymnasia were on a far more complicated plan than the one described by Vitruvius, but rather to an earlier period, though not the best.

We are enabled to complete and correct the statements of Vitruvius from the ruins of various gymnasia in Asia Minor and Greece, especially those of Pergamum and Olympia. The description of Vitruvius connects the gymnasium and the wrestling school, but we must distinguish this wrestling place, which was a necessary part of the whole plan of the gymnasium, from that mentioned above, which was only used as a gymnastic school for boys. In the plan given by Vitruvius the centre is a square court with covered arcades; connected with this are a space for the ephebi, rooms for exercises with the corycus (boxing with a dummy), for anointing, sprinkling with dust or sand previous to wrestling, bath-rooms for hot and cold baths, etc.; further, in connection with these principal buildings there are covered racecourses, with levelled floors, gardens, and places for exercise, for rest, exedrae, etc. The arrangements of the gymnasium at Olympia, which probably dates from the end of the fourth or the beginning of the third century B.C., seem to have been simpler. We can distinguish two separate buildings—a smaller one, the actual{121} palaestra, which has been almost entirely uncovered; and a larger, the large gymnasium, of which only a little has been excavated. Both lie close together, west of the sacred grove of Altis, near the banks of the Kladeos; it was, in fact, very common to place the gymnasia near running water, in order to have at hand the water so necessary for the baths. We do not, however, find any trace of those complicated bathing arrangements described by Vitruvius, and probably they did not become common till the Roman period. In the wrestling school of Olympia we can only trace one large bath, but still it is possible that there were more extensive arrangements in the larger gymnasium. The wrestling school itself is a square, the sides of which measure about sixty-four yards each, surrounded with Doric arcades; on the south there is a long hall in the Ionic style; on the three other sides are also halls and little rooms, the purpose of which we cannot determine, connected with the inner court by doors or porticoes; on the north wall is the door connecting it with the south hall of the larger gymnasium. This latter was separated from the wrestling place, though, as a rule, this is an integral part, or even the centre of the whole structure; it is oblong in form, and is surrounded by arcades on two or three sides. The eastern hall extends to the length of 210½ yards. No doubt the exercises in jumping, running, throwing the quoit and spear, took place here. The best-preserved ruins are those of Ephesus and Alexandria Troas, but even here we are obliged to be very arbitrary in our attempts at reconstruction.

In any case it is certain that the gymnasia of the classic period gave sufficient opportunity for different kinds of gymnastic exercises, as well as for wrestling and the various contests, and also supplied places for{122} recreation and comfortable repose from the fatigues of physical exertion. The superintendence of the youths who practised here, and the maintaining of order were the duty of the Gymnasiarchs. They had the right of discipline, which they could exercise on any visitor to the gymnasium, and in token of this they carried a rod; thus we often see on vase pictures, among the gymnasts, men with long sticks, probably meant to represent the gymnasiarchs. In the older period at Athens there was but one gymnasiarch, but afterwards several shared the dignity. We cannot decide how far they also exercised a right of control over the wrestling-schools. Besides the gymnasiarch, or perhaps below him, was a board of officials whose duty it was to see to the preservation of the buildings and of the implements used in the gymnasia, while the general superintendence of the gymnastic exercises, and therefore also of the gymnasia, was exercised by the superintendents mentioned above (page 113), and, as a rule, men somewhat advanced in years were chosen for these posts.

There were other officials who were not so much concerned with the external arrangements of the gymnasia as with the instruction given there. The president of the gymnasium and head of the teachers (κοσμητής) is not mentioned until the late Hellenic and Roman periods; under him were the actual teachers and also those who instructed the ephebi in grammar, rhetoric, and philosophy; but in the classic period no instruction of this kind was given. At that time, however, we find the trainer (γυμναστής) acting as gymnastic teacher to the older youths, whose aim was to prepare themselves for athletic contests, and who intended to enter the lists as professional athletes. As boys were sometimes prepared for such contests, no{123} doubt the trainer sometimes took the place of the ordinary teacher; and again, on the other hand, a competent gymnastic master sometimes undertook the training of athletes. Generally speaking, however, in the older period this distinction was maintained, that the boys’ teacher was concerned chiefly with the general training of the body suitable for everyone, and wrestling on a rational and hygienic basis, while the trainer was a professional teacher, and was more concerned with special subjects than the general harmonious development of the body. Below these teachers stood the rubber (ἀλείπης), whose task was originally a purely mechanical one, but gradually when anointing and rubbing came to be regarded from the hygienic point of view, and were perhaps connected with a kind of massage, his standing improved, and after a time he took a far more important position than belonged to him of right.

In spite of the numerous allusions to the instruction of the ephebi which have come down to us, there is a good deal that is still doubtful or unexplained; as, for instance, in how far the trainers also instructed those ephebi who were not in training for the contests, and whether they were paid for their services by the State or by each pupil individually. Afterwards, at any rate, the ephebi as a rule only paid a fee to the teacher for musical instruction, while the gymnastic teacher seems to have been paid by the State.

As for the subjects of gymnastic instruction, these were in part the same as those in which the boys had already been trained in the gymnastic school, but gradually becoming more difficult, while others were added to them which were usually excluded from the wrestling school—namely, boxing, pancratium, and{124} pentathlum. Besides these there was fencing with heavy weapons (ὁπλομαχία); the fencing was not properly connected with the exercises of the gymnastic tests, but it formed an important part of the military education of the ephebi, and was the more important for these because, when they attained their majority as citizens, they had to spend several years in a kind of garrison and frontier service (περίπολοι). This was a training for military service which the ephebi, like all other citizens capable of bearing arms, had to perform from their twentieth year upwards, and they generally served the State for two years before in the manner above mentioned. Methodical instruction in fencing was originally rather looked down upon, but still was accepted in the curriculum of the ephebi, and in the inscriptions the fencing-master (ὁπλόμαχος) has a regular place beside the other masters. Plato also recommends fencing as strengthening for the body and useful in case of war, but he warns people to avoid all display and professionalism.

In the course of time other exercises in arms were added. Throwing the spear was part of the regular gymnastic training practised even by boys; and in many inscriptions of the last three centuries B.C. mention is made of special teachers (ἀκοντίσται). Shooting with bow and arrows was also learnt, and a teacher for this is mentioned in these inscriptions, as well as one who gave instruction in hurling and in the use of machines for throwing. Probably these purely military exercises were not part of the regular gymnastic curriculum. The same may be said of riding. Every youth had to learn riding, for he had to perform his frontier service on horseback; and at the great festivals, especially the Panathenaea, the troops{125}

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Fig. 76.

of ephebi on horseback formed one of the most conspicuous parts of the procession, and, indeed, they occupy the greater part of the relief on the Parthenon frieze. Fig. 76, taken from a vase painting, represents ephebi racing on horseback; on the left stands a column, no doubt marking the limit of the course. In fact, representations on vase paintings of ephebi on horseback are very common. Still we cannot assume that regular methodical instruction in riding was given in the older period, at any rate not as part of the instruction of youths, though even in the time of Plato there were riding-masters who seem to have understood how to deal with difficult horses. At a later period the president seems to have occupied himself with instruction in riding, but we know no details about this. The Greeks used neither horse-shoes nor stirrups, therefore, unless some stone for mounting happened to be at hand, they had to jump on to their horses, and this they usually did with the help of their lances; saddles were also unknown, but horse-cloths were generally used, and though on the Parthenon frieze and the vase pictures we see the ephebi riding without these, we must regard this as an artistic license, like the absence of the chiton on the same pictures. To ride thus in a procession, clad merely in the chlamys, without any under garment,{126} on a horse without a saddle, would appear a very doubtful pleasure even to the most hardened Athenian youths.

As regards the other exercises not directly included in gymnastics, we may state that swimming was practised from earliest youth, and was regarded as indispensable for everyone, so that it was proverbially said of an absolutely uneducated person that he could neither swim nor say his alphabet. The most celebrated swimmers were the inhabitants of the island of Delos, but the Athenians were also distinguished. There were no special swimming masters; children learnt to swim by themselves or were instructed by their fathers.

Inscriptions also tell us that the Attic ephebi every year made expeditions by sea from the Peiraeus to the harbour of Munychia, and in later times also to Salamis, and these apparently partook of the nature of a regatta. Connected with these, even in the Hellenistic period, were naval contests, so that at that time the ephebi must have had some knowledge of the elements of seafaring, unless these sea-fights bore the character of naval games, and were conducted rather for amusement than for serious military purposes; and this is the more probable as at that period, when Athens had long ago lost its political importance, actual preparations for naval warfare had no special aim for young Athenians.

Finally there were, even in the earlier centuries, exercises in marching in the neighbouring country. These were partly connected with the military position of the ephebi as protectors of the frontier, and they partly aimed at extending their knowledge of localities as well as giving practice in marching and riding. As they sometimes had to march out in heavy armour, and generally bivouacked in hastily-{127}pitched tents, sometimes even in the open air, these marches supplied an excellent opportunity for growing accustomed to the fatigues of military life. It is clear from all this that the instruction of the ephebi bore a half-gymnastic, half-military character, and thus chiefly aimed at physical development; yet, on the other hand, many opportunities were given the young men for further intellectual development. We cannot, of course, determine whether the majority of them took advantage of this, for undoubtedly it was optional, and not immediately connected with their necessary training. However, in the second century B.C. the custom prevailed of letting the presidents of the various gymnasia at Athens see that they were regularly attended.

As regards the subjects of this more advanced instruction, opportunity was certainly given for further study in arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy, as well as music and drawing. After the fourth century the various schools of philosophy which arose at that time, began to take a very important place in the intellectual development of these youths. As early as the fifth century the Sophists gave instruction to young and older men for payment; but after the time of Plato the higher instruction was regularly organised and also given free of charge, and from this time forward it was closely connected with the training of the ephebi, since the gymnasia destined for gymnastic teaching were also used for instruction in philosophy. Plato and his school taught, as is well known, in the Academy; Aristotle and the Peripatetics in the Lyceum; and Antisthenes and the Cynic school in the Cynosarges; the Stoics also originally taught at the Lyceum, but afterwards in the Stoa Poikile (the{128} “painted portico”) near the old Agora; at Athens the Epicurean school only was not connected with any existing gymnasium. This connection, however, between these schools and the gymnasia was merely an external one, and really meant that the ground and gardens belonging to them were situated in the domain of these special gymnasia. However, the fact that the schools possessed a fixed place under the direction of the head for the time being did very much to establish their stability. We must not regard these philosophical schools as higher schools in the modern sense; though each school had a head who had the management in his own hands, and at his death appointed a successor, yet there was no question of an organised scheme of studies or of instruction regularly occupying certain hours of the day, or, indeed, of any of the conditions which could be compared with our modern universities, at any rate not before the period of the Roman Empire. In the fourth century and in the Hellenistic period the instruction merely consisted in a discourse given by the head, or a disputation with his scholars, by means of which the various branches of philosophy and ethics were treated. Practical instruction in rhetoric was also given, sometimes by philosophers, but oftener by celebrated rhetoricians, such as Isocrates, and this training lasted several years. Very often young men prepared themselves in this way for their future career as statesmen or lawyers; and in the Hellenistic period the study of philological grammar began to gain importance, especially in the schools of Alexandria, Pergamum, and Antioch, to which places celebrated teachers attracted numerous pupils. These studies were in no way connected with the regular training of ephebi.{129}

Generally speaking, we may say that the main object of the education of the youths in the best period of Greek antiquity was to train a citizen, capable in body and mind, who should be able to serve his country as well in war as in peace, in a public as in a private capacity, while all special development of any branch of learning, except, of course, the gymnastic element, was excluded. This is the more comprehensible since Greek antiquity was unacquainted with the higher professions in our sense of the word.

There is far less to be said about the education of girls, since no regular instruction was given. The sphere to which women were confined in all the Greek states was the household, and their position, especially in the Ionic states, was so distinctly a subordinate one that it was not considered desirable to give them also regular teaching. In consequence there were no girls’ schools; girls belonging to the better classes were taught a little reading and writing by their mothers or nurses—the women of the lower classes did not learn even this—and, with the addition of some superficial knowledge of religion and mythology, such as could be acquired from stories or by reading the poets, this constituted all the intellectual development which fell to the lot of the girls. Sometimes a little musical instruction was also given, and even in the Ionic states there were some exceptions, since we hear of women of higher intellectual development. As a rule, it was only the hetaerae, whose freer intercourse with men enabled them to gain from them more extensive literary culture; and as a consequence we find that even men of high intellectual powers chose to associate with these persons, and that at Athens, at any rate, the men who desired the stimulus of intercourse with intellectual women, were bound to{130} seek it from this class. The fault was, of course, their own, since the semi-Oriental system of shutting off women from the outer world and degrading them into mere managers of the household, necessarily lowered the average culture of women. Still, it sometimes happened that a man who had married a young open-minded girl contrived to raise her up intellectually to himself, and to develop her powers, as Xenophon has shown in his Oikonomikos.

On the other hand, Greek women appear to have been experienced in feminine arts—such as spinning and weaving, sewing and embroidery, accomplishments which they certainly learnt from their mothers and nurses. No regular instruction was given in them, or in cooking, an art with which Greek women were undoubtedly well acquainted. This system of educating girls did not, however, meet with general approval, for we find that Plato, in his “Laws,” prescribes regular school instruction for girls in the subjects required for women, and also musical and even gymnastic training. These principles were, however, never practically realised at Athens, though elsewhere the conditions may have been different, since an inscription from Teos of somewhat late date makes express mention of instruction given in common to boys and girls.

It was a natural consequence of the very different position occupied by women at Athens and Sparta, that the latter had a very different education from the Athenian women. Though the young Spartan maidens did not, like the boys, associate together in clubs, but remained with their families, yet the State took cognisance of these also, and especially prescribed for them gymnastic training, which was in essentials the same as that given to the boys, though with{131}

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Fig. 77.


corresponding modifications, in order to develop and strengthen their bodies. Of course, they had their own special schools for this purpose, distinct from those of the boys, where they were instructed in running, jumping, wrestling, throwing the spear and quoit, as well as in several exercises in running and springing, which were partly of a military character, partly allied with dancing. For this purpose they wore a special dress; Fig. 77 shows us a female racer from Elis. The statue which is in the Vatican is in the ancient style, and represents a robust girl clad in a short chiton, with a girdle descending only a little way below the hips, and leaving the right breast exposed. This special dress used for gymnastic exercises must not, however, be confused with that in which the Spartan ladies usually appeared, though this, too, as already stated (page 39), differed from the ordinary dress of Greek girls. In spite, however, of this dress, and of the fact that youths and maidens, who in the Ionic states scarcely ever met each other except at religious festivals, were brought into frequent contact at Sparta, especially at public contests, games, choruses, etc., the Spartan women bore an unstained reputation. The system of physical exercises produced healthy women, strongly built, with blooming complexions; and it also implanted and developed in them the manly and determined spirit for which the Laconian women and mothers were distinguished. Yet, even at Sparta, there was no question of intellectual training for the girls; and, indeed, as we have already seen, even in the case of the boys, it was regarded as far less important than physical education.{133}



Love amongst the Greeks—Engagements—Marriage Rites and Ceremonies—The Laconian Custom—Marriage in the Doric States—The Mode of Life of the Athenian Women—Their Personal Habits—The Hetaerae.

The boyhood of the young Athenian was occupied by school and play; his youth was spent in gymnastic exercises, and sometimes also in scientific studies and military labours. When he attained his majority as a citizen, he acquired the right of exercising his political and civic duties, taking part in popular assemblies and other public gatherings; but apparently the young people did not make much use of these privileges when they first entered on their political majority. Besides these occupations there were many others to draw them away from serious duties: pleasant intercourse with companions, drinking bouts, and also the charms of pretty hetaerae, who were easily won to regard with favour anyone possessing a tolerably well-filled purse. And this was all the compensation they had for exclusion from the society of the daughters of citizens; for, with the exception of the hetaerae, and the flute and cithara players who performed at the banquets, women played no part in social intercourse at Athens. There were but few occasions when the girls left the close confinement of the women’s apartments for any kind of publicity, and this custom, which resembled the Oriental, and was probably introduced by the Ionic{134} Greeks from Asia Minor, while the Doric practice was very different, caused one of the greatest wants of Attic life. This is brought forcibly before us in the comedies of the fourth century, the so-called “New Attic Comedy,” in which the basis was usually a love story, which our modern ideas would regard as purely sensual, or even immoral; while love, in the best sense of the word, is never represented. We must not, on this account, suppose that the Greeks were entirely unacquainted with that kind of affection which is based on real inclination, similarity of mind, and recognition of intellectual virtues; in fact, the contrast often emphasised by poets and artists between Aphrodite Urania, as the type of heavenly intellectual love, and Aphrodite Pandemos, as that of sensuous love, must convince us of the contrary; while Greek literature also supplies many examples of pure love in the truest sense of the word, though a strong admixture of the sensuous element was natural, even here, to a passionate southern race.

It was, however, quite unusual for such attachment to begin before marriage, since opportunities for this were wanting. But often, in spite of the conventional mode by which marriages were arranged, this attachment was developed after marriage, and we must not fall into the mistake of judging married life in Greece, or especially at Athens, only from the greatly exaggerated descriptions of Aristophanes, or the sarcastic tirades of misogynists like Euripides. The great majority of the women were not so superficial or so quarrelsome as these poets have represented them, nor the young men, as a rule, so vicious or hostile to marriage as they are depicted in the majority of the New Attic Comedies.

It is true enough, of course, that marriage was{135} usually a matter of contract between the fathers or guardians of the young pair, and not the consequence of affection between the youth and maiden; and this it is which we see in the comedies of Plautus and Terence, who copied Greek originals. Very often the fathers agreed to a marriage between their children; sometimes the arrangements were made by a woman (προμνηστρία) acquainted with the circumstances of the citizens’ families, who made a kind of business of arranging marriages. An important point was equality of fortune; of course, both parties had to be full citizens, but degrees of relationship do not seem to have been any hindrance. The girl’s consent was not asked at all; it was a matter of course that she should accept the husband chosen by her parents, and, as she had no other male acquaintances, objections can very seldom have been made. Generally she was only acquainted with the husband destined for her by seeing him hastily on her walks or at festivals. The destined bridegroom is more likely to have made objections if the appointed bride did not please him; yet here, too, as a rule, the father could have his way, since his son was entirely in his power, unless it so happened that he earned his own living by any profession, which was seldom the case among the better classes. The fathers or guardians then concluded the contract of engagement, in which the bride’s dowry was fixed and special arrangements made for community of goods, return of the dowry in case of a divorce, etc. The Homeric custom, by which it was the bridegroom who brought gifts in order to win a bride, while the father gave his daughter to the one who promised the richest bridal presents, had early fallen into disuse, and probably even in the heroic period it was only customary among noble families. In the{136} historic period a dowry was regarded as an indispensable basis for marriage: so much so that daughters or sisters of poor citizens were often endowed at the expense of generous friends, or poor orphan girls by their guardians; sometimes the State even gave a dowry to the daughters of citizens who had deserved well of their country. The engagement itself was, as a rule, a legal act, which followed the private agreement between the fathers, and was considered an essential preliminary to a legal marriage; it was not, however, a general custom to celebrate this act in a social manner by a banquet. As is usual in southern countries, the girls married very young, sometimes even at the age of fifteen, or earlier; but the period between their sixteenth and twentieth years was probably the usual one for marriage. There seems to have been no distinct limit of age for men, but probably the years between twenty and thirty were those in which most of them entered the married state. We do not know how long a period usually elapsed between the engagement and the marriage; probably there was no definite custom, but we know that very often the wedding immediately followed the engagement. We are likewise unable to say whether, in the case of a long engagement, the bride and bridegroom had any opportunities for meeting each other. The actual wedding usually took place in the winter, and a favourite time was the month Gamelion (the end of January and beginning of February), which hence received its name. Certain days regarded as auspicious were generally chosen, and the waning moon was specially avoided. It is curious, when we compare our own and the Roman customs, to note that, though the wedding received a religious character by sacrifices and other solemn ceremonies, it was{137} not of itself regarded as a religious or legal act. The legality of the marriage depended on the engagement, and the religious consecration was not given by a priest (who took no part, as a rule, in the wedding ceremony), but by the marriage gods, who were invoked by prayer and sacrifice, more especially Zeus and Hera, Apollo, Artemis, and Peitho, the goddess of persuasion. We must now endeavour to form an idea of an Athenian wedding ceremony, as described by Greek writers.

Among the ceremonies bearing a religious character which preceded the wedding, an important part was played by the bath. Both bride and bridegroom took a bath either on the morning of the wedding-day or the day before, for which the water was brought from a river or from some spring regarded as specially sacred, as at Athens the spring Callirhoe (or Enneacrunos), at Thebes the Ismenus; and this water had to be fetched by a boy who was some near relation; sometimes, however, we hear of maidens sent to fetch it. The bride also offered libations and gifts—as, for instance, her toys, locks of hair, and the like—to one of the marriage goddesses. More important was the sacrifice generally celebrated on the wedding-day, but we know few details about the mode of its performance. It was offered to the marriage deities mentioned above, either to all collectively or singly; the families of both bridegroom and bride took part in the ceremony. We do not know of any special directions as to the animals to be sacrificed; it appears to have been the custom to remove the gall of the victim, and not burn it with the rest of the inner parts, and this was supposed to indicate symbolically that all bitterness must be absent from marriage.{138}

Most sacrifices connected with the slaughtering of animals were followed by a festive banquet, at which the flesh of the victims constituted the principal dish, and thus the wedding sacrifice also was followed by a feast, which was generally held at the house of the bride’s father. As this must, according to custom, have taken place in the afternoon, we may assume that the other wedding ceremonies had been performed in the morning. The wedding banquet was one of the few occasions when men and women dined together; this generally occurred only in most intimate family circles, but not when guests were present. The luxury of these wedding banquets seems to have increased so much that the State was at last obliged to limit the number of guests by law. Plato would not have allowed husband and wife to invite more than five friends and five relations each—that is, twenty in all—on any occasion, whether a wedding or otherwise; and a statute of the fourth century B.C. makes thirty the maximum limit for weddings, and instructs the officials who had charge of the women (γυναικόνομοι) to see that this rule is not infringed; and they seem to have carried out their office so strictly that on these occasions they often entered the house, counted the guests, and turned out all who exceeded the legal number. At the banquet, as well as at the sacrifice which preceded it, the bride appeared in all her bridal adornments. Some female relation or friend who took the part of a modern bridesmaid (νυμφευτρíα) undertook to deck the bride and anoint her with costly essences, and dress her in clothes of some fine, probably coloured, material, while special shoes, ribbons, and flowers in the hair were regarded as important, as well as the veil, which was the special mark of the bride, and covered the{139} head, falling low down and partly covering the face. The bridegroom, too, appeared in a festive white dress, which differed from his ordinary clothing chiefly by the fineness of material; he, too, wore a wreath, as did all the other guests at the banquet; but special flowers, supposed to be of fortunate omen, were worn by the bride and bridegroom. We do not hear of any special dishes supplied at weddings, but cakes, to which the Greeks assigned a symbolical connection with festive occasions, played an important part, and in particular cakes of sesame found a place at the wedding banquet. A special custom peculiar to Athens was for a boy, both of whose parents must be alive, to go round wreathed with hawthorn or acorns carrying a basket of cakes, singing, “I fled from misfortune, I found a better lot.”

When the banquet was concluded, according to custom, by libation and prayers, and the night began to set in, the bride was conducted home to the house of the bridegroom. It was only among very poor people that the bride went on foot in this procession; if it was at all possible, she took her place between the bridegroom and the groomsman (παράνυμφος or πáροχος), who was a near relation or intimate friend of the bridegroom, in a carriage drawn by oxen or horses. All the other persons who took part in the procession—that is, all who had been at the banquet, and probably many others as well—went on foot behind the carriage to the sound of harps and flutes, while one went on in front as leader. The bride’s mother occupied the place of honour in the procession, carrying in her hand the bridal torches, kindled at the family hearth, and thus the bride took the sacred fire of her home to her new dwelling. On this account the ancients represented the god of{140} Marriage, Hymen, with a torch as symbol. If other members of the procession also carried torches, that was only in accordance with the custom of using them when going out in the evening; it was only the torches of the bride’s mother that had any symbolical meaning. Meantime the bride’s attendants sang a bridal song, while the procession moved through the streets to the bridegroom’s house. This song is called Hymenaeus, and the following is found at the end of the Birds of Aristophanes:—

“Jupiter, that god sublime,
When the Fates in former time
Matched him with the Queen of Heaven
At a solemn banquet given,
Such a feast was held above,
And the charming god of Love,
Being present in command,
As a bridegroom took his stand
With the golden reins in hand.
Hymen, Hymen, Ho!”[B]

The bridegroom’s mother, also carrying torches, awaited the procession by the bridegroom’s door, which was festively decked with wreaths. A shower of all manner of sweetmeats was poured on the bridal pair, partly in jest and partly to symbolise the rich blessing invoked upon them; nor was the serious work forgotten which now awaited the young wife in her new position: a pestle for bruising the corn grains was hung up near the bridal chamber, to remind her of her duties as head of the household, and it was an ancient Athenian custom for the bride herself to carry some household implement in the procession, as, for instance, a sieve or a vessel for roasting. Another symbolical custom, supposed also{141} to date from an ordinance of Solon, was for the bride, after her arrival in her new home, to eat a quince, which, like the pomegranate, was supposed to be a symbol of fruitfulness.

The bridegroom’s mother then attended the bridal pair to the thalamus or bridal chamber, where the richly-decked, flower-strewn marriage couch was prepared. When all the guests had gone away the bridegroom locked the door, and while the bride unveiled herself to him for the first time, the youths and maidens outside sang another song—either a few verses of the Hymenaeus or an Epithalamium, accompanied with praises of the married pair, and also doubtless by some jesting personal allusions. The Epithalamium of Helen, in Theocritus, begins thus:—

“Slumberest so soon, sweet bridegroom?
Art thou over-fond of sleep?
Or hast thou leaden-weighted limbs?
Or hadst thou drunk too deep
When thou didst fling thee to thy lair?
Betimes thou shouldst have sped,
If sleep were all thy purpose,
Unto thy bachelor’s bed,
And left her in her mother’s arms
To nestle and to play,
A girl among her girlish mates,
Till deep into the day:—
For not alone for this night,
Nor for the next alone,
But through the days and through the years
Thou hast her for thine own.”

And it ends thus:—

“Sleep on, and love and longing
Breathe in each other’s breast;
But fail not, when the morn returns,
To rouse you from your rest:
With dawn shall we be stirring,{142}
When, lifting high his fair
And feathered neck, the earliest bird
To clarion to the dawn is heard.
O God of brides and bridals,
Sing ‘Happy, happy pair!’[C]

Very often the young men, before setting out homewards, amused themselves by knocking and banging at the door of the bridal chamber, though a friend of the bridegroom’s kept watch there, ostensibly to prevent the maidens from going in to their married comrade. The last lines of the above-quoted epithalamium show that the chorus sometimes returned early next morning to greet the pair on their awakening.

On the morning after the wedding, the newly-married pair received visits and congratulations from their relations and friends. The husband presented his young wife with gifts, and so also did the visitors, but this ceremony sometimes did not take place till the second day after the wedding; for a curious custom existed (only at Athens, however) for the husband on the day after the wedding to move into his father-in-law’s house, and there spend a night apart from his wife; she then sent him a new garment, whereupon he returned to her. With the wedding presents the dowry was often presented, along with various objects belonging to the trousseau, such as jars, ointments, sandals, toilette implements, etc. The wedding festivities were then concluded by a banquet given either by the bridegroom’s father in his house or by the bridegroom himself; but it does not appear that there were any women present on this occasion. Still, this banquet was of a certain importance for the young wife; at Athens it was connected with her formal admission among the clansmen{143} to whom the bride now belonged by her marriage. Every tribe (φυλή) at Athens was divided into three clans (φρáτραι), each of these into thirty households (γένη); the members of the clans examined into the purity of descent of citizens, and every new-born child had to be entered in their register. This ceremony gave a sort of official, or at any rate public, legitimation to the marriage.

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Fig. 78.

Among the monuments which have been preserved to us, there are several which refer to marriage; but, as a rule, they adhere to a mythological form, and do not represent a real scene from daily life. Thus, for instance, we often see the bridal pair driving in a car, but those who attend them are the Marriage gods in person, especially Apollo and Artemis, and when the presentation of marriage gifts to the newly-wedded pair is represented, it is usually the celebrated couple, Peleus and Thetis, that we see depicted, while those who offer them the gifts are gods, such as Hephaestus and the Horae, etc.{144} The vase painting, which is here given as Fig. 78, also bears a mythological character, though it, no doubt, adheres very closely to the forms of reality. It represents the arrival of the bride at the bridegroom’s house. The latter stands leaning on a spear (which, however, must be an heroic attribute, and not customary at marriages in the historic period) before the door of his house. On the left comes the bride, who is recognised by the veil covering her head. She approaches with a hesitating step, and the bridesmaid attending her is pushing her gently forward with both hands, while the groomsman, who goes before her, holds her left hand. Apollo, with his laurel staff, and Artemis, with quiver and bow, are gazing sympathetically at the bride; in front of them a woman, either the match-maker or the bride’s mother, holds out both her arms to welcome the bridegroom.

Of course, marriage customs differed considerably in the various Greek states, as is proved by many allusions. Strangest of all seems the Laconian custom, which points clearly to marriage by capture; a custom of great antiquity, mentioned in many legends (as, for instance, that of the Dioscuri and the daughters of Leucippus). No mention is made here of a real marriage celebration; the bridegroom carried off his bride, who must, however, have previously been betrothed to him by her father, from her parents’ house, and in his own dwelling handed her over to the charge of some middle-aged woman (νυμφευτρíα), who was either a relation or an intimate friend. During his absence at the common dining table, to which all Spartan citizens and youths went every day, this woman cut off the bride’s hair, dressed her in male dress, with men’s shoes, and left her lying in the dark on some straw. Then, when the bridegroom{145} returned, he unloosed the bride’s girdle and carried her in his arms to the bridal chamber. Curiously enough, the appearance of secrecy was kept up for some time longer; the young husband continued to live with the other young citizens, and only visited his wife occasionally in secret. Similar practices prevailed also at Crete. We do not, however, know how long these strange customs continued in the Doric states.

In considering the position of women in relation to men and in the household, we must allow for the differences between the heroic and historic periods, and also between the Doric and the Ionic-Attic states. Of the Aeolian states we know very little. In the heroic period, as far as we can gather from the Homeric poems, women occupied an important position, in many respects equal to that of the men. Heroic times, like the rest of Greek antiquity, were only acquainted with monogamy; polygamy is an entirely Oriental custom. Still, it was by no means unusual in olden times for princes and nobles to have a number of concubines, who were either slaves or female captives, besides their own lawful wives, who were sprung of noble family. In fact, the idea of conjugal fidelity held good only for the female portion of the population, while the men were absolutely free to act as they pleased. Undoubtedly there were cases in which husband and wife were so well suited together that the men resisted all temptations to infidelity; among these we may include Hector, Laertes, and Odysseus, in spite of the amours of this last with Circe and Calypso. Whenever we obtain a closer insight into the conditions of married life, as in the case of Hector and Andromache, Odysseus and Penelope, the impression received is a favourable one. There is{146} even a vein of true affection perceptible, which is generally absent from ancient conceptions of marriage.

In the heroic age women were chiefly occupied with household management and female accomplishments, while they plied their tasks with their attendants in the women’s apartments; but their life was not one of such absolute retirement as that of the Oriental harems. On some occasions they associated with men, and took part in their sacrifices and banquets; and though they never went out unattended, yet a good deal of liberty must have been allowed the young girls, to judge from the story of Nausicaa, who went down to the sea-shore to wash the clothes.

In the historic age, the Doric states bear the closest analogy to heroic times in their marriage customs. Here, too, we find the same undisguised assumption that marriage existed for the sake of rearing children; and, in fact, the laws of Lycurgus permitted a man to transfer his conjugal rights for a time to another, if his childlessness imperilled the existence of the family. In spite—or, perhaps, on account—of this custom, infidelity was very rare at Sparta, even among the men, and the institution of hetaerae never gained ground there. Concubinage, which was very common in the heroic age, fell into disuse during historic times, but, except at Sparta, it was really discontinued only in name. The domestic relations between husband and wife more closely resembled our own at Sparta than in the Ionic-Attic states. Even at Sparta the household was the centre around which the woman’s life revolved, but she was not degraded into a mere housekeeper; a Spartan addressed his wife as “Mistress” (δέσποινα), made her the partner of his interests, and consulted her about{147} matters of importance. This seemed so strange to the other Greek states that they were inclined to regard the Spartan husbands as henpecked, which was by no means the case; but there is no doubt that Spartan history can boast of far more remarkable women and admirable mothers than Athenian. The strong patriotism of the Spartan women which triumphed over gentler feelings is sometimes a little unattractive to our modern sentiments, but, in any case, these women command our fullest respect.

The position of women in the Ionic states bears a more Oriental character, and here it is the wife who addresses the husband as “Master.” The Athenian regarded his wife as a subordinate being, who would bear him children and keep his house in order, but was incapable of rising beyond this sphere. A woman must keep silence about all political matters, and, as a rule, she was not even acquainted with her husband’s private affairs. The husband was very seldom at home; public life, professional duties, gymnastics, social intercourse, kept him from his family during the greater part of the day; at meals they met together, except when the husband had invited guests, and then the wife had to withdraw into retirement. As a rule, husband and wife hardly knew each other before marriage; it was not till afterwards that it was possible to discover whether their characters were suited to one another, and then it often turned out that these were quite incompatible. Then they went their own ways, or else jarred and quarrelled. Sometimes a sensible man succeeded in educating and raising to his own level a really intelligent wife, to whom he could communicate his plans and interests, and thus make her his partner in the true sense of the word; but this was the exception, and, as{148} a rule, the spheres of husband and wife remained distinct. Moreover, the ever-increasing influence of the hetaerae did much to loosen the bonds of marriage. It was a very common thing for married men to visit hetaerae or enter into love intrigues with slaves; and, as a rule, the wives shut their eyes to it, so long as some regard was shown for appearances. If a married man were to take an hetaera into his own house, that would be a ground of divorce; but unmarried men very often kept mistresses, and the relation between them sometimes closely resembled marriage. Supposing a man were to neglect his own family too much through this intercourse, or, by spending his money in this way, to inflict an injury on them, the wife, if she possessed the full rights of citizenship, had the right to enter a complaint. Improper language in the presence of women was not permitted, and no stranger was allowed to enter the women’s apartments during the absence of the husband. The children were bound to the most absolute obedience and reverence to both father and mother.

Generally speaking, the law afforded a woman but little protection from her husband; infidelity on his part did not entitle her to a divorce. On the other hand, the strictest fidelity was required from the wife; but, in spite of the seclusion in which she lived, infidelity was by no means uncommon, since there were always plenty of obliging slaves ready to help their mistress in these matters. In most Greek states the offenders were punished by the loss of certain rights, and the husband was not only justified in demanding a divorce, but even morally bound to do so if his wife’s wrong-doing had been noised abroad. The law took no steps to punish the lover; but the{149} husband had the right to inflict corporal punishment on him, or even, if he caught him in the act, to kill him, unless, indeed, he preferred to seek compensation for his shame in a money fine. In case of divorce, too, the woman was worse off than the man. In consequence of the loose relation of the marriage-tie, it was very easy to break it. A husband could dismiss his wife or send her back to her parents, or the woman could simply leave her husband’s house, and this was usually enough to annul the marriage. In the latter case the wife was obliged to lodge a complaint against her husband in person with the archon, as there were certain legal matters connected with the divorce, chiefly concerning the dowry; as a rule, if the husband sent away his wife without sufficient reason, he had to give back the dowry to her or her legal representative (father, brother, or guardian), unless the cause of the divorce was infidelity which had been clearly proved against the wife. But though there is an appearance of justice here, in reality the man had the advantage; for it was only the most cogent reasons that would induce a woman voluntarily to leave her husband, while the man often arbitrarily put away his wife for the most trivial reasons; moreover, as a woman was always politically a minor, and if she left her husband could not go on living by herself, she was obliged to return to a state of tutelage under her father, or, if he were no longer living, her brother or legal guardian. Many a woman would rather endure the most cruel treatment from her husband than return thus to her father’s house.

The life of Athenian women was entirely devoted to domestic affairs. The part of the house set aside for the wife and children, and afterwards for the{150} grown-up daughters and the female slaves, was generally separate from the rest of the dwelling; and a Greek writer says that, as the door which separates the women’s apartments from the rest of the house is the boundary set for a maiden, so the door which shuts the house off from the street must be the boundary for the wife. We must not, however, suppose that Greek women were entirely shut off from publicity. The wives of poorer citizens, whose circumstances were, of course, quite different from those of the upper classes, went out of doors often enough. Some were compelled to do so by their occupation, and others, who had few or no slaves at their disposal, were obliged to go out every day to purchase food and other necessaries of life.

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Fig. 79.

It was very common for women to fetch water from the public wells, and to have a little chat there; but in rich houses this duty of fetching the water naturally{151} fell to the slaves. We find allusions to these expeditions to the well in legends and in real life; and they are often represented on monuments, especially vase paintings. Fig. 79 gives an example of the kind taken from a vase painting in the antique style. On the left we see the well, surmounted by a Doric portico; the water is flowing from a lion’s mouth into a jug (ύδρíα) placed beneath it; the woman who has come to fill her vessel stands waiting beside it. On the right we see other women conversing in pairs; two have already filled their jars, and are carrying them on their heads, supported by a little cushion, according to the pretty custom which still prevails widely in the south; the vessels of the two others have not yet been filled, as we can tell from their position.

Women of the better classes only went out attended by a servant or slave, and then but seldom. A respectable woman stayed at home as much as possible; in fact, the symbol of domestic life was a tortoise, a creature which never leaves its house, and was regarded as an attribute of Aphrodite Urania. In consequence, the women liked to linger by the windows of the upper storey, the one generally used for their apartments, in order to look down on the street, which afforded many women the only entertainment and change they had in the day’s occupations. There were no common meetings for them as there were for men. They visited one another occasionally, and there were a few festivals in the year to which they went without the men, and then the proceedings seem to have been very lively, as for instance, at the Thesmophoria. The women drove in their finest clothes to the Eleusinian celebrations, and they also took part in the Panathenaea, on which{152} occasion the daughters of the resident foreigners (μέτοικοι) carried their chairs and sunshades behind them. In general, it appears as though more liberty had been gradually granted women in the matter of appearance in public, though this liberty did not extend in Greece as far as at Alexandria in the time of the Ptolemies, when Theocritus, in one of his idylls, represents two citizens’ wives, attended by their servants, penetrating into the densest crowd on the occasion of the Festival of Adonis. The manifold contradictions which we find in the ancient writers regarding the public appearance of women which have called forth so many various opinions among the learned of the present day, must be attributed in part to differences of period and, in part, to differences of locality.

Notwithstanding this, everywhere and always in antiquity a woman’s sphere was supposed to be the household, and when the family and the number of slaves was large, this charge required a good deal of strength and attention. Not only had all the food to be prepared for the household, but also the clothing had to be provided for all its members; for it was very unusual for any woman, who had numerous slaves at her disposal, to purchase stuffs or clothes ready-made. They therefore spent a great part of the day with their daughters and maids in a specially appointed part of the house, where the looms were set up. Here, in the first place, the wool, which was bought in a rough condition, was prepared for working, by washing and beating, then fulled and carded, disagreeable occupations which, on account of the exertion required, were usually left to the maids. The wool thus prepared for working was then put in {153}large work-or spinning-baskets (κáλαθοι or τáλαροι),

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Fig. 80.

and we often see these on monuments which represent scenes from a woman’s life. A statue of Penelope, the prototype of an industrious woman, of which several replicas have come down to us, represents a spinning-basket under her chair. The spinning-wheel was unknown to antiquity, but the distaff and spindle were used exactly as they still are in the south. (Compare the representation from a vase painting in Fig. 80.) The woman here represented is seated{154}

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Fig. 81.

(sometimes we find women walking or standing as they spin); she holds up the distaff in her left hand; in front of her is a stand, on which wool or flax seems to be fastened ready to fill the distaff afresh. For weaving they used an upright loom of tolerably simple construction, but yet suited for weaving heavy materials and elaborate patterns. Such an one is represented on Fig. 81, from a vase picture of Penelope at the loom. We can recognise on the already finished material, an ornamental border and various figured patterns interwoven. The construction of the loom is only superficially indicated, and has therefore been explained in many different ways, into which we cannot at present enter. Fig. 82, taken from a vase painting, represents a number of women, of whom some are occupied with feminine work and others with their toilet. On the left we see a woman holding a spinning-basket in her left hand; further to the right a second woman is seated on an easy chair (καθέδρα),{155} holding an embroidery frame, on which a piece of material is stretched, while a third woman stands near, watching her. Further to the right is a fourth, who is drawing up the folds of her dress, and probably about to fasten her girdle. The woman sitting next her on the easy chair holds an object in front of her which is not quite distinct—possibly a mirror, represented in profile, in which she is looking at herself; near her stands a maid, holding in her right hand a pot of ointment, in the left some undetermined object, perhaps a pin-cushion.

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Fig. 82.

The fulling of the woven materials was not undertaken at home, since it{156} was a difficult operation and required special arrangements; it was done by the fuller, to whom any soiled cloth garments were also sent. Simple woollen clothes, as well as linen garments, were, of course, washed at home.

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Fig. 83.

The charming description in the “Odyssey” of Nausicaa, who goes with her companions to the sea-shore to wash the clothes, is well known; doubtless similar scenes might be seen in later times, even though no king’s daughter took part in them, and no god-like hero alarmed the maidens by his unexpected appearance. Fig. 83 represents a vase picture, showing how an artist of the fifth century imagined that scene in Phaeacia, according to the analogy of his own time. On the left side of the picture, not represented here, stand Odysseus and Athene, and several articles{157} of clothing are hanging up to dry on the branches of a tree; on the right, which is here represented, some girls are engaged in hanging out the clothes. The finished, or newly-washed, clothes were then carefully folded and laid in chests, since wardrobes for hanging up dresses, such as we have, seem to have been unknown.

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Fig. 84.

The vase picture represented in Fig. 84 shows us two women occupied in folding some kind of embroidered garment; on the left another woman is turning round to look at them; on the floor stand a chair and a chest, on the wall hang a mirror and a garment.

Notwithstanding these numerous domestic occupations, the women seem to have had sufficient time to devote to their toilet. In spite of the few opportunities they had of appearing elegantly dressed before strange men, or their own friends, Greek women seem to have been no exception to their sex{158}

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Fig. 85.


in their fondness for dress and fine clothes. Considerable attention was devoted to the care of the body. Washing and bathing were, of course, very common. Scenes from the bath are often represented on monuments; especially we often find in sculpture or painting representations of Aphrodite, or some beautiful mortal, stooping down while a maid pours water over her back from a jar. In the vase picture represented in Fig. 85, next to which a scene from the toilet is depicted, one woman is pouring water into a basin, while another has disrobed, and is arranging her hair before a mirror. We must suppose the locality of these scenes to have been a special bathroom, which was always found in the better class of houses on the lower storey.

The usual morning wash was performed in large basins standing on high feet, or sometimes at the well itself, which was situated in the courtyard of a house; women of the lower classes probably washed at one of the public wells. On a picture representing the Judgment of Paris, of which some figures are represented in Fig. 86, a vase painter naïvely represents Athene thus performing her toilet before presenting herself to the judge; she is holding both hands under the water flowing from the fountain, evidently intending to wash her face; she has carefully drawn her dress between her knees in order to keep the water from it. There were also large public baths for women, but ancient authorities tell us very little about their construction and use; still, notices here and there in writing, or on monuments, enable us with certainty to assert their existence. The vase painting, Fig. 87, gives a wonderfully vivid picture of one of these public baths for women. It is a hall, supported by Doric columns, covered to the height of{160}

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Fig. 86.


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Fig. 87.


about a foot with water, which is always flowing fresh from the heads of animals below the capitals of the pillars; probably the water was led through the pipes passing from column to column, on which the women have hung their clothes. The women, with their hair plaited in single braids to prevent it getting wet, are standing under the douches and letting the water pour over their head, back, arms, and legs, while they rub themselves with their hands. We cannot tell whether women of the better classes also went to these public baths; in any case, the middle classes, who probably had no bathrooms of their own, formed the greater part of the attendance.

Bathing was accompanied by anointing and rubbing with oils or other fragrant essences; this, too, we often find represented on monuments, where a lady herself makes use of a little oil-flask (λήκυθος), or an attendant rubs her body with it. In fact, rich women always had a slave who acted as lady’s-maid to help them at their toilet, and on the many toilet scenes depicted on the Greek vases we seldom see women dressing without assistance. Thus, in Fig. 88 (Frontis.), two women are helping a third to dress; the mistress stands in the middle, and is about to fasten her girdle, and, in order not to be hindered by the falling folds of her chiton, she is holding the tip in her mouth; in front of her stands an attendant holding a mirror; another woman standing behind her, apparently rather a friend than a slave, holds a jewel casket in the left hand, and with the right hands a pearl necklace taken from it to the lady. On Attic Stelai we very commonly find a lady represented with her lady’s-maid and jewel casket. The use of the mirror is also a favourite subject in works of art, especially connected with the arrangement of the hair and veil Thus, in{163}

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Fig. 89.

Fig. 86, we find that even Hera, before showing herself to Paris, finds it necessary, with the help of her hand-mirror, to make some slight alteration in her veil. A similar scene is depicted by the pretty terra-cotta from Tanagra (Fig. 89). Fig. 90 represents{164}

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Fig. 90.

a lady fully dressed, perhaps a bride, attended by two lady’s-maids, one of whom holds an open jewel casket before her, in order that she may choose something more out of it, in spite of the fact that she is so carefully veiled that all ornament seems superfluous. Besides these toilet scenes, Fig. 91 represents a vase picture giving other scenes from the life of women, which, however, have not yet been clearly interpreted. The woman represented here is seated on a chair, her right leg is uncovered, and the foot is placed on a curious rest; in her hand she holds a bandage, as though she intended to fasten it round her foot. Another woman stands and looks on; a spinning-basket and a stool are also included in the picture. It is impossible to say{165} whether this should also be regarded as a toilet scene.

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Fig. 91.

Greek women made use of many cosmetics for their toilet. They not only anointed their bodies with fragrant essences and their hair with sweet-scented oils and pomades, but the practice of rougeing was also a very common one. The Spartan women, whose healthy complexions were celebrated, probably made little use of it; but the ancient writers supply sufficient testimony to its commonness at Athens.{166} This practice probably originated in the East, and its great popularity among the women of the Ionic-Attic race is probably due to the fact that want of fresh air and exercise gave them a pale, sickly complexion, and they therefore considered it necessary to improve it artificially, though it were only to please their own husbands. They supplied the tender colouring of forehead and chin with white lead, the redness of their cheeks with cinnabar, fucus, and bugloss, or other (usually vegetable) dyes; there was a special flesh tint used for painting below the eyes. The eyebrows were dyed with black paint, which was made of pine blacking or pulverised antimony, and dyeing the hair was quite common as early as the fifth century B.C., and by no means unusual even among men. The rouge was put on either with the finger or a little brush. In vain the poets, especially the comic writers, aimed the sharpest arrows of their wit at this evil practice; in vain they described in drastic colours how, in the heat of summer, two little black streams poured down from the eyes over the face, while the red colour from the cheeks ran down to the neck; and the hair falling over the forehead was dyed green by the white lead. The best cure would doubtless have been found, if every man had been as sensible as the young husband described in Xenophon’s story alluded to above (p. 130), who cured his wife of rougeing by representing to her the absurdity of this practice, showing her how impossible it was for a woman to deceive her own husband in this way, since the truth might come to light at any moment. He also advised his wife not to spend the whole day in her room, but to move about the house, superintend the servants’ work, help the housekeeper, and herself lend a hand in kneading the dough, and other such{167} occupations, while supplying exercise for herself by shaking out and folding up the clothes. Then she would have a better appetite for her meals, be in better health, and naturally have a better complexion. But such sensible husbands were rare, and probably all the women were not so obedient as the wife of Ischomachus.

We do not intend to penetrate any further into the toilet mysteries of Greek ladies, but, instead, will give our readers a representation of a vase picture equally remarkable for fineness of drawing and variety in the scenes represented. (Fig. 92.) It is the decoration of a lid of some terra-cotta jar or box, and was probably used for cosmetic purposes. Here we see a large number of girls, most of whom are occupied with their toilet. In spite of the modesty of their dress and behaviour, it does not seem probable that we are here obtaining an insight into a family dwelling; the numerous little Cupids represented, and also the presence of a young man, lead us to suppose that we see hetaerae before us. The young man is leaning against the seat of a richly-clad lady, who appears somewhat more matronly than the others; she holds an open jewel casket in her hand, from which she is about to take some object. The young man is leaning on a stick, at the end of which a Cupid is climbing up in play. If we follow the view of L. Stephani, in regarding this woman as the superintendent of the girls, he is probably right in his further interpretation, that the youth has given the casket to this lady in order to win her favour and access to the girls. To the left of this group we find a girl holding a hand mirror before her, apparently about to arrange her hair, as she is holding one hand up, but this might also be interpreted as a gesture of pleased surprise at her{168}

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Fig. 92.

appearance. Next to her is an attendant helping a girl arrange her head-dress; both her hands are occupied with it, while the girl bends her head a little forward, and in her hands already holds the necklace which she is going to put on. Two Cupids stand beside her, one carrying some indistinct object, perhaps a tympanum, the other apparently holding two bracelets. On an easy-chair, under which appears a bird, perhaps a duck, a girl is sitting holding an open casket, out of which a woman, standing in front{169} of her, has taken some fine material, or a veil, which she is now unfolding. Between the two, on the ground stands an incense-burner (θυμιατήριον), next a Cupid holding an oil-flask in his hands. A richly-dressed woman leans against a terminal figure of the bearded Dionysus, bending a branch into a wreath with both hands; in front stands a dog, looking up at her. Further to the left a girl is sitting on a stool, while an attendant is arranging her hair; she has placed both hands on her knees, and is sitting quite quietly while the other, to judge from the posture of her left hand, appears to be saying something to her; the Cupid, kneeling on the ground, is fastening the sandals of the seated girl; an incense-burner stands beside them. Next them stands a woman with richly-dressed hair; her right hand hangs down and holds a mirror; at her feet is some object whose meaning is not clear. Still further we see a little table on three goat-shaped feet, at which two girls are sitting opposite one another, one on an easy-chair, the other on a simpler seat; under the easy-chair is a cage with a little bird. We cannot determine the occupation of the girls who have placed their hands on the table, while one of them holds some indistinct object in her left hand—probably they are playing some game; above them hovers a Cupid with a wreath of leaves; near him we observe a beautifully ornamented little chest. The last of these female figures stands in front of a washing basin, in which she has placed both hands, probably to wash them, rather than, as Stephani supposes, in order to wash some object in the basin; for a domestic occupation such as the washing of any garment would not be appropriate to the rest of the scenes. On the ground stands a beautifully-shaped water-jar.

It would not be easy to pass judgment on Greek{170} women in general, as differences of race have considerable influence. Nor can we place much confidence in our literary authorities, least of all in Aristophanes, who says in the Thesmophoriazusae that the men could place no trust whatever in their wives, and were obliged to keep them under lock and key, and keep Molossian hounds on purpose to frighten away their lovers, while they deprived them even of the keys of the storeroom. This is, of course, exaggerated invention, as is also the statement that all the suspicion of the women is due to the calumnies of Euripides. The poets of the Old Comedy directed the arrows of their wit only at women of ill fame; and the Newer Attic Comedy chooses most of its heroines from among the hetaerae (though a favourite dénoûment was the discovery that these were really long-lost legitimate daughters of citizens); and consequently the women are generally treated from their worst side, and the men represented as poor victims. The aim of comedy, which is to provoke laughter, is more easily attained by the representation of characters whose morality is not unimpeachable; and it would be equally unfair in our own time to form a picture of modern morals based on the representations of the stage. Undoubtedly, the Athenian women were far inferior to the Spartan in morality, and in some towns—especially Corinth and Byzantium—female morality seems to have been at a very low ebb; but we must not on that account condemn all Greek women indiscriminately. One reproach is too often heard, and too clearly proved to be discredited, and that is inclination to drink. This vice was so common that in some places women were actually forbidden to drink wine, and it was this that sometimes compelled husbands to take the keys from their wives.{171}

We cannot close this section without a word on that class of women who sold their favours to any who would pay the price for them. The Greeks euphemistically called these hetaerae (ἑταῖραι), female companions. They seem to have been unknown in the heroic age, but in historic times they were found almost everywhere, and association with them was so common that it was hardly a cause of reproach even to married men. The law regarded their existence as not only a matter of course, but even as necessary, and the State promoted the establishment of houses for them. There were many such at all the ports, and many large manufacturing or trading cities, such as Corinth, obtained a distinct reputation on this account; though at the same time it was often said that a stay there was both dangerous and expensive. Besides these public establishments, the visitors to which paid a fixed entrance fee, the amount of which varied according to the elegance of the house, there were also private establishments of a somewhat different character. These were kept by a man or woman, sometimes an old hetaera, whose property the girls in the house became, by being bought direct as slaves or obtained in some other way. Many of these poor girls had been exposed in their infancy, and brought up by the owners of these houses, who repaid themselves for the cost of nurture by the income thus brought in. Such girls were often the heroines of comedies, and in the end were happily united to their lovers. The flute-girls, who played at the symposia, were also often kept in such houses, and their owners not only provided rich and elegant clothing, but also spent much money on their education, and especially on the training of their musical talents, which enabled them to earn higher pay.{172}

But far the greater part of the hetaerae lived alone, and every large town possessed a number of these women, who were classed in different grades according to their education. Some of them were rich women, owning large numbers of slaves; their fame spread through the whole of Greece, and their rooms were crowded by men of the first rank in politics, literature, and art; great artists vied in representing them in bronze and marble, and their fame has descended even to our own times. Among all these, the most celebrated was the older Aspasia, the friend of Pericles, a woman of the highest intellectual endowments and most cultivated taste, who attracted men rather by the power of her intellect than of her charms. Other celebrated hetaerae, such as Laïs and Phryne, owe their renown, which has descended even to the present day, chiefly to their extraordinary beauty and the numerous anecdotes current about their life and also about their greed for money, and shameless character. These hetaerae, who thus lived by themselves, were either freed women or foreigners; some of them are not unattractive characters, whose wit and grace may easily have attracted even men of note, while others were mere courtesans, covetous, superficial, and dress-loving.

In order to understand the possibility of their social intercourse with men of unblemished reputation, and the fact that these girls played a part in Greek literature almost more important than that of honest women, we must bear in mind the slight education and retired life of the Greek women. Even this can hardly account for the permission granted to a hetaera like Phryne to dedicate her statue by Praxiteles at Delphi, or her venturing to bathe in the sea, completely naked, like an Aphrodite Anadyomene,{173} in the presence of numerous admiring spectators. We can only explain this by remembering the intense Hellenic love of beauty, apart from the considerations of morality, which looked on a beautiful human body as a divine work demanding adoration, which made it possible to forget the moral weaknesses inherent in it. At Corinth, in the temple of Aphrodite, more than a thousand temple slaves (ίερόδουλοι) were maintained, who were regarded as in the service of the goddess, and this conception of love as worship was very common throughout the East. But although much was openly done in ancient times which would be concealed at the present day, it would be a mistake to suppose that the position occupied by these women was a really honourable one.

Although there was no official control kept over them, yet they were not left absolutely free; in most towns they had to pay a tax to the State. Later writers have maintained, but with what accuracy is uncertain, that a special dress was prescribed for them; probably they were only distinguished from other women by conspicuous bright clothing and more elaborate dress. The legal protection generally accorded to women in case of wrongful treatment, could naturally not be claimed by them, and a hetaera who had a child could not claim from its father money for its support. In fact, the lot of the majority was at best but gilded misery, and many ended their days in extreme poverty.

Greek art is very rich in scenes from the life of hetaerae; many have been already represented here (compare Figs. 17 and 17), and others will follow. We must face the fact that the very period which is renowned in Greek literature and art as that of the greatest splendour, was a time, also, of moral rottenness.{174} Where there is much light we must expect much shade; and in modern art, too, the highest development of painting and sculpture was contemporaneous with the religious and moral degeneracy of the Middle ages; indeed, the Rome of Alexander VI. and Leo X. was probably far more immoral than the Athens of Pericles.{175}



At Sparta—At Athens—Chronology—Sun-dials—Breakfast—Morning Occupations—Lunch—The Afternoon—Warm Baths—Dinner—Amusements—The Gymnasia—Greek Hospitality.

A picture of the daily life of the Greeks must of necessity be subject to various changes according to time and place. Life in the sixth century B.C. was different from that in the fourth; the daily occupation and the mode of life of a Spartan differed from those of an Athenian or Theban; and again, the rich and free citizen spent his time in a very different way from the small artisan or countryman, who was dependent on the work of his own hands.

There is very little to say about the heroic period, and we cannot form any complete picture of it. Homer describes only the life of the nobles, but he does not tell us how they spent their time when they were not fighting, though this was a very common occupation, owing to the numerous feuds and predatory expeditions against their neighbours. It is not likely that the princes and nobles spent all their time at festive banquets, delighting in plentiful food and drink, and listening to the songs of the bard, though there are many passages in Homer which might lead us to suppose so. No doubt the pleasures of the feast and of wine were held in very high estimation in the heroic period, yet serious and respectable citizens can hardly have spent their whole day in luxurious{176} idleness, like the wooers of Penelope, who daily feasted at the expense of others. Laertes, who, even in his old age, worked in his garden, was far more typical of the Homeric noble, who was in reality only a landed proprietor on a large scale, and devoted the greater part of his time to agricultural pursuits, himself often taking active part in them. He was also occupied with gymnastic exercises, and occasionally by political duties, such as attendance at the popular assemblies which concerned the interests of the country. But the great mass of the people, as opposed to the few members of the nobility, occupied themselves chiefly with agriculture and cattle rearing, and, to a small extent, with handicrafts which were but slightly developed at this time, when many things were imported from other countries, and others chiefly made at home. Of course they all had to attend their Prince as vassals in case of war, and in consequence there must have been military training for the lower classes, even in time of peace. Apart, however, from military details, we learn nothing from Homer about the life of these classes of society, and very little about that of the nobility, for his description of the life of the Phaeacians bears only a very partial analogy to Greek circumstances at that time, since the poet desires to represent this people as specially fortunate beyond others. We may, therefore, forsake the misty domain of legend and turn to those ages which are enlightened for us by writers, though even there we shall find many gaps unfilled.

It is a natural consequence of the nature of our authorities that, even in historic times, the descriptions of authors present us principally with a reflection of life in towns, and especially large towns or capitals. At the present day life in large towns differs in many{177} essential respects from that in small ones, and even more from that in the country; and doubtless, even in antiquity, there were strong contrasts, though, perhaps, less clearly marked than in modern times. In large towns, too, there were many differences due to the character of the race and the nature of the town itself; the life of a citizen in a large trading city must have been very different from that at a place where there was very little trade, and the interest of the inhabitants was centred in agriculture. But of all this in reality we know very little.

The life of the Spartan citizens was the most regular and uniform, and this in consequence of the fixed and severe demands made on them by the State. Their dwellings, though large and roomy, were of the simplest description, and in other respects, too, the life of the Dorians was distinguished by simplicity, yet even here refinements of life gradually gained ground, and in the Dorian colonies often went so far as to produce effeminacy. Life at Sparta itself adhered longest to its primitive simplicity. Here, too, the old Dorian custom of common meals, called Syssitia or Pheiditia, prevailed longest; a Spartan took his meals, not with his family, but with other companions, usually connected by relationship. They were small parties of about fifteen men, who clubbed together for this purpose; each contributed his appointed share to the expenses of the meal, partly in kind (especially barley, wine, cheese, figs, or dates), partly in money for the purchase of meat. This last was, however, supplied in part by the frequent sacrifices, and also by hunting, for the custom prevailed of contributing additional gifts now and then, apart from the legal contribution: sometimes some game or wheaten bread, instead of the usual barley bread, or{178} poultry, young cattle, fruits, etc., according to opportunity or season. The notorious “black broth,” which played a great part at these meals, was not so much soup as a solid meat dish with broth, and though simple and easily prepared, was probably not as bad as it seemed to the dainty palates of the other Greeks. These common meals, though by no means luxurious, were not in any sense meagre; and though plentiful drinking after the meal was not as customary at Sparta as in other places, yet every guest had his cup beside him filled with mixed wine, and as soon as it was empty it was filled up again by the cup-bearer. The intercourse among these men was cheerful and free; they discussed political and military matters, and also found time for merriment and even singing. Women dined alone at home with the smaller children and the daughters; the boys, as soon as they had outgrown their mother’s care, were taken by their fathers to the mess, and sat beside them there on low stools, receiving little portions of the dishes which were considered suitable for youth. When they grew older they dined together with their own mess.

No Greek race despised handicrafts when pursued for the sake of money as much as the Dorians; no Spartan would pursue a craft or trade. Still the life of the Laconian must not be imagined as one of pure idleness; there were sufficient opportunities for other occupations. In the first place there were the gymnastic and military exercises, which occupied a great part of the day, then there was the study of music, which was continued even after their education had ended; hunting, too, was a very favourite occupation among the Dorians, and was valued on account of its tendency to harden the body. Some time, too, was occupied by State matters, and also by the exercise of religious{179} duties, such as sacrifices, choruses, etc. Moreover, there was a great deal of social life among the men. In most Dorian cities there were special meeting-halls, or club-rooms (λέσχαι), which existed at Athens also and other places. The older citizens used to assemble there and discuss various matters of interest.

We must now turn to Athens, where, in consequence of the more numerous literary authorities, we can form a clearer idea of the conditions, and attempt also to form a picture of the town itself, such as it appeared in its most flourishing period under Pericles, and after his time. It would be a great mistake to form an idea of the appearance of the whole city from the splendid buildings on the Acropolis, the temples which are partly standing at the present day, and the other public buildings which were constructed and decorated without regard to expense. Most private houses were quite plain outside; the ground-floor generally had no windows; there were no splendid porticoes, or elaborate façades, and they were low, seldom having more than two storeys. There was no regular arrangement of streets in the older period, any more than there was in our cities in the middle ages; and even after the burning of the city by the Persians, when dwellings had to be constructed for the returning population, the town was quickly rebuilt without any regular plan. It was not till later that streets were methodically laid out, and this was largely due to the influence of Hippodamus of Miletus, who flourished about the middle of the fifth century, and reformed the ancient style of building cities. Athens itself could not profit by his system, which adopted a uniform artistic plan for the construction of a whole town; but he was able to carry out his scheme in the building of the lower city, near the Peiraeus, which{180} took place under Pericles. Here Hippodamus constructed a network of straight broad streets, cutting each other at right angles, and in the middle he placed a large market, evidently in the form of a square, called the “Market of Hippodamus.” The land belonging to this suburb had probably been very little built on; we do not know whether the State had any right of ownership over these new buildings. The flourishing suburbs, the numerous public squares planted with trees and laid out in the manner of parks, did much to improve the appearance of the city, but a great deal must still have been wanting to make it appear really comfortable to us moderns, or even to the Romans of the Empire. In the first place, the streets were unpaved, and there were no sidewalks; these improvements were not introduced until the Roman period, and Greek antiquity was content with ordinary high roads; it is natural, therefore, that in dry weather the dust, and in rainy weather the mud, should have been disagreeable. Very little attention was paid to the cleanliness of public roads; all kitchen refuse, bath water, etc., was simply poured out of doors; at night it was even thrown straight from the windows on to the street, and though it was usual to call, “Out of the way,” yet careless people might sometimes be besprinkled on their way home at night. There was no public cleansing of the streets; it was left to beneficent rains to wash away all uncleanness, although the street and market police (ἀστυνόμοι) and (ἀγορανόμοι), whose duty it was to maintain order in the streets and market places, were supposed to see that they were kept in proper condition, and could compel proprietors who threw out ashes or other refuse to clear this away; yet they probably confined themselves to keeping the streets in fairly good building condition, and{181} seeing that all was in order when processions had to pass along certain roads. Generally speaking, Nissen[D] is probably right when he maintains that, to form an idea of the life at Athens by any modern counterpart, we must not think of Florence or Munich, but rather of Cairo or Tunis.

As regards the interior of the houses, we know very little about the arrangement and appointment of the rooms. Naturally these were liable to variations, since a small family might inhabit a modest little dwelling, or there might be larger houses, containing numerous apartments. The front door, which opened (sometimes outwards) into the street, at which those who desired entrance knocked with their fingers or the knocker, was opened by a slave, acting as porter, and generally led to a hall, through which, either direct or through a second door, an open hall surrounded with a colonnade (Peristylium) was reached, which in the dwelling-houses of the historic period corresponded to the open courtyard of the Homeric palace, and bears an analogy to the Atrium of the Roman house. This space, which was uncovered in the middle, and surrounded by colonnades, was the usual dwelling-place of the family; sometimes they took their meals there, and the altar to Zeus Herkeios generally stood there. Round about were apartments whose doors, and probably windows, too, opened into the central hall; for it was not customary to have ground-floor windows opening on the street, and the sides of the houses usually touched the walls of the neighbouring buildings, so that the rooms on the ground-floor could, as a rule, only obtain their light from the central hall. Some of these apartments were destined for the men, and{182} others for the women, but there was no general room. If the house was built on a considerable space, and had only one storey, the men’s rooms generally opened direct on the central hall, while the women’s were placed behind these, and were separate from them, having a special door, and doubtless, too, a special corridor, through which the women could reach the street without passing through the men’s apartments. If the house was small it was built in two storeys, and the women’s apartments were then situated in the upper storey. This latter arrangement appears to have been the more frequent. We often find allusions to women looking down on to the street from the windows of the upper storeys, and we also often find women represented on vase pictures sitting at upper-storey windows. These window openings were closed either by bars or wooden shutters, since glass panes were unknown in the Greek period. Where there were a good many slaves, it seems that the male slaves slept in the men’s apartments, and the female in the women’s apartments, except in those cases where the master allowed certain couples to live together. In larger houses, which contained a great number of rooms, we must imagine not only special sleeping and dining apartments, along with guest-chambers, rooms for the slaves, store-rooms, work-rooms, library, bathroom, etc., but also a second hall in the centre of the women’s apartments, and gardens connected with this; though flower gardens seem to have been a late introduction at Athens—it is said, indeed, that they date from the time of Epicurus. We must not assume that everyone had his own house in ancient Athens. It is true that a house could be acquired for a very low price, as is proved by the example of{183} Socrates, whose whole wealth was taxed as five minae (something under twenty pounds), and yet included a house; but still there were a great number of poorer citizens who hired their dwellings. The upper storey, which no doubt had a special entrance, and which occasionally projected beyond the ground-floor, was let to lodgers, while the owner lived on the ground-floor. Large lodging-houses, many storeys high, such as existed at Rome, were probably not found at Athens in the classical period.

We have no certain information about the place of the kitchen. It was probably always on the ground-floor, and was certainly the only room in the house which had a chimney, since there was no heating apparatus in the dwelling rooms. There appears to have been a complete absence of all sanitary conveniences.

At the present day an indispensable factor in our daily occupations is some apparatus for measuring the time. This was not of so much consequence in Greek antiquity, and, in fact, the means for exact division were wanting. They had no exact arrangement of days extending from midnight to midnight, with twenty-four hours of equal length, but instead they distinguished between day-time and night-time, calculating from sunrise to sunset, and naturally the length of these periods differed according to the time of year. These two chief divisions were again subdivided; first came early morning (from about 6 till 9, if we take the equinoctial periods), the forenoon, when the market-place began to fill (9 to 12), the mid-day heat (12 to 3), and the late afternoon (3 to 6); in the night there was, first, the time when the lamps were lit (6 to 10), next the dead hours of the night (10 to 2), last the dawn (2 to 6). Besides this, they divided{184} the day into twelve equal divisions, the length of which naturally varied according to the length of the day. For this purpose they made use of the sun, which was, of course, only available on cloudless days, though these are by no means infrequent in the south. All these arrangements for measuring the time were probably invented by the Babylonians in very ancient times, and introduced among the Greeks by Anaximander about 500 B.C. The most primitive is the “shadow-pointer,” which is only a pointed stick fixed in the earth, or a column, or anything else of the kind; the length of the shadow, which varies with the position of the sun, supplied the standard for calculating the hours. The length of the shadow, which changed from morning to evening, made a superficial division of time possible, but it could not fix the time once for all, for all days of the year, but had to be specially calculated according to the changes of the seasons. Twelve divisions of the day, to be determined by the shadow, corresponded with ours only at the equinox; these hours, if we may use the expression, were longer in summer and shorter in winter than our equinoctial hours. This explains why the time of the chief meal, which was usually taken at about five or six in the afternoon, was indicated sometimes by a 7-foot, sometimes by a 10-or 12-foot, or even a 20-foot shadow; for though at midsummer the shadow would be quite small at this time, it would have a considerable length at the equinox, and at the time of the winter solstice it is probable that they did not dine until after sunset. Unfortunately, we have not sufficient information to determine exactly the length of this shadow-pointer, which was doubtless always the same, in order to prevent confusion. The assumption that the pointer was about the average{185} height of a human being, and that people even used their own shadows for measuring time, is very improbable. Such shadow-pointers probably stood in public places, where everyone could make use of them with help of the lines drawn on the ground; they could only be set up in private dwellings when these had large open spaces (which was not often the case) to which the sun could have access all day long. In later times inventions were made which supplied what was wanting in this mode of reckoning time; lines were graven on the stone floor on which the shadow-pointer stood, which gave, at any rate, some indication of the change in the length of the hours according to the months; a network of lines of this description belonged to the obelisk which Augustus set up on the Campus Martius, and also used as a shadow-pointer.

The sun-dials, invented later than the shadow-pointers, probably by Aristarchus, about 270 B.C., were different; here the shadow of a stick placed in a semicircle, on which the hours were marked by lines, indicated the time of day. There were three kinds: first, those that were calculated at the place on which they were set up, and could not be moved, and which indicated the hours of the day according as they changed in the course of the year; second, those which were arranged for moving, and could be set up at different places; and, third, those used by mathematicians, which showed the equinoctial hours such as we use to-day. It is impossible, however, to determine whether the Greeks were acquainted with all the three kinds which we find in use in the Roman period.

Besides this, water clocks were used, and here again we must distinguish two kinds. The common{186} water clock, which, like our hour-glass, marked a definite period of time by the flowing away of a certain quantity of water, is certainly a very ancient invention. This clock consisted of a vessel of clay or glass, in the shape of a jar or a basin, which was filled with water by an opening above, and a second cup-shaped vessel, on the top of which the former was arranged in such a way that the water poured out slowly through little sieve-like openings into the lower vessel. Water clocks of this kind probably existed in most households, but were not real clocks, since they did not indicate the hour of the day, but were only used for calculating some particular period of time. They were chiefly used in the law courts to mark the time allowed to each speaker, and when a speech was interrupted in order to hear witnesses, or to read out documents, or for any other purpose, the flow of the water was stopped, and it was set going again when the orator continued his speech. These water clocks were also used on other occasions wherever certain periods of time had to be calculated, and this might take place in any household. The same principle underlay the water clocks which were supposed to have been invented by Plato, and perfected by the Alexandrine Ctesibius, by means of which a long period of time could be subdivided into equal parts, and thus the hours of the night could be calculated, which was of great importance. These water clocks could only be constructed when it was possible to make transparent glass vessels large enough to hold a quantity of water sufficient to last for twelve hours and longer; on the glass there was a scale graven, which gave the relation of the hours to the height of the water. But as the length of the night decreases and increases in the course of the{187}

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Fig. 93.

year, like that of the day, and therefore the length of the night hours is continually decreasing and increasing, a very complicated network of lines was required; four vertical lines denoted the length of the hours at the two solstices and the two equinoxes, so that the exact ratio was given for these days. At other times they had to make shift with a more or less exact calculation, assisted by horizontal curves, which connected together the third, sixth, ninth, and twelfth hours (Compare the scheme represented in Fig. 93, which shows the network of lines engraved on the glass vessel.) The longest and shortest days are here set down according to the latitude of Athens, the former as 14 hours, 36 minutes, 56 seconds, the latter as 9 hours, 14 minutes, 16 seconds. The improvement of Ctesibius consisted in adding a table with horizontal hour-lines to the water-vessel, on which a metal wire, fastened to a cork that swam on the water, marked the time by its position, which rose according to the increase of the water. These clocks could, of course, be used in the daytime, when the weather made the sun-dial useless, but a different scale was required from that of the night clocks. Still, as the difference between the longest night and the longest day, and the shortest night and the shortest day, is very slight, the same scale could{188} really be used for day and night, but in reverse order as indicated by Fig. 93.

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Fig. 94.

Let us now consider the manner in which an Athenian citizen usually divided his time. We cannot, of course, name any definite hour for rising, still it seems probable that early rising was the rule at Athens, and that not only the artisans began their work directly after sunrise, but that the schools, too, often opened early. The morning toilet does not seem to have occupied much time. In washing, a slave poured water over his master from an ewer over a basin, and some substitute for soap, such as fuller’s earth or lye, was used; men who lived very simple lives, like Socrates, probably performed their ablutions at one of the public wells. Breakfast was a scanty meal, and generally consisted of unmixed wine and bread. After that, artisans or others who had a definite trade went to their daily occupations; but the citizens who had no regular profession, unless attracted by some other occupation, such as hunting, generally spent the morning hours visiting their friends, practising gymnastics, or, supposing they put off these occupations to a later hour, visiting the barber to have their hair arranged or their beards cut or shaved. As we have already discussed the question of hair-dressing (p. 65), we will here only give a picture of some ancient bronze razors (Fig. 94), which are of semi-circular shape, and differ essentially from our modern ones. The pretty terra-cotta group{189}

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Fig. 95.

from Tanagra, in Fig. 95, transports us to a barber’s shop; a worthy citizen, apparently covered by a long dressing-mantle, is seated on a low stool, while a short man standing behind him—perhaps a slave—is carefully cutting his hair with a pair of scissors. Barbers undertook the care of both hair and beard, and cut and cleaned the nails. These barbers’ shops were also meeting-places for the citizens—not only for idlers, but, generally speaking, for all who desired to hear the news. This custom still prevails in many{190} parts of Italy, especially in the south, where the Salone is a general meeting-place. Even in ancient times barbers had a reputation for being talkative. Every day many people entered their shops, and among them strangers who brought news and expected to receive some in exchange. It is well known that the news of the defeat of the Athenian expedition to Sicily was first made known in a barber’s shop in the Peiraeus by a stranger who had just landed.

All this occupied about the first quarter of the day; the second part was devoted to visiting the market. The market-place served not only its original end as a place for selling, but was also the place where acquaintances met and business was transacted. Here stood the money-changers and the bankers, at their booths or shops; here were shady arcades, with comfortable seats, where the hot rays of the sun might be avoided in summer, while there was opportunity in the winter of profiting by the warmth of the workshops situated close by the market-place. It was a very general custom in cold weather to go to public baths or smiths’ workshops, where a warm stove could certainly be found, and poor people, who did not possess the means of warming themselves at home, often pressed so eagerly to the bath-stoves that they singed their clothes. In fact, it was a very general custom to enter any workshop or booth to have a chat with the owner or the visitors there, even without any intention of making purchases. We need not, therefore, be surprised when we hear of Socrates visiting a shoemaker or a sculptor or any other artisan and beginning a discussion with him; this custom was so general that meetings were arranged in the workshops—thus, for instance, the{191} people of Decelea, when they came to Athens, always met at a particular barber’s shop.

The men also went to market with the object of making purchases, for at Athens, curiously enough, this shopping was not undertaken by the women or their servants, but by the men instead, who were accompanied by a slave, and themselves purchased the required food, and in particular the fish, so very popular at Athens, for which there was a special market, whose beginning was announced by a bell. Later on, in the third century, it seems to have been no longer regarded as correct for the master of the house to make his own purchases; in the richer houses there was a special slave (ἀγοραστής) kept for this purpose; female slaves, too, were sometimes sent.

At mid-day the market was usually over; then the men went home and took a slight repast, not by any means the chief meal of the day, but rather something like our lunch. This meal, of course, varied a good deal according to individual fancy; many people contented themselves with the remains of the previous day’s dinner, others had fresh warm dishes served them; and in Sicily and Magna Graecia, where great stress was laid on good and plentiful food, this often became a really substantial meal. Some people entirely omitted this lunch, and either took a late breakfast or an earlier dinner. Still, most well-to-do people seem to have taken some meal at the end of their morning’s business.

The afternoon was spent in various ways. The heat which prevails at this time during the greater part of the year generally compelled people to stay at home then; some took a little mid-day nap, but this was not very general. Men of serious disposition devoted these hours to reading or other intellectual pursuits, while those{192} who were inclined to idleness probably went, even in the afternoon, to the houses devoted to dice-throwing and drinking, or else dawdled about in the barbers’ shops, workshops, etc.; the club rooms, which were specially devoted to social intercourse among the citizens, were probably very full at this time. Between the third and fourth divisions of the day, they generally took a bath as a preparation for dinner. The custom of taking a warm bath daily had at first found much opposition in Greece. In Homer we find warm baths only mentioned as a refreshment after long journeys or other fatigues, or else used for purposes of cleanliness; later on, cold baths, especially in the sea or in streams, were recommended as good for the health and strengthening for the nerves, while warm baths were looked upon as enervating; still the custom became very common of taking a bath before dinner, either at home or in one of the public baths. We have already introduced our readers to a public bath for women; Fig. 96 represents a public bath for men, taken from a vase picture. In the middle is the bath room, where the water is pouring out of two animals’ heads. On the right and left are youths who have already taken their bath, and are about to anoint themselves with oil. We know very little about these public baths from writers or from remains of the buildings. They were certainly not nearly so large or so luxurious as the Thermae of the Roman Empire; but even in the Greek baths there were separate apartments for warm, cold, and vapour baths, with large reservoirs or smaller basins, in which water was poured out over the body, also rooms for undressing, anointing, etc. The more the custom grew of remaining for hours in these places or connecting them with the gymnasia, the more extensive they became and{193}

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Fig. 96.

the more luxurious. We cannot accurately ascertain to what extent the State sometimes owned these public baths and attended to their maintenance, but admission was not free even to these; a small fee was paid to the bath attendant, who superintended the place, and rendered assistance in the bath, not perhaps to cover the expenses of maintenance, so much as for his own trouble and labour. The owners of private establishments were obliged to charge higher fees if they wanted not only to cover their expenses, but also to gain a profit; mention is made of a private bathing establishment which was sold for 3,000 drachmae, and must, therefore, have brought in corresponding interest to the purchaser, which could only be obtained by the entrance fees of the bathers. The owner and attendants were responsible for the care of the bath, but not for the clothes of the bathers, which were often{194} stolen. Those who had plenty of slaves used, therefore, to bring one with them to carry the utensils required for the bath, such as towels, oil flasks, and strigils, and to watch over his master’s clothes while he was bathing. As the custom of taking a warm bath daily became more general, the scene in the bath houses an hour before dinner grew more and more animated. Talking and joking went on; cheerfully-disposed people even sang, though that was regarded as unseemly; in the rooms devoted to refreshment after the bath they played knuckle-bones, or dice, or ball, sometimes even cottabus, for which game wine was necessary, and hence we must infer that opportunity for wine drinking was also given there in later times.

Towards sunset, or in winter after sunset, they returned home for the principal meal, or else went to the house of some friend who had invited guests. In the latter case the meal was generally a good deal prolonged, and followed by drinking, which extended far into the night. Those who dined at home with their wives and children generally finished their meal very quickly, and as the custom of early rising prevailed, they were probably in the habit of retiring early, unless the cares of business, study, or other serious pursuits kept some of them awake by lamplight; for the quiet of the night was a propitious time for serious thought after the noise of the day, which was probably as great in ancient times in the busy south as it is to-day. It is well-known that Demosthenes prepared nearly all his speeches at night.

There were also many other occupations, partly serious, partly entertaining, which filled up the life of the Greek citizen. At the time of the highest political development of Athens, in the fifth and fourth centuries, the political and judicial duties occupied a consider{195}able amount of a citizen’s time. Even if he did not fill any of the numerous unpaid posts, or sit in the Council of Five Hundred, the Boule, whose duty it was to hold preliminary discussions, he still had to devote about forty days of the year to the ordinary popular assemblies, in addition to which there were often extraordinary meetings. Supposing the lot should have appointed him to be one of the 6,000 jurymen (ἡλιασταί) annually chosen, this gave him plenty to do for his year of office, for, besides the meetings, he had to acquire information about various suits at which he had to give his opinion; and we know, chiefly from Aristophanes, how devoted many citizens were to their judicial duties, and how all their thoughts and actions were often centred in this activity, which by no means always exercised a good moral influence over them. Rich citizens also performed voluntary public services (λειτουργίαι), which consisted partly in entertaining the people by providing scenic or choric representations, gymnastic games, torchlight processions, etc., partly in important services to the State, such as equipping a man-of-war at their own expense. These voluntary services not only imposed on the rich citizens considerable money burdens, which in later times, when the Athenian wealth had diminished, could no longer be met by one individual, but also took up a great deal of their time, since they had not only to supply the necessary money, but also to superintend and arrange the work. Another change in the monotony of daily life was supplied by the religious festivals, in which the Attic calendar was unusually rich, and the theatrical and other performances connected with them, with which we shall deal later on.

Those who possessed estates in the country, even{196} when they lived in town, often went out to them to look after the management; hunting and bird-catching were also very popular occupations. The former especially was a favourite amusement. Hunting in ancient times was very different from what it is at the present day; this is partly due to the great difference between our modern firearms and the hunting implements of the ancients, partly to their almost universal custom of using nets, into which they drove the game and there killed it. These nets were used for nearly all quadrupeds which they hunted, and the strength and density of the meshes differed according to the object hunted, as well as the method of arrangement. There were in particular bag nets, which were drawn together behind the game when it ran into it, and falling nets, which were hung loosely on forked sticks, and when the animal ran against them fell down from the sticks and entangled it. Snares were also used for catching not only hares and foxes, but also larger four-footed game, such as boars and stags. In consequence of this custom of driving the game, and bringing it to bay, bows which were calculated for longer distances were of very little use in hunting; the animals were either killed by a light javelin thrown from a small distance, or, if the game had turned to bay, with a hanger, which was especially useful in boar hunting. Dogs were used for starting the game and driving it into the nets at bay, and the ancients devoted a good deal of care to their training; indeed, the important part played by dogs in Greek hunting is expressed by the Greek name for huntsman, which means “dog leader” (κυνηγός). They used to hunt boars, stags, hares; beasts of prey, such as wolves and jackals, were only hunted when they were dangerous to the herds; and larger animals, such as lions{197} and bears, did not exist at all in Greece in historic ages, although the numerous legends of lion hunts bear sufficient testimony to their existence in earlier times. Birds were caught with nets, snares, traps, and lime; and, since Greece was by no means rich in quadrupeds suitable for hunting, bird-catching was one of the most popular occupations, and also a lucrative one. On the other hand, fishing, which was carried on with both lines and nets, seems never to have become a regular sport.

We have already alluded to the practice of visiting the gymnasia, and the military duties of the citizens. There were also public houses and gaming houses, but these do not appear to have played a great part in the lives of the men. The drinking parties supplied sufficient opportunity for social meetings. Those who visited the public drinking bars usually did so for other purposes as well—to see pretty girls or to meet companions for dice, though both these purposes could be effected in special houses. It is natural, therefore, that it was not regarded as respectable to visit these wine taverns, and that grave men, as well as youths of good principle, avoided them. Still, even here the custom seems to have gradually relaxed, and though the Athenians were never as bad as the inhabitants of Byzantium, who were accused of spending the whole day at the bars, yet at the end of the fourth and in the third century B.C. it was very common for young men, or people of the lower classes, to dawdle about in the wine bars and gaming houses.

Travelling played a far less important part in the life of the Greeks than it does at the present day. In ancient times almost the only inducement for travelling was business. The merchant plied his trade chiefly as a sailor, the small shopkeeper travelled{198} about the country as a pedlar. In the heroic period we also find artisans and travelling singers on their wanderings, and in the first centuries of the development of art, and to some extent even afterwards, sculptors and architects were summoned from a distance to execute commissions under the orders of the State, or some special board of officials. But those who were neither merchants nor artisans had less inducement to travel; for military expeditions, which of course were numerous, can hardly be included among journeys. There were also official embassies and pilgrimages to celebrated shrines, or visits to the great national festivals. Again, Solon, Herodotus, and others travelled for political or scientific purposes, with a view to study history or ethnography, that they might learn to know foreign nations, their manners and customs, countries and buildings. In the Alexandrine period, journeys were also undertaken for purposes of natural science. Our modern custom of visiting foreign lands for the sake of their natural beauty was unknown in Greek antiquity, but we must not on that account suppose that the ancients had no feeling for natural beauty. The Odyssey gives a picture of travel in heroic times; the common man trudges along on foot, while the rich man goes in his carriage, drawn by horses or mules, and the fact that the latter was possible even in the mountainous Peloponnesus, proves that even at that period good roads must have existed there. The Greeks never attained as great perfection in road-making as the Romans; apparently those roads were kept in best condition which led to the national sanctuaries, and here regular tracks were cut out of the rocky ground, and there were places for passing other carriages, halting places, etc. This was not, however, the case with all the{199} roads, and we must not assume that ancient Greece possessed a well-kept complicated network of streets, such as the practical Romans constructed at every place to which their legions came; indeed, in historic times it appears that people travelled very little in carriages. Of course these had to be used on long journeys, especially when women were travelling; then they used four-wheeled carriages, which were sometimes used for sleeping in; and they also had smaller two-wheeled carts. But as a rule men travelled on horse-back or mule-back, and very often merely on foot, followed by one or many slaves, who carried the baggage required for the journey, in particular bed-coverings, clothes, utensils, etc.

If it was necessary to spend the night anywhere on a journey of several days, the widespread beautiful custom of hospitality which prevailed in ancient times, and made men regard every stranger as under the protection of Zeus, enabled them to find shelter; and, though this custom could not maintain itself in later times in its full extent, yet the effects of it still remained, and many people entered into a sort of treaty of hospitality with men in other towns, which was usually handed on to the descendants. By this they pledged themselves on the occasion of visits from members of one or the other family, to receive them in their houses and afford them the rights of hospitality; some little token of recognition previously agreed on—such as a little tablet, a ring broken into two halves, or something else of the sort—was used in such cases to legitimise the stranger. Sometimes whole districts entered into a league of this kind with one another, or one single rich man became the “guest-friend” of some foreign community, and entertained them when they came to{200} his home. The service of the “guest-friend” was not always extended so far as to supply complete entertainment to the stranger as well as lodging; often he only supplied the lodging, the necessary coverings for the bed, and the use of the fire, which could not easily be procured, but in other respects left the guest, if he had brought servants with him, to provide for himself; some additional gifts of hospitality were usually sent him. Still this custom of “guest-friendship” was not sufficient to supply shelter for all travellers; therefore inns were opened in large trading cities, near harbours, and places of pilgrimage, such as Delos, Delphi, Olympia, etc., where strangers were entertained for payment. These inns were of very various character—some of them apparently supplied only rooms and a little furniture, especially bedsteads, while the stranger brought his own bed and coverlets, and had to provide his own food; others supplied food and drink, and were often houses of ill-fame, and in consequence it is natural that the position of inn-keeper should have been generally looked down upon in Greek antiquity. Probably these inns were not particularly pleasant places to stay in; very often the landlord cheated the travellers, and it was customary to arrange the price of everything beforehand; there were also inns which were used as hiding-places by robbers and thieves, and thus might prove dangerous quarters for the guests. Another disagreeable accompaniment of southern inns, even in the present day, is hinted at by Aristophanes in the “Frogs,” when Dionysus, on his journey to Hades, inquires for the inns in which there are fewest fleas. Travellers do not seem to have troubled themselves about passports; a legitimation was only necessary when the town to which they were going was engaged in war, or when{201} they went into a hostile country in time of war. But to travel at all at such times was not advisable, for the roads, which at no time were specially safe, were then infested by travelling mercenaries or marauders. Sometimes travellers had to submit to an examination of their luggage. Officials generally farmed out the tolls to private undertakers, and these therefore had, or at any rate took, the right, if they suspected travellers of trying to smuggle dutiable articles, to stop them and examine their luggage, and sometimes even to open letters which they had by them.{202}



Banquets—The Various Courses—The Symposium—Its Character—Conversation—Music—Entertainments—Jugglers—Flute-Girls—Riddles—Games—Excessive Drinking.

At Athens, and probably throughout Greece—except, perhaps, at Sparta—the chief meal of the day was taken in the evening. This was not, however, the case in the Homeric period, when it was taken at mid-day, and the evening meal was of less importance. The customs of the heroic age differed in many respects from those of later times. In particular, the practice of sitting on chairs at meals then prevailed, and, in fact, there was no large common table used by all, but each guest had his own little table before him, on which the attendants placed the food which had been carved at a special board used for the purpose. Another difference is that, though the Homeric heroes, in accordance with the condition of their times, which laid special stress on the pleasures of the senses, cared a good deal for plentiful food and drink, and though full cups were continually circling at the meals, still the regular drinking parties which were common in later times, and which followed the meal itself, were quite unknown in the heroic age.

In considering the meals of the historical period, particularly at Athens, we must remember that we are dealing specially with large common banquets, which were very frequent among men, and not with{203} the usual family meal, which the master of the house took in the circle of his family. We know very little of the proceedings at these family dinners, and that only from works of art. On Greek reliefs on tombstones we often find, from the classical to the Imperial period, representations of the family meal, where the master of the house lies on his couch, his wife sitting on it at his feet, for it was not considered correct for women to lie down at meals as the men did, and when we see on works of art women lying down along with the men, we may be certain that these are hetaerae, who were not bound by the same rules of custom. The children of the house sat round the table on chairs. But as a rule, the wife and children only dined in the most intimate family circle; when guests were invited they dined alone in the women’s apartments, and only on some few occasions, especially weddings and family festivals, were the women allowed to appear before the men.

The custom of entertainments for men alone was far more common in antiquity than at the present day; for these banquets took the place not only of our parties and other social gatherings, but they also gave the men an opportunity, especially in the drinking which followed, while sitting together over their wine, to discuss at their leisure both serious and frivolous matters. There were also plenty of festive occasions which gave opportunities for these common banquets; a public or private sacrifice was a very common excuse, if only because the flesh of the victim—of which, as a rule, only the entrails were burnt—could be best made use of in this manner. There were also birthdays, funerals, victories in some contest or game, departure or return from a journey of a friend, etc.; all these occasions were celebrated{204} by feasts, and there were also great public banquets, which were usually of a simpler character, owing to the number of guests and the fact that the expenses were publicly defrayed. Besides these meals, to which individuals invited their friends or relations, picnics were very common. Very often all who participated sent baskets of provisions into the house of one who gave up his rooms for the purpose; but it was even commoner for each to contribute a certain share of money, and thus to defray the expenses of the meal, which was taken at the house of one of the participants, or of some obliging hetaera. We do not know what arrangement was made about the wine, and whether the expenses of this were also defrayed out of the general charge.

Generally speaking, in the fifth and fourth centuries there was a great deal of simple and pleasant social intercourse; friends were invited without any ceremony, during the course of the day, to come to the evening meal. If they did not appear at the appointed hour, the meal began without them, and if the guest put in his appearance later on, this was regarded as a matter of course. It seems not to have been unusual to go even uninvited to the meal or to the Symposium which followed it, and one of the speakers in Plato’s “Symposium” suggests the following version of a line in Homer:—

“To the feasts of the good, the good unbidden go.”

Sometimes idle fellows, such as the parasites who were always hunting for a dinner, made too liberal use of this hospitality, or persons made their appearance who did not suit with the rest of the company and would have disturbed the general harmony. In such cases the door keeping slave received the order to{205} send away certain persons, saying, “My master is not at home,” or else, “He has already retired to rest.”

The usual course of proceedings at one of these banquets was as follows. The invited guests, who according to custom had previously attended the bath, first took their places sitting on the couches placed ready for them. The slaves of the host, or even of the guests, who often brought them to help wait at table, then took off their masters’ sandals or shoes, and as the dust of the street might have soiled their feet, which were but slightly protected by the soles, these were washed once more by the slaves, a proceeding which was the more necessary, as in lying down they often rested on couches covered with very valuable coverlets. Hereupon they lay down, as a rule two guests on one sofa, but the monuments often show us three or even more persons on a single couch, and we cannot always determine with certainty whether the artist has adhered to the actual practice or introduced arbitrary changes of his own. In lying down they rested on their left elbow, or on numerous cushions at their back; the right arm was left free, in order to take the food from the table and reach it to the mouth; but plates, dishes, cups, etc., were also taken in the left hand. When the guests had all lain down and washed their hands in bowls handed round for the purpose, the little three-legged dining tables were brought in, which were always a little lower than the sofas. On these the food was arranged in dishes or plates, and always cut up small, for forks were never used at table, but only in the kitchen by the cooks for carving the meat, whilst the guests made use, instead, of a spoon or sometimes of a piece of bread hollowed out, and very seldom used a knife. Table cloths and napkins were unknown; the place of the{206} latter was taken by soft dough, on which the fingers were rubbed. At large banquets, sometimes towels and water for washing the hands were handed round between the courses, and this was always done at the end of a meal. The practice of using the fingers for eating made this indispensable.

Luxurious living, which was of course unknown at Sparta, was far less common at Athens, too, than in many other Greek states, such as Thessaly, and in particular Sicily and Magna Graecia. In these places the gastronomic art was cultivated to a high degree, and there were books in which the various kinds of joints and ragouts, fishes and sweets, etc., were enumerated in verse, sometimes in a comic manner and sometimes with due seriousness. The Boeotians, on the other hand, had a bad name for consuming great quantities of food, and this of a coarse description. At Athens, in the classic period, meals were, as a rule, simple and modest. In the various descriptions of banquets handed down to us by different writers, no mention is ever made of the cooking, and the simplicity of Plato’s meals may be inferred from the somewhat malicious remark commonly made that those who had dined with Plato would be in excellent health next morning.

The meat most in use was that of the sacrificial animals, especially oxen, sheep, goats, and swine; this last was very popular, both roast and salted or smoked, and was also used for sausages. The ancients were acquainted with various kinds of sausage; we find allusions to these even in Homer; they were also acquainted with the practice of adulterating them by introducing the flesh of dogs or asses. In poultry, they had fowls, ducks, geese, quails, and also wild birds, such as partridges and wood pigeons; the{207} special favourites were thrushes, which were a very popular dainty in the poultry market, where dishonest poulterers blew the birds up in order to make them seem fatter and in better condition. A favourite kind of game was hare, which is very frequently mentioned; they even had a proverb, “To live in the midst of roast hare,” which means to be in a land of plenty. Fish, too, was eaten in great quantities. In the Homeric period the taste for it did not yet exist, but in later times it was very much sought after. A special delicacy was eels, from Lake Copais, which are often mentioned, and were favourites with all the Athenian gourmets. Otherwise, sea fish was preferred to fresh-water fish, and there seems no end to the various kinds mentioned, which were also prepared in many different ways. The inexhaustible wealth of the neighbouring sea permitted even the poor people to have fish in plenty; in particular, the delicate sardines, which were caught in the harbour of Phalerum, and which were cheap and also quickly prepared, formed an important article of food for the Athenians. There were also great quantities of salt and smoked fish, which were prepared in the large smoking establishments of the Black Sea and on the coast of Spain, and brought by traders to Greece. The salted tunnies, herrings, etc., were excellent and also cheap, and therefore very common as food for the people. In the houses of the richer classes the finer kinds were also used—various sorts of fish sauces, caviar, oysters, turtles, etc., which added to the variety of the bills of fare, and could satisfy even the daintiest palates.

Under the heading of vegetable food, we must first of all consider bread and porridge. The kinds of grain chiefly used were wheat and barley, as well as{208} spelt; rye was not cultivated in Greece, and rye bread was regarded as food for barbarians. Bread was made chiefly of wheat, and was white or brown, according to the greater or less addition of bran and the finer quality of the flour. But the common people did not eat much wheaten bread; the chief daily food of the poorer people was a kind of barley cake, called maza, a sort of porridge, which was moistened and dissolved in water, and of which there were various kinds with different savoury additions. This porridge seems to have resembled the polenta still used in the south, but was probably not much eaten by the richer classes. They had also green vegetables and salads, asparagus, radishes, mushrooms, lentils, peas, lupins, etc. These leguminous vegetables supplied nourishing fare for poor people, and were therefore sold by street cooks hot from the fire, at a low price. We find even in antiquity the fondness for onions and garlic still shown by southern nations, and these were eaten raw with bread. Besides salt, pepper, and vinegar, various spices were used to flavour the dishes, such as sesame, coriander, caraway, mustard, etc., and also silphium, which was much sought after, but very expensive, and was imported from Cyrene, but could no longer be obtained at the beginning of the Christian era. Olive oil was used for cooking.

The second course, which played an important part at large dinners, consisted of cheese (butter was not in use for food), all kinds of fruit, and cakes. Athens was especially distinguished for its cakes, because the excellent honey of Hymettus supplied good material for it; confectioners knew how to make the most various kinds of cakes, and often produced them in the shapes of animals, human beings, and other objects.{209}

It is commonly supposed that the Greeks did not drink at all during their meals, but this is an untenable opinion. The great number of salt or highly-spiced dishes which they had, must of necessity have induced thirst. In fact, many allusions in the writers show us that some drinking went on during dinner, but in a very moderate degree when compared with the symposium which followed the meal, and only with a view to quenching thirst. In any case, when the last course was brought in, they took a draught of unmixed wine in honour of the “good genius.” Then the tables were taken away, and, if no drinking party followed, the guests arose from their couches after once more washing their hands. Usually, however, these banquets were followed by a symposium.

The proceedings at the symposium were generally as follows:—The servants in attendance removed the larger tables which had been used at dinner, and brought in instead other smaller tables, which were also three-legged, but had round tops. On these they arranged the drinking cups, bowls, and cooling vessels, plates with all kinds of dessert, and little dainties that would induce thirst. Then wreaths were given to the guests to adorn their heads, and sometimes to put round their necks, and sweet-scented ointments were handed round. While the guests were occupied in adorning themselves, the servants brought in the wine in large mixing bowls, generally three at the beginning of the feast, and later more, as occasion required. The customary drink at these feasts was a mixture of wine and water. Even at the present day southern nations seldom drink strong wine unmixed with water, and in ancient times unmixed wine was only drunk in very small quantities; at the symposium, when it was customary to drink deep and long, they had only{210} mixed wine, sometimes taking equal parts of wine and water, and sometimes, which was even commoner, three parts of water to two parts of wine. Generally, at the beginning of every symposium, a president, or “Symposiarch,” was appointed by lot or dice to take command for the rest of the evening, and it was his duty to determine the strength of the mixture, for this might be of various kinds, as weak even as two parts of wine to five of water, or one to three, or even one part of wine to five of water, which last was certainly a somewhat tasteless drink, and was contemptuously called “frog’s wine.” In early times it was usual to put the water first into the mixing bowl and pour the wine upon it; afterwards the reverse proceeding took place.

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Fig. 97.

The commoner sorts of wine were very cheap, and in consequence it was the universal drink, of which even the poor people and slaves partook; better kinds were more expensive, and the best came from the islands, especially Lesbos and Chios; Rhodian and{211}

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Fig. 98.

Thasian wines were also largely exported. Beer was by no means unknown to antiquity; in Egypt, Spain, Gaul, Thrace, etc., they brewed a malt liquor which must have had some resemblance to our beer, but the Greeks disliked this drink, and always spoke of it contemptuously. The gift of Dionysus remained the national drink of the Greeks, but it differed in many respects from our wines of the present day. Much of the ancient wine must have resembled in taste the resin wine of modern Egypt, since resin was added to it, and as the large clay casks in which the wine was exported were painted over internally with pitch, this must of necessity have given a taste to the wine. Nor did they know how to clear their wine; it was usually thick, and, in order to be made at all bright, had to be filtered through a fine sieve or cloth each time before it was used. To return to the symposium. Figs. 97 and 97, taken from pictures on the outside of painted cups, give representations of drinking parties. In{212} Fig. 97 we see three bearded men with wreaths lying near one another; in front of them are two bowls, a wine can, a cooling vessel, a footstool, and a shoe. The man on the right holds a cup in his left hand and puts his right hand to his head, which is bent backwards; his open mouth shows that he is supposed to be singing. The guest in the middle is playing energetically on the double flute, the one on the right holds a lyre, and in his right hand the rod, but he is not striking the strings; near him, on the wall, hangs a flute-case. Fig. 98 also represents three men, and in front of them a bowl, a can, a cooling vessel, another vessel of curious shape, and three shoes. The man on the left is stretching out his right hand with a cup to a boy with a wine can near him; the one in the middle also holds a cup and turns in conversation to the one on the right, who in his right hand holds a goblet (σκύφος).

The symposium began with three libations, offered to the Olympian deities, the heroes, and to Zeus Soter; sometimes incense was burnt meantime, and if the flute girl, who as a rule did not make her appearance till afterwards, was present at the beginning of the symposium, the solemn proceedings were probably accompanied by flute playing. For these libations they used three mixing bowls which had previously been made ready, taking one libation from each; after the libation from the first, they sang in chorus a short hymn in praise of Dionysus (Paean), which was repeated if, as often happened, a new mixture had to be prepared in the course of the evening. The drinking, as well as the rest of the procedure was carried on according to certain fixed rules, which somewhat resembled those still practised by German students. If a president or symposiarch was chosen, he had to appoint not only the strength of the{213} mixture, but also the kind of cup, whether large or small, from which it was to be drunk, and, in fact, generally undertook the direction of the conversation, the toasts, forfeits, etc. We generally find on the monuments flat, two-handled cups in use at the symposium, but sometimes also large, deep goblets, and after drinking for some time, it seems that they even occasionally drank from the capacious vessels, really destined for cooling the wine by means of snow-water, and that practised drinkers, such as Socrates and Alcibiades, could empty them at a draught. It was a very common custom to empty goblets thus, and many drinking cups were shaped in such a way that they must be emptied at once, as they could not stand upright. Every guest had to submit to the ordinances of the symposiarch; he exercised unlimited authority in the matter of drinking, unless, indeed, the arrangement had been made from the first that everyone should drink little or much, as he pleased, during that evening. Those who disobeyed the commands of the president had to submit to some punishment, which consisted either in drinking a certain quantity, or else was directed at some personal infirmity; thus, for instance, a bald man was told to comb his hair, a stammerer to sing, a lame man to hop, etc. This compulsion of submitting to the ordinances of the president naturally led to very deep drinking, and even the mixture of the water with the wine was insufficient defence against this practice. It was also very common to drink to one another, and propose the health of friends or popular girls. It was customary for the drinking to circulate to the right, and this practice was also kept up for all other performances which were expected from{214} every guest, such as the singing of songs, guessing of riddles, etc.

Though the main object of the symposium was, undoubtedly, the drinking, yet we must not compare the Greek symposia with the wild drinking bouts customary in Germany during the middle ages, which continued till the 17th century. In consequence of the weakness of the mixture, it must have taken some time for the intoxicating effects to make themselves apparent. Moreover, there were various kinds of amusement which caused the drinking to fall somewhat into the background, but these naturally varied a good deal according to the degree of culture and character of the guests. Symposia, such as those described by Xenophon and Plato, at which there was very deep drinking, but also really intellectual conversation and discussion of deep problems, are, of course, idealised; and, even in Plato’s Symposium, the presence of the flute girl shows that the sensual element was regarded as well as the intellectual entertainment. As a rule, music played an important part at the symposia. Even in the Homeric period, song was an important feature of the banquet. The cunning singer, who sang the stories of gods and heroes to the accompaniment of the “lyre,” and who was listened to eagerly by all, was never absent from any banquet at which a great number of guests were present. In historic times, the musical entertainment took a different character, for the guests, instead of merely listening, took part in it themselves, singing generally as well as playing. There were three kinds of singing; choruses, sung by all together, such as the Paean already mentioned; part songs, in which all shared, not together, but each in his turn; and solos, sung by those who had special musical ability and education. These solos were{215} especially popular; the singer accompanied himself with the harp, and here, too, they adhered to the custom of always passing to the right the harp and the myrtle bough, which the singer had to hold in his hand during the performance. Of especial importance among these solo songs, from a literary point of view, were the “Scolia,” which were usually of a serious character, either religious, patriotic, or of a general moral nature. A well-known scolion sang the praises of the two conspirators who murdered the tyrant Hipparchus; it began as follows:—

“In myrtle veiled, I will the falchion wear;
For thus the patriot sword
Harmodius and Aristogeiton bare,
When they the tyrant’s bosom gored;
And bade the men of Athens be
Regenerate in equality.
Beloved Harmodius, oh, never
Shall death be thine, who livest for ever.
Thy shade, as men have told, inherits
The islands of the blessed spirits,
Where deathless live the glorious dead,
Achilles, fleet of foot, and Diomed.”[E]

Other songs celebrated the praise of wine, the joys of love, the happiness of friendship; there were also special drinking songs, some composed by very great poets, such as Alcaeus, Sappho, Anacreon, Simonides, Pindar, who composed them in various metres. A vase painting shows us a reveller lying on a couch with a wreath on his head, holding a lyre in his hand, and singing, while raising his head as though inspired; the words written underneath by the vase painter show us that he is singing an ode by Theognis in praise of a beautiful boy. Here, too, changes in taste took place in the course of time; many of the old songs were{216} regarded as old-fashioned, even in the time of Aristophanes, and he who when his turn came sang a song by Simonides, instead of some grand air from Euripides, was regarded as quite behind the times.

Very commonly flute or harp girls were present at the symposium, and entertained the guests by playing and singing, and probably also by dancing. These girls were either specially invited and paid by the host for the evening, or else entered of their own accord a house where they imagined there was a merry company, or they were sometimes introduced by guests who came late in the evening. Thus, in Plato’s Symposium we find a flute girl present at the beginning; she accompanies the introductory libation with her playing, but one of the guests suggests that they should send her away, and let her either play to herself or to the women in their own apartments, since men preferred to entertain each other by sensible conversation. But Plato was almost alone in this opinion, which he expresses far more strongly in another place, saying that educated men did not require flute or harp girls or dancers, or any such foolish entertainment while drinking. Most people regarded these playing girls as equally indispensable at the symposium with the entertainments and wreaths, and accordingly in Plato’s banquet, towards the end of the evening, Alcibiades, coming from another drinking party, already in a state of intoxication, is supported by a flute girl who accompanies him. On the vase pictures these girls are seldom wanting; and these pictorial representations, as well as other allusions to the symposia, show that the presence of these girls was not due only to a desire for music. The flute and harp girls were almost always hetaerae, and liberties of various kinds were taken with them; for instance, a guest might be ordered to carry{217} the flute girl several times round the room, or she might be put up for auction, and handed over to the highest bidder as his property for the evening; and in consequence of the presence of these girls the drinking parties often became veritable orgies, in which Eros was honoured no less than Dionysus. The vase painters sometimes give us a picture almost too truthful, though this degeneracy of custom seems to have increased rather than diminished in later times.

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Fig. 99.

Other kinds of amusements were also offered to the guests at the symposia. In the “Banquet” of Xenophon, at an early stage of the proceedings, a Syracusan appears, who has been invited by the host, with a flute girl, a dancing girl, and a beautiful boy who plays a harp and dances. They play and perform pantomimic dances; in particular, there is a full description of one such dance, which represents in very graceful fashion the meeting of Ariadne with Dionysus. Conjurers, too, so-called “Thaumaturgists,” show their skill on these occasions. The dancing girl in Xenophon’s “Banquet” throws twelve rings into the air while dancing, and catches them all in turn; then she performs a bold sword dance, turning head over heels into a stand round which sharp knives are set, and out again in the same fashion. We often find similar representations on vase paintings; thus, Fig. 99 shows a girl walking on her hands and performing a{218} dangerous dance between sharp swords. In a similar posture the woman represented in Fig. 100 shoots an arrow with her toes from a bow held between her feet. The ancient jugglers seem to have known all the many tricks which are still admired at fairs and other popular festivals, such as swallowing swords, eating fire, etc.; a feat unknown at the present day was writing on a quickly-revolving potter’s wheel, or reading something written on it. It was very common to invite such jugglers at weddings or after feasts, but it was undoubtedly a confession of weakness to have recourse to such trivialities instead of carrying on an intellectual and interesting conversation. On a similar low level were the official “entertainers,” who in ancient times took the place of the Court fools of the middle ages. The jokes of these “entertainers,” who travelled from house to house, from meal to meal, who were always hungry, and glad to supply their jokes in return for entertainment and payment, were as a rule very poor and shallow, and their chief point seems to have consisted in leading the young men to make fun of each other, and to submit good-humouredly to jokes practised upon them.

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Fig. 100.


On a higher level were those social entertainments which laid the intelligence and wit of the participants under contribution. To begin with, there was free conversation, dealing with the many questions of the day, politics, literature, etc.; but they generally avoided serious subjects, and Anacreon says:—

“That man hold I not dear, who drinking his wine from a full bowl,
Ever of conquest and war sings but the dolorous strain,
But who the glorious gifts of the Muses and fair Aphrodite,
Mingling together, recalls feelings of joy and of love.”[F]

They amused themselves with games requiring thought—riddles and such-like—as, for instance, naming an object which contained a certain god’s name, or singing a verse in which one particular letter must not appear, or whose first and last syllables must have a particular meaning, etc. In circles where the culture was above the average, a definite subject was sometimes given the guests for oratorical discussion. Here, as in the drinking and singing, the turns also went to the right after the subject had been previously discussed and fixed by all together. The appointed tasks were of various kinds. A favourite amusement seems to have been to compare the guests present with particular objects, such as mythical monsters, etc., and here opportunity was given for showing wit and making innocent jokes. Sometimes, when a professional “entertainer” was present, the task was left to him, but as he was not always plentifully supplied with wit, it often happened that the poor man, who practised his jokes from necessity, grew quite sad at the disregard of his witticisms.{220} A more difficult task, and one making greater demand on the intellect, was to make a little improvised speech on some set subject, to praise or blame some particular thing, and this became especially common with the development of the rhetorical art. Thus, in the “Banquet” of Xenophon, each guest has to say what he is proud of, and to give his reasons; in Plato’s symposium, the glorification of Eros is the task appointed. In the ages of the Alexandrine learning, this even led to learned discussions, in which scientific problems of all kinds were treated over the cups. Those who were successful in these intellectual contests, who solved difficult riddles, etc., were rewarded, receiving wreaths or fillets, or sometimes kisses; on the other hand, the symposiarch inflicted punishments on those who were unsuccessful, and these usually consisted in drinking, at a draught, a whole cupful of unmixed wine, or, which was worse, wine mixed with salt water.

There were also a great number of games played at the symposium, and also at other times, chiefly by young people. The one which was the most popular at the symposia, and which in consequence we find on numerous monuments, was Cottabus, a game introduced from Sicily, which fell into disuse during the age of Alexander’s successors, and was unknown to the Romans, so that the accounts we have of it are somewhat confused. This much is certain, that it consisted in skilfully throwing drops of wine left in the cup at some definite goal, and producing a certain effect in striking it. The cup was held, not by the foot, but by one handle with the fingers, and they did not use the whole arm in throwing it, but only the wrist, or, if the arm was bent, only the lower arm. There were various ways of playing this game; for the{221} commonest, they seem to have used a stand something like a high candelabrum (see the one represented in Fig. 101), the shaft of which could be screwed higher or lower according to requirement. On the top of it was balanced, placed loosely upon it, a little saucer or bowl of brass, and the wine which was thrown had to fall with a ringing noise upon it, and throw down the disc; it is clear, from various vase paintings, that this was not fastened to the top, since we see girls in the act of laying the disc on the top of the shaft. This, however, was not enough; various complications were added to increase the difficulty. On some of the cottabus stands they fastened the figure of a slave, called “Manes,” made of brass, which must also be struck in throwing, and according as it was fastened on the shaft, either first or last. Sometimes the disc on to which the wine was thrown must, when struck, fall down on to another small scale fixed a little lower down, and the sound then made, according as it was strong or weak, was regarded as a kind of oracle in love. In Fig. 101, the bearded man lying on the couch is in the act of throwing the wine left in his cup, which he holds by the first finger of the right hand, at the cottabus stand. Near him lies a youth with a thyrsus, who is handing fruit, or something of the kind, to a woman with a tambourine, sitting on a cushion in front of him. On the right is a cup-bearer, a naked boy with a wine can. Sometimes they seem to have spirited the wine from their mouths instead of from a cup; or they set little saucers or nut-shells to swim empty on the water, and tried to fill them by throwing in the wine drops and making them sink. This occupation, in spite of the great popularity it seems to have had in the fifth and fourth centuries, can but be regarded as a very unintellectual one.{222}

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Fig. 101.


We may deal at once with the other most important games, in which grown-up people took part in their hours of leisure. Many of these were also children’s games, in particular the game of ball, which we find even in Homeric times, and it was very popular throughout the whole of antiquity, especially in the hours of recreation after the bath or after physical exercises in the gymnasium, and it was especially recommended by physicians as healthy exercise. Some other games also bore a semi-gymnastic character, and will therefore be mentioned afterwards under the heading of gymnastics. Games of skill or chance, which were played with boards, figures, dice, etc., were very popular. We meet with these board games, which were already known to the Egyptians, even in the Homeric period. In later times, too, they were a favourite amusement, and we often find them represented on ancient monuments. Among the various modes of playing these, some bore a great resemblance to our modern games; the “game of towns” may be compared to our draughts; two opponents played at a board divided into squares with thirty stones apiece, which differed in colour, and the game was, by enclosing a hostile stone, either to capture it or to prevent it from moving. The terra-cotta group represented here in Fig. 102 probably shows a game of this kind. A youth and a woman are playing together, while a third person, a caricature, is looking on; the board is roughly divided into forty-two squares, and there are twelve flat stones, but we cannot from this draw any conclusion about the nature of the game.

In this game, as in chess or draughts, the victory depended entirely on the skill of the player, but an element of chance was added when the defence of the stones on their lines or squares depended on the{224}

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Fig. 102.

throwing of dice, which was the case in the game of “five-lines” (πεντέγραμμος). But even here there seem to have been modifications, which would enable a skilful player to compensate himself for an unfavourable throw, by the choice of various moves open to him. The games played with knuckle-bones and dice were pure games of chance, and were very often played for money. In playing dice they used several, generally three, dice, corresponding exactly to those of the present day, and{225} a cup from which they threw them, and a board or a table with a raised edge on to which they were thrown. The victory depended on the number of points thrown. The best throw, three times six, was called the “Coan,” the worst, three times one, was called the “dog,” but there were various rules of the game dealing with particular combinations, such as is still the case in dice-playing at the present day.

There were several ways of playing with astragals, or knuckle-bones, which were really the ball of the ankle-joint of a lamb, or else were artificially imitated in other material. One way of playing, chiefly used by children, but also sometimes by grown-up people, was a real game of skill, and consisted in throwing up a number, usually five, of knuckle-bones, pebbles, beans, coins, etc., and catching them again on the back of the hand, meantime picking up with the stretched-out fingers those which had fallen down. Sometimes they only played “odd or even,” and one of the players had to guess straight away whether the other had an odd or even number of these astragals, which took the place of our counters, in his closed hand. Sometimes they played with astragals in the same way as with dice. In this case the four large sides of the bone, on which it might fall, had a particular numerical value, which was not written upon it, but depended on the shape of the bone, as each side differed from the others. The convex narrow side counted as one, the other, concave, narrow side as six, the broad convex side as three, and the broad concave side as four; two and five were wanting altogether, for the other little surfaces of the bone were not counted, since it could never fall upon them. Four pieces were generally used for playing, and they were treated just like dice; the best throw was that in which each of the astragals lay in a different{226} position, and thus all values were represented, sometimes they counted according to the highest number thrown. In works of art we very often see girls playing astragal. One of the prettiest of these is the terra-cotta figure from Tanagra, represented in Fig. 103.

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Fig. 103.

Another game of chance was “fast and loose,” which very closely resembled the game still played at fairs{227}

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Fig. 104.

by sharpers. A strap was folded double and wound round several times on a table; the player then pricked it with a dagger or other pointed instrument, and if, when the strap was unwound, it appeared that the point had gone between the layers of the strap, he won; but he lost if the strap could be entirely wound off. Another favourite game was similar to morra, still popular in Italy. Two players quickly thrust out their right hands with some fingers bent in and others stretched out, and they have at one glance to notice and exclaim how many fingers of both hands together are stretched out. This game is often represented on ancient works of art; for instance, on the vase painting depicted in Fig. 104. Here a youth and a girl are playing, both are seated, though morra players of the present day stand; in their left hands they hold a stick,{228} the object of which is to prevent them in the excitement of the game from using their left hands by mistake. Similarly the Italians put their left hands behind their backs while playing. The youth is stretching out four fingers, the girl two, so that the number to be called out in this case is six. A Cupid seated above is handing a wreath to the girl, and thus pointing her out as victorious.

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Fig. 105.

A popular amusement in Greece was cock and quail fighting, a pursuit which played so important a part at Athens that even the great theatre of Dionysus had to be used for the purpose, and the Athenians actually maintained that this was a spectacle calculated to rouse the courage of the citizens to brave deeds. Fighting cocks were trained at Tanagra and Rhodes; both young and old men aimed at the possession of fighting cocks or quails, carried them about for hours, and tried by all possible means to excite their courage in order to obtain prizes. For this purpose they were fed with garlic, and sometimes brazen spurs were even tied on them in order to make the wounds they inflicted more serious. The representations (compare the vase painting, Fig. 105) show{229}

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Fig. 106.

that before the beginning of the fight each owner took his bird in his hand, knelt down, and thus gradually approached the cocks to one another in order to excite them from a distance; then they were sent against each other, and the owners stood up again. Sometimes the hens were present at the fight, because the cocks were more inclined to fight in their presence. A curious custom is mentioned—namely, that the owner of the defeated bird took it up as quickly as possible and shouted loud into its ear; the object{230} of this was supposed to be to prevent the defeated cock from hearing the triumphant crow of his conqueror, and thus being discouraged for future combats.

To return to the symposium. We have already mentioned that, in spite of the custom of mixing the wine with water, the great quantities consumed, since drinking went on far into the night, did often conduce to drunkenness. The scenes which were sometimes enacted by the light of the quivering oil lamps were not always very attractive or indicative of the grace and moderation which we are apt to regard as the special qualities of Greeks. The vase painting depicted in Fig. 106 shows us the immediate consequences of excessive drinking: we see a youth vomiting his wine, while a pretty girl is smiling and holding his head.

The official termination of the symposium was a libation to Hermes, but even then they did not always set out on their homeward journey in company with the slaves who were waiting for their masters with torches or lanterns, but sometimes their excitement led them to wander noisily through the streets with the flute girls and torch bearers in a Comus (κῶμος), and they thus entered the houses of friends who were still sitting at their wine, or carried on all manner of jokes and absurdities. This naturally led to other scenes, such as fighting, etc., especially if one of the participants tried to obtain entrance to an hetaera, when a quarrel often ensued between the rivals. The vase painting depicted in Fig. 107 represents a scene from the Comus, the chief person in which is the drunken Hercules, accompanied by satyrs, but in reality it is only a scene from real life transported to the heroic domain. The hero, who is lying dead drunk on the{231}

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Fig. 107.


ground, appears to have demanded admittance at a door which remained closed to him, and some old woman has poured water upon him from a window over the doorway. Two young satyrs, adorned with fillets and wreaths, of whom one bears a thyrsus and a basket of fruit and cakes, the other a mixing-bowl and fillets, and a harp girl with a thyrsus wand, and a flute player with a torch, are the attendants of this night wanderer. These scenes furnish an unpleasant contrast to the conclusion of the Platonic Symposium, when Socrates, who has been drinking hard all night, but at the same time carrying on serious conversation with some friends as staunch as himself, gets up at daybreak, while the rest of the participants have fallen fast asleep, walks with steady step to the well in the Lyceum, and then, as usual, proceeds to his day’s occupations.{233}



The Great Plague—Homer’s References to Physicians—Asklepiadae—The Oath of Hippocrates—General Practitioners and Specialists—Plutus of Aristophanes—Customs connected with Death, Burial, and Burning—Tombs and their Ornaments.

Greek mythology tells us that in the golden age mankind lived without trouble or sorrows, equally unacquainted with vice and with cruel disease; but when fatal curiosity opened the disastrous box of Pandora, along with a thousand other troubles which pursue mankind, there came forth also the countless diseases which attack men by day and night. The myth thus expresses in simple language that, with the advance of civilisation and the disappearance of the ancient simple mode of life in accordance with nature, the number of diseases also increased. But the greater the number of these attacks on the health and life of mankind, the more eagerly do men seek to avoid them, though, at first, in a purely empirical manner, and, therefore, the beginnings of the healing art are as ancient as human civilisation itself. The oldest literary monument of Greek life, the Homeric Epic, makes little mention of disease, with the exception of the great plague, which devastated the camp of the Greeks before Troy. The reason of this, however, lies in the nature of the poet’s subject, and we must not on that account infer that illness was little known. Even in Homer mention is made of physicians, and though the Homeric doctors{234} were chiefly concerned with healing the wounds inflicted in war, still they possessed some surgical skill in cutting arrows out of wounds, putting on bandages, etc., and were also acquainted with the healing qualities of certain herbs, which they used not only for external treatment of injuries, but also apparently for internal use, in reducing fever, etc. Knowledge of this kind always appears very early, even among nations of slight civilisation, and is handed down from generation to generation. But the healing art was not confined to heroes or demigods, such as Aesculapius and Podalirius, who were afterwards regarded as ancestors of the physicians’ profession, and who traced their origin and their knowledge alike to the gods. There were also, even at that time, professional physicians, and certainly it cannot have been left to chance to determine that some persons possessing surgical and medical knowledge should be with every army.

It is no longer possible to trace in detail the development of the medical profession after the times of Homer. In the historical period we find the healing art developed in two special directions; first, as practised by an actual medical profession; secondly, as a kind of religious mystery in the hands of priests; besides these, quackery was known in antiquity, as in all times.

The professional physicians, who, even in later times, regarded their art as divine, and handed down by their ancestor Aesculapius (on which account they also called themselves Asklepiadae), were probably a development from the priestly physicians. It is very likely that in the first centuries after Homer, the practice of the medical art was still directly connected with the worship of Aesculapius, and that the{235} separation which we find in the historic period, where some remained as medical assistants to the priests in the sanctuaries, and others practised independently on their own account, only gradually made way. It cannot be a mere chance that the places where the most celebrated medical schools of antiquity existed, Cos and Cnidus, were also regarded as the chief seats of the worship of Aesculapius. The professional physicians, who practised their art independently, and were not connected with the sanctuaries, naturally received a fee, and though this brought them into somewhat bad repute, with which every art that conduced to making money was regarded, yet their occupation stood in much higher general estimation than any of the trades, and it was a serious reproach if they, as sometimes happened, insisted on receiving their payment beforehand, and in case of inability to pay, refused to give any treatment at all. Their knowledge was not acquired at colleges or hospitals, like that of our modern physicians, but, as a rule, they became assistants or apprentices to old experienced physicians, whom they accompanied on their visits, and by whom they were instructed in diagnosis and therapeutics, as well as in the preparation of medicines. There were sellers of drugs, who kept the most important remedies, but there were no apothecaries in our modern sense, and physicians always prepared their own medicines. There does not appear to have been any examination necessary in early times before practising the medical profession, or any direct control or supervision of the doctors, but in later times physicians seem to have held together in a sort of guild, and, perhaps, even solemnly dismissed their apprentices at the end of their period of instruction before their assembled colleagues. This is suggested by the oath{236} of Hippocrates, which has been preserved to us, in which the young disciple of Aesculapius promises to keep only the welfare of his patient before him, to keep silence, to give no one poison, even at his own request, etc. Probably this oath was only used in the school of Hippocrates and his followers.

Among the professional physicians there was a further distinction between those who practised privately and those who had official positions. The former either gave their advice at home or else visited their patients. Slight invalids, who were able to go out, generally visited the physician in his consulting hours, and there they received not only advice but sometimes also direct treatment, since other apartments for bathing, operating, etc., were connected with the consulting room, and the physician also prepared and dispensed his medicines here. Even those who were very ill, as, for instance, the wounded Lamachus in the “Acharnians” of Aristophanes, were carried straight to the doctor when the case was pressing. Of course a very celebrated physician could not himself treat all his patients, and he therefore employed assistants in his consulting room, who also accompanied him when he paid visits abroad, in order to profit by the master’s experience at the sick bed; and it may not have been very pleasant for the patients when the doctor thus arrived in company of a not inconsiderable troop of students. It was still more unpleasant, however, if want of means compelled them to resort to inferior assistants, who sometimes were even slaves. These slave doctors were not only summoned to the slave population, but they also treated free people, chiefly those who were too poor to pay a high fee. Of these it was said that they differed from the better physicians, who were careful and who studied and watched their patients, in paying very{237} hasty visits, scarcely taking time to inquire after the nature of the illness, and hurrying on after giving any directions that might occur to them. Sometimes a citizen had one of his slaves taught the healing art by some physician, supposing he showed any ability for this profession, and by this means he had someone in the house who, in case of need, could supply help at once. The position of the Greek slaves, especially in Attica, was a comparatively free one, and therefore we must not be surprised that they were willing to entrust the welfare of their body to a slave, seeing that they even left much of the moral training of their children to him. Complaints were often made, too, about free physicians, not on account of their hastiness and carelessness, but rather because of their boastful and haughty bearing; thus, for instance, Menecrates, a physician of Syracuse, was accused of always dressing in the most elaborate fashion, and wishing to be called Zeus. Others were rude or inconsiderate to their patients, like that doctor who answered a patient, when he expressed fear of death, with the words of Homer:—“Patroclus, too, is dead, and he was a better man than thou.” Others gave annoyance by carelessness in their dress and noisy manner, loud talk, etc. Hippocrates insisted that a physician should aim at a certain amount of elegance in dress and care in regard to his person, though he adds characteristically that any doctor is at liberty to do otherwise supposing his patients prefer it.

The position of the public physicians, who were chosen and paid by a community, and therefore bound to receive no fees for their treatment, was a different one, though it is not clear whether they treated all the citizens or only the poor ones. These public physicians sometimes received very high salaries. Thus the{238} physician Democedes, as public doctor at Aegina, received a salary of one talent (about £326); thereupon he was summoned to Athens with a salary of a hundred minae (£393), and in the following year the tyrant Polycrates, of Samos, invited him, probably to fill the post of public physician, not as his own private doctor, and gave him a salary of two talents (probably Attic talents, therefore £471). On the other hand we sometimes hear of rich physicians treating the poor free of charge.

Specialists do not seem to have been common in ancient Greece, the same doctors treated external and internal complaints, and also men and women. It seems, however, from the oath of Hippocrates that there were specialists who undertook the operation of cutting for stone. Oculists were unknown till a later period, when the medical practice generally developed in various ways, and in particular the influence of gymnastics, and the dietetics connected therewith had a very important influence on medical methods.

These physicians, although they at times made use of strange or “sympathetic” means of treatment, yet in general aimed at scientific methods, building on the knowledge handed down to them by their predecessors, and enriching it by their own experience and studies. On the other hand, the healing processes, to which the priests of the Aesculapian sanctuaries resorted, seem to have occupied a very doubtful position between empirical therapeutics and superstitious hocus-pocus. It had been a custom from ancient times for the priests of Aesculapius to practise the healing art. Their knowledge was supposed to be in part very ancient, handed down by the god himself, and in part divine revelation, which was continually renewed. Some of the sanctuaries of Aesculapius were renowned and{239} visited beyond all others on account of their wonderful and successful cures, in particular Cos, Cnidus, Tricca, but especially Epidaurus, and afterwards also Pergamum. To these sanctuaries the invalids who sought healing went as pilgrims, just as people still go in Catholic countries to wonder-working shrines, and as in these we see countless memorials of successful cures, pictures and descriptions of diseases, wax or silver imitations of the part or limb that was healed, etc., so in ancient times thank-offerings were made to Aesculapius, sometimes in the shape of coin, sometimes also imitations of hands, legs, eyes, ears, and breasts, etc., in marble, silver, or gold, or else in simple wax or clay, together with the name of the person who found healing there. Some also dedicated tablets, on which was inscribed a detailed account of their illness and cure, and the priests set up large tablets in the domain of the temple, on which all manner of wonderful cures were described. The geographer Strabo tells us of such inscriptions, describing diseases, in the sanctuaries of Epidaurus, Cos, and Tricca. Pausanias saw in the temple domain at Epidaurus six large tablets of this kind. Very considerable fragments of two of these were found a few years ago, which give us a very interesting insight into the proceedings at the Aesculapian sanctuaries.

The healing methods of the priests of Aesculapius were especially distinguished from those of the professional physicians by the veil of secrecy and miracle which surrounded them, since they rightly understood that the love of wonders among the common people would always bring them success. The healing was effected by what was called “incubation”; the patient had to lie down at night in the sanctuary and sleep; in a dream the god appeared to him, and either{240} suggested to him the remedy which would cure him, or else undertook, on the spot, to heal the sleeper, so that the patient, when he awoke, found himself restored to health, and went joyfully away! Aristophanes, in his “Plutus,” drastically depicts one of these cures in the temple. The blind god of riches comes to the temple of Aesculapius to seek for healing; after taking a bath in the sea, he is conducted to the sanctuary; he offers a sacrifice and then lies down to sleep, together with other patients, and one of the temple servants warns them to keep unbroken silence. The servant who accompanies Plutus, and who relates the proceedings, seems to be a somewhat free-thinking rogue. He cannot sleep, and as he observes that after the invalids have gone to sleep, the priests take away and pocket the offerings laid upon the altars, he also takes the opportunity to filch a pot of porridge from an old woman near him. After a time the god himself appears, accompanied by two goddesses of healing. He goes round, examines the individual patients, and, at last, comes also to Plutus; he feels his head, dries his eyelids with a linen cloth, and one of the goddesses puts a purple veil over his face. Suddenly two great snakes come from the interior of the temple, creep under the veil, and lick the eyelids of Plutus, who thus recovers the power of sight. Here the cure takes place during sleep, as also in the stories which are related on the inscriptions of Epidaurus, mentioned above. There, too, an account is given of the cure of a blind woman to whom Aesculapius appears in a dream, and restores her sight by dropping some healing lotion into her eyes, in return for the promise that she will dedicate a silver pig to Aesculapius (to whom pigs were often sacrificed), as a penalty for having come to the temple in a state of{241} unbelief. Such cures of blindness are often mentioned in the inscriptions; sometimes the dog, which was also sacred to Aesculapius, takes the place of the god, as the snakes did in Aristophanes, and cures the eyes by licking them; in another case the snake of Aesculapius cures the wounded toes of a patient by licking. Many cases are even more wonderful. A man, who has completely lost one of his eyes, receives the lost eye again by means of healing lotion poured into his sockets by the god during sleep. A woman, who has a worm in her body, dreams that Aesculapius cuts it open for her, takes the worm out, and sews it up again. A man has moles on his forehead, which the god removes by laying a bandage over his brow, whereupon next moment it appears perfectly white and pure, while the moles are left on the bandage; another man has lost the use of the fingers of one hand, the god jumps on his hand and pulls his fingers straight again, whereupon he is once more able to use them, etc., etc. Indeed, Aesculapius not only cures sick people, but also lifeless objects. A slave has broken his master’s cup, and as he sits sadly looking at it, a passer-by laughingly says that even Aesculapius could not mend that. That suggests to him taking the fragments into the temple, and next morning, when he opens the case in which he has put them, behold, the cup is whole again!

It is difficult to say which part of these stories is mere charlatanism and what refers to real medical treatment by means of operation. It is but natural that the priests at first got information by questioning each patient about his illness. The sleep in the sanctuary, which was indispensable for healing, was probably not a natural one, but either a mesmeric{242} sleep—since undoubtedly the ancients were acquainted with this—or else a half-sleep induced by some narcotic, during which the priests in the service of Aesculapius or their assistants appeared and performed slight surgical operations on the sick people. This hypothesis is the more probable, since all the cures mentioned in these inscriptions from Epidaurus (which, though dating from the time of Alexander the Great, are copies of older inscriptions, probably of the fifth century) deal only with external means and never with internal treatment; no medicine or healing drink is mentioned.

The cures which took place later on in the sanctuaries of Aesculapius by means of incubation, or temple sleep, which were customary even in the Roman period, were of a different nature. The invalids were not actually cured during their sleep, but they received in a dream an indication from the god of the manner in which they could be freed from their sufferings, directions sometimes in reference to dietetic measures, such as baths, fasting, etc., and sometimes to medicines. In these cases, too, we must suppose that the invalid fell into a state of half-sleep, during which a priest in the form of the god appeared, and gave the directions in question, for which a quantity of medical knowledge, gradually acquired by experience, stood the priests in good stead. Sometimes healing thermae, or springs, which were found near some of the sanctuaries, did good service, especially if the invalids remained there for some time. The Greek sanctuaries of Aesculapius were almost always situated on high ground, where the air was healthy and pure. There must always have been houses for the reception of sick people, especially those who came from a great distance. Thus the sanctuary of Aesculapius at Epidaurus was about four miles from the town, but, to prevent any pollution of{243} the holy place, no children must be born there and no one must die there, and on this account pregnant women and dying people were mercilessly sent away. Of course the priests did not give their aid for nothing, but were repaid in money or offerings to the shrine, and we find many allusions to these offerings; indeed, the sanctuary at Epidaurus could vie in wealth with that at Delphi.

It was not only in the temples of Aesculapius that dream oracles existed. Many other gods or heroes took similar care for suffering humanity, just as at the present day the shrines which possess miraculous pictures of Madonnas or relics vie with one another. Thus sick people were received in the temple of Hades, situated between Tralles and Nysa, in Lydia, but here it was the priests and not the patients to whom the method of cure was revealed in sleep, and this was also the case in the temple of Amphiaraus at Oropus, on the borders of Attica and Boeotia.

Mention must also be made of quackery and sympathetic cures. The belief in the latter was very general in antiquity, and was shared even by unprejudiced men of considerable education. This was effected by amulets, supposed to ward off or heal diseases, and also by magic words which we should now describe as conjuring; laying on of hands, symbolical washing, etc. The sellers of drugs were specially occupied with quackery; besides rouge, paint, and other means of promoting beauty, they also sold medicines and offered their wares in mountebank fashion. Very often, when sick people had failed to obtain alleviation or cure from a regular physician, they gave him up and resorted to quackery instead.

There were a number of half symbolical, half superstitious, customs connected with death and burial,{244} which were partly due to the belief that the soul would be more easily received and allowed to remain in the dark realm of shadows in consequence of this care of the body; but the ancients also regarded fitting burial and care for the grave as the fulfilment of a duty imposed by the gods, and likely also to bring blessing to the surviving members of the race. This duty was, therefore, only neglected in the very rarest cases. Criminals were buried without any ceremony, or were left to rot unburied; suicides, too, were refused the common honours of public burial, and were put away by night, a time which was not customary for funerals.

In order to gain some insight into these customs, let us turn once more to that house which we visited in order to be present at the birth and early life of an Athenian of the well-to-do class. Let us suppose that after spending a long and honourable life in the service of his country, he has lain down to take his last rest. Surrounded by the nearest members of his family, he has breathed his last breath, after having himself, with his dying hand, drawn one of the points of his garment over his face, in order to spare his friends the painful sight of the death struggle. One of the survivors now steps up to the bed, uncovers the face of the dead man, and softly closes his eyes and mouth. According to the curious ancient belief, not peculiar to the Greeks, that a human being is unclean immediately after entrance into life, and also on his departure from the world, and as this uncleanness is extended to the whole house and all who associate with it, immediately after the death a vessel of consecrated water, which must be brought from another house, is placed before the door, and everyone who leaves the dwelling sprinkles himself from it, in order to be once more{245} pure and able to associate with others. The corpse is then washed by the women of the family, anointed with fine oil and sweet-scented essences, and clothed in pure white garments. These are the dress of common life—the chiton and the himation, but so put on that both arms are covered and only the head and feet seen. Youths were probably clad in the chlamys, and the Spartans preferred to clothe their dead in the scarlet military cloak, while at Athens coloured garments were sometimes used instead of white. On the dead man’s head they put a wreath of real flowers—whatever the season might supply—or else laurel, olive, or ivy. At burial, this was often replaced by an artificial wreath of beaten gold leaf, and numerous remains of these death-wreaths, which were often of very artistic workmanship, have been found in Greek graves. Relations and friends also sent fresh wreaths and garlands as a token of sympathy, and these were used for decking the bier and grave. In the dead man’s mouth they put a coin, as passage money for the ferryman who had to ferry the souls over the Styx; for after the belief in Charon, which was unknown in the Homeric period, had taken firm root among the Greeks, it was regarded as a pious duty to supply the dead man, as soon as possible, with this passage money, in order that the shade might not wander too long restlessly by the shore of Styx. The coin was put in his mouth, because in common life it was not unusual to put single coins in the hollow of the cheek, since pockets were unknown in ancient costume; large sums were seldom carried about, or else they were put in a bag. It was a similar superstition which made people in some places put a honey-cake by the side of the corpse to pacify the dog Cerberus, the fierce guardian{246} of the lower regions. Previous to the funeral there was a solemn laying-out of the body, when friends and acquaintances came to see the departed for the last time, and the near relations took part in the funeral lament for the dead. This laying-out, or πρόθεσις, usually took place in the central hall of the house, but care was taken that the sun should not shine on the corpse, since even the Sun god must not pollute himself by the sight of a dead body. On a couch covered with cushions and hangings, adorned with flowers and branches, the dead man was laid, his feet turned towards the house door, through which he must take his last journey; round about him, at any rate at Athens, they placed large or small oil flasks (λήκυθοι), adorned with paintings, all depicting scenes dealing with death or graves, which were made in one of the Attic vase factories specially for this purpose, and were probably sent by sympathetic friends as funeral offerings. Besides the nearest relations, intimate friends also took part in the solemn funeral lament, and were sometimes specially invited for the purpose. The servants of the house also stood by the couch with the other mourners, and joined with them in the lament, in which men and women, standing apart, joined alternately. This lament was no wild, irregular wail, but a regular hymn of sorrow, and very often singers were specially hired in order to add to the beauty of the performance, and the hymn was sometimes broken from time to time by choruses sung either by the whole assembly or by semi-choruses. Many external marks of sorrow were also shown, such as are customary in the south, where the character of the people is more violent and excitable, viz., beating the breast, lacerating the cheeks, tearing out the hair, rending the garments; and sometimes cries of grief{247}

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Fig. 108.


interrupted the song of mourning. Solon had ordered moderation in these marks of sorrow, but it must have been difficult, if not impossible, to keep within bounds by any legal decrees the expression of wild despair, especially on the part of the women.

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Fig. 109.

The custom of these funeral laments is a very ancient one. We find it universally adopted in the Homeric period, and here, too, in the form of responsions; the wail is heard at Troy by the corpse of Hector, as well as in the Greek camp by the bier of Achilles. We find the laying-out of the corpse and the funeral lament represented on a great many vase paintings, as,{249} for instance, in the one depicted in Fig. 108. Here we see the dead man lying on a richly-decked couch, in front of which stands a footstool; he is enveloped in his mantle up to his neck, he wears a wreath, and his head rests on several cushions. In front of the couch and at the sides stand six women, all raising their arms with gestures of grief; some of them are touching their heads, as though to tear out their hair. A little girl in a similar attitude stands at the foot of the bed; on the right, turning away from the scene, stands a boy. Fig. 109 is similar. Here we see under the dead man’s couch his shield, helmet, and cuirass; of the wailing women, who are almost all tearing out their hair, one holds a lyre in her hand, and another a fillet; the former is accompanying the lament, the other is about to deck the corpse or the bier. The hot climate of the south generally necessitated limiting the duration of this ceremony to a single day, and, indeed, Solon expressly commanded that this should be done; only where special measures were taken for preserving the body was it possible to leave it for several days. Embalming was not customary in Greece; it was only when the corpses of those who had died in foreign lands were brought home to be buried, that they were placed in some substance to check the dissolution—for instance, in honey, as the Spartans did with those of their kings who died away from home.

The funeral usually took place in the early morning before sunrise, and throughout the whole of antiquity both burying and burning were common, sometimes subsisting side by side, while at other times one fashion or the other was more general. It seems as though burying had at first been more{250} common among the Greeks than burning. It is true we find only burning mentioned in the Homeric poems, but we must not forget that we are concerned with exceptional circumstances in the Iliad, since the warriors who fell before Troy did not die at home; and in such cases, even in later times, burning was preferred, since it enabled the survivors to bring the ashes of the dead man home with them. Still, even in those early times, burying was very common, as is proved, in spite of the lack of literary evidence, by the ancient burial grounds discovered at many places in Greece; and similarly, in the historic period, the burning of dead bodies, though certainly practised, was not so common as burying, if only for the very practical reason that the latter was far cheaper and much less troublesome. Whichever form was chosen by the friends, or had been appointed by the dead man himself, the solemn funeral procession was never omitted; the crematoria, like the cemeteries, were outside the city gates, since at Athens, and probably in most Greek states, they were not allowed to bury their dead within the walls; the Doric states alone seem to have made an exception to this rule. A very ancient painted vase seems to afford a proof that it was customary in early times to convey the dead to the cemetery on a car drawn by horses, but in the historical age, at any rate, the corpse was taken to the grave on the same couch on which it had been exposed to view. This duty was generally performed by the slaves of the household, and where there were not sufficient of these, gravediggers were specially hired; while in the case of men who had deserved well of their country, the citizens regarded it as an honour to perform this duty themselves. If the dead man had died a violent{251} death, a spear was carried in front of him, which pointed to the revenge to be taken; the spear was then fixed in the earth near the grave, and the nearest relation pronounced a curse against the murderer, after which the place was watched for three days. This did not, however, point to revenge on the part of the relations alone, but to the punishment to be inflicted by the legal authorities. As a rule, the male relations and friends walked at the head of the processions, and the women behind the corpse; but one of Solon’s ordinances limited the female followers to the nearest relations not extending beyond the nieces. Among the more distant relations, only women over sixty years of age were allowed to follow. This law does not, however, seem to have been quite strictly observed. All the mourners wore grey or black mourning; the nearest relations cut their hair off, for the custom of shaving the hair in case of death is a very old one, and even in Homer we read that the hair cut off was sometimes placed in the dead man’s hand. During the procession laments were again sung, and accompanied by the wailing tones of a flute; but here customs differed somewhat, and at Ceos, for instance, where the ordinances concerning burial, differing in many respects from the Attic customs, have been preserved to us, there were especial directions that the body should be carried out in silence. The dead man wore the clothes in which he had been laid out, but extravagance and excessive luxury necessitated some limitations by the law, so that Solon expressly ordained that the number of garments should not exceed three, and the above-mentioned ordinance allowed only one under garment, one cloak, and one pall or covering, the whole value not to exceed 300 drachmae, and also ordained that the couch on{252} which the dead man was carried to the grave, and the other hangings or cushions, should not be burnt or buried, but brought back again.

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Fig. 110.

There were various ways of burying the dead. If they were placed in a grave it was customary to make use of a coffin, which was let down into the grave by the bearers. We see this represented on the vase picture, Fig. 110. Two men, who look like barbarian slaves or men of the lower classes, are standing in the grave and holding up their hands in order to receive the coffin, which is carefully let down by two men of similar appearance; on the right and left stand weeping women. The coffins were sometimes made of wood, especially Cyprus wood, which was occasionally decorated with costly carving and painting; sometimes of clay, less often of stone, although stone sarcophagi have been found in Greece, but the custom of decorating their sides with sculptured pictures did not become common until the Roman period. The shapes of the{253}

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Fig. 111.

coffins differed; there were square box-like coffins, and also others of an oval shape, or pointed coffins, made of flat terra-cotta tiles. Poor people were generally buried in some common cemetery, in simple coffins, and in graves made to hold a large number. Richer people had special vaults, which were either constructed by hollowing out the rocky ground below or above the earth, or by the artificial building up of a tumulus. The curious tholos buildings of Mycenae, Orchomenus, Attica, etc., are generally supposed now to be nothing but large vaults of this description; and, indeed, throughout the whole of Greece, Sicily, and Lower Italy, numerous tombs, either vaulted out of the rock or constructed of large blocks of stone, have been discovered, not to speak of the temples and towers which are chiefly found in Asia Minor, and usually appear to be due to non-Greek origin or influence. In{254} these vaults, which often served for whole families, they laid their dead, either in coffins or without them, merely in their grave clothes, generally resting on a flat stone. Thus the Attic vase picture in Fig. 111 represents the dead man in his tomb, the vaulting of which the painter has imitated, wrapped in a white cloth, a cushion under his head; fillets hang down from above. In Attica it was the custom to place the bodies so that their heads turned to the west and their feet to the east, while the opposite position was usual at Megara, where the customs differed in other ways, and three or four corpses were sometimes put in the same coffin. The custom of placing various objects required in daily life in the grave by the side of the dead man was universal, chiefly the things with which he had been occupied in his lifetime, or which belonged to his profession; clothes, money, oil-flasks, and other vases were put in, and besides them, in the case of a child, his toys; in the case of a warrior his arms; a woman’s spindle or ornaments and mirror; a young man’s strigil and oil-flask; a musician’s flute or lyre. We owe nearly all the small art treasures which have come down to us from antiquity, such as vases, terra-cottas, cameos, gold ornaments, caskets, etc., to this custom of adorning the graves of the dead with the objects used in daily life. Many of these, especially vases, lamps, candlesticks, arms, etc., seem to have been specially made with a view to being placed in the grave, since they were often of no use for practical purposes. There were no doubt special places outside the walls devoted to burning the bodies, though it is quite possible that some people were burnt on their own land if that happened to be large enough. Wood, twigs, and other easily-combustible substances were used for erecting a pile; the body was laid on it, along with the cushions destined{255} to be burnt, among which, besides the objects already mentioned, the favourite animals of the dead were often included; and the pile was lighted with a torch. Round about stood the mourners, who called aloud many times on the dead, bidding him farewell. There do not appear to have been any other ceremonies connected with the funeral, nor did it bear a specially religious character, such as would be given it by the presence of priests or the offering of sacrifices; still, we must not forget that the mere act of burying or burning was regarded as a religious one. Funeral orations were only pronounced in the case of soldiers who had fallen in war, or men who had deserved specially well of their country. When the corpse was consumed by the fire and the pile had burned down, the glowing remains were quenched with water or wine. This act is represented on a vase painting (Fig. 112), which gives a scene from the Apotheosis of Hercules. The ashes and pieces of bone which had not been completely consumed were then collected and put in a special vessel. For this purpose they used urns, coffin-like boxes, and small vessels, which were afterwards placed in larger cases. These were constructed of different materials, clay or stone, brass, lead, sometimes even silver or gold. The urns were then placed, like the coffins, in a vault or under the earth.

When the burying or burning was ended, it was the custom for the relations and intimate friends of the deceased to return to the house of the latter, and after both the house and its inhabitants had been purified from the pollution connected with the death, by means of incense and sprinkling, or washing with consecrated water, they took part together in a funeral banquet. At this the near relations, who had hitherto{256}

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Fig. 112.

refrained from food, or at any rate from meat, for the first time again partook of it, a custom which could probably only be carried out when the funeral took place on the second day after the death. On the third and ninth days after, the nearest relations went to the grave with libations, which consisted in part of bloodless offerings, such as milk, honey, wine, etc., and partly in the sacrifice of real victims. On the spot where the body or the ashes were buried, unless the remains were placed in some vault above the earth, they erected a funeral monument, which bore the name of the family and home of the deceased, sometimes in metrical form; and even gave details about{257}

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Fig. 113.


his life and his virtues. This was usually decorated in an artistic manner. The commonest form was the “Stele,” which was sometimes a tall column, at others merely a horizontal gravestone, and represented the dead man in some occupation of daily life. A boy might be seen playing with his ball, and a girl with her doll; a young man holds his quoit; a strong warrior stands fully armed as though ready to depart; a countryman accompanied by his faithful dog, leans on his knotted stick; a young wife sits near her work-basket or gazes with pleasure at her ornaments, like the one represented on the relief in Fig. 113, where the lady seems to be taking a ring from a jewel case held for her by her attendants; others represent the dead person alone or with others, not engaged in any occupation, but in some simple natural attitude, like the two women on the stone represented in Fig. 114; others suggest death, since the relations are taking leave of a member of a family. On one it is the mother who is dying, and the smallest of the children is creeping up to her (compare Fig. 62), or they are holding out to her a child still wrapped in swaddling clothes for her last kiss (compare Fig. 58); the husband steps to his wife, who is resting in an easy chair, and gives her his hand for a last farewell, with an expression of sorrow mingled with self-control. On some tombstones of a longer shape the family meal is represented; the husband lies on the couch, the wife sits near him, the children are pressing around them, and even the faithful animals, the dog and favourite horse, are not forgotten. This subject is a very common one; sometimes it is a simple scene from daily life, sometimes the master is represented in a more heroic attitude as already dead, and his relations are paying the{259}

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Fig. 114.


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Fig. 115.

departed the fitting honour and adoration. There seems to be little attempt at representing real portraits on most Greek tombstones; they are ideal types, often of extraordinary beauty, now and then, perhaps, with some slight resemblance to the dead, but by no means realistic portrait statues. But whether it is a scene from real life that is represented by art, or the bitter last farewell, or whether it is any hint of the life in a future state, which last is by no means uncommon, these reliefs are always distinguished by their moderation in the expression of pain, and a peaceful feeling of calm and worthy expression of sorrow, which can but have an elevating effect even on those who have grown up in the views of Christianity. This is the case even where some simple stonemason has roughly expressed in stone the thought of parting and reunion; how much more, then, in those magnificent{261}

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Fig. 116.


creations of the finest period of Attic art to which the examples represented above belong.

There were many other shapes adopted for these tombstones. Very often the stelai were decorated with painting instead of reliefs; in some the surface was extended and the background hollowed out, which gave them an altar-like character, and they were often framed in correspondingly by pillars and gables. Occasionally the stones bore the shape of a vase, especially of the oil-flask, so important in its association with death, and this, too, might be decorated with sculpture. Sometimes they set low columns of round or square shape on the grave, on which they often represented a siren, who had a special significance as singer of mourning songs; sometimes whole statues—ideal pictures or portraits of the deceased—were placed there, though the custom was more common in the Hellenic period than in the best ages of art.

Childish affection and belief led them to decorate these graves still further with wreaths, fillets, growing plants, etc. These were often renewed, and especially on the anniversaries of birth and death the relations came with libations and sacrifices, pouring out sweet odours or wine, or by other means showed that the memory of the departed was not gone from them. There are many pictures extant, especially on vases, depicting the care of the graves. Fig. 115, from a vase painting, shows two women approaching a stele, carrying plates with flasks and fillets. Similarly, in Fig. 116, the weeping woman at the end of the stele is drawn with especial grace.

Thus the Greeks held the memory of their dead worthily in honour, although their time of mourning did not last nearly as long as is customary with us, but{263}

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Fig. 117.


was generally limited to one or a few months. Even in the case of those who had died away from home, and whose remains could not be brought back, as, for instance, those who were drowned at sea, or altogether lost to sight, they erected cenotaphs, in order to have some spot with which to connect the ceremonies devoted to the memory of the dead. The tombstone represented in Fig. 117 was probably that of a man who had lost his life in some such way, perhaps in a shipwreck. The relief shows the dead man sitting sadly on land near his ship, and gazing towards his distant home which he was not permitted to see again. In the empty space below, his name and probably also the details of his death were inscribed in writing, which has now been effaced.{265}



Jumping—Use of Dumb-bells—Running—The Torch-race—Quoit-throwing—The Javelin—Wrestling—Boxing—PancrationPentathlon—Ball-games—Archery—Training.

We have already had occasion to allude to the important part played by gymnastics in Greek life. In the Doric states it was the basis of the education of girls as well as boys, and even at Athens the training of the body was an important feature of the education of boys and youths, and was also diligently cultivated even afterwards for the sake of developing and strengthening the body. We have now to consider the most important of these gymnastic exercises, and the mode in which they were carried on, dealing first with the easier and simpler ones, and afterwards with the more difficult and complicated.

One of the chief exercises in the gymnastic schools and at the sports was jumping. Along with running, quoit-throwing, wrestling, and boxing, jumping was regarded even in the Homeric age as part of gymnastics, but we know very little of the mode in which it was practised. In the historic period we find the same kinds of jumping as at the present day, namely, the high jump, the long jump, and the high long jump; among these the long jump was of the first importance, and was the only one in use at the contests. While we, however, confine{266} ourselves more to the jump with or without a spring-board, and use no artificial means except perhaps a pole, in ancient times weights (ἁλτῆρες) were largely in use, and though they required a greater effort on the part of the jumper on account of the additional weight, yet they gave him some advantage by increasing the impetus. These weights are simply dumb-bells made of metal or stone, and resemble in shape those which we use at the present day for very different purposes. There were two kinds. The older form resembled the segment of a circle, somewhat smaller than a semicircle, part of the circle being used as a handle. This older kind of dumb-bell, which is represented on many vase pictures, was used in later times chiefly for hygienic purposes. Another kind came into general use for sports, and especially the Pentathlon; these exactly resembled our modern dumb-bells, for which, indeed, they served as models. A round ball is fastened at either end of a massive handle, bent into something of a curve, and sometimes—especially when they were used not merely to exercise the arms but in leaping—one of these balls was larger and heavier than the other, and this, in the leap, was thrust forward.

We are expressly told that these dumb-bells were also used in ancient gymnastics for strengthening the shoulders, arms, and fingers, and on many old vase paintings, where we see dumb-bells in the hands of youths, the attitude suggests such exercises and not jumping. In the painting represented in Fig. 118 one of the men holds two such dumb-bells in his hands; it is not easy to decide whether he is preparing to jump, as is usually supposed, or is only practising dumb-bell exercises. Still, the latter seems to have been a subordinate use only, and the chief use of the{267}

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Fig. 118.

dumb-bell was in jumping. In running, previous to jumping, they held the dumb-bells behind them, and at the moment of jumping thrust the arms violently forward; the impulse given by the weight then communicated itself also to the legs, and enabled them to cover a longer distance. We, therefore, often find jumpers represented in pictures holding their arms stretched in front of them; and practical attempts in recent times have convinced us that the importance of the dumb-bells in jumping was due not so much to a backward motion communicated by them, as to the thrusting forward of the arms. On springing down the arms were thrust backward again, as we may also learn from the pictures, and thus a firm and safe standing posture was attained. In the case of the youth represented with dumb-bells in Fig. 119, taken from an engraved discus (compare below, Fig. 126), it is uncertain whether he is using them merely to{268} exercise his arms or to help him in jumping; possibly he is taking a preliminary run. Other representations of jumpers are given below, in Figs. 121 and 121. It is very probable that these spring-weights were used for the long jump, but not for the high jump, where they would be rather an impediment than an assistance.

Another difficult question is whether the ancients made use of leaping-poles. There is not a single picture of which we can say with certainty that it represents exercises with a leaping-pole, although on vase paintings of gymnastic scenes we do very frequently see sticks or poles, but it is always possible to find another interpretation for these. Thus they may be javelins, such as were used for throwing, or measuring rods, with which the superintending teachers or judges measured the length of a jump or a quoit-throw, or they may be merely sticks carried in token of official position. None of the writers afford any direct information about the use of leaping-poles; they are hardly mentioned except in references to occasional leaps over trenches with the help of a pole, and mounting horses by help of a lance; and, accordingly, we may infer that they did not play an important part in ancient gymnastics.

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Fig. 119.

Another disputed question is whether the ancients used a spring-board. Some references among the later writers seem to suggest that they made use of a little elevation (βατήρ), from which they took the{269} long jump, which was far the commonest and the only kind in use in the contests. There is nothing, however, to show that this elevation was of wood, and thus gave the jumper an advantage in consequence of its elasticity; it seems to have been only a little mound of earth. The course of events was something of this sort: all who took part in the contest took their stations in a row behind a line drawn in the sand of the wrestling school, and jumped from there in turn; of course, this was not done without previous running, for some of the achievements of the ancients in the long jump would have been quite impossible without running. Accordingly, they must have run from the appointed place to the mound and jumped from that. Where the first jumper stopped a fresh line was drawn with a pick-axe, such as we often see on vase pictures in the hand of a youth or superintendent, and they were also used to loosen the earth in order to lessen the shock in jumping down. Those that followed, of course, tried to jump even further, and every longer jump was again marked by a line, while the short ones were left unnoticed, unless, as in the case of the Pentathlon, the object was to have several victors. Finally, the result of the various jumps was determined by long measuring chains. What the ancient writers have told us about the wonderful achievements of the Greek athletes in the long jump, sounds almost fabulous; especially the story about Chionis, who is said to have jumped 52 feet, and Phayllus, who jumped 55. Modern writers on gymnastics have declared these statements impossible and exaggerated, in spite of the fact that they rest on good authority; but it is not right to declare our disbelief simply on account of our modern gymnastic training, which is entirely different from{270} the Greek, since the elasticity of the sinews and the muscles, which come into play in jumping, has not been nearly so well developed from earliest youth upwards as it was in Greece; moreover, these accounts refer to especial tours de force, and were only remarkable exceptions. In any case, Greeks must have demanded a great deal even from ordinary jumpers, otherwise they would not have considered the jump, which in itself is one of the easiest exercises, one of the most difficult achievements in the gymnastic contests.

Running is already mentioned by Homer among the sports practised by the youth of Phaeacia; it was very popular, too, in after times, and formed an important part of the gymnastic contests which took place at the great Hellenic festivals. Speed was not of as much importance as endurance, and overcoming difficulties of ground; for they did not run on firm earth, but in soft sand, where it was doubly difficult to run fast, since the feet sank in if they were too firmly set down. There were four kinds of racing, according to the length of the course: the single course (στάδιον), the double course (δίαυλος), the horse race (ἵππιος δρόμος), and the long course (δολιχός). The single course was the length of the race-course, or stadium—that is, six hundred feet; the runner had to measure the course from beginning to end. In the double course the same space was passed over in both directions—that is, twice. In the horse race they ran twice backwards and forwards, consequently four stadia, which therefore was the length of the course on horseback, and hence its name. There are very different accounts about the length of the long course; seven, twelve, twenty, and even twenty-four stadia have been mentioned; the last (about three miles) seems to have been the usual length at{271} Olympia. It is impossible to say whether these various statements are due to erroneous calculations or differing customs; still there is no reason to doubt even the longest course mentioned, since many of our modern runners can achieve far greater distances, so that a course of twenty-four stadia might very well have been required as the highest achievement of a good athlete. Our authorities, however, do not inform us what degree of speed was usual. We know that the educational and practical value of running depended not only on the attainment of great speed over a short distance, but also on the endurance necessary for achieving a long distance; and among the exercises in the gymnasia they probably laid as much stress on an even pace in the long races as on speed. But when running was practised at the contests, the moderation in speed of course gave way to the attempt to be first in the race and in consequence we hear of cases in which the victorious runner, on reaching the winning-post, fell down dead in consequence of excessive exertion, like the runner Ladas, whose statue Myron made. Therefore, the runners, as well as others who engaged in gymnastic contests, were in the habit of previously rubbing their bodies with oil in order to make their limbs flexible. In running, three or five generally entered at the same time; when there were more they seem to have been divided into parties of four, and in that case the winning party had to run once more to decide the final victory. The signal for running was given by the dropping of a rope stretched out in front of the runners; in running, they either held their arms with the elbows closely pressed to their sides or swung them violently and regularly backwards and forwards, corresponding in time to the feet; the former attitude{272}

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Fig. 120.

was probably reserved for the long course, when it was a question of preserving an equal speed, and the latter for the quickest course, in which the swinging of the arms might be a help; even here, however, the rule held that a good runner should adopt a slower motion at first, and only gradually proceed to his greatest speed. The pictures of runners, which are very common on vase pictures, especially on the so-called Panathenaic prize amphorae, generally show the peculiarity of holding the front leg very high up, while the other is set far backwards, and seems only to touch the ground with the toes. Now in ordinary pictures of runners we generally see the front leg resting on the ground and the other thrown out far behind, and this is sometimes found on antique pictures, but less often; we therefore must suppose that quick running in ancient times consisted rather in a series of wide jumps, in which only the toes touched the ground. In the vase painting repre{273}sented in Fig. 120 we see four runners moving thus from left to right; their left legs are thrown far forward, their right legs back, and the arms swing with a motion corresponding to that of the legs. The hypothesis formerly current that on the vase paintings the runners from left to right are running the single, those from right to left the long course, is, however, not tenable. The two men practising, on the vase picture Fig. 121, are jumping in exactly the same manner; behind them another man is preparing to jump with dumb-bells, near them stands a teacher or superintendent in a cloak, with a switch in his hand; on the ground lies a quoit.

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Fig. 121.

In ancient times, runners usually wore some drapery round their loins, but afterwards they had no clothing at all. There was, however, a special kind of race, called “armour-race,” (ὁπλιτοδρομία), which was{274} not introduced into the Olympic games till the year 520, in which the runners wore the heavy armour of Hoplites. In ancient times, they seem to have run in full armour—that is, with helmet, cuirass, greaves, sword and spear; afterwards, if we may trust the representations on the vases, the armour-race consisted in running with helmet and round shield, as in Fig. 122. This kind of race, which, of course, required still greater exertion, seems to have been only in use for the single and double course, and chiefly for the latter, but not for the horse-course, or the long course.

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Fig. 122.

The torch-race (λαμπαδοδρομία) was more a matter of skill than of speed or bodily strength. This was especially popular at Athens, and there constituted an important part of certain festivals, especially the Panathenaea, and the festivals of Hephaestus and Prometheus, but had nothing to do with the gym{275}nastic contests at the great national games. The youths who took part in the torch-race, lighted their torches at an altar in the Academy, and ran together from there, with burning torches to some appointed place in the town. In this race the victor was not he who ran fastest, but he who first arrived at the goal with a burning torch. It was important, therefore, to run quickly, and at the same time cautiously, so that the torch might not be put out. The expenses of the arrangements, which, however, cannot have been very considerable, belonged to the so-called Liturgies, the charges voluntarily undertaken by certain wealthy citizens. They also had to superintend the practising, or, at any rate, to see to its being done. If we may judge from ancient representations of the torch-race, the runners sometimes, besides the torch, bore a shield on their left arm, and also some head-covering, and, since it was not really a question of great speed, some light article of clothing.

In the third place, we must consider quoit-throwing. This exercise, in which the object was to throw a heavy disc as far as possible, is also mentioned in the Odyssey. The youth of Phaeacia played it, but Odysseus excels them all, and sends the disc hurled by him beyond all the marks of the other players. Quoits are also mentioned as an amusement of the suitors, and among the funeral games in honour of Patroclus. Homer mentions stone and iron quoits; in later times metal, chiefly iron or bronze, was the commonest material. They were round and flat in shape, somewhat raised on each side, with a diameter of about a foot, and were, therefore, very heavy, and not easy to grasp on account of their smoothness. The descriptions of ancient writers and monuments give us a very clear idea of the manner in which these{276}

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Fig. 123.


discs were thrown. The quoit-player, first of all, took a firm stand, and while he measured the space over which he had to throw his disc, he held it in his left hand in order not to tire the right too soon; this is the position in which we see the standing “Discobolus” in the Vatican, represented in Fig. 123. The attitude adopted when actually throwing is best given by the Discobolus of Myron, which has come down to us in several copies, and which is thus described by Lucian: “He is stooping down to take aim, (his body) turned in the direction of the hand which holds the quoit, one knee slightly bent, as though he meant to vary his posture and rise with the throw.” The thrower, therefore, bent his whole body somewhat in the moment when he threw back the right hand with the disc, in order to give it the necessary impulse, pressing his left leg firmly on the ground, and digging his toes into the sand, at the same time bending the right knee in order to give the disc increased power by springing up from his bent position at the moment of throwing. In this attitude the position of the head followed the whole direction of the body with a slight inclination to the right (the left of the spectator), as we may learn from the best copies preserved to us of Myron’s Discobolus, a statue in the Palazzo Massimi, at Rome, and a bronze statuette at Munich; the downward bending of the head, in the Vatican copy, represented in Fig. 124, and on the other replicas of the statue, is due to a mistake in restoration. We may also assume with some certainty that they did not remain on the same spot at the moment of throwing, but had space enough to run a little way forward, as is done even now in playing skittles—a game which differs but little from quoit-playing—for the force of the throw would be checked by remaining in one{278} place. Thus the bronze statue, Fig. 125 (though this is sometimes interpreted as a wrestler running to the attack), shows the disc thrower running forward a few steps, the upper part of his body bent forwards, and trying to follow the result of his throw. Probably the little elevation from which, according to the ancient writers, the thrower hurled the quoit, supplied the necessary space for this forward movement, and the extreme edge of this elevation (βαλβίς) was also the limit which, in case of a contest prevented any from running further than others, or throwing their discus from a nearer point, so that the conditions of the contest might be alike for all. The umpires, or superintendents, carefully marked, by lines or some other means, the place to which each combatant threw his disc, and he whose quoit flew the farthest was the victor.

Quoit-throwing, as well as running and jumping, was taught even to boys, but undoubtedly they used smaller and lighter discs than men. The disc from Aegina, now in the Berlin Museum, one side of which is represented above in Fig. 119, was only eight inches in diameter, and about four pounds weight, but was probably never used as an actual implement of the school.

Throwing the javelin was also taught in the boys’ gymnastic schools. This was originally a military exercise; we find it mentioned in heroic times, not only as a mode of fighting, but also as a game. In the gymnastic schools of the boys and youths they often used, as we may tell from the pictures, instead of a real spear, a blunt stick of about the same length, but they must sometimes have made use of real spears with sharp points for their exercises, since the orator Antiphon tells us that one of the older boys at the{279}

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Fig. 124.


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Fig. 125.


gymnasium killed a younger one, who had by mistake run in the way, and this would have been impossible if a mere stick had been used. Probably the weight of the spears was gradually increased, as also of the quoits, and the youths used heavier weapons than the boys, while the men in their turn used still heavier ones. We may, however, infer that, besides throwing a mere stick in which certainty of aim would be the object, they used actual spears, and studied especial ways of managing them, since the javelin, which was supplied with a loop or strap, had to be thrown in a quite peculiar way, while the stick had no loop, and could be quite differently thrown. This loop was near the lower end of the javelin; the thrower put the first and second fingers of his right hand through it—sometimes it was a double loop, so that each finger grasped a separate strap—he laid his thumb on the wood of the spear, which rested on the third or fourth fingers placed underneath, or else on the third finger alone; in this position the hand was drawn backwards and then aim was taken at some definite goal, the nature of which we are not acquainted with. This we learn from the Berlin disc already mentioned (Fig. 126), and also from various vase paintings, and the figure of the giant frieze from Pergamum. The throw was either horizontal, if distance was aimed at, which was most usual, or upwards towards some raised mark. Among gymnastic exercises represented in a vase painting (Fig. 127), throwing the spear also plays a part. We see here, on the left (near the handle), a youth represented as just about to run; on the right, near him, a second is practising dumb-bells, or else preparing to jump. Near a long-robed flute-player, whose music is accompanying the exercises, a spear-thrower is running forward, but his face is not turned forward{282} to the mark, but backward towards the hand which holds the spear (like the throwing Discobolus), so that we must suppose that it was not a question of throwing the spear at a definite mark, but only of sending it as far as possible. Next to a bearded superintendent, wearing a cloak and holding a switch, follows a quoit-player, who is about to throw the disc which he holds in the right hand. Lastly, we have a pair of boxers, whose attitude will be discussed further on. Other representations show us that, in throwing upwards, the handle with the loop was held downwards, but in throwing to a distance, if the object was to throw as far as possible, the right arm was drawn back as in Fig. 119 and here; but if a mark was aimed at, the upper arm was kept in a horizontal position, about the height of the ear, and the aim carefully taken before throwing. The javelin used in gymnastic exercises and contests differs from that used in war in being constructed of very light wood, and having no lance-head like the one used in battle, but, as Fig. 119 shows, a very thin and rather long head, obviously in order that the spear may cling more easily to the mark which was probably made of wood.

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Fig. 126.

Throughout the whole of antiquity the favourite contest was wrestling, and the importance of this depended on the fact that the whole body was exercised at the same time, and all the muscles came into play; and also that it was not an exercise{283}

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Fig. 127.


performed by one single man, but was an immediate measuring of strength by two opponents, and, therefore, even more than the other contests, required full bodily power. Even in the Homeric age, therefore, wrestling played an important part, and the deep hold it took on Greek life is shown by the great number of technical expressions taken from wrestling which in metaphorical form found their way into the ordinary every-day language; no other exercise had so large a store of technical expressions; indeed, it is absolutely impossible for us to find words to express them all at the present day. Wrestling, like other gymnastic exercises, was carried on at first with some drapery round the loins, and afterwards without any clothing. As a preparation, the combatants rubbed their whole bodies with oil, with a view to making their limbs more supple and elastic. For this purpose there were special rooms in the gymnasia and wrestling schools, in which stood large vessels, filled with oil, from which they filled their own little flasks; then they poured a little oil out of these into their hands, and either rubbed their bodies with it or else had them rubbed by one of the attendants of the gymnasia appointed for the purpose (ἀλείπτης). But as this oiling and the perspiration which resulted from the contest would have made the body too smooth and slippery, and absolutely impossible to grasp, they covered themselves, when the anointing was finished, with fine dust, taken from special pits, or else prepared on purpose. This was supposed also to serve a hygienic purpose, for it was assumed that the dust prevented excessive perspiration, and in consequence saved the strength; it was also regarded as advantageous because it closed the pores and sheltered them from the air, which might have an injurious{285} effect. Oil, perspiration, dust, and also the soft sand, which, when the wrestlers continued their contest on the ground, clung to their bodies, together formed a thick crust, which could not have been sufficiently removed by a mere warm bath; therefore the wrestlers used a stlengis, or strigil, for cleansing their bodies, rubbing off the dirt partly themselves and partly with the help of attendants, and afterwards took a warm bath. The action of this scraping, which, in spite of its unaesthetic nature, gave rise to many graceful attitudes, has been often plastically represented by artists; a good copy has come down to us of the most celebrated of these figures, the Apoxyomenos of Lysippus. The bath was usually followed by oiling the body once more, because the use of oil was regarded as good for the health and tending to strengthen the limbs. As already mentioned, this anointing was accompanied by a kind of massage, a pressing and kneading of the body, which the rubber understood, and which was regarded as a hygienic method, so that one who was specially skilled in it was called a medical-rubber (ἰατραλείπτης), and in a measure combined the duties of physician and rubber. The constant exposure to fresh air and accustoming of the naked body to the rays of the sun, combined with the oiling and dusting mentioned above, produced in the wrestlers especially, though to some extent in all the athletes, a very dark complexion, which the ancients regarded as a mark of health and of manly courage, and often held up to admiration in contrast to the pale colouring of the artisans and stay-at-homes who “sat in the shade.” There were two principal methods in ordinary wrestling—standing and ground wrestling. In the first kind of contest everything depended on throwing an opponent,{286} either by skill, or by certain tricks which were allowed in wrestling, in such a way that his shoulder touched the earth, while the other kept his position; throwing once, however, did not decide the victory, but in order to be victorious in the standing wrestling-bout it was necessary for a man to throw his opponent three times in this manner. When both opponents fell together while wrestling without clasping each other, they jumped up and began the contest afresh; but if they grasped each other firmly when they fell, so that the contest was not yet decided, the wrestling usually passed into the second stage, in which both wrestled while lying on the ground, when now one now the other might get the advantage, until one of the two declared himself conquered, and gave up the struggle. The wrestlers in the celebrated Florentine marble group, represented in Fig. 128, are in this position. This wrestling on the ground, however, only took place in the boys’ gymnastic school, and afterwards in the public contests of Pancratiasts (see below, page 296), and professional athletes; in the great contests and the Pentathlon only standing wrestling was allowed. The mode in which the wrestlers began the combat has been clearly described by several writers, and often represented on monuments. Each combatant took his place, with his legs somewhat apart, his right foot forward, stretched out his arms, drew his head a little between his shoulders, and thrust forward the upper part of his body, back, shoulders, and neck, in order to protect the lower part somewhat from the attack of his opponent. In this manner the combatants stepped towards each other, each watching for the moment when the other would expose himself in some way of which he could take advantage, and as they were naturally both as much as possible on their{287}

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Fig. 128.


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Fig. 129.

guard, it was often a considerable time before they could begin the contest by seizing hold of their opponents. But when it was once begun, the masters or other officials who superintended watched to see that no tricks contrary to tradition and rule were made use of, that there was no striking or biting; but still, they were allowed to make use of certain tricks or feints in order to deceive the enemy or gain an advantage over him. Among the methods allowed was throttling, either by touching the opponent’s neck or throwing an arm round it, or pushing the elbow under his chin, and sometimes the combatant who was attacked in this way was forced from want of breath to declare himself conquered, even without being thrown; similarly his opponent might force him, by pressing his body together to abandon the contest; and in the ground wrestling it sometimes happened that the combatant who had the upper hand knelt{289}

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Fig. 130.

down on the one who had been thrown to the ground and throttled him until he asked for mercy. Twisting and bending the limbs was also allowed, thrusting an arm or a foot into the opponent’s belly, pushing or forcing him from the spot, which, if the hands were occupied, was often done by means of the forehead, the two combatants dashing their heads against each other like two angry bulls; this was a very favourite trick, and is frequently shown on works of art. In Fig. 129, taken from a vase painting we see two wrestlers who have grappled, each holding his opponent’s right arm with his own left; their foreheads are pressed together, one has drawn back his right foot in order to increase his resisting power. The combatants in Fig. 130, are fighting in a similar manner, the left hand of one seizes the right arm of his opponent, while his right arm is thrown round his body; the left hand of the other meantime attacks his enemy’s back. On the left a superintendent, who wears a cloak, and holds a branch in his hand, stands looking on; on the right a young man is running quickly away. Among{290} the permitted feints was a sudden thrust of the leg, which hit the opponent’s knee from behind with the foot in such a manner as to throw him, or, if this was impossible, a similar blow was attempted on the side; they also seized an opponent by the leg or ankle in such a way as to lift it from the ground with a violent impulse, so that he must fall backwards. Sometimes a strong and skilful wrestler would put his arms round his opponent’s hips in such a way as to lift him entirely from the ground, and turn him over with his head downwards. On the vase painting represented in Fig. 131, in the group on the right, one of the wrestlers has lifted up his opponent in this manner, and the latter is trying to free himself from the arms which are holding him. In the other group, one of the wrestlers with his right arm seizes the left arm of his opponent and tries to press him down with his body, thrusting his head over the left shoulder of the other; the latter, however, thrusts his head over his opponent’s back, and with his right arm seizes his opponent’s right arm from behind. The richly-clad youth standing by presents an almost feminine appearance, holding a staff and flower in his hands, and it is not clear for what purpose he is there. Similar tricks and manoeuvres were used in ground wrestling. Besides this they also attempted to entangle the opponent’s legs in theirs, in order to prevent him from standing up again. There were a great many similar modes or plans of wrestling, all with a special terminology, and it seems as though no gymnastic exercise had been so thoroughly developed into a real art as that of wrestling.

Boxing, which we hear of among the funeral games in honour of Patroclus, was also practised in the historic period, but as a mode of fighting it was not actually necessary for the gymnastic training of every{291}

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Fig. 131.

Vase painting.


Greek, but was rather studied by those who desired to win prizes in the public games, and to obtain honour and reward by their bodily skill and strength. We are accustomed to regard the gymnastic training of the Greeks as tending not only to the development of the body, but also to that of the mind; and we cannot deny that boxing, especially in the form which it assumed in the course of centuries, was a rough sport, and that the pleasure which the Greeks undoubtedly took in watching it, though not quite of so degrading a nature as the cruel delight taken by the Romans in the fights of gladiators and wild beasts, yet, considered in connection with certain other popular sports, such as cock-fighting, must be taken as a sign that even the high degree of culture, which the Athenians had undoubtedly attained by the fifth century, was not quite sufficient to suppress completely the animal instinct in man. After all, our much-lauded nineteenth century is not unacquainted with such amusements as boxing, pigeon-shooting, and similar sports.

Boxing, like wrestling, was subject to special rules, from which we see that more stress was laid on artistic and elegant methods than on the mere evidence of great bodily strength and rude force. Specially skilful boxers, indeed, devoted themselves chiefly to wearing out their enemy by keeping strictly on the defensive—that is, parrying all his blows with their arms, and thus forcing him at last to give up the contest, rather than making him unfit to fight by well-aimed blows. They distinguished, too, in the defensive between correctly-aimed blows and mere rough hitting, which sometimes gave a combatant the victory if he happened to possess considerable strength, but by no means won reputation for him. All the same, severe bodily injuries, or, at any rate, lasting deformities, especially in the head and{293} face, were inevitably connected with boxing, and it was by no means unusual for boxers to have their ears completely disfigured and beaten quite flat, and, indeed, we see this on some of the ancient heads; afterwards it became customary to use special bandages for protecting the ears. A practice which made boxing especially rough, and sometimes even dangerous to life, was that of covering the hands with leathern thongs. Originally these thongs were tolerably harmless; they consisted merely of leather, and were put on in such a way that the fingers remained free, while the thongs extended a little way above the wrist and covered part of the lower arm—of course, in such a way as not to check the motion of the hand. But this gentler kind, which were still capable of inflicting rather serious injuries, were afterwards in use only for the preliminary practice before a serious contest; for the latter they used heavy boxing-gloves of hardened bull’s hide, into which knobs of lead, etc., were worked. We can easily imagine what terrible wounds might be inflicted by a blow from one of these. Many of the old athletes could show bodies covered with wounds like that of an old soldier, and the writers of epigrams laughingly compared the bodies of athletes to sieves full of holes. And although they were forbidden purposely to give blows which threatened the life of an opponent, yet it sometimes happened, as in the notorious contest between Creugas and Damoxenus, that in the excitement of the moment the combatants forgot the established rules, and the professional contest turned into mere brutality, from which those of the spectators whose feelings were of a less coarse nature turned away with horror.

For the contest they generally took their position in such a manner as not to turn their whole body to{294}

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Fig. 132.

the enemy, but only one side, and, as a rule, the left. It was in the nature of the contest that a constant change between attack and defence must take place; the attitude represented on numerous monuments, in which the left arm is used for parrying, the right for attack, was the common one, not only as an opening, but repeated at each new phase, though a change would sometimes take place, and the right arm be used in defence, the left for attack. On the vase painting represented in Fig. 132 we see two boxers, whose huge proportions show that they were endowed with unusual strength; both have covered their arms and hands with heavy thongs, one is apparently countering with the left, the other parrying with the right; his left aims at his enemy’s head. On the right stands a winged Goddess of Victory, on the left a{295}

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Fig. 133.

boxer with the thongs, raising his left arm to his head. The vase painting, Fig. 133, represents two boxers, one of whom aims a well-directed blow with his left at the breast of the other, who totters. On one side lie some poles, as well as implements belonging to the wrestling school, strigil, sponge, etc. There are also two boxers on the vase painting represented in Fig. 127. The one to the right has “got home” so effectively on the head with his left, that the other, who has tried to guard with his left arm, has to give ground, and seems to have had enough, for he is raising the first finger of his right{296} hand, a sign that he begs for mercy and declares himself conquered. The thongs here are only worn on the right hand of one of the combatants, but this was probably merely an omission on the part of the painter.

As preliminary practice in boxing, especially in learning the commonest attacks and parries, they used a kind of quintain (κώρυκος), a bladder or leather ball, hung up and filled with sand; this exercise is often represented on old monuments, and most clearly on the so-called “Ficoronese Cista.” This striking at the quintain was one of the regular contests in the gymnasium, for though the dangerous fighting with the leaded thongs was left to professional athletes, yet a trial of skill in the commoner kind of harmless boxing, in which there was no risk of losing teeth, etc., was a very favourite practice, and this, no doubt, is meant when we find boxing mentioned even among the gymnastic exercises of boys.

Similar was the Pancration, as difficult as it was dangerous, which was unknown to the heroic age, a combination of boxing and wrestling, which, though included among the exercises of the boys and youths, was only of real importance for professional athletes. Here all the parts of the body came into play, tricks and cunning feints to lead an opponent astray were permissible, and as important as bodily strength and powerful fists. The combatants fought naked, like the wrestlers, after oiling and strewing dust over their bodies; but they did not use thongs, which would have been in the way in wrestling, nor were they permitted to strike with the whole fist, but only with the bent fingers. They began the fight standing, as in wrestling, and the special difficulty was, in taking the offensive, to avoid being seized by an opponent as well as to parry an unexpected{297} blow from his fist. Blows were dealt not only in the standing fight, but also in the ground wrestling, and in the pancration they made even more use of their feet for hitting and kicking than in the separate contests in wrestling and boxing; they also tried to twist their opponent’s hands and break his fingers, since the main object was to make him incapable of fighting. It is, therefore, natural that among professional athletes the pancration was regarded as the most important of all modes of fighting.

Another contest, the Pentathlon, was of a very different nature. In the pancration the two modes of wrestling and boxing were combined together, but in the pentathlon the different contests were undertaken one after another by a number of competitors, and he who did well in all of them, and took the first place in some, was declared victor in the whole. The contest consisted in jumping, running, throwing the quoit, throwing the spear, and wrestling. Although the combination of these five contests was arranged with a view to the public games, yet it also had some educational importance; for difficult and easy contests were here combined, both those which required skill as well as those in which mere bodily strength carried off the palm, and thus the pentathlon was well calculated to develop the whole body harmoniously, and to keep professionals from devoting too much attention to one side of gymnastics to the disadvantage of the others. For this reason it was introduced among the exercises of the boys. We have no conclusive information about the proceedings in the pentathlon, the order in which the various contests followed one another, and the conditions on which a combatant was declared to be victorious. There is a good deal of difference of opinion among the{298} moderns who have ventured hypotheses on the subject. One great difficulty in deciding this question arises from the fact that, though a considerable number of combatants might take part in the four first-mentioned contests, wrestling must in the nature of things be performed by only two; we must therefore assume that the contests were arranged in such a manner that only two combatants should be left for the last. Probably they began with running, for which a considerable number could enter; supposing there were very many, they may have had several series of combats afterwards. The five best runners would then enter upon the second contest, perhaps throwing the spear; then the worst of these five would be thrown out, and the remaining four enter for the next, the jump; the three best jumpers would then throw the quoit, and the two best quoit-throwers would wrestle finally for the palm. Whether this or something similar was the arrangement, it might happen that a combatant who had never taken the first place in one of the first four contests might carry off the victory at last, but they avoided this by the rule that, if anyone took the first place in the first three contests or in three of the four, the two last or the last might be left out, and he would be considered victor in the pentathlon. Consequently, the final wrestling match only took place if after the fourth contest the victory was still undecided—that is, if among the two best quoit-throwers neither had taken the first place three times. It might, therefore, happen that a man who took the first place twice and the second place once in the first three contests was thrown out in the fourth, and the victory fell to another who had never taken the first place except at the last. Still, this apparent injustice was counterbalanced by the fact{299} that the last contest was really the most difficult, while a certain average excellence in the former contests was required of everyone who entered the pentathlon at all; also it was no small merit to keep a place among the victors in all five contests, though it might not be the first or second. Of course these are merely hypotheses; we have not sufficient materials for attaining certainty in this matter.

A number of other gymnastic exercises were of greater importance for the gymnasium than for the public games. Among those which were merely preliminary training for more serious tasks we have already mentioned the dumb-bells and the quintain. Others bear some resemblance to our own gymnastics; thus, for instance, exercises in bending the knees, which were especially popular at Sparta, and also practised by girls there; thrusting the arms forward and backward whilst standing on tiptoe, hopping on one foot, or changing the foot, etc. Ball was also included among the games of a semi-gymnastic character, as with us, too, it plays some part in gymnastic exercises; rope-pulling was also a favourite practice, but throughout the whole of antiquity far the most popular recreative game in the gymnastic schools was ball-playing, and there were special places devoted to it, just as there were afterwards in the baths or thermae. The ancient writers mention several other occupations of this kind, half-way between serious exercises and mere games; undoubtedly there were many others concerning which we have no information, and the relief in Fig. 134 probably shows us one of these. It seems to represent a game with a large hard ball, which was thrown up into the air and caught on the thigh, and, perhaps, thrown up again into the air from there.{300}

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Fig. 134.

Many exercises of a partly military character were also practised in the gymnasia. Besides throwing the spear, which was regarded as an entirely gymnastic exercise, and was practised at the public contests, there was archery, which, in the Alexandrine age, as we previously mentioned, even found a place in the curriculum of the Attic youths. This was also the case with the Cretans, who were renowned as excellent archers at the time of Plato, and probably even earlier. They used for the purpose a bow constructed of horn or hard wood; bows were of two different shapes, one which was common in the East, and was already described by Homer, in which two horn-shaped ends were connected by a straight middle piece; the other was a simpler shape, in which the whole bow consisted of one piece of elastic wood, scarcely curved at all when the bow was not bent, and which, when bent, acquired a semi-circular shape. As a rule, when the bow was not in use the string was only fastened at one end. Before shooting,{301} it was attached to the hook at the other end by means of a little ring or eye. A good deal of strength was needed to bend the bow far enough to attach the string. In shooting, they drew back the feathered arrow, on which a notch fitted, along with the string towards the breast, holding the bow firmly in the left hand. The vase painting depicted in Fig. 135 represents archery practice. The target here is the wooden figure of a cock set upon a column; of the three youths who are practising one shoots standing, the second kneeling, the common position for an archer, and the third is just about to draw his bow pressing his knee against it. All three use the second kind of bow. It is, of course, only an artistic licence that the archers are placed so near their goal; similarly the arrows are still flying while the two archers are about to shoot fresh ones.

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Fig. 135.

We have already had occasion several times to point to the difference between the gymnastic training of youths, continued into manhood with a view to strengthening the body, and the professional gymnastics of the athletes; we must, therefore, say a few{302} words about the position as well as the training of the latter. As the public games increased in importance, and the glory gained by the victors induced ambitious youths and men to strive for a wreath in the gymnastic contests, and thus gain undying fame for themselves and their native city, it gradually became the custom for especially strong and skilful athletes (ἀγωνισταί) to make the development of their body for these gymnastic contests the object of their life, in order, by constant practice, by a particular diet and mode of life calculated to increase their strength, to attain the highest position in this profession, and thus to be almost sure of victory. In this way “agonistics,” which was originally only a development of gymnastics in accordance with the rules of art, became a regular profession, and those who devoted themselves to it were distinctively known as athletes. As athleticism became a profession and a means of making money, it ceased, of course, to be an occupation worthy of a free and noble citizen; and it is, therefore, natural that at Sparta, where every profession by which money could be made was looked down upon, it should have made no way, and that in other places, too, it was only men of the lower classes who devoted themselves to it, however enticing it might seem to an ambitious youth who desired to attain the material advantages enjoyed by the victors in these contests, as well as the glorious honours with which they were specially distinguished.

The athletes received their training from a trainer (γυμναστής), who must be carefully distinguished from the gymnastic teacher of the boys (παιδοτσριβής). The trainer instructed his pupils in the higher branches of gymnastics, practised frequently with them, and probably also accompanied them to the public games, in{303} order to instruct them to the very last moment, since the victory of a pupil was also honourable and advantageous to the master. The exercises probably took place in the gymnasia belonging to the trainers, or in the public gymnastic places; and consisted not merely in a methodical increase in the usual gymnastic exercises until the highest achievements were attained, but also in many which were not practised elsewhere, and which were not calculated to harden the body or make the limbs supple. Along with the gymnastic training they observed, as already mentioned, a very careful mode of life, which was superintended by the rubber, whose half-medical training has been already alluded to. This diet was in part observed at all times, but was especially severe just before the games, at which an athlete had to appear. In ancient times the principal nourishment of the athletes was fresh cheese, dried figs, and wheaten porridge; in later times they abandoned this vegetarian diet for meat, and gave the preference to beef, pork, and kid. Bread might not be eaten with meat, but was taken at breakfast, while the principal meal consisted of meat; confectionery was forbidden; wine might only be taken in moderate quantities. In addition to this diet, which was prescribed to the athletes for the whole year, a special training had to be followed at times, especially when preparing for the games, which lasted for more than three-quarters of the year; at these times the athletes every day, after the conclusion of their practice, had to consume an enormous quantity of such food as was permitted them, and then digest it in a long-continued sleep. By gradually increasing the amount, an athlete succeeded at last in consuming an enormous quantity of meat, and at length this became a habit and even a{304} necessity. By this means they attained, not, it is true, hardening of the muscles, but the corpulence which is often represented in the ancient pictures, and which might be advantageous in certain contests, especially in wrestling and the pancration, since it enabled them more easily to press down and wear out their opponents; on the other hand, this artificially-produced corpulence was very unhealthy, and it is natural that these athletes were liable to many kinds of disease, especially apoplectic strokes.

The training and mode of life of the athletes just described was obviously not suitable for all kinds of gymnastic contests. Such diet would have been very pernicious for running and jumping; wrestling and boxing and the pancration were their chief domain, and it was in these that the more celebrated athletes of antiquity, whose names have come down to us—viz., Milo, Polydamas, Glaucus, and the rest—were specially distinguished. Their rewards were of various kinds. The victors in the Olympian games were allowed to set up a statue in the Grove of Altis, at Olympia, at their own expense or that of their relations, sometimes even of the state to which the victor belonged; and at home, too, they very frequently had the same honour of a public statue assigned to them. When they returned from the games, they held a solemn entry into their own town, dressed in purple, riding on a car drawn by four white horses, accompanied by their friends and relations and a rejoicing crowd; it was even an ancient custom to pull down a piece of the city wall, in order to show that a city which could produce such citizens required no walls for its defence. Then followed a banquet in honour of the victor, in which hymns were sung in his praise. Rewards were{305} also given in coin. At Athens, after the time of Solon, the victor in the Olympian games received 500 drachmae, the victor in one of the three other great national contests a hundred drachmae; in later times they even had the right of dining every day at the public expense in the town-hall (πρυτανεῖον), and they also enjoyed the honour of sitting on the front benches of the theatre (προεδρία). Moreover, most of the professional athletes, if they lived carefully and abstained from all departures from their customary diet and mode of life, were able to continue their contests for a good many years, sometimes thirty or more, and were thus able to pile honour on honour and reward on reward. The unlimited admiration which the mass of the people, and especially the youth, who were easily won by exhibitions of strength, gave to these combatants, who seem to us at the present day to have been but rough prize-fighters, stands in strong contrast to the judgment pronounced on them by men of real intellectual development, especially by the philosophers. They rightly complained that this one-sided development of the body was perfectly useless to the State, since the athletes were only capable in their own domain, but were quite unable to endure fatigues and undertake military service; they pointed out that the mode of life which aimed merely at increasing the bodily strength tended to dwarf the intellect, and that, therefore, the athletes were absolutely useless for political as well as for all intellectual purposes. Wise educators, therefore, disapproved of athletic training, and, indeed, the greatest warriors and statesmen of Greece seem always to have despised it.{306}



Stringed Instruments—The Lyre—The Cithara—Wind Instruments—The Flute—Trumpets, Tambourines, and other Instruments—Dancing as a Popular Amusement—The Dance in Religious Ceremonies.

We do not intend in this place to discuss the history and theory of ancient music, but only to supplement what has been said already about the musical instruction of youth, by indicating the most important branches of music which were studied in Greece and describing the instruments in use. We shall pass over vocal music entirely, since it played no great part in antiquity apart from instrumental accompaniment, and its chief purpose was for song and the drama.

The commonest instruments in ordinary use were stringed. These were well suited for solo-playing as well as for accompanying songs, and the singer could accompany himself with them, which would have been impossible in the case of wind instruments. The stringed instruments used in Greece were all played by striking or thrumming, and not by means of a bow; in fact, it is a disputed point whether the ancients, and in particular the Egyptians, were at all acquainted with the bow; in any case we do not find it in classical antiquity. Among the various kinds of stringed instruments which had either existed in Greece since the oldest times or been introduced from foreign countries, especially from the East or from Egypt, there were only two which were of special{307} importance for educational and ordinary purposes. These were the lyre and the cithara, which were closely related to one another, and only distinguished by the effect of the sound. Of these the simpler, and probably also the older, was the lyre, which, according to a Greek legend, was an invention of Hermes, who constructed the first lyre out of a tortoise, which he used as a sounding-board, stretching cords across it. Even in later times tortoise-shells seem to have been actually used in the construction of lyres, and on works of art, especially vase pictures (compare the “Bowl of Duris,” which represents school teaching in Attica, Fig. 75), we can plainly distinguish the markings of the tortoise on the outer side of the instrument. It must, however, have been more usual to construct the sounding-board of wood, and only adorn it externally with tortoise-shell or other decorative materials; the writers mention boxwood and ilex as the principal materials for lyres, as well as ivory, which last was probably used for decorative purposes. In the Homeric hymn to Hermes, in which the invention of the lyre by the god is described in detail, Hermes cuts little stems of reed, which he fastens into the shell in gridiron fashion and covers with ox-skin, and by this means obtains the necessary covering for the sounding-board. In later times the proceeding was probably different, since the usual material for the sounding-board was undoubtedly wood, and the covering was, no doubt, made of wood also. But the shape of the sounding-board always remained the same; the outer side was a good deal raised, while the inner side on which the strings were attached was a level surface. Into this sounding-board two arms were fixed, which are almost always represented on Greek monuments as merely curved pieces of wood fastened on the inner{308} side of the sounding-board; but the custom which in later times, especially in the Alexandrine and Roman periods, became very common, of not merely constructing these arms in the shape of horns, but even making them of real horns of chamois or gazelles, no doubt existed even in the ancient Greek period.

At their upper ends the two arms, which might be called horns, were fastened together by a cross-piece, called the yoke, which was usually constructed of hard wood, and on to this the strings, constructed of sheep-guts, were stretched. Of these the lyre usually had seven, all of equal length, which was also the case in the cithara. These strings, as we can clearly see in the lyres of the above-mentioned bowl (Fig. 75), passed downwards over a bridge consisting of a piece of reed fixed on the flat covering of the sounding-board, and were then fastened singly, probably to a little square board, such as we see on the lyre hanging on the wall in Fig. 75. Probably this little board could be taken out, and thus, if a string were to break, the injury could be easily repaired. Occasionally the strings were merely tied to the yoke; but, as this primitive method would make it impossible to tune them, we must assume that there was usually some other contrivance, though neither writers nor monuments give us sufficient information about it. On the lyres in Fig. 75, and also in other pictures of stringed instruments, we perceive at the upper ends of the strings, longish rolls which in other places are shaped more like rings or discs, and are probably set at an angle to the stretched strings. An hypothesis has been set up by Von Jan, who infers, from ancient writers, after comparing similar contrivances in Nubian stringed instruments, that these rolls were constructed of thick skin or{309} hide, taken from the backs of oxen or sheep; the strings were fastened into these adhesive covers and twisted along with them round the yoke of the lyre until they attained the right tune, and they were then fastened into their proper position by strongly pressing down these rolls of hide. Still, this rough mode of fastening which could only permit of very superficial tuning of the strings, does not appear very satisfactory; indeed, Von Jan himself calls attention to a far more artistic contrivance observed in some of the pictures which has not yet, however, been satisfactorily explained. There seems also to have been a third mode of fastening; sometimes the whole yoke was divided into as many little pulleys connected by pegs as there were strings, so that each string had, as it were, its own yoke, by the tightening of which it could be tuned without the other strings being affected. We have no further details about this construction.

On the vase painting represented in Fig. 136, which presents a number of women with musical instruments, perhaps Muses, one is leaning back comfortably in her easy-chair, and playing on the lyre, here represented with six strings; the woman standing in front of her seems about to tune the strings of her cithara. The cithara differed from the lyre chiefly in the form and structure of the sounding-board. This was constructed of wood, often artistically decorated and adorned with valuable materials, precious stones, etc., and was much larger and more arched than the sounding-board of the lyre. It usually had a straight base, and sometimes sounding holes, which was less often the case with the lyre, and its arms were far wider and squarer, and, being also hollow, seem to have helped to strengthen the sound. On some{310}

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Fig. 136.

instruments it is clear that the sounding-board and the arms which rise out of it were constructed out of a single piece, and that, consequently, the cavities are in connection; on some the arms are of a different colour from the sounding-board, usually white, which would suggest ivory; still, we must not on this account conclude that they were constructed separately, since it is possible that the different colouring was only an external ornamentation or veneer for the arms, and need not lead us to assume a different material for the whole structure. The arms were usually slightly curved outwards, but turned inwards again at the top. The instrument in Fig. 136 is one of the simplest, since the arms are quite plain;{311} on other examples we often see elaborate carving. The bridge which unites the two arms is either a perfectly simple rod, as in the case of the lyre (compare Fig. 136), or else the arms have at their projecting ends solid handles or crooks, which probably assisted the tuning. The number of strings was originally limited in the cithara; seven was at first the usual number, and this number was even fixed by law at Sparta, but in other places nine, ten, or eleven strings were used. The writers and pictures give us no more accurate information about the mode in which these strings were fastened to the yoke and to the sounding-board than they do about the lyre; the pictures dating from the Roman period are much clearer in that respect, but we cannot safely use them as authorities.

The lyre was generally played sitting. This instrument, which was a light one, was held close to the left side, as we see in Figs. 75 and 136, and supported by the seat of the chair. The cithara was played standing, and it was therefore necessary, on account of the considerable weight of the instrument, to suspend it by a band over the shoulders. This band is seldom represented in works of art, but it must always be assumed to be there, since the mode in which the stringed instruments were played would not leave a hand free for holding it. Both lyre and cithara were played in such a manner that the strings were thrummed from without by the left hand, but struck from within by an instrument called plectrum, held in the right hand, and constructed of wood, ivory, or some half-precious stone. This plectrum was fastened by a string to the instrument (compare again Fig. 75). There were, however, exceptions to this mode of playing; thus, a woman in Fig. 136 apparently does not{312} use the plectrum, but thrums the strings of the lyre with both hands, and at other times it seems as though the left hand and the plectrum, which was held in the right, were not used at the same time, but in turns. Thus, in Fig. 75, both teacher and pupil are only thrumming the instrument with their left hand, and leaving the plectrum at rest. The practical object of fastening the plectrum to the instrument was that it enabled the player at any moment to pass from the use of the plectrum to the fingers of the right hand, and vice versa. An hypothesis based on works of art, and apparently very plausible, has been made by Von Jan, who supposes that musicians, as a rule, accompanied their song with the play of the left hand, and only used the plectrum in the pauses.

Besides the lyres and citharae, among which we must certainly include the Homeric Phorminx, of which we find various kinds but all with the same main features, there are several other stringed instruments, to which we can, as a rule, assign the ancient names with some certainty, though we find a very great number of designations for these instruments in different writers, and apparently most of them were introduced into Greece from the East and from Egypt. One of the safest identifications relates to a large, many-stringed instrument, of a shape which closely resembles our modern harp (Fig. 136). This is played by the third woman in the centre, and is also found elsewhere (compare the vase painting, Fig. 137). We almost always find this instrument in the hands of women; they play it seated, resting the horizontal base on their laps, while the broader sounding-board which joins this at an angle, rests against the upper part of their body; they strike the short strings near them with the right hand, without a plectrum, and{313} with the left hand the long strings which are further from them. The pictures sometimes show contrivances for tuning, shortening, or lengthening the strings; the number of strings varies. As the shape is usually triangular, we may probably assume that this instrument is the one called Trigonon. Possibly some of the examples may be instances of the Sambuca, since this, too, had a triangular form.

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Fig. 137.

We also hear of many other stringed instruments, of which we know only the names, some with a{314} small number of strings—three or four, others with a large number—thirty to forty; but we know little or nothing about their shape, and, therefore, will not enter into details concerning them, especially as their use must have been very rare as compared with that of the instruments already described. We must just mention the Barbiton, since it seems probable that an instrument which appears very often on ancient monuments, very narrow and long, with a sounding-board closely resembling the lyre, but smaller, and with a very few strings, which was played with the hand and the plectrum, may have been the barbiton which was popular at festive gatherings, and for accompanying love-songs.

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Fig. 138.

Among wind instruments we must, in the first instance, consider the flute. Although for a time this was not popular in the most fashionable circles at Athens, still it was much in use in Boeotia, and also in the rest of Greece, even among amateurs, and at all times was of great importance, especially for choruses{315}

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Fig. 139.

and festive performances, for entertainments during meals, dancing, and other such occasions. The form of this instrument which is commonest on the monuments is the double flute. The ancient flute (ἀὐλός) differed in shape and use from that which bears the name at the present day, since the players did not blow into it at the side, but made use of a mouthpiece like that of a clarinet. This mouthpiece, which was usually of the same material as the flute proper, has an easily vibrating tongue cut in its upper part, which vibrates within the mouth, as the greater part of the mouthpiece is taken right into the mouth by the player. The principal part of the flute, the pipe, which is either of the same thickness throughout, or else somewhat widened at the lower end, was sometimes formed of a single piece and sometimes of several component parts. Various notes were produced by the holes of which there were at first only three or four, but afterwards a larger number; there were also holes at the side, which helped to increase{316} the compass of the flute, and various other helps, such as valves on the side, rings which in turning either opened or closed the holes, etc. In spite of the very numerous practical attempts instituted during the present century to procure some notion of the mode of playing and the effect of the ancient flute, it does not seem possible to obtain any proper conception of it.

The pipe seems never to have been used singly in Greece, but only as the double flute, as we see on so many representations, and, as a rule, the flutes are both of equal length. In order to facilitate the playing on two instruments at the same time or in quick succession, and perhaps also to prevent the escape of air, they often, though not always, made use of a cheek-piece round the mouth. The bronze statue of a flute player, of which both sides are represented in Figs. 138 and 138, shows very plainly the mode in which this bandage was fastened by two leathern thongs passed round the head; we can also recognise it in the flute player in Fig. 140, a vase painting which undoubtedly, as the pedestal on which he stands indicates, represents a flute player at a public contest; this is also suggested by his curious costume—the long festive robe and short jacket without sleeves.

In the vase painting represented in Fig. 127, the flute player, who accompanies the gymnastic exercises, is also playing the double flute with the mouth bandage; over his arm hangs the flute case, which was usually made of skin, and with which the case for the mouthpieces, of which they had several, was connected. On the other hand, the youth in Fig. 75 has no bandage; nor yet the two women in Fig. 126, or the seated hetaera in Fig. 142, nor the youth who{317}

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Fig. 140.

in the vase painting represented in Fig. 141, with a double flute in his hand, mounts the pedestal from which he intends to perform to the audience who are{318}

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Fig. 141.


seated close by. On the Greek monuments of the pre-Roman period we always find two similar flutes connected together, but afterwards, and especially in pictures connected with the worship of Cybele, one of the flutes very often has a curved horn, which seems to have been a special peculiarity of the Phrygian flute. This was apparently not known to the Greeks in ancient times.

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Fig. 142.

The other wooden wind instruments are of no{320} special importance for music or art. The Syrinx, or pan-pipe, constructed of a number of reeds fastened together, which in one kind of syrinx were all of equal length, but in others varied from short to long, was used by the shepherds, and is often seen in pictures, especially of Pan and other forest and field divinities, but played no part in actual music. Still more is this the case with the Plagiaulos, answering to the modern Flûte traversière, which originated in Egypt, and with various other kinds of single flutes which have been described to us.

Metal wind instruments, or trumpets (σάλπυγξ), were only used for military and religious purposes. They were usually made of bronze, with a bone mouthpiece, were of a longish shape, with a very broad mouth. Among other musical instruments in use among the Greeks we must mention tambourines (τύμπανα), cymbals, and castanets (κρόταλα), which were used in the worship of Dionysus and Cybele, and in dances of an orgiastic character; in Fig. 142 a girl, dancing to the sound of a flute, holds castanets in her hands. But, in spite of the frequency with which these instruments are represented on works of art, especially those which are connected with Dionysus, their use in daily life must have been very rare, except for the dancing girls who appeared at the symposia, and who marked the time of their motions with them.

There is very little to say about dancing among the Greeks; in spite of its importance in religious observances and plays or choruses, it was of little account in daily life. We do not find it mentioned among the usual subjects of instruction, except, indeed, at Sparta. Dancing was a popular amusement, especially as an entertainment during banquets and drinking feasts; but the guests did not dance{321} themselves, but contented themselves with looking on at professional performers. Still, no doubt, it sometimes happened that when the revellers had drunk a good deal of wine, they felt inspired to join the dance; there were certainly opportunities for learning it, since we are expressly told that Socrates took lessons in dancing at an advanced age. It is almost always solo dancing that is in question; this consisted chiefly in rhythmic movements of hands and feet in a variety of well-chosen postures, and was essentially connected with gymnastics, in which the training in dancing was sometimes included. Dancing together by people of different sexes, such as is customary with us, was unknown in the social life of antiquity, and would in any case have been impossible in Greece, owing to the separation which existed in ordinary life between men and women.

The chief use of the dance was for religious purposes. In the most ancient times solemn dances were always a part of worship; merry dances were part of the service of Dionysus; and sometimes both sexes took part in these choric dances, but even here there was no question of round dancing, but only of a series of movements regulated by music, and of a dignified and rhythmical character. The dances in armour which were popular in the Doric states, and were, of course, only performed by men, were of a livelier character. The dancers were equipped with helmet, shield, and sword, and went through a number of choregraphic evolutions; the dances at country festivals, which very often had a pantomimic character, were also of a lively nature. Here, as well as in the solemn religious dances, it was very common for the dancers to sing as they danced, and sometimes even accompany themselves on some instrument; in fact, this distinction holds good{322} between dancing in ancient and in modern times, that in antiquity it was not an object in itself, but was always closely connected with the other musical arts. The ancient dance attained its highest development and perfection in the drama, where dancing, music, and pantomime were most perfectly combined; but we shall have occasion to refer to this later on, in discussing the theatre of the Greeks.{323}



Greek Religion—The Functions of the Priest—Forms of Worship, Prayer, and Sacrifice—Purification—Holy Water—Two Forms of Sacrifice, Bloody and Bloodless—Libations—Prophecy and Divinations—The Oracles.

In a description of Greek life it is impossible entirely to pass over the many customs connected with the worship of the gods, and their importance in the life of individuals. Greek religion did not appoint any fixed ceremonies to be observed every day, as the Jewish or Mahometan religions do; but still it placed a believer in connection with the Deity, and thus gave occasion for some religious act every day. There were also some special occasions which led them to turn to their gods, and it is, therefore, natural that religious worship should have played a very important part in the life of the Greeks, especially as it was only in rare cases that they required to resort to the mediatory help of a priest; as a rule, any Greek might perform the various religious ceremonies himself. It is a disputed question whether Greek natural religion in its first beginnings was acquainted with temples, images of the gods, and priests as a separate class; in any case, in the oldest literary monument of Greek life, the Homeric poems, worship was chiefly in the hands of laymen, and service in the temples and priesthood generally played a very subordinate part in the life of mankind.

Greek religion was unacquainted with regular{324} worship returning on certain appointed days, for which priests and laymen assembled together in the House of God. It is true the temple was regarded as the dwelling of the god; but the believer, as a rule, only entered it if he had some special prayer to make, and otherwise performed his religious duties at home in his own dwelling. This he could generally do without the help of a priest; the priest existed, in the first place, for the sake of the god, and only in the second in order to facilitate the intercourse between god and man. The gods desired worship and sacrifice, and, as it could not be left to chance whether some one person would supply these, since there must be no interruption to the worship, it was necessary to have a class of men whose work in life was the performance of these duties towards the divinity. It was probably this idea which led them to appoint a priestly class; and it was only as a consequence of this that laymen sometimes called upon the help of the priest, especially in important cases, since these men, who were in constant intercourse with the gods, were assumed to have the most accurate knowledge of the forms well-pleasing to the divinities. Consequently, as the development of civilisation made greater claims on ordinary people in their professional activity, such as military service, politics, studies, etc., and thus drew them away from divine things, it became commoner to make use of the mediatory assistance of the priest, and thus the influence and importance of the priestly class continued to increase. There was another reason which led the laymen to make use of the priests. According to Greek belief, the gods revealed their will to mankind by various signs and visions; it was not everyone, however, who knew how to interpret these signs; a deep knowledge of the divine nature and will, as well{325} as a rich treasure of experience were required, and it was, therefore, natural that they turned for this purpose to those who had devoted their whole life to discovering the will of the gods. These were the seers or interpreters who were closely connected with the priests, though they must not be identified with them.

When we speak of a priestly class among the Greeks, we must not take it in the literal sense of the word; the Greek priests did not constitute a class in our modern sense of the word, since there were no preliminary studies required for the office. Greek religion possessed no dogmas; the priest’s duty was only to perform certain rites and ceremonies, and these were easily learnt. Consequently, the priesthood in Greece was limited to no age and no sex; boys and girls, youths and maidens, men and married women could perform priestly functions for a long or short period. The essential requirement was legitimate birth and participation in the community in which the priestly functions had to be performed; bodily purity and moral character were also required; members of ancient and noble families were especially privileged, and sometimes bodily strength and beauty were regarded in the choice. Generally speaking, however, the requirements made differed not only according to the gods in whose service they were to stand, but also according to local or other accidental circumstances. Thus sometimes priestesses were required to be virgins, if not for their whole life, at any rate for the duration of their priesthood; in other cases, however, married women might undertake the priestly functions. The same held good for the men. Although, as a rule, priests entered for their whole life, yet it sometimes happened that their priestly{326} functions were only performed for a time, as for instance, in the case of boys or girls who entered the service of the temple until they attained their man or womanhood, or in other cases where citizens were made priests for one or several years, and, when the time was up, retired again and let others take their place.

There were various modes of appointing priests. They were either elected from among several candidates, in which case the right of election lay with the citizens or their representatives, or else by lot, or the right was given from birth. Certain priesthoods were hereditary in families; either the first-born was appointed as such, or else the lot had to decide between the various members of a family; sometimes, if disputes ensued, a legal decision might even be given. Consequently, it is clear that the priests in Greece did not form a special caste, and as they very often retired again to private life, their influence was not extensive or very important.

The duties of the priests consisted, in the first instance, in performing those acts of worship to the divinity which might also be performed by any layman—viz., prayers and sacrifices; and in the second, those which belonged to the worship of the particular divinity, and recurred at certain fixed periods, and particularly those which they undertook at the request of others. Besides this, there were various duties connected with the care of the temple and divine images, the fulfilment of the various customs connected with the worship of each divinity, the performance of mysterious dedications and purifications, guarding of the temple treasure, etc. To this were due various ordinances concerning their mode of life, food, clothing, etc. Their persons were{327} regarded as sacred, just as the sanctuary was, and they also received their share in the adoration paid to the gods, being regarded, in a measure, as their representatives. Very often they had a house in the temple domain, and received a share of its income, which had, in the first instance, to supply the means for performing the service of the god, erecting necessary buildings, statues, etc., but which often supplied the priests also with considerable profit; thus, the skins and certain parts of the sacrificial animals fell to their lot. In some of the sanctuaries the income derived from the temple property and the money lent out for interest from the temple treasure, was very considerable, and far exceeded the means required for the maintenance of the sanctuary and the service of the god. Another privilege enjoyed by the priests was the right of occupying places of honour in the theatre and at public meetings. They were usually distinguished by their dress from the rest of the citizens; they wore the long chiton, which had gone out of fashion for ordinary people; it was generally of white or purple colour, and they had wreaths and fillets in their long hair, and probably carried a staff as a token of dignity.

The priests were assisted in their duties in the temples by a large number of attendants and servants. Some of these only took part occasionally in a procession or sacrifice, and, as this was regarded as an honour, they gave their service without return. Some were permanent temple servants, who either performed for pay certain menial services connected with the worship and the care of the temple, or else were slaves and the property of the god. Among these were included the so-called “temple-sweepers” (νεωκόροι), men and women whose duty it was to clean and care for{328} the temple. There were also heralds, sacrificial servants, butchers, bearers of the sacred vessels, singers and musicians, etc., concerning whom inscriptions give us a good deal of information. Even these positions, so long as the services to be performed were not menial but honourable, were an object of ambition to citizens, or regarded as a valuable privilege inherited by certain families; thus, for instance, at Olympia, the descendants of Pheidias had charge of the statue of Zeus, which was the masterpiece of their ancestor.

The two forms in which the worship of the ancients chiefly consisted were prayer and sacrifice. Prayer, either to all the gods together or to some single one, consecrated the beginning and end of the day; combined with libations, it attended the beginning and end of the meals, and was, in fact, an essential part of every important action of daily life. These prayers were, of course, of a general character, but there were other occasions when special prayers were used, adapted to particular cases; thus it was a matter of course that in the assemblies of the people the blessing of the god should be invoked on the discussion. When they set out to war they called on the help of the god in the coming fight, and similarly private citizens asked for divine aid in their undertakings and help in difficulties, though some wiser men—and especially those who had had a philosophical training—could not disguise from themselves that it was a foolish hope to expect that their prayers should necessarily be heard, and they looked upon prayer rather as a religious consecration of human actions. Kneeling and folding the hands were unknown to the ancients. In praying they stood and stretched out their hands to the region which they supposed to be the dwelling of the godhead invoked; thus, they held them upward when praying to one of{329} the Olympian deities, forward when praying to a sea god, and down to the ground if the prayer was addressed to one of the infernal deities, at the same time trying to attract his attention by stamping on the ground. The commonest position was towards the east; when they prayed in the temple they turned towards the altar and the statue of the god, and sometimes even embraced the altar. In fact, the worship of the temple statues led to a very sensual conception of prayer; they not only threw kisses to the god they were worshipping, but even touched or kissed his statue; while suppliants threw themselves on the ground before the temple image, or at any rate knelt down before it.

In order to ensure the efficacy of the prayer, those who offered it must be free from every bodily and moral taint and, therefore, if necessary, submit to purification. There were a number of occasions which rendered a man unclean and unfit for intercourse with the deity; such were birth and death, which required the purification of all those who had come in contact with the mother or the dead person, not only in order that they might appear untainted before the deity, but also to prevent their communicating their impurity to others, and to enable them once more to enter into intercourse with human beings. Even apart from these special occasions it was impossible to tell whether some accidental contact might have produced impurity, and on this account it was usual to precede the act of prayer by washing, or, at any rate, by a symbolical purification, such as sprinkling with holy water. For this purpose a vessel with holy water and a whisk for sprinkling were placed in the entrance of every temple for the use of those who entered the domain; similar arrange{330}ments were made in private houses, and preference was given to flowing water, especially sea-water, which was supposed to have special purifying power; for sprinkling they used a branch of some sacred tree, such as laurel. This purification was extended not only to the person of those who approached the divinity, but also to their garments and the utensils used for prayer and sacrifice, as well as the dwelling generally; consequently, purification by fire and smoke—especially by means of burnt sulphur—played an important part along with the washing. There were also certain plants to which a purifying power was ascribed; thus, it was customary to hang up a sea-leek over the house door.

Purification of this kind was, of course, even more necessary when some actual crime, such as a murder, even if an accidental one, had been committed, or any other action performed which would render a man unfit to come into the presence of the deity. In these cases an important part was also played by sacrifices, for it was an ancient belief—found also in the Jewish ritual—that sins could be laid on the victim, and in this way removed from the sinner. Special ceremonies were used on such occasions, such as purification by the blood of swine, since these animals were supposed to have a special lustral power. At Athens it was the custom to sacrifice sucking-pigs before the assembly of the people was held; the slaughtered animals were carried round the assembly, the seats sprinkled with their blood, and the bodies thrown into the sea. On a vase painting representing the purification of Orestes after the murder of his mother, Apollo himself holds a sucking-pig above the head of the murderer; a similar proceeding is represented by the vase painting Fig. 143,{331} where the woman who is performing the lustral rites—probably a priestess—holds in her right hand a sucking-pig, in her left a basket with offerings, while three torches stand on the ground in front of her, the smoke of which also possessed purifying power. Similar ceremonies were observed by those who, according to a very common superstition, regarded themselves as bewitched, or who desired to protect themselves from the injurious influence of philtres or other witchcraft, or else to cure madness, which was traced to the wrath of the infernal gods; in these cases, Hecate was the goddess to be propitiated, and part of the curious ceremony consisted in carrying about young dogs.

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Fig. 143.

Next to prayer, the commonest observance was sacrifice. The anthropomorphic conception of the gods induced the Greeks to try to win their favour,{332}

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Fig. 144.

as they would that of powerful princes, by means of gifts, in the belief that they would be more inclined to fulfil human wishes if they were propitiated by valuable presents. These gifts consisted in dedicatory offerings and also in sacrifices, and these had to be regularly offered in order to preserve the goodwill of the divinities. Generally speaking, any gift offered to the god might be regarded as a sacrifice; but, as a rule, this name was only applied to those offerings which were not to be a lasting possession of the god but were only given for momentary enjoyment, and must, as a rule, be destroyed, generally by means of fire. The idea underlying these sacrifices was the participation of the gods in the material possessions of men. The gifts included under the heading of offerings were not all of such a nature as to be destroyed at once; thus, first-fruits of the field, fruit, jars of cooked lentils, flowers, fillets, and other such things could not be regarded as real gifts, owing to{333}

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Fig. 145.

their transitory nature; and these were merely laid on the altar of the god, or else hung up beside it; sometimes there was a special table near the altar to receive these gifts. On the vase painting (Fig. 144) a table of this kind is represented near the altar; behind it we perceive the antiquated statue of Dionysus, on one side stands a woman with a goat destined for sacrifice, and on the right another woman is approaching carrying a flat dish, probably containing cakes. The offerings represented in Figs. 145 and 145 were probably also destined for Dionysus. A satyr, carrying in his left hand a branch, in his right a dish, probably containing cakes, is approaching an altar, on which similar gifts have already been placed; on the{334} other side, near the table for offerings, on which lie fruit and cakes, a woman, probably a Maenad, is seated, holding in her right hand a branch, in her left a flat basket with little dedicatory offerings. Although these gifts were not immediately destroyed by fire, they were of so transitory a nature that they could not be counted among those destined to be a lasting possession of the gods. The Greeks called these gifts fireless sacrifices.

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Fig. 146.

Sacrifices wore usually divided into two classes—bloody and bloodless. The bloodless seem to be the most ancient; they consisted chiefly in the first-fruits of the field and cakes, usually made of honey, which were regarded as a specially welcome gift by some of the gods. Very often cakes were used as a substitute for animals, since poor people, who could not afford the considerable expense of sacrificing real animals, fashioned the dough into the shape of oxen, swine, sheep, goats, geese, etc. In this class we may include smoke offerings. The custom of burning sweet-scented woods and spices probably came to Greece from Asia, where it had long prevailed. At first they{335} made use of the products of the country, especially cedar wood; afterwards frankincense, storax, and other fragrant substances were introduced from foreign countries. These smoke offerings were often connected with animal sacrifices, since grains of incense were cast into the flames of the altar on which the flesh of the animal was burnt, in order to overpower the smell of burning meat. Libations, too, may be included among bloodless sacrifices. Just as the gods required a portion of the food of men, they desired also to share in their drink, for they were supposed to require food and drink as men did. Libations were therefore offered before partaking of wine after a meal, or drinking any other draught, and Socrates even wished to offer some of his hemlock to the gods. On other occasions too libations were offered, as for instance before public speeches, on the occasion of sacrifices for the dead, invocation of the gods for especial purposes, etc. The part of the wine or other liquid destined for the god was poured from a flat cup either on to the ground or into the flame of the altar, and words of consecration were spoken meantime. It was most usual to use unmixed wine, but there were some gods to whom no wine might be offered, in particular the Erinnys, the infernal deities, nymphs, Muses, etc.; to these they dedicated libations of honey, milk, or oil, either separately or mixed together, or with water. On these occasions there were certain fixed ceremonies to be observed, but these were not the same in all parts of Greece.

There are numerous indications in legends which show that the Greeks were not originally unacquainted with the custom of human sacrifices; but these are no longer heard of in the historic period, and wherever they had formerly existed their place{336} was taken by symbolic actions, or the sacrifice of animals instead of human beings. The commonest victims were animals, and the choice of the particular victim depended on the god to whom the sacrifice was offered. Here, as in the case of the bloodless sacrifices, some gods rejected gifts which were well-pleasing to others, and special animals were offered to particular gods. It is not always easy to trace the origin of this choice, though in some cases it can be done; thus, for instance, goats were offered to Dionysus because they destroyed the vineyards, and swine to Demeter because they injured the corn-fields. Oxen and sheep were the commonest victims next to goats and swine, and very often several animals were offered in a common sacrifice. Horses were offered to Poseidon and Helios, dogs to Hecate, asses to Apollo, etc. Birds, too, were sacrificed; for instance, geese, doves, fowls, and, in particular, cocks to Aesculapius. Game and fish were very seldom employed for the purpose, probably because they were not much used for food in ancient times; for in most cases the standard of eating decided which animals should be used, though there were exceptions, too, among the classes already named.

It was originally the custom to burn the whole animal, with skin and hair, but though this extravagant mode of sacrificing was sometimes in use in later times, it became common to burn only the thigh bones and certain flesh parts of the animal, and to use the rest for a festive banquet. In consequence the number of victims was often calculated according to the number of persons invited to the banquet; in other cases it depended on the importance of the occasion, or the fortune of the sacrificers, and even in historical times it was not unusual for whole commu{337}nities or very rich private citizens to offer a hecatomb (a sacrifice of a hundred oxen), or even several, on which occasions the sacrifice only supplied the opportunity for entertaining the people on a magnificent scale. As a rule, the animals sacrificed must be sound and healthy in every respect; but at Sparta, which was often reproached with excessive economy in sacrifices, diseased cattle were sometimes used. There were several other necessary conditions to be observed; thus, the animals must never have been in the service of man; the ox that drew the plough might not be sacrificed. The sex of the victim generally corresponded to that of the deity to whom it was offered. Even the colour was of importance; white animals were usually offered to the gods of light, black to the infernal gods. There do not seem to have been any fixed regulations with regard to age, except that the animals must have attained a certain maturity.

The ceremony observed at sacrifices was much the same throughout the whole of antiquity, and remained such as it is described by Homer. The victim which had been dedicated to the god, was adorned with wreaths and fillets, and led to the altar by servants or attendants; Homer speaks of gilding the horns of bulls, and this was customary afterwards. If possible, they tried to induce the animal to go forward of its own free will, since violent struggling was regarded as an unpropitious omen, and sometimes led to the rejection of the victim. It was even customary to require the animal to give a sort of consent, by nodding its head; this consent of the victim was, of course, produced by artificial means, such as pouring water into the ears, etc. Hereupon all the participants in the solemn action were prepared by sprinkling with holy water, which was sanctified by dipping into it a{338} firebrand taken from the altar, and they were exhorted to keep unbroken silence. The actual sacrifice then began by strewing roasted barleycorns, as the oldest food of their ancestors, on the animal, and in token of dedication they cut a bundle of hairs from its forehead and threw it into the fire, which was already burning on the altar. In heroic ages, the princes, as high priests, themselves killed the animals; afterwards this duty was undertaken by priests or attendants. They gave the animal a blow on its forehead with a club or axe, and then cut its throat with a sacrificial knife, and sprinkled the altar with the blood; in so doing they usually bent the head backwards; or, if sacrificing to the infernal gods, or the shades of the departed, they pressed it down to the ground. When the victim fell, the women who stood round uttered a low cry, and in the ages after Homer it was very usual to accompany the whole ceremony by the sound of the flute. Experienced attendants then flayed the animals and cut up the bodies, whereupon the parts destined for the gods, especially the thigh bones surrounded with fat, were burnt in the flames of the altar with incense and sacrificial cakes, and at the same time libations were poured out; the flesh was held in the fire by means of long forks. This is very often represented on ancient works of art. In the vase painting in Fig. 147 we see an altar on which wood appears to be regularly piled up; parts of the sacrifice are recognised in the flames. An attendant wearing a short garment round his loins kneels in front, holding a piece of flesh in the flames on a long pole or spit; on his left a man holds a cup for libations, into which a goddess of victory, flying over the altar, pours the liquid; on the right stands Apollo, with lyre and plectrum.{339}

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Fig. 147.


The flesh of the animals which was not used for the sacrifice was usually consumed at the feast which followed the ceremony; this custom was only departed from in the case of sacrifices to the shades of the dead or for purposes of propitiation, and then the flesh which was not burnt was buried or destroyed in some other way, and, in fact, on these occasions many of the ceremonies were of a different kind.

As a rule, another purpose was combined with the sacrifice; it was necessary not only to win the favour of the gods, or atone for some crime, but also to discover the will of the gods by interpretation of signs. Although prayer was called for from all men—from labourer as well as from priest—and sacrifices, though usually offered by priests, could also be performed by others, the interpretation of omens was an art which depended on ancient traditions and knowledge of ritual, and was almost entirely confined to the priests, though, in the nature of things, it could be undertaken by anyone. This mode of prophecy had existed in various forms since the most ancient times. The commonest, though unknown in the time of Homer, was the examination of the entrails, in which the structure, that is, colour, form, and integrity of the inner parts of the victim, especially the liver, gall, etc., were regarded as of fortunate or unfortunate omen. Some anatomical knowledge of the inner parts of animals was therefore indispensable, and in consequence it is natural that this branch of knowledge was kept in the hands of the priests. The older kind of prophecy described in Homer was of a different nature, since it depended on all manner of phenomena appearing during the sacrifice; whether the flame attacked the victim quickly or slowly, whether it{341} burnt clearly, whether it rose upwards, whether it was not put out until the whole animal was consumed, whether the wood crackled loudly, what shape was assumed by the ashes of the victim and of the wood, etc.

Apart from sacrifices, prophecy and divination played a great part in the life and religion of the Greeks. A distinction made by the ancients themselves was between prophecy by art and without art. Prophecy without art was regarded as inspiration of a human being by the divine spirit, and was not dependent on external signs or on the interpretation of an experienced person. There were three kinds: ecstasy, in which the gift of prophecy was communicated to a human being without his own assistance by divine strength and power; dreams, in which the gods revealed directly to men their will or coming events; and thirdly, the oracles, which were of a somewhat different character, being connected with professional prophecy. They were also regarded as direct revelations of the will of the god, so the mode in which this was expressed differed a good deal according to the various oracles; but the questioner was not immediately inspired, as in ecstasy and dreams, but required a mediator, one who was alone able to interpret the revelations of the gods.

Of these three classes, the least important during the historic period is ecstasy; the seers in the real sense of the word, whom we so often meet with in legends, had no importance later on. The second kind, the dream oracle, is of far greater importance. The idea that dreams were communications from the gods, no less than other oracles and signs, was so universally adopted that it not only took firm root in the popular belief, but was shared by educated men,{342} even by those who had more or less discarded the old belief in the gods. The ancient writers give us numerous accounts of portentous dreams; unlucky dreams were averted by religious ceremonies, sacrifices to the gods who could turn away ill fortune, sprinkling with holy water, etc. It was usual to pray for prophetic dreams, and, as we have already seen, these were specially produced by sleeping in the temple of Aesculapius, though they often required interpretation afterwards at the hands of the priests. It is a very old belief that dreams reveal the will of the gods, not directly and immediately, but in the form of parables or images, which require special comprehension and secret knowledge, and thus the interpretation of dreams became an especial art, which led to a whole literature of dream-books (remains of which have been preserved to us; in particular the dream-book of Artemidorus, dating from the second century A.D.), and to the profession of interpreters, who, although not held in especial honour, were yet greatly sought after by all classes of the community.

The influence of the oracles was even more important. In Greece and Asia Minor there were several hundred places where oracles were given; this much is common to all of them, that it was not a divinely-inspired human being, but the god himself who announced his will by special tokens, while the priests were only the interpreters of the god’s will; the signs and methods of interpretation differed considerably. The oracles of Apollo were far the most celebrated, since he was specially the god of prophecy; among these, the oracle of Delphi surpassed all others in importance. Here the medium through which the god revealed his will to mankind was the holy{343} priestess called Pythia; a vapour which rose from a cleft in the earth produced ecstasy in the Pythia, who had previously purified herself by chewing laurel leaves and drinking from the sacred spring, and clad in rich garments with a golden head-dress, long flowing robes, and buskins, and had taken her place on a tripod over the cleft. In this condition she uttered the oracles, which were, as a rule, incomprehensible to ordinary people. It was then the duty of the priests who were present during the ecstasy with the questioners, to discover the real meaning and sense of the senseless sounds, and arrange the answer in poetic form, usually in hexameters, which were, as a rule, cunningly arranged so as to have a two-fold meaning. At first this took place only once a year, but when the reputation of the oracle increased, and thousands of people came every year to Delphi, or sent messengers with questions to the temple, it became the custom to supply answers all the year round, and, in consequence of the great numbers, two Pythiae had to mount the tripod alternately, while a third was at hand to take their place occasionally. Only a few days in the year were regarded as unlucky, and then no oracles were given. At the time of the Empire, when the influence of the Delphic oracle had considerably diminished, it was only accessible once a year. The order in which the suppliants were to enter was generally decided by lot; in some few cases it may have been determined by rank. Prayer and sacrifice of course preceded the sacred ceremony; goats were chiefly offered, because, according to the legends, the discovery of this miraculous vapour was due to a goat.

At the other oracles of Apollo the proceedings were different: at Hysiae, in Boeotia, the prophet{344} sought his inspiration in a well; at Argos, in the blood of a victim; at the Clarian temple of Apollo, at Colophon, a priest descended into the sacred cave and drank holy water, whereupon the gift of prophecy was granted to him; at the sanctuary of the Branchidae, at Didymae, near Miletus, the oracles were given by a priestess, who moistened the hem of her garment and her feet at a well, and then let the rising vapour act upon her. At other oracles the god revealed his will or the events of the future by signs instead of words, which the priest then had to interpret. This was the case with the oldest and most sacred of all the Greek oracles—that of Zeus, at Dodona in Epirus. These signs were of various kinds: sometimes it was the rustling of the branches in the sacred oak, sometimes the murmuring of the spring at its foot, sometimes the sound given by a brass bowl. The excavations lately undertaken at Dodona have supplied some information about the nature and variety of the questions, though not about the mode in which the oracle was given. Those who desired an oracular answer had to hand in their question in writing, usually on a tablet of lead, on which it was scratched. This was laid in a vessel and placed in the sanctuary, so that the priestess might learn what the question was; the answer was then given on a similar tablet, sometimes the same on which the question had been written. The examples found of these tablets show that these questions were not always of political import, and sent by whole communities or princes, but that even private affairs were sometimes made the subject of a question. Thus, on the tablet represented in Fig. 148, a certain Lysanias inquires whether the child which his wife is about to bear him is really his own; another inquires whether{345}

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Fig. 148.

it would be profitable for him to rear sheep; a third asks who has stolen the cushions he has lost. These questions on leaden tablets were also in use at other places. At the oracle of Apollo-Coropaeus, in the Peninsula Magnesia, in Thessaly, the questioners had to give their names to the temple scribe to be written on the tablet; they were then called in turn and conducted to the sanctuary, where the leaden tablets were handed them. On these they wrote their questions; the tablets were then collected and placed in a vessel, which was sealed with the official seal of the temporal and spiritual officials, and left for the night in the sanctuary. Next morning the seals were broken, the names of the questioners called according to the list, and the tablets given back with the answers. Among oracles we must mention that of Zeus Ammon, in the Libyan Desert, which enjoyed a great reputation in Greece even in early times; that of Zeus Trophonius,{346} at Lebadia, in Boeotia; that of Amphiaraus, at Oropus, which last was included among the dream oracles, since the mediation of the priests was not required here, and the questioners received their revelation direct from the god. It would be impossible to enumerate all the oracles and the customs observed there; throughout the whole of Greek antiquity they played a very important part in the life of the nation and the individual, and were often decisive in political matters, as well as in trivial details of daily life.

Of no less importance than the modes of prophecy already mentioned are those which may be called professional, and which did not depend on a direct revelation of the will of the god, so much as on the observation and interpretation of certain apparently fortuitous signs, which were, however, supposed to proceed from the divinity. Of course, many oracles were very closely connected with these professional prophecies. Here, too, we may distinguish several different kinds. In the first place, there is interpretation of signs which appear though unsought for. The number of these is, of course, countless, since the whole realm of nature and life affords scope for them. Signs of the sky, atmospheric phenomena, change in the course of rivers, earthquakes, clefts in the ground, abnormal births, all which are frequently mentioned in ancient history, may be included in this class, as also the flight of birds, to which particular attention was given, though the proceedings of other animals were also watched, or the mere fact of their appearance was supposed to announce good or evil fortune. Then there were phenomena relating to human beings, such as sneezing, singing in the ears, words spoken by chance, etc., and the place where these things occur is of great importance, as, for instance, whether{347} on the right or the left hand. The second class of professional prophecy is that in which man seeks for the signs and calls upon the god to grant him a token of his presence and will. In this class we may include prophecy from sacrifice and also some of the oracles, but in particular the private oracles—if we may use this expression—by means of which individuals procured signs by any means whatever, and either interpreted them themselves or got some skilled prophet to do it for them. This closely resembles our modern fashion of telling fortunes from cards, and in these cases it was not usually a priest, but some cheat or conjurer who interpreted the prophecy; thus dice and sieves were used for prophesying, and fortunes were told from physiognomy, or the lines of the hand, as they still are at the present day.

The interpreters of prophecy and signs, whether belonging to the class of priests or laymen, naturally represented their art as coming direct from the gods, and loved to envelop it in the veil of mystery, though in other respects Greek religion aimed at publicity and universal comprehension. There were, however, some ceremonies which were closely concealed from the world without; and those who took part in them were required to observe absolute secrecy, and were subject to a gradual initiation, passing through several stages before they attained the final one. We refer to the mysteries which were universally known throughout Greece, and, owing to the great number of those who sought initiation, played an important part in the life of the ancient Greeks. Our knowledge of these secret doctrines is very small, as is natural under the circumstances, and, consequently, the most recent investigations have led to very different hypotheses. Still, the latest discoveries enable us to feel sure that{348} these mysteries were not, as was formerly supposed, remains of ancient revealed wisdom containing purer and better doctrines than were known to the popular religion; nor were they, as Voss supposes, merely priestly trickery. They represented the religious myths, and their form corresponded to the ordinary religious worship; the mystery was due simply to the fact that in the myth the symbolic and allegorical elements prevailed, and in the worship the purifications and expiations had a specially important place; while the other ceremonies connected therewith, such as sacrifices, signs, dances, etc., bore a strongly orgiastic and ecstatic character. There were also dramatic or pantomimic representations of the mythical actions, and a great number of artistic and decorative means were used to dispose the mind of the initiated to a condition suited for solemn and mysterious doctrines. There were no really deep secrets hidden behind these mysteries, which were so numerous that almost each god had his own; and indeed, the initiation was not a difficult one, and was open to every free and blameless Greek.{349}



The Olympic Festival—The Gymnastic and Equestrian Contests—The Hippodrome—The Judges—The Preliminary Ceremonies—The Course of the Festival—Honours to the Victors—The Delphic Festival and Pythian Games—The Isthmian and Nemean Games—The Athenian Festivals—The Festivals of Dionysus.

In ancient and in modern times alike it has been usual to connect public festivals with some religious observance, even though the actual occasion might be the celebration of the change of the seasons or some regular event connected with agriculture. Greek worship was naturally of a cheerful nature. The sacrifices were usually followed by banquets, which communicated a festive character to an act of worship, and this was often accompanied by singing and dancing, sometimes of a serious and solemn nature, at other times lively and cheerful. As a rule, sacrifices to the heavenly deities were offered early in the day, but the banquet did not take place till the afternoon, and thus opportunity was afforded for devoting the interval to entertainments, among which, along with song and dance, dramatic and gymnastic performances soon began to occupy a place, and gradually to assume the character of regular competitions. Sacrifices to the infernal deities took place in the afternoon or evening, and were, in consequence, followed by a festival at night, which often degenerated into a wild orgy. These festivities, which were partly connected with the worship and partly celebrated for their own sake or connected with ancient national{350} games, were at first a natural consequence of the religious ceremonies and the manner in which a nation of the cheerful disposition of the Greeks would celebrate them. But as these performances and festivities came to be more closely connected with the religious festivals, they gradually became an integral part of them, and were no longer left to the arbitrary disposition of the persons concerned, but were taken in hand by the state or community, and subject to regular arrangement.

The entertainments most commonly added to the religious ceremonies at the festivals were, in the first place, those of a musical character, partly vocal, partly instrumental, or a combination of both; in the second, dances, both choric and pantomimic, lastly scenic representations, gymnastic contests, processions, national games, etc. Among these the musical, choregraphic, scenic, and gymnastic representations were first raised to the dignity of regular competitions. Of course, different festivals were celebrated in different ways; apart from local differences, the very character of the divinity in whose honour the festival was held, and the different phases of the legend, necessitated differences in the mode of celebration and in the regulation of those who were to take part in them; thus some festivals were celebrated by both sexes together, and others by only one, to the exclusion of the other. In one point, especially, the Hellenic differed from our modern Christian festivals. It is a natural consequence of the Christian religion that the great festivals are celebrated at the same time by all believers in all parts of the civilised world, while the Greek religion knew of no such religious festivals common to all Hellenic tribes. There were a number of national festivals which were of equal importance{351} to all Greeks; but these were not celebrated simultaneously throughout the country, but only at one specially appointed place, to which spectators came from all parts, and which thus provided an opportunity for great national meetings recurring at regular intervals. In consequence of the decentralisation of the country, these provided the only means of awakening and maintaining national feeling among the Greeks. Other festivals were peculiar to particular countries, or even to towns or communities; the differences existing in Greek belief, which are often closely connected with national traditions and racial peculiarities, were also marked in the act of worship. Even those regular festivals which were celebrated alike in most of the Greek states were not all held on the same day, but at different times, which was probably due to the fact that Greek antiquity was acquainted with no common calendar. The proceedings at these festivals also differed greatly according to the place. We know very little about the majority; most details have come down to us concerning the Attic calendar and the customs in use there, though even here our knowledge is very incomplete. The great Hellenic national festivals, which were celebrated at Olympia, Delphi, Nemea, and on the isthmus of Corinth, will first claim our attention.

Of these the Olympic festival is the oldest, at any rate as regards its national importance. The festival and the games celebrated there existed long before the year 776 B.C., after which its regular recurrence was used for expressing the date of the year; still, it is only from this time onward that we can regard it as a really national festival. The Pythians did not begin to calculate by their games till the year 586, the Isthmians in 582, and the Nemeans in 573. The{352} Olympic and Pythian festivals recurred every four years, the other two every two years; the Olympic festivals always took place at the first full moon of the summer solstice, the Pythian in the autumn of the third year of an Olympiad; we cannot determine the exact period of the others, and only know that the Isthmian games were held at midsummer, and the Nemean alternately in winter and in summer. The main features of all, next to the usual acts of worship, such as prayer, sacrifices, etc., was the gymnastic contests connected with them. All four had attained so great a reputation even beyond the frontiers of their narrow home that most of the Greek states took part in them by means of official embassies (θεωρίαι) and numbers of spectators came from a distance, and a great market was held there in consequence. This universal interest taken in the festivals gave them a character of inviolability, so that they were able to continue even in time of war, since there was always a truce as long as the games lasted, and all who took part in them were allowed to travel undisturbed, as soon as the heralds of peace had announced the beginning of the sacred month, first in their own state, and afterwards in that of all the Greeks who took part in the contests. We possess far more details concerning the Olympic festival than any other, and, in fact, it exceeded them all in importance. The games constituted the most important part, and it was for their sake that spectators came from most distant parts of the ancient world to the plain of the Alpheus; and, indeed, the myth concerning the origin of the festival is intimately connected with these games. Every free-born Greek was allowed to take part in them. Barbarians were strictly rejected, at any rate in the best period of the Olympic festival, and it was not till the time of{353} the Roman Empire, when its glory had long departed, that this practice was abandoned. They also excluded all who had committed murder or any other great crime, or forfeited the rights of citizenship, and before the beginning of the contest a strict examination was held into the claims of all who desired to take part. At first only youths and men were admitted; from 632 onwards boys were allowed to contend, at any rate in some of the sports. We hear of women taking part or being victors in the Olympic games, but this does not mean that they appeared in person; in the chariot races and riding it was not the custom for the owner of a horse to drive or ride, and thus rich women who were interested in the training of horses could let them run at the Olympic games; and since it was not the charioteer or rider, but the trainer and owner of the horses who was crowned, they might thus obtain the prize.

The contests at Olympia were of a gymnastic or equestrian nature; musical contests were excluded. But the perfect development of gymnastics as shown at the Olympic competitions only took place very gradually. At first the contests consisted only in running, and this was the case for the first thirty Olympiads after the time when the counting began. Then the double-course was introduced, and soon afterwards the long course (724 B.C.). In the year 708 the pentathlon was added, and thus the most important sports—jumping, throwing the spear and quoit, and wrestling—were introduced, along with running, and henceforward were regarded as one of the most attractive parts of the whole contest. In 688 a boxing-match was added; in 680, chariot races with four full-grown horses; in 648, riding races and the pancration. No more contests were added; further{354} changes were only slight modifications, such as the admission of boys, who at first took part only in the running and wrestling, then for a short time in the pentathlon, and afterwards in the boxing-match, and only in very late times (200 B.C.) in the pancration. In the year 520 the race in full panoply was introduced, and in 408 the chariot race with two horses. Attempts were made to introduce mules and mares, but these were soon abandoned; colts were, however, introduced for the contest with four and two horses, and also for riding. It was natural that when there was so large a number of events they could not all, as at first, take place on one day; and, indeed, it would hardly have been worth the journey from such great distances. From time to time, as new sports were added, another day was given to the festival, so that when the number was complete it generally lasted for five days, divided in such a way that the three intermediate days were devoted to the contests, the first and last to the public and private sacrifices, processions and banquets.

The gymnastic contests have been already discussed in a previous section; we must give some details here about the equestrian competitions, among which racing with four-horse chariots was always regarded as one of the most splendid. They employed for the purpose the light two-wheeled chariots used in battle in the heroic age; these had, as a rule, wheels with four spokes, and the car was open at the back and closed in a semi-circular shape in front, with two bent hoops turned back behind, which were used to catch hold of in jumping up. (Compare the vase painting, Fig. 149.) Here we see the preparations for driving; the charioteer, clad in a long garment according to ancient custom, stands behind the two{355}

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Fig. 149.


horses, which are yoked to the chariot, and seems about to complete the arrangement of the harness, while an attendant in a short garment is helping him; another attendant leads a third horse, which is probably also to be yoked to the chariot; while the owner holds in his hand the reins and the goad with which to urge on the horses. The usual plan was to fasten the middle horse to a yoke at the end of the pole which is raised in front, while the outer horses were connected with ropes at either side, fastened to a ring in front of the chariot. The reins were all drawn through a ring or loop at the top of the pole, and the pin on to which this ring was fastened was connected with a vertical rod in front of the chariot by a line drawn very tight, the object of which is not clear; perhaps it was to establish equilibrium between the car, which was drawn backwards by the weight of the driver, and the forward pressure given to the pole by the pull of the horses. This picture also shows other details of harnessing, the bridle, etc.

The races took place in the Hippodrome; but the one at Olympia is completely destroyed, and all the knowledge we possess of its situation is due to Pausanias, who gives us no information concerning the length of the course to be run twice by full-grown horses. However, he supplies a detailed description of the starting places, which were very complicated, since no competitor must have an advantage over another by starting earlier or having a shorter piece of ground to cover. For this purpose the two long sides of the Hippodrome were of unequal length, and the one at the end of which were the goal and the seats of the judges was rather shorter than the other; the stands for the chariots were not in a straight line,{357} but in the form of the segment of a circle. The ropes, which prevented the chariots from starting before the appointed time, did not all drop at the same moment, but one after another in such a way that the chariots started first from the more distant stands, and reached a given point at the same time as those from the nearer stands, which started a few seconds later, so that the racing began at this place under equal conditions. The signal was given by the sound of trumpets, and also by some ingenious mechanism which caused a bronze dolphin on an elevated place at the beginning of the course to fall, while an eagle, which till then had rested on an altar, rose into the air with extended wings. At this sign the barriers fell, and the chariots started in the appointed order over the longer side of the course, and then, turning back, returned by the shorter side. This was the exciting contest which has been so magnificently described by Homer in his account of the funeral games in honour of Patroclus, and by Sophocles in the “Electra.” The victor who first reached the goal, near which sat the umpires, received the much-coveted reward of a wreath; but even the next seems to have had some distinction or, at any rate, an honourable mention.

Racing with four full-grown horses was always most popular, but there were also races with two-horse chariots and with colts. Afterwards, when riding races came into fashion, they became extremely popular, although they never attained the great importance claimed by the chariot races in the Olympic games. In both contests it was the trainer of the horse who was regarded as victor, and though it sometimes happened that the owner or his son drove or rode himself, yet it was more commonly done by strangers, very often by professional charioteers{358} and riders hired for the purpose, like our jockeys of the present day. Instead of the wreath, which was not allotted to them, they received a fillet as a token of victory.

The judges (Ἑλλανοδίκαι) were appointed by the Elians, on whose territory the games took place. Their number varied in the course of years. At first, in 576 B.C., two citizens were chosen by lot to arrange and superintend the contests; but a hundred years later there were nine judges appointed, three for the equestrian contests, three for the pentathlon, and three for the rest of the sports; to these nine a tenth was soon added, then for a short time the number was reduced to eight, and afterwards once more increased to ten, which remained the appointed number. They were chosen by lot even in later times. As their decisions were of extreme importance, it was regarded as no small matter to undertake this responsible office; in fact, the judges had to be trained in a special building in the market-place of Elis, in the arcades of which they spent the greater part of the day for ten months, to be instructed in their duties by the guardians of the laws (νομοθύλακες), and in particular to acquire an accurate knowledge of gymnastic rules. When the time of the games arrived, they took a solemn oath in the court-house at Olympia, before the altar of Zeus Herkeios; their period of office extended only over a single festival.

Their duties were to make the arrangements for the contests, and all the festivals connected therewith; to examine the competitors as to their right to enter; to superintend the training of the athletes and their teachers in the gymnasium; to see that the athletes really entered for the contests which they had chosen, and that everything was done according to established{359} custom, and the laws of the games were in no way broken; for this purpose they also had disciplinary power, and a right to impose considerable fines, and even sometimes inflict corporal punishment. Finally, in case of uncertainty, they had to give judgment about the victory, if necessary, by a majority of votes. A combatant who was not satisfied could appeal against their decision to the council (βουλή) of Olympia, but he could not afterwards be pronounced victor; the most he could obtain, should it appear that the judges were in the wrong, was their condemnation to pay a fine. Under the judges were officials who helped to maintain order and carry out their ordinances; and all the attendants present—and this must have been a considerable number, owing to the great concourse of spectators and combatants—were under their orders.

We can form some general idea of the succession of events and the arrangement of festivities during the five days of the festival, although we are not fully acquainted with all the details. A preliminary ceremony was the entrance of the embassies from the various Hellenic states. All the states considered it a matter of importance to send their representatives equipped with as much splendour as possible, and therefore the richest people were always chosen for the purpose. Since a great deal of splendour was shown by these delegates at the festive processions with their chariots and horses, their magnificent utensils, etc., they probably held a grand entry on their arrival, and thus the spectators, at the very beginning of the festival, were able to gratify their love of fine sights. No doubt the whole proceeding began with a sacrifice to Zeus, in whose honour the games were held, and who was regarded as their{360} director. Next, the umpires, the athletes who entered for the contests, and the trainers who had come with them, took a solemn oath in the court-house at Olympia. After a swine had been sacrificed, the competitors had to swear that they possessed the full rights of citizens, that they had fulfilled all the conditions which were necessary for admission, and were ready to submit to the regulations. In spite of this oath, an examination into their claims took place; it was not only necessary to prove the right of citizenship, but also the appointed training for the contests by the athletic diet already described, and on this account the presence of the trainers was desirable, if not indispensable, at the examination and oath. The horses for the races were also examined. It is uncertain whether the lots to determine the groups of competitors were drawn on this first day. The drawing was preceded by a prayer to Zeus Moiragetes, the Director of Destiny; then the charioteers drew lots for their places at starting, and the others for their order of entry. The runners were divided into groups, probably of four; the lot decided the order in which they were to follow one another; and the victors in these races had then to run once more for the prize. This however was probably only the case with the single and double course, since it is not likely that there were so many competitors for the more difficult long course and the race in full panoply. Wrestlers, boxers, and pancratiasts drew lots from an urn, in which small lots, of which a pair was marked with the same letters, were thrown; each competitor drew out one. Those who drew the same letters had to fight together; the victors then fought afresh. If there were more than two victors, they probably drew lots again in the same way. At last there was only one pair{361} left, of which one was victor in the whole contest. It sometimes happened that when these lots were drawn the number of combatants was unequal, and thus one was left without an opponent. He was called the third combatant (ἔφεδρος), and it was a very lucky thing to draw this lot. Of course, it would be a very unusual piece of luck for one person to be third combatant at all the drawings, and thus be able at last to meet, with his strength unbroken, an opponent who would have sustained many contests already; still, to draw this lot even once was to have a distinct advantage. There was, of course, a certain amount of unfairness connected with it, but they seem to have found no other way out of the dilemma; still, in most cases, when the victors and the third combatant drew afresh, it might be left to chance to see that one person was not too highly favoured. Sometimes a competitor was lucky enough to obtain a wreath without any contest at all; for instance, if only two had entered for a particular contest, and one of them did not appear in time or abandoned the fight. Many celebrated athletes could obtain a prize thus by the mere terror of their names.

The gymnastic and equestrian competitions continued from the second to the fourth day; probably the boys contended on the second, the men on the third and fourth days. We know little about the order of events; still, it is probable that on the third day the racing took place first, and in this order—long, single, and double course, then wrestling, boxing, and pancration; on the fourth day the equestrian contests, the pentathlon, and, last of all, the race in full panoply. There would then be several changes of locality, since the equestrian contests took place in the Hippodrome; the races, pentathlon, and other{362} gymnastic sports in the Stadion. There was, of course, a gymnasium at Olympia, but this could not contain the multitude of spectators as well as the Stadion, and, therefore, the wrestling school and gymnasium at Olympia were used exclusively for the previous training of the competitors who came there for the contests. On the last day the prizes were distributed. The prize, as is well known, was the simplest possible—a mere wreath of olive, which a boy, both whose parents must be alive, according to the old tradition, cut with a golden knife from a wild olive tree in the Grove of Altis. Another outward token of victory was the palm branch granted to the victor, and, in consequence, the palm as a token of victory often appears in the statues of the Olympic conquerors. In olden times the wreaths to be distributed were placed on a brazen tripod; but Kolotes, a pupil of Pheidias, constructed a magnificent table of gold and ivory for the purpose, which was usually kept in the temple of Hera. It was the duty of one of the judges to crown the head of the victor with the wreath after it had been previously surrounded by a woollen fillet. During this solemn act the herald announced the name of the victor, as well as of his father and his native city. The importance attributed by the ancients to the victory in the Olympic games was such that this proud moment, when the victor received his reward amid the applause of the whole people, and, as it were, before the eyes of all Greece, was a sufficient compensation for all the troubles and difficulties involved in the preparation for the contest. Still, there were many other honours which fell to his lot, both in Olympia and at home in his own country.

After the name of the victor had been announced, sacrifices and banquets took place. It is not certain{363} whether the great sacrifice of the Elians, a hecatomb offered to Zeus as the supreme director of the contests, took place at the conclusion of the festival, or at the beginning; in any case, numerous sacrifices of thanksgiving were offered by the victors and also by the delegates sent from other states. Very often the victor’s sacrifice was combined with that of his countrymen; for the state to which the conqueror belonged considered itself honoured by his victory, and it was the duty of the delegates to exhibit as much splendour as possible at the sacrifice as well as at the procession connected with it. These solemn processions, which made the last day of the feast a specially magnificent one, were accompanied by flutes and citharas, and, perhaps, also by the singing of choruses. They probably marched at first round the altars, while the flames of the sacrifices were burning on them, and afterwards touched at all the sacred places near the holy Altis.

In the afternoon a great banquet, given by the Elians to the victors, united them all in the town hall (πρυτανεῖον); but even this was not the end of the festivities, for feasting continued in the evening and far into the night at entertainments given by the victors to their relations and friends, who had hurried to the spot. These were more or less magnificent according to the means of the givers, though sometimes the state to which they belonged bore a part of the expenses. These festive gatherings were also honoured by music and song, and it was on these occasions that the songs of victory (ἐπινίκια), specially composed in praise of the victor and his family, were often sung, along with old songs, supposing it to have been possible in this short interval to write, compose, and study one of these hymns of victory. Most of the odes, especially those of Pindar, which have come down{364} to us, were not performed on these occasions, but at the festivities held in honour of the victor in his own country, which were often celebrated there from year to year.

Herewith the official programme of the festivities came to an end, but there was no lack of further entertainment; for the opportunity of appearing before so great a number of their countrymen, and thus attaining sudden fame, was a very attractive one for poets and writers, who in those days were little assisted by the bookselling trade. The custom of holding lectures or reciting poems before the assembled people originated in the 5th century, when it is said to have been introduced by Herodotus, who read aloud a portion of his history at Olympia, though this story is not entirely removed from doubt. It is, however, a fact that from that time onwards recitations of this kind became commoner; thus Gorgias the Sophist, and Hippias the Elian, held long discourses here; and similarly, Prodicus and Anaximenes, Lysias, Isocrates, etc., lectured at Olympia; and in later times this was a frequent occurrence. Occasionally, though less often, works of art were here exposed to view; thus, a painter, Aetion, exhibited his picture of the marriage of Alexander the Great and Roxana, and the astronomer, Oinopides, of Chios, exhibited a brass tablet which was to explain a new method of calculating the time, discovered by him. This last, however, turned out a failure. The publicity of the Olympic festival was also used in other ways. Important decrees relating to solemn pledges, treaties among states, mutual acknowledgment of meritorious actions, decisions to confer crowns, or other matters of importance, which it was desirable to bring into universal{365} notice as soon as possible, were proclaimed by the solemn voice of the herald and then graven in bronze or stone, and set up in the Altis.

Every free man might be present at the contests and other festivities, provided his means permitted him to defray the expenses of the journey and of a stay in the festive city. Naturally the greater number of the spectators came from the neighbouring states of the Peloponnesus; but, still, many came very long distances. So great was the interest roused by these contests that people from all classes came to view them; and even men of the highest intellectual eminence took pleasure in them. Statesmen and generals, such as Themistocles, Cimon, Philopoemen; philosophers, such as Thales, Chiron, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato; orators, such as Gorgias, Lysias, Demosthenes; poets, such as Pindar, Simonides, were among the spectators; and though some of the poets, especially Euripides, and philosophers were inclined to criticise rather severely the value of the performances at Olympia, yet these were but isolated opinions, and in no way tended to diminish the popularity of the games or the glory of the victors in the eyes of the general public. This interest was revealed by the endurance with which the spectators continued to watch the games, in spite of the fact that they took place in the very hottest season, and lasted for the greater part of the day; from early morning, when they went to the Stadion in order to secure a good place, till late in the afternoon, when the decision was given, they watched and endured the heat, dust, crowding, and thirst, either standing or squatting, according as space permitted, with that patience and endurance of which only the people of the south are capable. No doubt there{366} were noisy expressions of sympathy during the contests, encouraging or mocking cries, applause and sounds of sorrow, since all feelings are expressed in a violent manner by southern nations. Women were not allowed to be present at the games. The statement that the maidens of Elis were an exception to this rule is scarcely credible. Those women or girls who had come to the festival to accompany competing husbands, sons, or brothers, had to remain on the other side of the Alpheus. In consequence of the great number of spectators, inns and lodging-houses were built to accommodate those who had not, like the sacred envoys, brought their own tents with them. Moreover, as already indicated, a kind of fair was connected with the Olympian festivities; traders, with all manner of wares, some of them objects directly connected with the festival, such as fillets, flowers, food, etc., and other useful articles, set up their booths and tents; and, thus, along with the festival, there was a busy commercial activity, such as was common in every place where great crowds of people met together at fixed times.

The games performed at Delphi in honour of Pythian Apollo bore the name of the Great Pythia, to distinguish them from the Lesser Pythia, held every year at Delphi, and also from the festival of the same name celebrated in other places. This festival, which at first was held every eight years, had been changed to a quadrennial one after the beginning of the 6th century B.C.; it lasted several days, and gradually many additions were made to the original contests. At first the musical competition, which comprised cithara and flute playing, was the only one; in later times, too, it was the principal part of the festival, but after the example of the Olympian games,{367} gymnastic and equestrian contests were also added. A general truce was connected with the Pythian games as well as with the Olympian, and this lasted long enough to enable spectators from the distant colonies on the shores of the Mediterranean to journey in safety to Delphi and back. The chief events of the festival and the order of proceedings were something of this sort.

A great sacrifice to the three gods, Apollo, Artemis, and Leto, called Trittyes probably formed the introduction. Then followed an important part of the festival, calculated to arouse lively interest in the public, the Pythian Nomos, the subject of which was the celebrated fight with the dragon Pytho by Apollo. Many suggestions have been made about the nature of this performance. One is that the fight was presented in dumb show; another that it was a song, accompanied by instruments; and, again, another very popular theory is that this Pythian Nomos was a concerto of flute solos, by means of which various stages of the fight with the dragon were represented in tone painting. Probably the most important situations—the fight, thanksgiving, and hymn of victory—could be thus represented, and, indeed, they must have attained considerable proficiency in tone painting, since even the gnashing of the dragon’s teeth was musically represented. With a view to strengthening these effects, the flute, which always remained the chief instrument, was afterwards reinforced at certain places by trumpets and shepherds’ pipes. This Pythian Nomos constituted part of the musical contest, which was of greater importance in the Pythian games than the gymnastic competition, since Apollo was essentially the representative of the musical arts. Besides the{368} solo flute playing, the musical competition included songs with cithara accompaniment, and at first also with the flute, but this last was discontinued, being regarded as too sad and gloomy; and, instead, cithara playing without song was introduced in the musical contest. It was only in much later times, when troops of artists were called in to make the festival more splendid, with the consent of the officials of the land, that dramas were also presented at the Pythian games.

We know but little of the gymnastic contests which gradually found a place in the Pythian games. In essentials they were the same as those at Olympia, but the double course and the long course for boys were also added, while at Olympia these two contests were only open to men. The order of events, too, was different; the competitors were classed according to age, and each class, after completing its own contests, was able to rest while the others went through the same exercise, so that these intervals for rest enabled the boys to perform greater feats of running than they could at Olympia, where they had to enter for all their contests before the men’s turn came at all. To the usual gymnastic sports were afterwards added the race in full panoply and the pancration for boys. Equestrian competitions were early introduced; racing with full-grown horses, with four-horse chariots, and afterwards with two-horse chariots; when colts were introduced at Olympia the example was also followed at Delphi: probably the events followed in such a way that the musical contest was connected with the acts of worship, and was followed by the gymnastic, and this by the equestrian contests. The gymnastic sports were held, at the time of Pindar, in the neighbourhood of the ruined city Cirrha, south of the{369} mouth of the Pleistos; afterwards the Delphic Stadion was to the north-west of the city, while the driving and riding races took place in the old Stadion near the ruined city of Cirrha. In later times there was also a theatre for the performance of the musical contests.

Here, as at Olympia, punctual attendance was required of the competitors; those who entered unlawfully were expelled by the servants of the Amphictyons, who were entrusted with disciplinary power. It was they who had the superintendence of the games, as well as the right of judging. Originally both these privileges had belonged to the inhabitants of Delphi; but after the reorganisation of the games in the year 586, the duties of superintendents and judges passed to the Amphictyons, or to officials appointed by them. It seems that we must distinguish between the Amphictyonic superintendents (ἐπιμεληταί), in whose hands were the arrangement of the programme, and all matters of expense, the appointment or ratification of the festive officials, etc. (ἀγωνοθεσία), and the real umpires (βραβῆς), who had themselves to make the most important arrangements for the contests, such as assigning the places for the chariots in the races and giving decisions about the victory; but we cannot attain any certainty in this matter. Sometimes, towards the end of the age of Greek freedom, the right of superintendence was conferred on princes—as, for instance on Philip of Macedon—and in the time of the Empire it was not unusual for a rich man to bear the expenses of the ceremony wholly or in great part; though even here the old custom was, at any rate externally, observed. The prizes of victory were originally valuable gifts, tripods, etc.; at the rearrangement of the{370} games the custom originated of giving, instead, a wreath, as was done at Olympia, made of laurel sacred to Apollo. They also followed the example of Olympia in introducing lectures and recitations by historians and poets; thus Gorgias the Sophist, delivered an oration on one of these occasions. A very important part of the festival was the great procession (πομπή), in which strangers who came to the games, embassies with their dedicatory offerings, the officials and priests, took part; and besides the offerings, which were often very splendid, valuable treasures, usually kept in the treasuries, were exhibited; costly weapons and armour, splendid garments and jewels, vases, etc., were exposed to view, so that this procession, which probably marched from the suburb Pylaea, upwards to the temple of Apollo, must have presented a very varied and richly-coloured picture. As well as the triple sacrifice already mentioned, there were other solemn sacrifices, among them a hecatomb to Apollo; this was, of course, connected with the great banquet, at which there was no lack of musical entertainment.

The Isthmian games, the third of the great Hellenic national festivals, were celebrated on the isthmus of Corinth, in the sacred pine grove of Poseidon, where a hippodrome and a stadion for equestrian and gymnastic contests had been erected. The festival, which from the year 582 onwards, became national and Hellenic, took place every two years, in the first and third years of an Olympiad; it consisted of musical, gymnastic, and equestrian contests. We do not hear of any differences between these games and those at Olympia, and we may assume that there were the usual competitions for men and boys; in addition to them there was an{371} intermediate class of the beardless ones—that is, youths (ἔφηβοι). Of course, there was a universal truce during the Isthmian games, and numerous and splendid embassies attended it, since the site between two seas facilitated attendance. The arrangement of the programme fell to the Corinthians, who also appointed the umpires, probably from among the rich and respected citizens. The prize of victory was a wreath of ivy, for which they afterwards substituted one of pine, and this seems to have been still the custom at the time of Ibycus, who, as Schiller tells us, met his death on the way to this “contest of chariots and song.” In the later period, especially in the Hellenistic and Roman times, there were also rhetorical and poetical recitations at the Isthmian games, but they did not form a part of the musical contest.

The Nemean games were held at Argolis, in a valley between Cleonae and Phlius, in a grove belonging to the sanctuary of Zeus-Nemeios, and they did not attain national importance till the year 573. These, like the Isthmian games, were held every two years, in the second and fourth years of an Olympiad. The contests here also comprised musical, gymnastic, and equestrian competitions; we are incidentally informed that cithara and flute players appeared in the musical contest. We have no information about the length of its duration, but it must certainly have lasted for several days. The Cleonaeans were for a long time superintendents and umpires, but when the Argives gained possession of the Nemean sanctuary they also claimed this privilege. The prize of victory here, as at the Isthmian games, was a wreath of ivy; there were the same arrangements for a universal truce, and visits of sacred envoys, as at other great festivals.{372}

From this consideration of the Hellenic national celebrations we must now turn specially to Athens, with whose festive calendar we are much better acquainted; but we must content ourselves with a selection from among the most important. The first place is due to the greatest festival of the Athenians, the Panathenaea celebrated in the first month of the Athenian calendar, Hekatombaeon (probably our July). We must distinguish between the lesser and the greater Panathenaea; the former was celebrated every year; the latter, introduced by Peisistratus, every four years; the real difference was that, at the greater Panathenaea the contests were more splendid and probably lasted a longer time. The festival was held in honour of the patron goddess in the ancient temple of Athene Polias; it consisted of sacrifices and competitions, equestrian, gymnastic, and also musical. The oldest musical contest was a competition between rhapsodists, perhaps introduced by Peisistratus. The performances of the rhapsodists were probably chiefly concerned with the Homeric poems, which had been collected and edited at the command of Peisistratus, but we do not know in what way they contended for the prize; the place of recitation was the Odeon. Afterwards the Homeric rhapsodies fell into the background, when Pericles extended the musical contests by introducing cithara and flute playing and song. We learn from the inscriptions that songs with cithara accompaniment, as well as with flute accompaniment, were usual, and they also speak of cyclic choruses, that is, dithyrambs, sung by choruses while circling round the altar on which the sacrifice was burning. The prize for the musical contest was a gold wreath and some money. The gymnastic contests were arranged according to age (boys, youths, men); the{373} youngest entered first, and each class ended its competitions before the next one began. Similarly the competitions advanced from easy to difficult; they were of the usual kinds already described, but it was only the men from whom all were required. Boys and youths in the earliest period entered for racing, wrestling, and boxing, pancration, and pentathlon. Afterwards the pentathlon was abandoned, and the double and long course introduced instead, though probably the requirements for these were reduced, since the usual attainments of these contests would have been too great for boys. We do not know exactly where the gymnastic competitions took place, since the Panathenaeic Stadion was not built till the latter half of the fourth century. Before that there seems to have been a place to the west of the Peiraeus, where both equestrian and gymnastic contests were carried on; here, too, the victors were proclaimed, and the prizes conferred on them. These consisted in a quantity of oil from the celebrated olive-trees of Athene in the Academy, and this was drawn into earthen amphoras, on one side of which was represented the image of the patron goddess, and on the other generally a scene from the gymnastic competition. Many imitations of these amphoras exist, and no small number of them have come down to us, and are known as Panathenaeic prize amphoras.

There were several events peculiar to the equestrian contests at Athens. Thus, in Attica and Boeotia chariot-jumping was a popular sport. Besides the charioteer on the two-wheeled car there was a second person (ἀποβάτης), who, while the chariot was moving at full speed, jumped down from the car and up again, assisted by the charioteer; this performance is traced back by legend to the time of Erichthonius. There{374} were also martial contests, in which warriors in full panoply stood in their chariots; and also races of javelin-throwers, who aimed at a fixed goal from their running horses; but these sports connected with the Panathenaea are known to us only by casual allusions, and not by accurate description. Here, as elsewhere, we learn from the inscriptions that the usual kinds of racing took place, namely, with four horses, and afterwards, too, with colts, as well as riding races. Here, as in the gymnastic contests, the prize consisted in jars of oil; in both cases the first prize was generally five times the value of the second.

To the festivities of the Panathenaea belonged also a performance of the Pyrrhic war dance (πυῤῥίχη) which originated at Sparta, and was probably introduced at Athens at the time of Solon and Peisistratus. In later times they distinguished three kinds, according to age. The various classes, clad in magnificent armour, combined together in bands and performed a dance to the music of the flute, which partook of the double nature of choregraphic and military movements. A still extant relief from the Acropolis, set up by a choragus who had won the prize (rich citizens undertook the equipment of the Pyrrhic choruses as a public service or liturgy), presents a number of youthful dancers performing a measured dance in light helmets, and holding their shield in their left hand, but without any clothing; they are in two divisions; the choragus stands superintending them in a long chiton (as festive garment) and himation. We do not know how the victory of a Pyrrhic chorus was decided. The prize of victory was an ox.

Another contest peculiar to the Panathenaea was a muster of men (εὐανδρία). Like the dramatic representations, the torch-race, and the Pyrrhic dance, this{375} was a liturgy, that is, a voluntary service performed by a rich citizen. It was his duty to select the handsomest and strongest men of his tribe, to clothe and equip them, and present them at the festival; that tribe which, in the opinion of the judges, made the best impression, received the prize. This curious custom originated after the expulsion of the Peisistratidae, since they would not have been permitted, during the tyranny, to bring forward the armed citizens in this manner. Another liturgy was the torch-race (λαμπαδοφορία), which was superintended by the gymnasiarchs; the victor in this contest received a water-jar. The contests of the Panathenaea were concluded by a regatta, which took place at the Peiraeus. Here, again, it was not individuals, but tribes, that competed for the prize, which was not inconsiderable, since the victorious tribe received 300 drachmae, and money for a festive banquet.

The expenses of these various contests, if they did not happen to be voluntary services, were defrayed from the treasury of Athene Polias; the sacrifices, in particular the hecatomb offered to the goddess at the greater Panathenaea, were provided by the superintendents of sacrifice (ἱεροποιοί), appointed as the ten representatives of the ten tribes, but there were sometimes special subscriptions for the purpose, and, at the great festivals at any rate, the Attic client cities sent their contributions to the sacrifices, apparently each one cow and two sheep. The hecatomb was offered on the chief day of the feast; another sacrifice was performed to Athene-Hygeia, and a third on the Areopagus, but we do not know when these took place, nor whether they were also offered at the lesser Panathenaea.

We have only a general notion of the order of the{376} festivities. They began with the contests, which lasted several days, taking the musical contest first, which was followed by the gymnastic, and this again by the equestrian. With these were probably connected the Pyrrhic dance and the muster of men. Then came the chief day of all, the glory of the festival, introduced the evening before by a festivity combined with a torch-race, and lasting far into the night (παννυχίς). At sunrise began the great procession which was peculiar to the greater Panathenaea. Here the goddess received her splendid robe, which was renewed every four years, and artistically worked by the Attic women and maidens, so as to represent the battle of the gods and giants. This procession, of which a wonderfully idealised representation has come down to us in the friezes of the Cella of the Parthenon, combined all the chief splendour and glory of Athens, all the proud youth and fair beauty of women. In it marched priests and prophets, archons, and the treasurers of Athene, the superintendents of sacrifice, generals, envoys from the Attic colonies, with their dedicatory offerings, and other delegates sent to the feast. Behind these dignified men followed beautiful maidens, carrying sacrificial vessels, censers, etc.; then came the resident foreigners (μέτοικοι), with flat dishes filled with honey-cakes, fruits, and other sacrificial offerings, and jars containing the wine required for the sacrifices; their daughters carried sunshades and seats for the daughters of Attic citizens. Next came the numerous herds of cows and sheep for the sacrifices, accompanied by drovers. These were followed by the Attic citizens, venerable old men and men in the prime of life, carrying their knotty sticks and olive branches in their hands; then came the four-horse chariots, which had entered for the contests of the{377} previous days. The greater part of the procession was taken up by the cavalry, in which appeared the citizens who served on horseback in the army, as well as other owners of fine horses; the fondness for horse-rearing peculiar to Attica made this part of the procession especially large and splendid. There were also the heavy-armed infantry under the command of their officers, and the musicians, who played during the march on their instruments—flutes and citharas; of course, the victors in the various competitions took part in the procession, though probably each walked with the members of his own tribe. The most conspicuous place was occupied by the robe of the goddess, which, at any rate after the beginning of the fourth century, was suspended like a sail on the mast of a ship, running on rollers, and spread out in such a way that all might admire the splendid workmanship.

This endless procession moved from the Kerameikos to the market-place, then eastwards to the Eleusinion, north of the Acropolis, and round this to the western ascent of the citadel, where the ship halted, and the robe was taken off in order to be carried in procession to the temple of Athene Polias, the Erechthaeum. Here the hecatomb was offered on the great altar in front of the temple, as well as the sacrifices of the Attic clients. A plentiful banquet concluded this chief day of the festival, for the meat sacrificed was divided among the people, being distributed among all the demes separately, who specially told off a number of members to receive their share. The meals took place also according to demes. The after celebration at the Peiraeus consisted in the regatta already mentioned. We cannot tell how long the whole festival of the greater Panathenaea lasted; opinions vary{378} between six and nine days, according as a longer or shorter period is assumed for the various competitions. The general direction of the procession and the sacrifices, as well as of the night festivity, was under the control and superintendence of the annual superintendents of sacrifice; while ten judges (ἀθλοθέται), appointed for a period of four years, undertook the direction of the contests.

The annual Sacred Festival of the Eleusinia must be distinguished from the lesser Eleusinia celebrated at Agrae in spring. It took place in the month of Boedromion, about September, in honour of Demeter of Eleusis. This was a celebration of the mysteries, and, therefore, no national festival, but still the number of the initiated was so great, and the mysteries were renowned so far even beyond the bounds of Attica, that it might be regarded as Hellenic, especially as the holding of the mysteries was announced in the neighbouring states by special envoys or heralds, whose office was hereditary in certain families, and a general truce prevailed during the celebration. The whole festival consisted of two parts, of which the first was held at Athens, the second at Eleusis. It began with a general assembly, of which we only know that it was probably a noisy procession, such as was very common at the celebration of mysteries. Another feature of the beginning of the festival were the public addresses to the community, delivered in the Stoa Poikile (Painted Porch) at Athens, where the Hierophant, the chief priest of the Eleusinian sanctuaries, and one of the chief priests in Attica, and the torch-bearer (δαδοῦχος), another Eleusinian official, acquainted the candidates for initiation with the arrangement of the festival and the conditions on which participation in the cere{379}mony depended. It was the duty of the Initiators (μυσταγωγοί) to see that the numerous people assembled really fulfilled these conditions; these were not officials but private people who had passed through all the degrees of initiation, and were acquainted with all the rites; and foreigners who attended the mysteries were obliged to prove their initiation in the first place to these. Either on this day or the next ensued that ceremony which received its name from the cry, “To the sea, ye Mystae!” when the whole community descended to the sea coast in order to purify themselves and the sacrificial animals, which on this occasion were swine, in the sea water for the impending sacrifices. Sometimes, if a visitor to the contests was conscious of special and numerous acts of wrongdoing, this purification was repeated several times, and the efficacy further ensured by fasting for nine days—that is, refraining from food during the time between sunrise and sunset. On the following days sacrifices were offered, especially the great Thankoffering (σωτήρια), brought by the superintendents of the mysteries to Demeter and Kora and the other gods, probably in the town of Eleusinia. Another sacrifice offered by a town was the Epidauria, which was said to have been founded in honour of Aesculapius, who arrived belated from Epidaurus. We are not acquainted with the place of this ceremony, nor with the time or other circumstances connected with it; the fourth and the fifth days of the festival have been suggested. Next followed the main part of the festival, the great procession which escorted Iacchus, the sacred child of the gods, from Athens to Eleusis. In the course of the day the participants in the procession, who often numbered several thousand, assembled at various parts of the city, and were drawn up in order in the Agora{380} and the Kerameikos. The priests and officials, as well as the whole band of Mystae, were decked with myrtle and ivy leaves, and carried ears of corn and agricultural implements in their hands, as well as torches, for they did not reach Eleusis before nightfall. The leader of the procession was Iacchus himself, though, at the same time, he was led. His sacred image was fetched, along with the temple utensils, from the sanctuary of Iacchus, and placed on a car, accompanied by attendants (Ίακχαγωγοί), at the head of the procession, which set out from the Kerameikos to the gate known as Dipylon amid loud shouts of “Iacchus,” and through this began its long journey along the sacred road to Eleusis. The procession moved on, singing a song especially composed for it, as was believed, by the god himself, accompanied by dancing and other ceremonies. The journey lasted four hours, and, in consequence of its length, rich women used to ride in carriages until the orator Lycurgus forbade this by a special law. During this long march they stopped to worship at various sanctuaries on the way, and also entertained each other with jokes, such as were customary at the festivals of Demeter and Dionysus: at the Kephisos especially there was jesting and mockery. At the fountain of Kallichoros dances and games were carried on by torchlight. Of course, all this detained the procession longer than the mere length of the journey would have required, so that after the arrival at Eleusis, when the image of the god had been put in its place, the pilgrims required rest and refreshment before going on to the remainder of the festival.

The rites at Eleusis also lasted several days. Besides solemn sacrifices and the festive banquets connected with them, there was the ceremony of{381} seeking the Maiden (κόρη) and the sacred representations. The former was an imitation of the sad wanderings of Demeter, when seeking her daughter, who had been stolen from her; the Mystae ran about with torches in the white raiments of the Eleusinian sanctuaries, and frequent jokes, some of a coarse description, reminded them that Demeter in her wanderings had been similarly cheered in her deep sorrow by the coarse jests of her maid Iambe. The Mystae also imitated the goddess in drinking a strengthening potion (κυκεώυ), which, according to a legend, the goddess drank at Eleusis after her long fast. The main feature, however, was the performance, on a stage in the sanctuary, of the mysterious sacred dramas which presented the secret doctrines of the Eleusinian mysteries to the new initiates, and also brought them clearly before the eyes of those who had been already initiated. We must not, however, suppose that all were present at the same representations. It was, in fact, here that the difference of degrees required different representations; beginners, among whom there were some not far removed from the age of childhood, were only admitted to representations corresponding to the ordinary legends of Demeter and Persephone, while the highest degrees, which were granted only to those of advanced years, went beyond these popular presentations, and represented the new-born Iacchus reunited in bliss with Persephone and Demeter. On these occasions even the highest dignitaries of the Eleusinia did not scorn to appear as actors; the Hierophant as the Demiurgos, the leader of the initiates as Helios, the altar priest as Selene, the herald (ίεροκῆρυξ) as Hermes, etc. These dramas, which fully occupied the eighth and ninth days, thus concluded the chief{382} part of the ceremony. The last act of worship was to take two earthen vessels filled with water, as was done at funerals, and pour them out to east and west amid mystic words (πλημοχόαι). Then followed some days occupied with entertainments of all kinds—gymnastic contests, national games, song and dance, and in later times also scenic representations.

The festival of the Thesmophoria, held in Pyanepsion (October), was in honour of Demeter alone; it lasted five days, and only women might take part in it. These women had to undergo a solemn preparation of nine days, during which they kept apart from their husbands, and purified themselves in various ways. After this they went to Halimus, the scene of the Thesmophoria, not in a long procession, but in small groups and at night-time. The comic side of the Demeter festivals was visible here also: those who went alone met each other on the way, and demanded and gave tokens of recognition in jest, amid much laughter, which became excessive if, as sometimes happened, a man fell into their hands. At Halimus, in the sanctuary of the Thesmophoria, the mysteries took place by night; the day was occupied with purifying baths in the sea, and playing and dancing on the shore. After this had gone on for a day or a day and a half, the women set out again for Athens, this time in a long procession, carrying the laws of Demeter, the Thesmoi whence the festival took its name, in caskets on the head of sacred women, and the festival was then continued at Athens, either in the Thesmophorion of the town or in that of Peiraeus. This further celebration occupied two days, besides the day of return; first came the day of “fasting,” so-called because on this day the women sat in deep mourning on the{383} ground and took no food, probably singing dirges and observing other customs common in case of a death; they also sacrificed swine to the infernal gods. The third day (καλλιγενεία) bore a more cheerful character. Its name, signifying “the birth of fair children,” seems to refer to Demeter, who was assumed to be appeased and who gave the blessing of fair children to women. This day was occupied with sacrifices, dances, and merry games, of which we know very little. At all these festivals the presence of men was most sternly forbidden; only those women who were full citizens might take part, and probably none who were unmarried.

There were various smaller festivals which we must pass over, and turn to the festivals of Dionysus, which had an important influence on life in Greece, as well as on its literature and art. There were four of these every year at Athens; in the month of Poseidon (February), the country Dionysia, called also “the lesser,” took place. Naturally this was a vine festival, as would result from the character of the god; but the common opinion, that it was to celebrate the vintage, is open to many objections, especially since the time of the feast seems too late for the vintage. It is more probable that the new wine was then tasted for the first time. This festival was not connected with any special place; country Dionysia were celebrated in every village, and not only in Attica, but everywhere in Greece where vines were cultivated, and it always bore the character of a cheerful national feast connected with fun and merry frolic. In the “Acharnians” of Aristophanes a peasant celebrates the festival alone with his family; it begins with prayer and a procession to the sacrifice, in which the daughter, as basket-bearer (κανηφόρος), carries the{384} basket of offerings on her head; the slave with the Phallus, the symbol of fertility and the never extinct producing power of the earth, next follows; and the master of the house sings his merry phallic song, while his wife looks on at the procession from the roof of the house. What was done here on a small scale by a single family, we must assume was performed on a larger scale in the real ceremony by all the assembled villagers. There were also other parts of the festival, especially the chorus, which stood round the altar during the sacrifice of the goat, and praised the god in speech and song, probably also in answering refrain; they sang the birth, sufferings, and death of Dionysus, and were the origin of the dithyramb as well as of the drama, since this latter, as is well known, owes its origin to the festivals of Dionysus. Often there were real dramatic representations at the lesser Dionysia; it was especially the custom for strolling actors on these occasions to perform before the country people old plays, which had been already represented in the towns. Among the other entertainments, along with the festive processions, choruses, and banquets, one is especially worthy of mention (ἀσκώλια). This was a game in which the young people of the village hopped about on greased wine skins, and tried to push each other down, while the falls were greeted with laughter by the bystanders; those who succeeded in retaining their place received prizes. This entertainment, which may be set on a par with our own running in sacks, was customary, too, at other festivals of Dionysus.

The second Athenian festival of Dionysus was peculiar to Athens, but was probably only one of the country Dionysia transferred to the town; it was called Lenaea, after the place where it was usually{385} held, the Lenaeon, in the suburb Limnae, and was held in the month of Gamelion (January). The name suggests a feast of wine-presses, which does not coincide with the time of the celebration; many attempts have been made to explain this difficulty, but without result. The festival, or at any rate a special part of it, bore the name Ambrosia, probably because they drank a great deal of the new wine to which they assigned this divine name; and, in fact, plentiful drinking was a characteristic of all the festivals of the wine god. A great banquet accompanied the festivities, for which the State provided everything, and there was also a solemn procession into the town, in which many people drove, amid jest and frolic, so that the “jokes from the car” became proverbial. In the Lenaeon, to which the procession first marched with the sacrificial animals, solemn dithyrambs were sung in competition, and the prize was a wreath of ivy; there were also dramatic representations, at which both old and new pieces were performed.

The third festival of Dionysus was the Anthesteria, in the month Anthesterion (February), which lasted three days, and was even more distinctly associated with the tasting of the new wine than the Lenaea. The first day of the festival bore the distinctive name of “Cask-opening” (πιθοιγία). It was essentially a family festival. The casks, with the new wine which was to be used next day for the banquet, were brought in by the servants and opened; the wine was drawn off into amphoras or other vessels, and naturally many a draught was drunk, and in particular the slaves had their share. For the Athenians, who always treated their slaves well, did not grudge them their fair share on this festive occasion, and{386} when they offered their sacrifices at the Cask-opening, and helped to draw off the wine, they probably themselves filled a jar for their servants and workmen with the new gift of Bacchus. All other work ceased for this day and the next, and the children, too, had holidays. The old image of Dionysus, which was to make its solemn entry into the town in the procession of the following day, was also brought on this first day from its temple in the Nemaeon to a chapel in the outer Kerameikos. But this festival was only a preparation for the principal day, called “The Feast of Pitchers,” which began at sunset—the time when all festivals commenced—with a great procession. Those who took part in it appeared wreathed and bearing torches (for the procession did not take place till dark) in the outer Kerameikos; children, too, except those under three years, took part in it, probably accompanied by their mothers, or in carriages, for many participants drove; and here, as in the country Dionysia, it was the custom to mock the passers-by from the carriage. In fact, this part of the festival bore the character of a merry carnival; many people appeared in costume as Horae, Nymphs, Bacchantes, etc., and crowded gaily around the triumphant car on which the statue of Dionysos-Eleutheros, which had been fetched from its temple on the previous day, was conducted to the town. On the way religious rites were observed at various places sanctified by legend. At one place the Basilinna, that is, the wife of the Archon Basileus, had to sit on the car next the statue of Dionysus, for on this day she was the bride of the god, and thus, on her wedding-car, she entered the Lenaeon, where a mystic sacrifice was offered for the welfare of the State in the innermost part of the temple, by the Basilinna,{387} together with the fourteen ladies of honour appointed for this purpose by the Archon (γεραραί). These took a solemn oath to the queen before the ceremony took place, and in so doing followed an ancient formula inscribed on stone columns in the temple. After the sacrifice, with which other secret ceremonies were connected, followed the symbolical marriage of the Basilinna and Dionysus. While these sacred ceremonies, to which but few were admitted, were taking place in the interior of the temple, the other celebrants enjoyed themselves in different ways. On the next day the actual Pitcher Feast took place—the great banquet, with the drinking contest, that followed it. At this great public feast the Archon-Basileus was superintendent of the festival, but the State defrayed the expenses, originally, probably, in kind, but afterwards in such a way that each citizen received a fixed sum of money, and with this supplied his food and also the can of pure wine which stood in front of everyone, and gave its name to this day. Both the banquet and the drinking contest were probably held in the theatre in the Lenaeon, where the chief priest of Dionysus had to provide cushions, tables, and other conveniences. A proclamation by the herald, in ancient style, introduced the most interesting event—the drinking contest. At a signal given by a trumpet, all who took part in it set their pitchers to their mouths, and the judges allotted the victory to him who first emptied his; the prize consisted in a skin of wine, cakes, or something of the kind. Besides this public banquet there were also private hospitalities, provided by those who preferred to celebrate the day by themselves in the circle of a few intimate friends, and here, too, much drinking went on; the Sophists, in particular, who received{388} their honorarium and presents on this day, were in the habit of inviting their acquaintances to a feast. Thus things went on merrily till the beginning of the night; then each guest took his pitcher and the wreath of fresh flowers which he had worn at the feast to the sanctuary of Dionysos-Eleutheros, that was divided off with a rope, and here the wreaths were handed to the priestess, and the remains in the pitcher poured out as a libation to the god.

The third day was called the “Feast of Pots” (χύτροι), from a sacrifice offered to Hermes Chthonios and the spirits of the dead, and here they observed the traditional custom of first sacrificing to those who had perished in the Flood of Deucalion. At these sacrifices, pots containing a number of vegetable substances cooked together, played an important part, and these dishes also constituted the meal of this day, on which no flesh was eaten. The ladies of honour also offered sacrifices to Dionysus at sixteen specially erected altars, and there were probably other ceremonies connected with this; in fact, this third day of the “Anthesteria,” with its serious ceremonial, formed a strong contrast to the merriment of the previous days, and suggests a similar contrast between our Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. But even on the “Day of Pots” there was no lack of amusements for the people; sacred choruses were conducted by the poets, but it does not seem that any regular dramas were performed. Possibly dramatic contests had been the custom in earlier times, or else only such competitions were allowed as determined the admission of the poets and actors, who won the prize on this occasion, to competition at the greater Dionysia. The chief festival of Dionysus in Attica was the greater, or city Dionysia, in Elaphebolion (March), which lasted at{389} least five days, and perhaps even longer, and whose chief importance consisted in the plays acted during these days. The first solemn ceremony of the greater Dionysia was in honour of Aesculapius, to whom a public sacrifice was brought. Here, too, there was a procession, in which the statue of Dionysos-Eleutheros was carried; whether it was the old wooden image which was carried at the Lenaea, or the new statue by Alcamenes, is uncertain, but the latter was of gold and ivory, and, therefore, not easily portable; in any case the statue was fetched from the sanctuary at Lenaea, and carried by torchlight to the theatre of Dionysus, where it was set up in the orchestra. On the following day came the procession, in which the sacrificial animals, as well as the presents sent by allies, probably appeared. The procession stopped in the market place, and a cyclical chorus performed a dance round the altar to the Delphic gods who stood there. When they passed on they seem to have fetched away the Dionysus statue from the theatre, and carried it once more in a festive procession to the sanctuary in the Lenaeon. This procession was followed by sacrificial banquets, and on the other days plentiful feasting was also a part of the celebration. The following days were chiefly occupied by the performances, which seem to have followed in some such order as this: First of all, lyric choruses; both men and boys entered, and the expenses, which were heavy, were defrayed by citizens acting as choragi. Perhaps this day was concluded by a “Comus,” as public processions of this kind often followed common banquets, and since it was the god of wine who was specially to be honoured, it was, no doubt, very splendidly equipped. The next days were occupied with representations of tragic tetralogies and comedies; it{390} is not certain whether these lasted two or more days, but it is probable that they continued for three days, and that on each of these a tetralogy was performed in the morning and a comedy in the afternoon. On the evening of the third day of the performances, which concluded the whole festival, the prizes were distributed; in these musical contests they consisted of bulls and tripods. These last were often set up in a public street on a high pedestal by the victors, and hence it acquired the name “Street of Tripods.”

Very different in character from these Dionysiac festivals of Attica were the night celebrations which took place in some parts of Greece, but especially on the Cithaeron and Parnassus, on the Islands, and in Asia Minor, every other year, and in which only women, both married and unmarried, took part. The wild and orgiastic character of these Dionysia originated in Thrace, but spread very quickly, and found much favour among the women, who were inclined to this kind of ecstatic worship. They fell in the middle of winter, about the time of the shortest day; the women dressed for the purpose in Bacchic costume, threw deer-skins over their shoulders, let their hair fly loose, and took in their hands the thyrsus staff and tambourine, and thus wandered to the hills near their homes, and there performed all manner of mysterious ceremonies, sacrifices, dances, etc., amid the wildest merriment resulting from the juice of the grape, which was seldom allowed them. We can form some notion of the wild nature of the proceedings from the descriptions of the poets and artistic representations of Maenads; still, we must always remember that both poets and artists described not so much the customs of their own day as those of mythical or heroic periods, and{391} permitted themselves many exaggerations which did not correspond to reality.

These descriptions of Greek, and especially Athenian, festivities must suffice, and we pass over a number of festivals in Greece and the colonies, of which we know little more than the names. Those who desire a striking picture of a great festival, which, though Oriental in its origin, had become Hellenised, celebrated in a great city in the Alexandrine age, should read the splendid description by Theocritus in his Fifteenth Idyll of the Feast of Adonis at Alexandria.{392}



Origin of the Greek Drama—The Structure of the Theatre—The Theatre of Dionysus—The Theatre at Syracuse—The Auditorium—The Stage—The Orchestra—Scene-painting—Stage Accessories—The Greek Drama—Tragedy, Comedy, and Satire—The Choragia—Theatrical Masks—Costumes—Conditions of Admission to the Theatre—The Securing of Seats—The Audience.

Greek drama, both tragedy and comedy, originated in the national amusements and performances of the choruses at the Dionysiac festivals. A few words must also be said about the arrangements of the theatre, such as they were at the time of the greatest glory of the drama at Athens. Here, fortunately, we have so large a store of information and monuments still extant, that we can form a very clear picture of these representations, differing as they did entirely from our modern performances.

In spite of the great advance made by Greek drama from the rough popular beginnings till the time of its greatest glory, and in spite of the enormous difference between the tragedies of the three great masters and the comedies of Aristophanes, both in their whole character as well as in the details of their structure and performance, and the cyclic choruses and rustic sports of the old Dionysia, yet there are a few points in which the drama, even in its highest development, shows the traces of its origin. One of these is the custom of giving theatrical representations only at certain festive seasons of the year, and in some way connected with the worship of Dionysus as actual religious acts, though{393}

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Fig. 150.

towards the end of the ancient Hellenic period theatrical representations were also given at festivals not in honour of Dionysus. In consequence of this the structure of the theatres, and especially the place for the spectators, had to be far larger than at the present day. As performances only took place a few times in{394} the year, and not only the whole population of the town and neighbourhood, but even many strangers from a distance, collected together for them, the space for the audience had to be so large that many thousands, even tens of thousands, might have room there, and it must also be built in such a way that the performance could be conveniently seen from every place. These remarks refer in particular to Athens, with whose theatrical arrangements we are best acquainted, and which, moreover, was the model for most of the others. In the first place, it was impossible to have a covered space; covered theatres—concert-halls (ὠδεῖα), as they were called—were destined, not for dramatic, but for musical performances; secondly, the performances took place by daylight, in consequence of which much of the illusion was lost. Again, the great size of the structure and the considerable distance of most of the seats from the actors necessitated certain peculiarities in the costume of these latter which we must discuss later on.

The memory of the origin of the drama from choruses, to which in the course of time was added dramatic action, was preserved in a separation between the performers who presented the action and the chorus who only accompanied it—a separation which only gradually disappeared at a time when means were insufficient for defraying the considerable expenses of equipping a chorus. This distinction between actors and chorus was not only observed in the composition of the drama, but also in locality; the chorus, who not only sang, but also danced and marched, required a very large space for their evolutions, while the actors, whose number was very small, could do with less. Therefore, while the modern theatre consists of only two parts, the stage with its{395}

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Fig. 151.


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Fig. 152.

accessories and an auditorium, the Greek theatre consisted of three parts; besides the auditorium and the structure of the stage, there was between the two a space for the chorus known as orchestra. In considering the arrangement of the buildings, we derive assistance from the descriptions of the ancients, as well as the still existing remains of Greek theatres. Fig. 150 represents the ground plan of the ruins of the great theatre of Dionysus at Athens, though we must remember that this structure, built originally in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., had experienced considerable changes in the Roman period. Fig. 151 gives a view of the theatre of Syracuse in its present condition, and the ground plan restored is seen in Fig. 152; while Fig. 153 gives a restored view of the theatre of Segesta, reconstructed by Strack. We{397}

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Fig. 153.


may regard the orchestra as the centre of the whole structure. This was originally only a level dancing place, and its shape was usually an incomplete circle, since part was cut off by the stage, which extended at right angles along the orchestra. Opposite to this the circumference of the orchestra was surrounded in concentric lines by the raised seats of the auditorium, the theatre in the true sense of the word. There is no fixed standard for the shape of the orchestra and the corresponding auditorium; sometimes it is a semicircle with the circumference extended a little way on both sides, sometimes it is lengthened by a tangent, or some other line at right angles to the circle. In the great theatre of Dionysus the orchestra was originally a perfect circle; a complete semicircle, which is common in the Roman theatres, was very unusual in those of Greece. Here, as in the structures used for games, such as the Stadia and Hippodromes, the Greeks tried as far as possible to utilise the natural conditions of the ground for their theatres. If possible, therefore, they placed the auditorium on some natural elevation; thus, the great theatre of Dionysus extends up the southern slope of the Acropolis; and if there was no such elevation they often supplied it by artificial mounds of earth, differing thus from the custom of the Romans, who, in consequence of the greater development of their architectural knowledge, were able to build a theatre on an open space, and to support the auditorium by strong sub-structures. The Greek mode of building had the advantage of greater cheapness and security, and, if the nature of the ground permitted, also enabled them to make exits and entrances for the public besides those below. In the theatre of Dionysus there were side approaches on the high ground also.{399} The auditorium of the Greek theatre was usually situated in some beautiful spot, from which the visitors to the theatre, at any rate those on the higher ground, who were not hindered by the structure of the stage opposite, had an extensive view. Thus the theatre of Syracuse (Fig. 151) had a glorious view over the harbour and town—in fact, nearly all the theatres in the neighbourhood of the sea are usually so built that the auditorium is open towards the sea, and the fresh breeze may refresh the public during the hot hours of the day.

The seats, according to the nature of the locality, were either hewn direct out of the rocky ground or based on artificial foundations. At Athens the spectators originally sat on the bare ground of the Acropolis slope or on wooden benches placed there; in the fourth century stone steps were made there. At Syracuse, Sicyon, and other places, nearly the whole auditorium and the steps were hewn out of the rock; the ends or wings of the auditorium, which jutted out where the seats ended, close by the stage, had to be of specially massive construction. Sometimes, though more often in the Roman than the Greek theatres, the auditorium touched the side wings of the stage; but this was not a particularly convenient method, since a considerable number of the places along this stone wall had no view of the stage or, at any rate, only a very unsatisfactory one. Entrance was procured for the public by the great gates which led on the right and left between the auditorium and the stage, and which, when the spectators were assembled, also formed the entrances for the chorus (πάροδοι). When a theatre was situated on elevated ground, there were also other approaches leading to the gangways of the upper storeys; probably{400} these were only used for emptying the theatre, and not for admission, since on entering the spectators had to pay for their admission, or else present their tickets, and therefore the number of entrances was probably limited with a view to simplifying the control. In those theatres where the seats extended as far as the stage, the approaches which were below the seats had to be covered over (compare the view of the theatre at Syracuse), but, as a rule, we must suppose that they were uncovered. The seats were arranged in such a manner that the steps, which rose from the orchestra to the top of the theatre, were also used as seats; people sat on the actual stone, unless, as sometimes happened, they brought cushions with them, or had these carried by slaves. There were a number of places in the lower rows distinguished from the others by seats of honour, made also of stone, usually of costly marble; some of these seats, dating, however, from the Roman period, have been found in the theatre of Dionysus. The usual height of the steps was from about 16 to 19 inches, and the depth from 24 to 28. There was no division of seats, and though probably care was taken that too many persons should not be crowded together, yet there were no lines drawn to mark out the appointed places. There was a very convenient and at the same time simple arrangement for preventing the feet of those who sat on a higher row from inconveniencing those in front. The depth of the seat was often sufficient to prevent contact, but, besides that, it was the custom to hollow out that part of the step where the spectators would put their feet. Some of the steps, in fact, have three distinct surfaces: the nearest of these to the row above was hollowed out for the feet; then came a gangway for those who wished to move{401} to or from their places, who could thus pass along without incommoding those who were seated; and the third surface was that on which the next row below were seated. There were, as a rule, no backs to the seats, but in places where there was a wider gangway, and thus one row of spectators did not come into immediate contact with the next, they were sometimes introduced and made of one piece with the seat.

In larger theatres the auditorium was almost always divided into several storeys by gangways. These gangways ran round the auditorium concentrically with the seats, and their object was to facilitate the circulation of the public; they were therefore of considerable breadth (compare Fig. 153), and sometimes two such gangways were put close to each other, one higher and one lower, so that the public could circulate easily on them without pushing each other. The separate seats were everywhere connected by steps. Although the arrangement of the whole auditorium with its raised seats was that of a circus, yet the seats were far too high to be used as steps also, and these had to be specially constructed. They were of two kinds; small steps in the direction of the seats, the object of which was to enable people to mount from one seat to the next, and the principal staircases, which intersected the seats through their whole extent from top to bottom, and formed, as it were, radii of the circle represented by the auditorium. The number of these staircases was larger or smaller as occasion required; sometimes the number was doubled at the top, where the distances increased, by introducing a third staircase between each pair; sometimes the staircases which began below did not continue at the top, but there was a change in the{402} radii. It was most common, however, for these staircases to intersect the whole theatre right up to the highest seats, and thus to divide the whole auditorium into a number of wedge-shaped divisions, which, in fact, received the designation of wedges (κερκίδες). Sometimes these wedges had special names, being called after statues which were placed there, as, for instance, in the theatre at Syracuse, and these designations facilitated the finding of places. As a rule, the steps were so arranged that there were two to every seat, thus each step was half the height of the seat.

In later times the upper seats led to open arcades; when the ground permitted it, the Romans often laid out walks and gardens on the elevation of the theatre, where the spectators might refresh themselves during intervals; below, near the orchestra, the auditorium was cut off by a wall, which must be so low that the spectators on the first seat could conveniently see the stage, which was raised a good bit above the orchestra. Sometimes the first gangway for the circulation of the public was placed behind this wall, which was bounded by a low breastwork; when this was the case, steps of the first-mentioned kind led up sideways to the orchestra (compare Fig. 153).

The size of the auditorium varied greatly. If our measurements of ruined theatres are correct, the theatre at Ephesus was the largest of all; Falkener has calculated that it could contain 56,700 people. The largest theatre in Europe was that of Megalopolis, which was calculated to have 44,000 seats, and the theatre of Dionysus 30,000. These calculations are, however, very uncertain, since we do not know how many feet were allotted to each person, and a{403} variation of half a foot would make a very considerable difference.

The most important question connected with the orchestra deals with the Thymele, often alluded to by ancient writers. It was formerly assumed that this represented the ancient altar of Dionysus, round which the choruses originally danced, and that it was situated in the centre of the orchestra, while the chorus grouped around it, and that the leader of the chorus stood near the Thymele or on its steps, and the officials of the theatre also took their stand there. The view given by Strack in Fig. 153 is constructed according to this hypothesis; and a structure resembling an altar with steps is placed in the middle of the orchestra. But this interpretation of the Thymele has proved untenable, and though it is not possible to decide this question with any certainty, yet, among the various hypotheses, that of Wieseler seems the most probable—viz., that the Thymele was a wooden scaffolding constructed in the orchestra, on which the chorus performed its dances. The main object of this scaffolding, or podium, was not so much to place the chorus on higher ground as to facilitate their games and dancing, because it was easier to move and dance on the elastic floor of a wooden scaffolding than, as formerly, in the dusty orchestra, which, in fact, from this circumstance received the name “dust-place” (κονίστρα), or even on the stone pavement which seems to have been afterwards laid down in the orchestra. We do not know whether there were steps leading from the floor of the orchestra to this scaffolding, and, in fact, we cannot even determine its height. The size of the podium must have been considerable, since it must have supplied sufficient space for a large chorus. Besides{404} its members, the number of which in cyclic choruses often amounted to fifty, the musicians who accompanied took their place there, and, apparently, even the constables (ῥαβδοφόροι), who superintended the theatre; for, strange as it may seem to us that the officials whose duty it was to keep order among the public should be placed in so prominent a position at the side of the chorus, yet the proofs in favour of this arrangement seem decisive. The usual entrances to the orchestra for the chorus were the same as those used by the public; here, as in the arrangements on the stage, the rule was that the entrance on the right hand of the spectators indicated approach from the neighbourhood, from the town or harbour, and the left arrival from a distance.

The stage in the early days of the theatre was not much more than a mere wooden scaffolding, on which the actors appeared, while the chorus performed its dances in the orchestra below. There was a tent on the side turned away from the orchestra which served as a place of waiting for the actors when they had nothing to do on the stage, and it was this tent (σκνή) which gave its name to the stage, although even afterwards distinction was made between the actual stage and the structures connected with it. The real stage was an oblong surface, raised from ten to twelve feet above the orchestra; it was called the proscenium (προσκήνιον), and sometimes the speaking-place (λογεῖον). The lower front wall was decorated in the Roman period with architectural designs, reliefs, or painting; we do not know whether this was also the case in the Greek theatre, as Strack has assumed in his reconstruction, but it is very probable that the front scene, which was turned to the spectators was not left quite bare. In Strack’s view there{405} were also steps leading from the orchestra to the speaking-place. We cannot tell whether these were regularly placed in the theatres. Still, steps between the orchestra and stage were indispensable in those plays in which (as, for instance, in “Philoctetes”) the chorus leaves the orchestra and ascends to the stage; but it is quite possible that there were special wooden steps used for this purpose, which were taken away again when this connection was not required. The existence of these movable steps is especially mentioned in ancient writers.

Connected with this proscenium were the buildings belonging to the stage; these usually formed a structure several storeys in height, which enclosed the stage on three sides (compare Fig. 153) in the plan of the theatre of Dionysus (Fig. 150). The older walls belonging to the fourth century are sketched more lightly than the later restorations; here the walls of the stage, the actual skene, is the piece marked G. Z.; on the right and left were side wings (παρασκήνια), and these were terminated by the walls 12 and 13. The latest investigations of Dörpfeld prove that the stage of the theatre of Dionysus, constructed by the orator Lycurgus, had originally no fixed proscenium, but that a fresh wooden stage was constructed on every occasion. In later times they cut off a piece of the two side wings and fixed scenery between them. Several doors led from the tent to the stage; as a rule, there were three in the background, of which the middle one was the entrance of the chief actor, called “Protagonist,” and was supposed to lead either from a royal palace, or a dwelling, or a cave, according to the nature of the play; the door on the right was for the second actor, the one on the left had no special significance. We must not,{406} however, regard these statements as universal. Probably there were usually three entrances to the stage, though in the theatre of Dionysus there is only a single door; but as the front was usually covered by some decoration, these entrances were not directly used, but the actors came through them into the narrow space between the wall of the stage and the decorations, and thence through the doors in the decorations on to the stage. The scenery of the background varied according to the nature of the action, and sometimes required several doors or entrances; sometimes there may have been no door at all, since the actors also had at their disposal the entrances by the side wings. These statements, therefore, only refer to certain plays, especially those tragedies in which the chief personage is a king; in this case, probably, the middle door was the one supposed to lead to the royal palace, and used, therefore, only by the protagonist, although we must not on that account suppose that he always came and went through this door, since the nature of the plays would of itself forbid this. Very often, too, a king appeared in the play whose part was an unimportant one, not given to the protagonist, and then, of course, the rule above quoted could not be observed.

The side wings were used for the actors to wait in, and it is very probable that the chorus also before making their appearance, and during the time when they were not present in the orchestra, retired thither, and that there were passages leading thence to the side entrances. There were also doors communicating with the stage, and these, like those in the orchestra, had their special significance; through the right-hand door came those actors who were supposed to come from the town, and through the left those who{407} came from a distance, such as messengers, guests, friends returning home, etc.

The decorations were only on the stage, the orchestra was left quite bare, and probably had not even any movable properties. It is pure fantasy to suppose that in some plays a connection was established between the stage and orchestra by making the whole represent a mountain with rocky caves, etc. The Greeks assumed a certain amount of illusion, but confined this to the stage; they did not trouble about the space in front, any more than we care to-day about the appearance of the orchestra in front of the opera. It was the scene represented on the stage that gave its significance to the orchestra; if a palace was represented, and the stage represented the place in front of it, then the orchestra became an open space, on which the people assembled; if the background was a temple, the orchestra was the sacred space immediately in front of it (τέμενος), and so on. Possibly the wall under the front of the stage was connected with the decoration, so that if the stage, for instance, represented a wild forest with a cave, the front of the scene was similarly decorated.

Scene-painting, in which Greek art first made an attempt at perspective drawing, had no such difficult and complicated tasks to accomplish in those times as in ours. The chief pieces of scenery were the background and the revolving pieces (περίακτα). The background of the proscenium had to cover the wall of the stage, and also indicate the place of the action, whether a square in front of a palace, or a street with private houses, or a forest, etc. We must not think of the great variety of scenery known to our modern stage; no doubt, too, they were content with very simple execution, merely hinting at the scene{408} required. The background was probably suspended in a wooden scaffolding or frame, and placed immediately before the inner scene front on the floor of the stage. We do not know, however, how the decoration of the background was changed, for change of scene was sometimes necessary even in the ancient drama; perhaps they were in the habit in such cases of placing one of the scenes in front of another, so that, as at the present day, the front decoration had only to be moved, either by dropping it or by dividing it in two parts drawn to the side (for in the absence of rods they could not draw them up), and thus the second scene became visible behind.

The second kind of decoration, which took the place of our movable scenes, were the revolving pieces. These were two contrivances shaped like a three-sided prism, placed on either side of the stage at a little distance from the side-wings; their axis was attached to the wooden floor of the stage, and round this they moved. Each of them had three surfaces for decoration, so that, by turning them round, three different scenes could be represented, and this was doubtless enough for any play, for in the pieces which have come down to us there is only change of scene in two, the “Eumenides” of Aeschylus, and the “Ajax” of Sophocles, and in both these tragedies there is only one change. These revolving pieces must also have had a little store of decorations, for it was very easy to cover them with a change of picture, as they appear to have been simple stands. The theory that the ancient stage had altogether only three scenes for these stands—viz., one for tragedy, one for comedy, and one for the satyric drama, is undoubtedly mistaken.

The Greek stage had no other scenery than that for the background and the revolving pieces; there{409} must have been some movable properties, such as benches, altars, tombs, etc., which are indicated by the contents of many plays preserved to us. It is very doubtful whether the Greek theatre resembled the Roman in the use of a curtain, which, instead of drawing up, sank down into the ground when the play opened; there is no absolute proof that this was the case. The modern prompter’s box was unknown, and it is evident that they did not make use of a prompter.

The machinery of the ancient stage seems to have been very complicated. Of most of the theatrical machines we know only the names, and can form but a very insufficient conception of them. A contrivance in very frequent use was the “rolling-out machine” (ἐκκύκλημα), which, according to the statements of ancient writers, was used to show the spectators proceedings in the interior of a house—as we should say, “behind the scenes;” for in the Greek drama the scene was never laid inside a room, but everything went on in the open air. Our authorities do not, however, enable us to form any clear conception of this contrivance; probably the background opened out in some way, and the person or group which was to be seen on the machine was rolled out on a wooden scaffolding moving on rollers or wheels, which must, of course, have been decorated in some way; in some cases it may have been unnecessary to open out the background, and sufficient for the machine to be pushed in through one of the three doors. There was a similar contrivance for rolling out persons who were to be shown in the upper storey of a house at a corresponding height above the stage, as we see from the “Acharnians” of Aristophanes, where Euripides appears in this manner on a sort of balcony in the upper storey.{410} Another contrivance bore the special name of “machine” (μηχανή), and was the origin of the expression Deus ex machina, used when a god, descending from Olympus, violently cut the knot of the action; this was used for suspending in the air gods, heroes, or mortals, but especially those persons who had to appear above as though flying. We cannot tell where this machine was attached, and how it was worked; there seems to have been a contrivance of this kind on either side of the stage, above the side entrances, near the side pieces, and the one on the left was used by gods, while that on the right was used for other purposes. The machine itself must usually have been kept in some upper storey of the stage structure. It must have been a somewhat dangerous means of transit; the actors who had to perform this aerial journey were usually bound fast with ropes or girths, and in the “Peace” of Aristophanes Trygaeus, when mounting on his aerial horse, the dungbeetle, which must have been a similar flying machine, implores the manager of the machinery, who has to superintend all these arrangements, to be very careful that he does not come to grief. The “gods’ speaking-place” (θεολογεῖον) appears to have been a scaffolding above the chief entrance in the background, on which the gods appeared, probably surrounded by clouds; it differed from the “machine” in showing the gods peacefully throned above, instead of bringing the Olympian deities down to earth. Connected with the “machine” was the “crane” (γέρανος), a crane-like machine let down from above, which was used when human beings were to be lifted up from the stage; as, for instance, when Eos carried away the corpse of Memnon through the air.

They also had machines for producing thunder{411} and lightning. We do not know how the lightning was made, and it is difficult to imagine that it could have been produced with any great result in broad daylight. The thunder was caused by rolling bladders full of little stones to and fro on brass plates in the hollow space under the stage. In this hollow space were also probably the “steps of Charon,” a contrivance for bringing the spirits of the dead on to the stage. Nothing certain is known concerning these steps, but it is very probable that they were managed after the fashion of our trap-doors, for undoubtedly the floor of the stage covered a hollow space, and thus a contrivance of this kind was very easily produced.

We must next consider the plays which had to be performed here. On the old Greek stage there were three kinds of drama—tragedies, comedies, and satyric dramas. The comedies were acted singly, and each constituted a complete whole; but tragedy, as it developed out of the Dionysus legend and the division of the action into three connected therewith, was so constructed that a large circle of myth was treated in three separate tragedies, whose contents were connected, but which were structurally complete in themselves, and these were called a Trilogy. But about the same time the curious custom originated of following up these three serious pieces, with their deeply pathetic contents, by a merry satyric drama by the same author,—a wild farce, in which a chorus of satyrs was introduced in connection with some mythical action, which of course, only appeared in travesty; and this combination of four dramas was called a Tetralogy. Unfortunately no tetralogy has come down complete to us; the trilogy of Aeschylus alone, which deals with the story of Orestes, gives us some notion of the mode{412} in which the tragic poets arranged their material in the form of a trilogy. The first part, “Agamemnon,” represents the murder of Agamemnon by Clytemnestra and Aegisthus; the second, the “Choephorae,” the vengeance taken by Orestes on the murderers; the third, the “Eumenides,” the absolution for the murder of his mother by the Areopagus. The tragic poets did not very long abide by the custom of presenting complete tetralogies at the Dionysia, in which the trilogy presented one connected subject. It attained its complete development under Aeschylus, but Sophocles already began to depart from it, and in the tetralogies with which he and Euripides competed, the internal connection between the tragedies was wanting. In later times it was customary for tragedies complete in themselves to be acted singly, so that the poets competed with drama against drama; still, the inscriptions show us that even in the fourth century tetralogies were acted, though they may not have been connected. Each of these three kinds of drama underwent several changes during the course of Greek literature.

In tragedy, whose subject was usually legend, but which also dealt with questions of the day, such as the occupation of Miletus and the wars with the Persians, there was at first a distinct preponderance of the lyric element supplied by the chorus over the purely dramatic part. Before the time of Aeschylus there was little idea of dramatic treatment; at that time there was only a single actor who, together with the chorus, supplied the whole action, and confined himself chiefly to recitations, so that there could be no question of striking situations and dialogue. Aeschylus then introduced a second actor; and as these actors, by a change of dress, could undertake several parts,{413} the action was enlarged and animated, and the dialogue grew more interesting. When Sophocles added a third actor—an innovation of which Aeschylus, too, made use in his later period, and which constituted the highest number ever used in the Greek drama—the victory of the dramatic part over the lyric was accomplished; and from that time onward the chorus sank in importance compared with the actors, and at last disappeared altogether. In the tragedies of Euripides the dramatic element had become so important that the chorus could really be dispensed with; true, Euripides could not venture entirely to discard this custom, which was sanctified by religion and tradition, but, by gradually diminishing the share of the chorus in the action, he prepared for its complete abandonment. In Aeschylus, therefore, the solemn songs and reflections of the chorus occupy a considerable space, and the chorus even sometimes takes an active part in the action, since it preponderates in the play, and may be regarded as an acting personage; in Euripides its presence is more accidental—it expounds the dogmas and opinions of the poet, but takes no part in the action, and in tragedies it might be entirely left out without injury. In Sophocles alone the chorus and dialogue are harmoniously balanced. Corresponding to these changes in the position of the chorus was the amount assigned to them for declamation. We may say in general that the chorus sang an entrance song (πάροδος), and afterwards during the further course of the play choric songs to mark pauses in the action, accompanied by marching, but without leaving the orchestra, and these were called standing songs (στάσιμα); these long odes divided the drama into a series of parts, called episodes (ἐπεισόδια), which may{414} be compared to our acts, since the action stops during the song, and the spectator has time to collect himself and to let what he has heard and seen act upon him, while the song continued through the interval helps him to keep the impression produced by the action, or else prepares him for what is to follow.

The older comedy, of which Aristophanes is the chief representative, made use of chorus and dialogue in the same way as tragedy. Its subjects referred to actual life, and dealt with political, social, and literary questions, and others of universal interest, but in a fantastic manner, with the most eccentric masques and absurd contrivances, dealing out hits all round with the wildest licence, and sparing neither the common citizen nor the most powerful and exalted personages. The part played by the chorus differed in many respects from that undertaken in tragedy; the comic chorus very often stepped entirely outside the action, and, as the mouthpiece of the poet, who used this opportunity to bring his political or other opinions before the public, to fight out personal quarrels, and, in general, to say whatever he pleased, it directed itself to the public; such are those comic choruses which bear the name Parabasis. The comic chorus was also adequately distinguished from the tragic, both in the difference of costume and in the number of its members; the latter were generally only twelve, and the former twice as many. Again, the dances and rhythmic movements of the comic choruses differed greatly from those of the tragic. But even during the lifetime of Aristophanes, the transformation of the comedy began in its outer form as well as in its real nature. The outer change consisted in the abolition of the chorus, the expenditure of which the citizens were no longer willing to defray,{415} and thus an excellent opportunity was lost of saying rough truths with a laughing face, and the way was paved for a gradual change of subject. The change was accomplished by the so-called newer Attic Comedy, which had no chorus, and, instead of political or social satire, took as its subject pictures from Athenian life, love intrigues, comic misunderstandings, etc., and, in fact, more closely resembled our modern comedies. Then the lyric element naturally vanished, which in the older comedy, as in tragedy, appeared not only in the chorus but also in the dramatic performance of the actors; the action was presented only by dialogue, and the musical element, which had formerly played a very important part in comedy, was confined to accompaniment of the recitation, and thus became entirely subordinate.

The satyric drama is the one in which we can trace the fewest changes, but it had only a short existence. It was invented by Pratinas, a contemporary of Aeschylus, probably with the intention of compensating the public, who must have sadly missed the popular sports which had formerly enlivened the celebration of the Dionysia, and to satisfy their desire for coarser fare. At first the satyric drama seems to have preceded the tragedies, but this was soon changed. In the best period of the drama we never find satyric plays alone without tragedies preceding them; they were so essentially a part of the tragedy that we only hear of tragic writers as composers of satyric dramas. The best period of the satyric drama was the time of Pratinas and Aeschylus; Sophocles and Euripides, too, composed them—one by the latter has come down to us, the “Cyclops”—but at that time its best period was already over, since it no longer formed the necessary conclusion of a dramatic{416} tetralogy. Still, satyric dramas retained their position on the stage until the second century, and, in fact, the Alexandrine poets made a fresh attempt to connect the satyric drama with tragedies in a tetralogy. We know very little about the subject of these later satyric dramas. The titles of Alexandrine plays that have come down to us show that at that time actual life was introduced, though the mythological subjects which had formed the sole basis of the ancient satyric drama were also used.

The ancient drama, under which we include tragedy, satyric drama, and comedy, was a combination of three arts—poetry, music, and dancing. The last was, as a rule, confined to the chorus, and it very seldom happened that an actor in the play performed a dance, but the musical part belonged not only to the chorus but also to the actors; for though the usual dialogue consisted merely in recitation, yet there were long passages in the purely dramatic part which were not declaimed by the actors, but sung. Our modern writers express very different opinions about the mode in which the dialogues were recited. It appears to us most probable that in comedy there was, as a rule, only speaking, without any musical accompaniment; while in tragedy continuous musical composition was introduced alternating with dramatic speech—that is, spoken recitation, accompanied by music—and even with simple declamation. Then there were also solo songs by the actors, of which the metre was lyric, and these bore some resemblance to the airs of our modern opera; they are less common in the older tragedy than in Euripides, with whom they sometimes take a disproportionately large place. There were also musical dialogues between the actors and chorus, in particular its leader. The instruments{417} used for accompaniment were the lyre and cithara, and also the flute. The stringed instruments were used chiefly for striking a few notes like the chords struck at our recitations; the flute only indicated the chief notes, and accompanied the melody of the chorus and the solo song either at the same height or one or two octaves higher. Flute playing accompanied most of the choric songs; with the chorus entered a flute player, who always took his place on the thymele. In later tragedy the music, which had formerly been very simple, grew more elaborate and complicated; several flute players played at the same time, and with their shrill music very often drowned the singing; but the solo performances on the stage were accompanied by only a single flute.

The choregraphic element in the drama, which belonged especially to the chorus in tragedy, consisted chiefly in marching with various figures, much like our modern polonaise. The dances in comedy were much more lively and often of a lascivious character, and those of a satyric chorus were also of a burlesque nature. But, doubtless, the choric dancing consisted not merely in certain regular movements of the feet adapted to the music, but also in rhythmic motions of the whole body, and especially of the hands and arms, so that their dancing must have somewhat resembled our modern ballet. It is not easy to get any complete conception of it; the later hypotheses are by no means proved, and many strange statements have been made about the recitation of the chorus, the division of verses and words of the song among the semi-chorus, leaders, or individual members. In any case the task of the chorus was no easy one, since the members were not professional artists like the actors, but amateurs, who had to be specially trained for{418} each performance. This was due to the institution of the Choragia.

In ancient times the equipment and performance of plays was not, as afterwards, a duty of the State; the poet undertook the expenses, and tried to cover them by entrance money. But when the theatrical representation became a regular part of the Dionysiac festivals, the State took the matter in its own hands, and arranged things in such a way that the expenses for the chorus were undertaken by some wealthy citizen as a liturgy, while the rest of the expenses were defrayed by the State. This liturgy was called Choragia, because originally the person who defrayed the expenses also trained and led the chorus. For the various choric performances required at the many festivals—since besides tragic and comic choruses there were also cyclic and other choral representations—each tribe chose its “choragus,” and this was done a year in advance, because the preparations required a great deal of time. If a poet wanted to perform one of his dramas at a festival, he need not consider how to procure the necessary actors, but only how to get his chorus. For this purpose he addressed himself to that archon whose duty it was to make the arrangements for the festival in question, and begged him to assign him a choragus. It appears to have been in the power of this official to accept or refuse the play. Probably the poets handed in the manuscript of their plays. The only limitations in applying were that the poet must be a citizen, and of unstained reputation; and in comedy, on account of its political character, he must be of a certain age—thirty years, according to most of the statements. If the archon accepted the drama, he assigned the poet one of the choragi, either by election or lot. It was by no{419} means a matter of indifference whether this was required for tragedy or comedy; for at the time when they competed with tetralogies, tragedy involved at least as much expense as did comedy with its larger chorus. It is probable, therefore, that the choragi were sometimes assisted by the State, especially as in later times, when the glory of Athens had departed, and its citizens were no longer so rich, it became more and more difficult to find people ready to undertake these great expenses; and in later times it was not unusual for several choragi together to undertake a chorus.

The first duty of the choragus was to collect the necessary number of persons and to pay those who were not bound to appear unpaid. He had also to choose and pay a chorus teacher, who had to train the chorus (χοροδιδάσκαλος), and usually undertook the place of chorus-leader at the performance. In former times, when this instruction of the chorus was not a profession as it was later on, and the poet often helped in the training, the choragus frequently trained the chorus himself, and even appeared as their leader at the performance; but in later times this was unusual. The choragus had also to procure, or if necessary hire, a place for the training of the chorus, to keep the members during the time of training, and to provide them with festive garments and wreaths for the performance. It rested with him to spend a large or a small amount for this last purpose, but a choragus who equipped a comic chorus economically, risked being made the subject of the poet’s sarcasm on some future occasion, and in the allotment of prizes, too, the appearance of the chorus would be considered, as well as the manner in which it performed its task.{420}

The chorus-members were usually free citizens; strangers were jealously excluded. Their task was by no means a light one; bodily dexterity was required for the dances, and good musical training, good delivery and comprehension of the poetic text were necessary in order to give a satisfactory representation of the poet’s work before the keenly critical Attic public. It is, therefore, natural that a good choragus took considerable trouble to procure a good chorus, the rather as the choragia was a contest in which not only the poet but also the choragi contended for the prize. Besides those already mentioned, the choragi had also other duties: to procure the requisites, such as decoration for the side-scenes, perhaps even to supply sacrificial animals if they were required in the play. In later times, when the chorus had lost its importance, and the expenses were less considerable, the choragus had also to supply the dresses of the actors, though this was never the case in the best period of the drama. In fact, as we may learn from the inscriptions, a complete change in the choragia took place in the Hellenistic period. It became the custom for the people to choose presidents of contests (ἀγωνοθέυαι), whose duty it was to provide for the musical competitions at the Dionysia and other festivals. They had to attend to the regular and suitable performance of the contests, to supply certain sacrificial animals, etc.; this was often a very expensive undertaking, and, like all officials, they had to make a statement concerning their office at the conclusion of its duration. This institution in a way placed the choragia in the hands of the people, who transferred their duties to the presidents, and these had then to equip all the choruses, which were no longer so numerous as they had been formerly. This{421} innovation was necessitated by the fact that the number of rich families of whom these pecuniary sacrifices could be demanded, had become very small, and these now supplied the presidents. This change in the arrangements of the choragia seems to have taken place under the rule of Demetrius of Phalerum, towards the end of the fourth century B.C.

It is a well-known fact that in the ancient theatre women never appeared on the stage, and all women’s parts were presented by men; we have also noted the fact that there was at first only a single actor, who represented various parts one after another, and entered into a dialogue with the leader of the chorus, and that Aeschylus added a second, and Sophocles a third. Originally the poet himself appeared as actor, and when there were several actors, as protagonist—that is he represented the chief part. When Sophocles, who had himself appeared a few times, abandoned this custom, it gradually fell into disuse, and the first actor, as well as the two others, was supplied to the poet by the State. As a rule, the actors were allotted to the poets by lot; it seems, however, that before the State undertook to pay an actor, he had to submit to examination, and that only those who had already appeared, and whose performances were well known, were excluded from this examination. The State, then, engaged for each festival a number of protagonists, deuteragonists, and tritagonists, corresponding to the number of poets contending; thus, if there were three poets competing, they required nine actors, supposing the same actors continued to perform throughout the whole tetralogy, of which we cannot be certain. The lot assigned to each of the poets one out of the three classes; still, we know that some poets always had the same protagonist, who appeared{422} in all their plays, and for whom, in fact, they sometimes wrote a special part; therefore, it must have been customary for poets who had already been victorious to ask for a particular protagonist without drawing lots, and this custom probably became the rule afterwards. We cannot, however, say how the two others were chosen.

The parts of the play were now divided between these three actors; the chief part, which, as a rule, was the most difficult, fell to the protagonist; the next in importance—viz., the one which was brought into the closest connection with the chief person, fell to the deuteragonist; the tritagonist undertook unimportant parts, such as messengers, heralds, etc., and these actors of the lowest class did not stand in particular estimation with the public. But as the plays contained more than three parts, each actor had to undertake several, and therefore, even while composing a play, the poet had to be careful that the actors, if they had to appear in another part, had sufficient time for change of costume, and that the absence of an actor who was to be used for another part should be in some way explained. There were, however, plays in which it was absolutely impossible to manage with three actors, and for these there was a contrivance about which the exponents of passages referring to it hold very different opinions, and, indeed, there seem to be mistakes or misrepresentations in the authors themselves. It is most probable that when a poet required more than the three actors assigned him by the State he applied to the choragus, and came to an agreement with him; he then supplied a fourth actor, or even a fifth, since it was only small parts that had to be thus undertaken, and, if necessary, the choragus also provided a second, or minor,{423} chorus, such as was required in certain plays (parachorêgêma). There were also dumb personages, or statists, called also “spear-bearers,” since these parts were frequently merely standing parts. We do not know whether the State or the choragus paid for these. We have, in fact, little information about the payment given to the actors, which must have been, however, different in proportion to their performances; in the Macedonian period celebrated actors received very high pay. In the Hellenistic period a complete transformation took place in acting. When the chorus was abolished, and the representation of dramas in consequence became easier, and took place at other festivals as well as the Dionysia, unions of actors were formed, calling themselves “Dionysiac artists,” concerning which the inscriptions give us a good deal of interesting information. A number of these companies combined together into sacred guilds, which had their seat in the large towns, and sent their members in companies into small towns and also into the provinces as far as Asia Minor, for festive representations. We are best acquainted with the arrangements of the Dionysiac artist company of Teos, an Ionic town on the coast of Lydia. These not only appeared in Asia Minor, but had also rights in Delphi, Thebes, and Thespiae. It numbered a great many members, not only actors, but also writers of tragedies, comedies, and satyric dramas, epic poems, and encomia; composers, musicians, dancers, machinists, decorators, wardrobe owners, etc. They also instituted a dramatic musical school, a kind of Conservatorium, in which pupils from various parts of Greece were trained, and usually in turn became members of the guild. It is very interesting to examine the details, management, inner organisation, and life of the members of these actors’ guilds{424} in the Alexandrine period, but unfortunately space does not permit us to do so here.

All the arrangements already described show strong contrasts between ancient and modern theatres, and perhaps there is nothing which strikes us as so extraordinary as the Greek theatrical costume, and especially the appearance of actors in masks. It is impossible for us to understand this complete disregard of expression and change in representing feelings, and this perpetual stare of the unchanging mask. This curious custom has been explained in many different ways. It is a mistake to suppose that the Greek theatres were too large for the play of an actor’s expression to be observed, and that the coarse features of the mask were arranged with a view to this distance, in which their want of change would be less striking. Since they played in broad daylight, in the sharp clear light of a southern sky, the spectators, even in the most distant places, could have followed the play of the actor’s features, especially since the ancients had better eyes than our present generation. Nor is it correct to suppose that the masks were required in order that the funnel-shaped contrivance applied to its mouth should strengthen the sound; for the acoustics in the Greek theatres were usually so good that the very slightest word even whispered on the stage could be heard in the auditorium. Undoubtedly it would have been impossible without masks for the same actor to undertake many parts in quick succession; but at the same time we may ask whether they would have held so strictly to this system of dividing all the parts among three actors if they had not already possessed the masks, and thus the possibility of abiding within these limitations. The introduction of real characters, whose features{425} were to be faithfully imitated was also facilitated by the masks, but good mimics could achieve this even without, as examples on the modern stage have shown. Consequently, none of these reasons really explain the use of masks; in reality they originated in the religious customs which were the origin of the drama, and afterwards were simply maintained with many other relics of its religious origin, as people had got accustomed to them and found them convenient. It had formerly been the practice at the Dionysia, whence the drama originated, for people to disguise their faces by smearing them over with husks of grapes, etc., or to cover them up completely, or disguise them with wreaths of ivy, etc. Instead of painting and covering them with leaves they gradually began to use pieces of linen, at first quite shapeless and destined only to cover the face and prevent recognition, but afterwards by imitating human features, these developed into masks. This custom continued, then, as sanctified by tradition, and, indeed, all the theatrical arrangements were regarded as a sacred ceremony in honour of Dionysus.

The theatrical masks, the material of which in later times, too, was linen, covered with plaster of Paris, or else wood, bark, etc., differed from our modern masks in covering not only the face, but the whole head of the actor. The actor who had put on the mask could, of course, only see through the slits for the eyes, and, indeed, it sometimes happened—and in the oldest period seems to have been common—that, instead of cutting out a slit for the whole eye, there was only one for the pupil, and the iris was represented on the mask itself, and coloured, so that the actor had the difficult task of looking only through the place for the pupil; still, as the dimensions of the{426} masks were usually larger than those of a human face, this may have been larger than his own. Of course, the masks were completely painted over; the eyebrows, lips, cheeks, wrinkles, etc., were marked; the beard and hair were made of real hair, or wool, or some other succedaneum. Some of the tragic masks had a high bunch of hair above the forehead to increase the height; this was called the “superficies” (onkos), and its object was mainly to increase the height of the actor and make him appear of greater size—an object at which many other peculiarities of the tragic costume also aimed. The ears were not always visible. The mouth was usually open, very wide, with lips and sometimes artificial teeth. The object of the great width of the mouth opening was to enable the actor to declaim and sing unhindered. The comic masks (see below, Figs. 156 and 157), very often had a funnel-shaped mouth opening, which gave a very grotesque expression to the whole face, and may have been connected with some special technical object, or else merely destined to increase the comic effect. In putting on the masks they took hold of the chin, and drew them on from bottom to top; they were then fastened under the chin with strings, and the actor’s neck was almost completely covered by the mask and his clothing; hence the curious, we might almost say asthmatic, impression given by the pictures of ancient actors.

Generally speaking, we may distinguish three kinds of masks, according to the three kinds of drama—tragic, comic, and satyric; and it is not difficult among the numerous representations of masks on ancient works of art to distinguish between these three kinds, especially since the expression is, as a rule, decisive. In the tragic masks we see calm solemnity, deep grief,{427}

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Fig. 154.


Fig. 155.


or wild passion; every feeling is expressed on a large and usually dignified scale. The comic masks, on the other hand, always incline to caricature; and those used for the satyric drama, since they were meant for satyrs, naturally represent the physiognomy of animals. But, besides these general indications, there were a large number of gradations—some of them very finely marked—which proves to us that the old makers of masks, which was a special branch of trade, thoroughly understood their work and also human physiognomy. In olden times they seem to have made the masks specially for each drama, so that they might correspond exactly to the characters. This was the case in tragedy as well as in the older comedy, Aeschylus, to whom in particular innovations and inventions in this domain are ascribed, required quite new masks for his “Eumenides,” which had never before appeared on the stage; as did Aristophanes and the other poets of the older comedy for their fantastic characters—Frogs, Clouds, Birds, etc., as also for the real personages represented in their comedies, such as Euripides, Socrates, Cleon, and could only use the already existing masks for the usual typical figures of citizens and citizens’ wives, slaves, etc., as well as for the mythological personages, Hercules, Dionysus, etc. The newer Attic comedy, with its typical characters, very seldom required specially-constructed masks, and it thus became the custom for the properties of every stage or acting company to include a considerable supply of character masks of every kind, which in most cases were sufficient for the demand. Consequently, to speak simply of tragic or comic masks is to express ourselves rather superficially; for though an actually comic mask—that is, one whose absurdity excites to laughter—could never be used in a tragedy, yet there were serious masks{429} which might be used in a comedy; and it would be wrong to suppose that all the persons in a comedy for instance by Menander, appeared in masks which could be designated as specially comic.

Among the typical masks they distinguish between sex, age, and differences of figure; thus there was a mask called “the young girl,” another “the thin old woman,” “the fat old woman,” etc.; then they distinguished according to the colour or cut of the hair: there was the “curly-headed youth,” the “short-haired maiden,” the “fair man,” the “grey satyr,” or by the beard: the “man with a long beard,” the “beardless satyr,” or by the complexion: the “brown man,” the “fair woman with flowing hair,” and even by the shape of the nose, as the “satyr with a pug-nose.” Other masks were characterised by the social position they were to represent, such as “the old housewife,” “the countryman,” “the old hetaera,” “the soldier,” “the lady’s maid with elaborate coiffure,” or according to special peculiarities of mind or character; “the worthy young man,” “the talkative old woman.” Even varying moods of mind or feelings were represented by the masks, and it is probable therefore, that when an important change took place in any one person, the actor changed his mask behind the scenes. The writers also supply various instances to show the different means by which special traits of character were represented. One of these tokens was the colour of the complexion; a brown complexion characterised healthy men, living much out of doors, or devoting themselves to physical exercise; a white complexion was given to women and to delicate or effeminate youths; pale or yellowish to invalids, or those whose mind was disordered or suffering, as for instance unhappy lovers. The colour and expression of the eyes was also important; they{430} distinguished between dull, piercing, dark, gloomy, sad, etc., and all this was not represented by the actor, but was already indicated in the mask. The eyebrows, too, were of importance; when they were drawn up high they indicated, in comedy, pride and boastfulness, and were thus allotted to parasites, soldiers, etc.; narrow eyebrows indicated seriousness or a sad state of mind. No less important for the character of the mask was the treatment of the forehead, nose, etc. To explain all this we give, in Figs. 154 and 154, the front and side view of a tragic terra-cotta mask, whose wide-open mouth, staring eyes, brows drawn upwards, and wrinkled forehead indicate fear and terror. A contrast to these is the comic mask (Figs. 156 and 157), with the funnel-shaped mouth opening, the pug-nose, squinting eyes, and eyebrows drawn down towards the middle. Similar is the mask worn by the comic actor in Fig. 158, who in other respects appears in the costume of ordinary life—that is, in the short slave’s dress—and the mask of the comic actor in Fig. 159 is a similar caricature.

Besides the regular masks, from which the actors chose those that suited their part, unless the poet had already prescribed what they were to wear, others were in later times adapted for extraordinary situations—for personages of quite abnormal figure, allegorical characters, etc.—and these could not be used for ordinary performances. Tragedy especially was often obliged to bring unusual masks on the stage; and the comedy of Southern Italy, which treated mythological subjects in grotesque fashion, may have occasionally required quite special masks. Thus, on the Pompeian wall-painting (Fig. 160), which, doubtless, was copied from a Greek picture, the masks relate to the legend of Andromeda; the one on the left belongs{431}

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Fig. 156.


Fig. 157.


to a youth with a brown complexion, whose winged cap and harp resting on the ground mark him out as Perseus; this is a special mask, and so is that of the monster in the middle, while that of Andromeda above on the right, and the others on the right below, which are not quite distinct, may easily have formed part of the ordinary supply.

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Fig. 158.

Equally strange and different from the modern was the rest of the costume of the Greek stage. Speaking of tragic equipment, we may characterise the contrast between that day and our own by saying that Greeks, in the choice of their tragic costume, aimed at the type, while we desire to indicate the individual. In theatrical costume, as in art, we wish to represent everything with historical truth; the history of costume and fashion is a subject of special study for modern stage managers. Ancient tragedies very seldom{433}

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Fig. 159.

dealt with historical subjects, but usually with legends; therefore a costume must, as it were, be invented for the characters. Art could assist them but little, since it generally represented the gods and heroes in the nude; but the theatre, which at the same time was a religious institution in which all the co-operators were participants in the celebration, sought its effects chiefly by splendour of costume. Thus was developed the ordinary tragic dress, which belonged neither to actuality nor to the past, but was an ideal costume most closely resembling the garments of religious festivities. There were also certain special means adopted for increasing the height of the actor beyond reality, but we must not suppose that this was required by the great distance at which the actors were seen; these attempts at magnifying were rather caused by the desire to make the actors appear super-human, heroic personages, excelling the men of the day in physical power and dignity, just as the wonderful deeds of the Homeric heroes exceeded the weak actions of their descendants. The requirements of costume in comedy were somewhat different; for gods and heroes the same costume was used as in tragedy, but slaves or persons of ordinary life were also introduced, and these could not be clad in solemn garments. It is difficult to find a fixed standard in comedy, since we must take into account not only the difference between the older and{434} the newer comedy, but also the comedy outside Attica—for instance, that of the Sicyonians, the Tarentines, etc.—which had its peculiar character, and, doubtless, also peculiar dress, just as the “Arlecchino” of the Venetian popular comedy appears in a different dress from the Florentine “Stenterello,” and the Neapolitan “Pulcinella,” although originally they were all three the same person. A special costume was not required for the satyric chorus, since all that was necessary here was to imitate as well as possible what was represented by works of art. In stage costume, as in that of real life, we must distinguish between upper and lower garments. The lower garment of the tragic actor, as well as of the chorus, both in male and female parts, was the long chiton, which was worn in Attica before the time of Pericles, and traced its origin to Ionia; this dress was maintained on the stage because it was especially a festive garment, and, like these festive garments, the theatrical dresses were many-coloured, richly adorned with embroidery or borders, and often very costly, if a rich choragus desired to equip his chorus splendidly. As a rule, this chiton was girded in the old fashion, which we see also in the cithara players, immediately under the shoulders, thus forming a very high waist. They also wore long sleeves reaching down to the hands, a peculiarity of festive costume which had disappeared from real life. To increase the magnificence, the chiton often had a train, not only for women but even for men. The upper dress was either the himation and chlamys, common in ordinary life, or else garments peculiar to the stage, of which a number of names have come down to us, but no exact details of their shape and mode of wearing. Here, too, colour was the rule; black clothing was worn{435}

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Fig. 160.


by wretched and persecuted people. In their case, of course, the festive costume, which would have formed too sharp a contrast with their parts, was discarded; Philoctetes, Telephus, etc., did not appear in royal splendour, but in simple garments or even in rags. We may remember the description given in the “Oedipus at Colonus” of the appearance of the unhappy exiled prince; and Aristophanes’ jokes show us that Euripides aimed specially at attracting the pity of the spectators by wretched beggars’ dress. The dress of the women, generally speaking, was similar; perhaps there was a difference in the mode in which the upper garment was put on. Subordinate personages in tragedy—messengers, satellites, slaves, etc.—wore the short chiton; paidogogoi appeared in the barbaric dress already described; and thus variety in the appearance of the actors was produced, while the ceremonious dress was reserved for the most important personages. The ivory statuette of an actor, of which two sides are represented in Figs. 161 and 161, gives an excellent notion of the tragic costume. He wears a long chiton, with sleeves (painted blue in the original) decorated with three broad stripes, descending from the girdle to his feet, and with horizontal stripes round his sleeves. The mask, with the high superficies, bears an expression of wild anger; the size of the slits for the eyes is remarkable, and we can see through them the eyes of the actor, as well as a piece of the face immediately round them. As a rule, only the pupil so appears in Greek masks, and therefore the editor (C. Robert) surmises that this points to a Roman custom of the Imperial age. This statuette is also interesting for the shape of the “cothurnus,” the usual foot-gear of the tragic actor. The cothurnus was a tolerably high shoe, but made to fit either foot;{437}

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Fig. 161.


Fig. 162.

the tragic cothurnus was especially distinguished by very high cork soles, which considerably increased the height of the wearer. As may here be seen, the foot{438} with the actual cothurnus is hidden under the dress, only the high soles are visible beneath it. When the height of the actor was thus increased by the superficies and cothurnus, it was necessary to give a larger appearance to the rest of the figure; for this purpose they stuffed themselves out with cushions, and wore gloves with long fingers, which seem to have been fastened to the sleeves, etc. The whole produced an effect that would hardly have suited our taste, but in reality was not nearly so strange as the costume of the heroes of Corneille and Racine, to whose court dress and long wigs the seventeenth century seems to have taken no exception. Of course, there were various necessary additions to this costume: arms for the warriors, a sceptre for the kings, a lion’s skin and club for Hercules, and a fawn skin for Artemis, etc. In comedy the women probably appeared in the costume of ordinary life. For the male characters, except the fantastic parts, the short chiton seems to have been commonest, especially for persons of the lower classes; and the slaves, who were never absent from the newer comedy, wore the “exomis,” the common workman’s dress. The skin garments of the country people were also worn, and knapsacks and knotty sticks completed their equipment. In later comedy special characters were marked out by the colour of the dresses: thus, the parasites wore black or green dresses; others, again, coloured dresses with cloaks; slaves, the white exomis; youths, the white chiton with purple border; cooks, unfulled garments, etc. Similarly the feminine characters were marked out; there was the old woman, the daughters of citizens, the rich heiresses, hetaerae, etc. In the comedy of Southern Italy, the costume of which is represented on many vase paintings, the actors of male parts usually wear a closely-fitting dress,{439}

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Fig. 163.



covering the legs as far as the ankles, and the arms down to the hand, and over this a tight-fitting tunic, leaving arms and legs free (compare Fig. 163). Here it is evident that the lower garment takes the place of our tricot; the arms and legs are supposed to be bare. If the object was to represent absolute nudity, the tunic was replaced by a close-fitting vest, usually provided with a false stuffing, on which the breasts and navel were marked. To this was sometimes added the comic phallus, a remnant of the old coarse popular jokes, in which the Older Comedy frequently indulged. But in the New Comedy it fell gradually into disuse, and was entirely absent from the representations of ordinary life, though introduced into farces which burlesqued the myths and tales of the heroes.

We give here several examples of pictures from ancient comedy. In Fig. 163, the meaning of which is not clear, the stage has on its left side a scaffolding covered in with a roof, to which a staircase leads; on the floor of this erection lie a bundle of beds or carpets, a cap, and a litter. Chiron, whose name appears on the plate, is climbing up the staircase with difficulty, and bending down leaning on his rough knotty stick; a slave is pushing him up from behind, while Xanthias, standing on the top of the stairs, seizes hold of his head as though to draw him up. In the background we see two not specially attractive nymphs, of whom only the upper part is visible; these again are designated in the inscription; the youth on the right, in the himation, and without a mask, is not one of the actors. Possibly this is a representation of the sick Chiron seeking healing at a sanctuary of the nymphs. The costume and the tricots, as well as the grotesque masks, are worthy of notice. The vase painting in Fig. 164 has not been satisfactorily{441}

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Fig. 164.


explained. It is evident that Hercules is engaged in some love adventure, as is proved by the lion’s skin in which the actor, who is jesting with a girl, is dressed, and the club which rests beside him. The figure on the right probably represents an old woman; on the left is a man contemplating the scene. With the exception of the girl and the woman in the middle, the masks are extreme caricatures; the costume of the two men resembles that in Fig. 163. Fig. 165, a Pompeian wall-painting, may be here compared, because it evidently imitates Greek prototypes, and the scene represented in the centre belongs to the later comedy. The one actor with a curious head-dress and a spear seems to be a sort of Miles Gloriosus, the man in a reverential position speaking to him a parasite. The three youths who stand near wear no masks, and it is therefore doubtful whether they are to be regarded as part of the representation in the character, perhaps, of statists, who may have appeared without masks. Two old men to the right and left of the central scene, seated on a somewhat lower plane, and leaning on their knotty sticks, with serious official mien, are doubtless theatrical police, who had to keep order during the performance. It is not easy to say what place in the theatre they were supposed to occupy.

We gain some information concerning the costume of the satyric drama from a very interesting vase painting, which cannot, however, for various reasons, be represented here, and which we propose, therefore, shortly to describe. This represents the personages taking part in a satyric drama before the commencement of the performance; a group in the centre of the top row does not belong to the performers: this represents Dionysus resting on a{443}

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Fig. 165.


couch with Ariadne, near him is a woman holding up a mask, probably a Muse, and the little Eros Himeros. To the right and left of this group, which must be regarded as the ideal scene, stand three actors, each holding his mask in his hand (the strings by which they were held are visible); next on the right is Hercules, who may be recognised by his lion’s skin, club, and quiver; near him is the “Papposilenus,” his whole body covered with skin, a panther’s skin thrown over his left arm, and holding a short staff; we do not know the name of the third actor on the left. The chorus of satyrs consists of eleven persons, of whom only one has as yet put on his mask. That one is practising a dance in preparation for the performance. Most of the chorus are dressed alike with only a little covering of skin round their loins, and the short satyr’s tail; one of them, however, has a little garment of some material with a pattern, and another wears an embroidered dress with himation; he might be taken for an actor if his mask did not bear the satyric type like the rest, the pug nose and the pointed ears. In the middle of the lowest row two musicians are represented: a splendidly dressed flute player seated, in front of him stands a cithara player. Further to the left sits a young man holding a roll in his hand, another roll lies on the ground, a lyre is visible behind him. In spite of his striking youthfulness, this young man is probably the teacher of the chorus or the poet himself. The actors are bearded men, the chorus beardless youths. Two tripods close by probably suggest the prize to be competed for.

We must now say a few words about the external details of the performance, the public, and the reception of the pieces. Originally, admission to theatrical{445} representations was free, as to a religious festival in which the whole population were to take part. But when the crowd of spectators became greater this had its disadvantages, and very often quarrels for places ensued between citizens and strangers. We know little of the conditions in other places; but at Athens, when in 500 B.C. the old wooden theatre fell down during a performance, and the new stone theatre of Dionysus was erected, they took advantage of the occasion to levy an entrance fee, the amount of which is uncertain. Even at the beginning of the fifth century the income from this source seems to have belonged to a theatrical lessee, whose duty it was in consequence to keep the building in proper condition. He paid a fixed sum to the State, and in return received the entrance money. It is well known that Pericles, partly with a benevolent desire of making the theatre accessible for the poorer class of citizens, and partly also in order to increase his popularity by this democratic measure, introduced a law by which every citizen received the price of admission from the State. This was the “show-money” (θεωρικόυ), an institution which seems to have lasted for centuries, but the arrangements connected with it are by no means clear. In the first place, it was probably calculated for the poor people only; but the rich, too, made use of it, if only to escape from possible reproach of pride or haughtiness by some of the numerous informers who at that time existed at Athens. There was a special board entrusted with the distribution; the show-money was allotted to the citizens according to tribes by cashiers appointed by lot, whose duty it was to see that none received it without proper claim. It was therefore distributed in the separate tribes{446} according to the registers of citizens in the demes. The statements of the ancients do not agree about the amount of the money; but the most probable of the newer hypotheses is that for one day it amounted to two obols, for the three days of the great Dionysia one drachma. The money was paid, on admission into the theatre, to the lessee, who either received it in person, or levied it by means of his controllers or cashiers; the same people took the fees from those who had not received the show-money, such as the resident foreigners, strangers, etc. It is very difficult to decide whether this was paid in coin or not; one hypothesis is that, instead of money, the citizens received tickets, which had the value of money, and simplified the paying out as well as the paying back; many such counters bearing theatrical emblems, have come down to us, and are supposed to have been admission passes. Still, weighty objections have been made to this hypothesis; and it is more probable that the citizens really received the actual money, with which they could do what they pleased; they either bought a ticket for the theatre—and very likely these counters were really entrance tickets—or spent it in any other way they pleased. It was not possible to control this; and herein, no doubt, lay the disadvantage of the institution, which has often been spoken of as injurious to the Attic democracy, since it was followed by similar institutions at other times, and consequently the unproductive expenses of the Attic budget extended more and more. A number of places in the theatre were given free, or were places of honour: thus, for instance, those reserved by the State for foreign envoys, the places for the priests and others who had a right to special{447} seats; naturally, the expenses of these places had to be paid by the State to the theatrical lessee.

The question whether women and children might visit the theatre is often asked. Undoubtedly women were allowed to be present at the tragedies, since there are sufficient passages to prove this. Now, tragedy was followed by the satyric drama, which was often exceedingly coarse both in language and gesture; obviously then the women must have sat this out, and this need not appear so very strange to us, since there does not seem to have been much prudery among the Greek women. Moreover, the satyric drama was only indecent now and then, and the jokes were vulgar according to our ideas, but not exactly frivolous, and no worse than modern operettas to which ladies are in the habit of going. The comedies were different, especially the older comedies, for the whole contents are often coarse, and situations occur in them which make it impossible for us to imagine that women or boys should have been present. Still, all indications seem to prove that they were seen by women, with this limitation, that respectable women who had regard for their reputation did not go to comedies; hetaerae, who are often alluded to as eager theatre-goers, probably constituted the greater part of the feminine public. It also seems that boys were present. Slaves were allowed to visit the theatre; some even earned money, and could therefore pay their own admission, others may have gone in attendance on their masters, or have received the money for their entrance in some other way; but it is unlikely that they sat among the citizens; probably there were special places allotted them; indeed it has been suggested that there were distinct seats for every class. The only places about which this{448} is certain are the lowest rows, which were seats of honour for officials, priests, etc. Moreover, it is probable, but not quite certain, that the highest places were reserved for strangers. It has also been assumed that the women sat in the more distant places, or, at any rate, not in the front rows, and this seems probable; otherwise, there is no passage which proves for certain that the seats for the men at Athens were distinct from those of the women.

Another question is the manner in which the non-reserved places were allotted. It seems certain that they were not numbered, and, indeed, this would have been scarcely possible among so many thousands; but there may have been a general division of the theatre according to the wedges, and the separate divisions of each wedge, and these may have been indicated on the entrance counters. Benndorf has suggested that at Athens each wedge may have been assigned to the members of a particular tribe, and that on the counter given to each citizen the tribe in question was marked by some symbol. But this hypothesis is only probable if we assume, with Benndorf, that the citizens received not money but counters; if the spectators bought their theatre tickets from the lessee with the show-money, or at their own expense, it was impossible for there to be any division of places according to tribes, for this would have necessitated a fresh and very troublesome control of the registers of citizens. We must therefore assume that the counters bought of the theatrical lessee were marked according to wedges and division, and the spectators had to take their places accordingly but that, with the exception of a few classes of spectators, there was no compulsion to take a place in any special division.{449}

Of the three musical contests celebrated at the greater Dionysia, each kind, namely, the tragedies with the satyric dramas, the comedies, and the cyclic choruses had their special judges. At the appointment of the choragi, which took place a long while before the festival, the Council of the Five Hundred, probably under the presidency of the Archon, in the presence of the elected choragi, elected these by ballot, and the lot once more decided which of them was to pronounce judgment. We know for certain that five judges were appointed for comedy, probably the same number was required for tragedy, although an exceptional case is mentioned, during a contest between Aeschylus and Sophocles, in which there were ten judges, a departure from the ordinary custom, which was required by the great excitement in the public and the fear that the judges might be influenced in their decision by it. The judges had to pronounce on three points: the work of the poet, the performance of chorus and choragus, and the acting. The reward for the victorious poet was a wreath of ivy; the choragus received permission to set up a public monument in token of his victory, and, as already mentioned, the choragi in the tragic choruses usually dedicated tripods, those of the comic choruses fillets, thyrsus wands, and other festive apparatus; their decisions were also commemorated by inscriptions. The prize of the actors probably consisted in additional gifts of money besides the fees that were legally due to them.{450}



The Heroic Period—Tribal Wars—The Chariot—Characteristics of Greek Warriors—The Spartans—The Athenian Array—Greek Arms—Cavalry—Greek Sieges—Greek Ships—The Trireme.

Scarcely any changes seem to have taken place in the character of the offensive and defensive arms of the Greeks from the most ancient period until the Roman time, though the conduct of warfare made enormous advances in the thousand years between the Trojan War and the age of Alexander the Great and his successors. Our authorities for the earliest period are but few, but the wars of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. have been carefully described by historians, some of whom themselves possessed military knowledge. We must therefore be content to obtain our knowledge of warfare in early times from the descriptions of poets, who naturally aimed at a very different result from the historian. The Homeric Epics are not authorities which we can follow absolutely in every respect, but still they enable us to form a picture of the warfare of that period, and gain some general notion of the mode in which it was conducted.

The military conditions of that time bore the same patriarchal character which characterised the government of the heroic age. Greece, which even in the historic age was broken up into a number of separate{451} nationalities, was in the heroic period merely a collection of tribes living in constant feud with one another, and undertaking continual predatory expeditions on their neighbours’ territory; the nobles placing themselves at the head of a number of enterprising men, and regarding these proceedings as in no way dishonourable to them. Sometimes a great common undertaking combined several tribes under one head, but even then the power of this chief was by no means an unlimited one; the separate tribes who took part in the expedition under their own princes and nobles stood under their immediate command, and it depended on the goodwill of these little kings whether they submitted to the ordinances of the chief commander or not. Consequently there could be no question of a common arrangement of the army, or of a subdivision of the people according to the nature of the arms they used; the battle order was drawn up according to tribes.

Nor were they acquainted with any definite plan of battle. The main brunt of the fight was borne by the nobles, who fought from their chariots, and whose single combat with renowned leaders on the other side excited such universal interest that very often the battle stopped meantime. Moreover, these duels were often decisive for the victory or defeat of the whole army. The nobles appeared in full armour, accompanied by their charioteers, on their war chariots, usually drawn by two horses. On the vase painting depicted in Fig. 166 the painter has represented four horses drawing the chariot, but in so doing he was not following an old tradition, since in his time the custom of fighting with chariots had long ceased, but rather the universal practice of ancient vase painting, which always represented war chariots with four horses,{452} following the example of the Quadrigae used in races. The warrior stands holding the reins in his left hand, and his spear in the right, and has not yet mounted his chariot; he is in full armour, and so is the warrior standing in front of the chariot, and consequently we are justified in supposing that this really represents a war chariot. The Greeks, when they fought from their chariots, dashed at full speed from their own ranks against the foe, and often challenged an enemy to single combat with words of bitter mockery; this was begun with lances, and afterwards, when the combatants had got close together and possibly left their chariots, with the sword; even stones were not despised in the heat of combat. Cavalry was unknown in the time of Homer; the masses of infantry seldom fought hand to hand, but usually from a distance with bows and javelins. But when they came to close quarters they closed their ranks and locked their shields together; for the principle of the closed phalanx, which became so important for Greek warfare, was indicated even in the heroic age. Their mode of warfare shows the uncivilised condition of the Greeks at that time. Cunning and ambush were regarded as permissible, and cruelty and harshness to the fallen enemy were universal. The captives taken in war became slaves if they were not ransomed, and were sometimes even mercilessly sacrificed. It was considered a glorious deed to rob the fallen enemy of his armour in the midst of the fight, nor was it ignoble to leave his corpse unburied, to be consumed by the wild beasts. Still, there were traces of noble self-sacrifice and comradeship in their conduct towards their own fellow-countrymen.

In the following centuries, after many revolutions and internal contests, the tribes were combined{453}

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Fig. 166.


together into separate states, in the manner which continued with slight territorial changes down to the Macedonian period. But as the Greeks never succeeded in becoming one great united power, or even a federation of states, they never attained to a common army, and the armies of Greece were as manifold and various as the circumstances in the various small states of Hellas. Details have come down to us concerning very few; we know most of Sparta and Athens.

Sparta in particular was warlike in the whole character of its inhabitants, and consequently the whole constitution was based on military principles. Every “Spartiate,” that is, every man descended from an ancient Spartan family, was bound to military service in his country from his twentieth to his sixtieth year. Of course, they did not call upon all capable of bearing arms in time of war, but in each case the Ephors decided which classes were to be levied. Each of the five communities of Sparta supplied one division (λόχος); these were again subdivided in companies (μόραι), who messed in common. In later times, towards the end of the fifth century, the divisions were changed. The whole Lacedaemonian army was then divided into six divisions, each of these into two companies; the size of these divisions varied according to requirement. The non-citizens too were called to military service; the “Perioiki” formed separate divisions, who as a rule did not fight in the same ranks with the Spartiates, but still served like these, as heavy-armed infantry (ὁπλῖται), while the “Helots,” who were actual slaves, followed their masters to battle as attendants, chiefly as shield-bearers, and were sometimes used in battle as light-armed troops. The command in time of war fell to one of the two kings, and it was the citizens who{455} decided which of the two should take the chief command on a particular occasion. Each separate division of troops had its own leader, who was probably entrusted in time of peace also with the military training and exercise of his men. In military matters the Spartans far excelled most of the other Greeks, because their whole training and education rested on a military basis, and no glory was regarded as greater than that achieved in war. Moreover no Spartiate might work at any profession or trade, but was obliged to dedicate all his powers to the State, and therefore the Spartans were professional soldiers in the true sense of the word. It is true they were only strong in infantry; the cavalry was insignificant both in quality and quantity. Each division had some cavalry, but for this purpose they took the weaker men, who were incapable of serving as heavy-armed infantry, and, in consequence, the cavalry played a very unimportant part in the Spartan army, and they were often obliged to engage foreign mercenaries for the purpose.

The warlike Spartans regarded a military expedition as a desirable opportunity of putting to the test their powers acquired in time of peace, and it was really a kind of festival to them. They set out for a campaign after sacrificing and taking auspices. In the enemy’s country they set up a camp, and this was not square as was the usual Greek custom, but round and unfortified; it was guarded by the outposts and the cavalry, who were sent out to patrol. The helots were encamped outside. Military drill was carried on very energetically within, but still, on the whole, the life and discipline in the field were less severe than at home; and on these occasions purple garments were worn, and the hair was carefully curled and decked with wreaths, a thing which{456} was never done at home in time of peace. Before a battle they offered sacrifices in the early hours of the morning; then they set out against the enemy, with closed ranks and regular step, to the joyous sound of flutes and the marching song, in which the whole army joined. The heroic courage and self-denying endurance with which the Lacedaemonians fought, even without hope of victory, are everywhere renowned, and the noble friendships between older and younger men on these occasions stood out in the brightest light.

At Athens too the citizens were bound to military service till their sixtieth year, but this obligation was not so general as at Sparta. According to the constitution of Solon, it was only the citizens of the three highest classes who were bound to military service; the “Thetes,” who formed the fourth class, were exempt, and only in exceptional cases, such as occurred in later times, during long and serious wars, they were levied as light-armed troops, or more often as sailors for the fleet. After the Revolution of Cleisthenes, when Attica was divided into ten tribes, this political division was also maintained for the levy; the register of citizens was made the basis of a roll of the men in each tribe and deme who were liable to military service, and on each separate occasion the decree of the people decided what ages were to be levied. It was the rule, however, that the first two ages, from the eighteenth to the twentieth year, i.e., the ephebi, should not be called for service in the field, but only in the country as riding patrol, and it was not till their twentieth year that citizens were required to serve outside the country. The members of the council, as well as the higher officials, were exempt from military service during their period of{457} office. The Athenian army was divided into ten divisions (τάξεις) according to the number of tribes; these, again, were divided into companies and further subdivisions, whose strength varied according to the size of the levy and the conditions of the country. The resident foreigners, who were also bound to military service, served in the fleet, and also in the land army among the infantry, but never in the cavalry; they were chiefly used to garrison fortified places and defend cities. The cavalry were far more important at Athens than at Sparta. Every tribe supplied a hundred horsemen, and altogether these formed two divisions of five hundred men, commanded by the Hipparchs. As the State did not provide the horses, but expected the soldiers to procure and feed their own, this service was a very expensive one, and consequently was only undertaken by the first two classes. These cavalry regiments, which were the pride of the Athenian citizens, were exercised in time of peace also, and from time to time inspected by the Council of Five Hundred; we have already mentioned that the cavalry played an important part at the Panathenaic procession. In ancient times the army was commanded in time of war by the king, and afterwards by the archon as long as there was only one; when there were nine archons this duty fell to one of them, called the Polemarch. After the reforms of Cleisthenes, it became customary for each tribe to elect a general (στρατηγός), and for the chief command in time of war to fall to all these generals in turn, each commanding for a day. Next came the “Taxiarchs,” and the two “Hipparchs,” and ten “Phylarchs,” but nearly all these offices lost their importance, as did also the military organisation of the citizens, when the{458}

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Fig. 167.

mercenary system was introduced. This began as early as the time of the Peloponnesian war, and gradually gained ground. Originally they hired troops from foreign nations of a kind which were wanting in their own army; thus, javelin throwers were brought from Rhodes, and archers from Crete, but in the course of the fourth century the actual Hellenic population, and in particular that of Attica, became more and more unwarlike, and as the princes of Macedonia and other non-Hellenic states began to form standing armies of well-disciplined mercenary troops, the Hellenic republics were forced to follow this example as their own military power diminished. This mercenary system did a great deal to undermine the independence of Greece, and facilitate its subjection under the Macedonian dominion. Even in the time of the Peloponnesian war, the Arcadians were willing to fight for anyone who would pay them, against their own countrymen; in the expedition of the Ten Thousand, they formed an important part of the troops of{459}

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Fig. 168.

the younger Cyrus, and by no means the worst part. As the population was impoverished by many wars, they became more willing to respond to the invitation of any capable Condottiere, and collected from all states, but chiefly from Peloponnesus; and it sometimes happened that the members of a single state or tribe united together as a special division of the army. As the warlike spirit disappeared among the citizens, who were unwilling to undergo the fatigues of service, these standing mercenary troops, under the command of excellent generals, became more and more disciplined and capable. The pay for a common soldier was usually four obols a day (about fivepence), half of which was pay and the other half ration-money; this amount was sometimes increased. The captain of a company received twice as much, the general four times, but the prospect of booty was even more attractive than the money; for according to the conditions of warfare of that time, every campaign was a predatory and ravaging expedition, and the mercenary{460} troops who went to war from purely personal motives spared neither friend nor foe, and herein simply followed the example of their leaders.

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Fig. 169.

We must now say a few words about Greek arms, in which, as already mentioned, very few changes took place. The full armour of a Homeric hero consisted of greaves, cuirass, helmet, shield, sword, and one or two spears, and in all essentials this was also the armour of the heavy-armed soldiers of the historic{461}

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Fig. 170.

period; there were, however, a few modifications in the centuries which followed Homer. The defensive armour of the infantry consisted in helmet, cuirass, greaves, and shield. As a rule, they began by putting the greaves on first, as it would have been difficult to bend the body after putting on the cuirass, and we see this rule observed in most old works of art, though there are some exceptions. The greaves were half-bent plates of brass, lined within with leather or wool;{462} they had to be elastic, because they were bent outwards in putting on, and by means of their elasticity they clung to the leg, the front of which they covered, extending above the knee; still, there must have been a ring round the ankle to hold them fast, and perhaps there was another fastening above. In Fig. 167, which, with Fig. 168, represents pictures from a painted bowl with red figures, we see on the right a young warrior stooping down to put on one of his greaves, which he is bending outwards for this purpose; contrary to the usual custom, the youth has already put on the cuirass and chlamys over his chiton. In Fig. 169, the inner picture of a drinking cup, representing the murder of Dolon, the Greek hero Diomede wears greaves, on which we can clearly recognise the ring below.

The cuirass of the heroic and historic periods is shorter than that which was customary with the Romans, but still descends far enough to cover the greater part of the body below, and may be seen on works of art; but, as a rule, the massive parts do not extend below the waist, and there are movable lappets attached to it to protect the parts below. The cuirass was generally made of bronze, and consisted of two plates, one of which covered the breast, the other the back, and these were fastened together at the lower edges, and also below and above the shoulders by buckles or other fastenings. In later times, shoulder-pieces were added, which are not mentioned in Homer; these were fastened to the back, and when the cuirass was put on drawn from there over the shoulder, and made firm in front with little chains or cords to rings or hooks. In Fig. 168, the man on the right, who is putting on his armour, has already drawn on his cuirass; the two shoulder-pieces are still open, and he is just on the point of pulling the right shoulder-piece{463}

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Fig. 171.


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Fig. 172.

forward, in order to fasten it there to the front piece of his cuirass. In Fig. 170, a heroic genre picture, we see this more clearly. Here Achilles bandages the arm of the wounded. Patroclus; the right shoulder-piece of Patroclus is fastened, but the left is opened in order not to hurt the wounded arm. The mode{465} in which the shoulder-pieces were fastened to the cuirass is very clearly represented in the figure of Amphiaraus, in Fig. 171, a vase painting representing the “Farewell of Amphiaraus.” There were two kinds of cuirass: those with stiff plates, and those with scales. In the former, those plates are commonest which do not fit closely to the body, but only roughly represent its shape; of this kind are the cuirasses of the warriors in Figs. 167 and 167, and also that of Amphiaraus in Fig. 171. In Fig. 172, taken from a bowl painted by Duris, the youth who is going to battle receives a cuirass of this kind (compare also Fig. 166). Sometimes this cuirass was made in a shape common among the Romans, imitating the form of the human body and representing its chief features. The warriors in Fig. 170 wear scale armour; the cuirasses are evidently made of leather, covered with little brass plates, arranged one over another like scales. Some parts of the cuirasses seem also to be made of plates; for instance, the girdle of Achilles and a strip behind, also the upper part of the breast-plate of Patroclus; the shoulder-pieces, however, are made of scales, for flexibility was of special importance here. The belly was protected by leather strips or lappets, covered with metal, hanging down at the lower edge of the cuirass, and covering part of the thighs (compare Figs. 169 and 170). The cuirass was generally fastened round the hips by a leathern belt, with brass coverings; perhaps this is the object which the boy in Fig. 168 is offering to the warrior putting on his armour.

Below the cuirass they wore a short chiton woven of especially strong threads, and frequently mentioned by Homer as twisted or woven; the sleeves were usually cut short, falling a little way below the{466} shoulders, and it only descended over part of the thighs. (Compare the pictures.) Homer also makes mention of a broad girdle (μίτρα), plated with brass, worn immediately over the chiton in such a manner that the upper part of the girdle was covered by the cuirass, while the lower was exposed. This girdle seems to have fallen into disuse soon after the Homeric age, for we can find no trace of it on any works of art. The linen tunics mentioned in Homer, which became commoner in later times, were probably woven of strong thread, and covered with brass at the most exposed places.

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Fig. 173.
Fig. 174. Fig. 175.

The helmet, which, even in the earliest ages, took{467}

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Fig. 176.

the place of the original head-covering of skin, was usually of bronze, and, according to the statements of Homer and originals still existing, was of three thicknesses, strongest in the middle, with a thinner layer above and below. The chief part of the helmet fitted close to the head like a cap, and covered forehead and temples; in front it hung down in two separate pieces over the cheeks; there were two openings for the eyes between the nose-piece and cheek-pieces. In ancient times the skull cap and cheek-pieces were made of a single piece, as we see on the ancient Greek helmets from Olympia and Sardinia, represented in Figs. 173 to 175; these are also provided with nose-pieces, so that not much could be recognised of the warrior who was covered in this way. The helmet acquired an additional protection by a ridge extending over the middle of the skull cap from the back of the head to the forehead, in which the crest was fastened; there were also helmets with two ridges to increase the resisting power, and this{468} then had two crests. Very often the crest, which was of great size, was not fastened directly into the ridge, but connected with it by means of a tall, narrow elevation, so that it towered high above the helmet. The vase painting represented in Fig. 176 shows helmets of this kind belonging to two warriors who are playing draughts; one of them has taken off his helmet and placed it on the shield beside him; the other keeps his on, but has raised the part over the forehead; the shape resembles the originals represented in Figs. 173 to 175. Sometimes the crest was fastened straight into the skullcap without any ridge, as on Fig. 166, in the helmet belonging to the warrior on the right. In later times, many changes took place in the shape of helmets; the nose-piece and cheek-pieces were sometimes flexible and sometimes stiff, but of a different shape; thus the helmet of Achilles, in Fig. 170, has the stiff forehead and nose-piece, but the cheek-pieces move on a hinge, and for the sake of comfort the hero has turned them upwards. Of the three helmets in Fig. 167, the one on the ground on the right seems also to have movable cheek-pieces, but there is no nose-piece, and only a protection for the forehead, which could probably also be pushed back; the two others have stiff nose-and cheek-pieces in one with the skull cap, but the cheek-pieces are not pointed, as was usually the case in the older kind, but rounded off. (Compare also Figs. 166, 169, and 172.) There was usually also a protecting piece for the neck, as may be seen on many other pictures. Works of art show manifold ways of decorating the helmets. (Compare the helmet of Diomede in Fig. 169.) Sometimes they made them in the shape of a human face, imitating the lines of the forehead, eyebrows, etc., in bronze. Curiously{469} enough, this mask form was sometimes transferred even to the back of the helmet, as may be seen in Fig. 177, representing the death of Memnon, where the long hair of the warrior descends below the helmet, though this may have been due to a mistake on the part of the artist; another point of interest about this helmet is its two crests. Besides these high and usually splendid helmets, the simple cap-shaped helmets were also extant in later times, and these were strengthened by ridges or plates of brass nailed on them; such is the helmet worn by Amphiaraus in Fig. 171. To prevent excessive pressure on the head, they usually wore a close-fitting cap below it, as we see in the case of Patroclus, in Fig. 170.

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Fig. 177.

In the Homeric age, there were two chief kinds of shields: a small circular one, and an oval shield of{470} almost human height. They were made of several layers of bull’s hide, sewn on the top of one another, and covered, as a rule, on the outer side, with bronze. As the diameter of the skins decreased from without to within, and the strength of the metal coverings decreased from the middle to the edge, the result was that the middle of the shield, which had to offer the greatest resistance, was also the strongest part; besides this, a boss or convex bronze plate (ὄμφαλος), was also fixed in the centre of the outer side, but in later times they put the coat of arms in its place. The smaller circular shield seems to have been carried by a double handle, through one part of which, in the middle of the hollow, the arm was thrust, while the other at the edge was clasped by the hand (compare Fig. 169). This mode of carrying would be impossible for the large shields, and these must have been managed by a single handle, though we must not forget that these very heavy shields were also suspended from the body by straps. In later times, too, we find the round and oval shields still in use, but the latter were considerably diminished in size, which is very natural, since it must have been extremely inconvenient and troublesome in battle to carry these enormous shields. Both kinds were moderately vaulted, and had a somewhat projecting edge; the shields, both round and oval, often had two slits at the sides, the object of which was to enable the warrior to peep at the enemy from behind his shield, and also perhaps to send his spear through the opening; these slits may be recognised in the shields in Fig. 176. As to the mode in which they were carried, we sometimes find two handles, both at a little distance from the centre, as on the shield in Fig. 171, of which the inner side is visible; sometimes a crossbar extended over the whole inner breadth of the{471} shield, through which the arm was thrust, while there were various straps at the edge which could be easily grasped, and which made it possible to go on using the shield even if one of these handles should have been torn off. There is a rather different contrivance in a shield in Fig. 167, of which we see the inner side; instead of one crossbar used as a diameter of the circle, there are three like radii meeting together in the centre. Here, too, there were probably loops at the edge. Very often the shields were lined inside with coloured materials, and decorated with tassels or cords; on small round shields we sometimes find a broad lappet of leather, or some such material, hanging down, to give the combatant a further protection for the lower part of his body. The coats of arms, which were very various and full of meaning, were either put on in relief like the head of a satyr in the centre of a shield in Fig. 176, or else inlaid of metal of another colour, or nailed on.

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Fig. 178.
Fig. 179.
Fig. 180.


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Fig. 181.

Offensive arms may be divided into those which were used in close combat, especially lance and sword, and those which were used from a distance, in particular, javelin, bow, and sling. The spear, or lance, consisted in a shaft usually made of ash, provided at both ends with a bronze point; one of these points was used for attack, the other (compare Fig. 166) to fix the spear in the ground when it was not required. The material for the point, in the heroic age, was usually bronze; in later times, iron. The blade of the point required for attack was usually leaf-shaped and two-edged (compare Figs. 178 to 181, taken from originals in Dodona); its length was from 7 to 8 inches, its breadth about 2½ in the middle; it was fastened to the upper pointed end of the shaft by a socket, and this socket was surrounded by a ring in order to increase the firmness. The lower end was usually only a short conical point. The length of the spear was greater in the heroic age than afterwards. Homer mentions spears about five yards long, and in naval warfare even one about ten yards long, but this was constructed of several pieces fastened together, and was probably only used in naval warfare to keep off the grappling irons; in later times the usual length was from two to two and a quarter yards. That is about the length of the spears represented in Figs. 167, 168, and 171. We often find, as in Fig. 176, two spears in the hand of a warrior; this usually happened when the soldier used his long spear not only for thrusting, but also for throwing, in which case he would require a reserve spear. In thrusting, as well as in throwing, he{473} clasped the spear in the middle with the right hand alone.

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Fig. 182.

Fig. 183.

Fig. 184.

The sword is an even more useful weapon for hand-to-hand combat than the spear, which on account of its length can only be used from some distance. Originally swords were constructed of bronze, and this is the only kind mentioned by Homer, afterwards of iron; the blade was two-edged, and in the heroic age tolerably long, probably shaped like that in Fig. 182, which was brought from Mycenae and is twenty-four inches long; the two-edged blade and the top of the handle, which was decorated by plates of wood, bone, or such like, fastened on by nails, but which has not been preserved, were formed of a single piece. As this sword and the others resembling it were equally well calculated for thrusting and piercing, Helbig’s theory that they most closely resemble the Homeric swords, is a very probable one. The swords{474}

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Fig. 185.


Fig. 186.

in Figs. 183 and 183, also from Mycenae, are of a different kind; the blades are two-edged, and measure thirty-two inches in length; the top of the haft is formed of the same piece with the blade, and covered with plates of a different material, but this weapon seems to have been exclusively used for piercing. Of another kind are those in Figs. 185 and 186, but these date from Italian lake dwellings, though the same kind is said to have been also found in Greece. The two-edged blade is short here, very broad at the top, but growing gradually narrower, so that the shape almost resembles an acute-angled triangle. The handle, the lower end of which is bent outwards in the shape of a semicircle, is worked out of a separate piece of bronze, and connected with the blade by nails. In the historic age the swords are usually short, the blade about{475} twenty inches long, reed-shaped, and two-edged, adapted for thrusting and piercing; the handle, which is generally suited for parrying strokes, is rather small (compare the sword in Fig. 169, where the sheath and shoulder-belt are well represented). The sheath was often of some costly material, and artistically decorated, ordinary kinds were made of leather; the shoulder-belt was usually a leather strap, with metal plates; it was suspended over the right shoulder, and was so long that the sword hung down by the left side, but in later times they sometimes wore the sword on the right side. Besides the kinds of swords already mentioned there were some others; in particular that which is specially designated as the Lacedaemonian sword, the blade of which is slightly curved on one side from the handle onwards, and very sharp, while the other edge is straight and evidently blunt; this kind of sword could of course only be used for thrusting. Towards the end of the Hellenic period, Iphicrates again introduced long swords in the Greek armies; they measured as much as a yard with the haft, but the heavy-armed infantry probably continued to use the short sword.

There were two other weapons for close encounter, the club and the battle-axe, but they are not important for Greek warfare. The former was chiefly used in the mythical contests of pre-historic times, the latter, represented on works of art as the usual weapon of the Amazons, is sometimes mentioned in Homer as used by Greek heroes, but it was afterwards only in use as an actual military weapon among some Oriental nations.

Throwing weapons were chiefly used by light-armed troops. In the heroic ages the javelin was only a hunting weapon; the heroes usually used their{476} ordinary long lances for throwing. The light javelin, about two and three-quarter yards in length, became a very common weapon of attack in the next period, when the light-armed troops formed a regular part of the army; this closely resembled the javelin used in the gymnastic contests, especially in the Pentathlon, and like this was provided with a loop, which the thrower wound round his fingers. We have already discussed the method of throwing this spear.

Next we have to consider bow and arrows. There were two kinds of bows: in the first place, a simple one formed of a single piece of elastic wood bent outwards at the ends; its form is slightly bent, and only attains the shape of a strong curve when it is drawn. This bow was called the “Scythian,” or “Parthian,” but we find it also on Greek works of art, and it was probably the older kind. The other shape is that of the double bow, in which two curved pieces of horn are connected together by a cylindrical piece of metal; this shape was the commoner in the Greek army, and even when they gave up using goat and gazelle horns for the bow, but constructed it of wood, it retained the shape. The metal plate in the middle was also used as a rest for the arrow, and the ends of the bow to which the string was fastened, were usually plated with metal. The cord was made of plaited guts, and as a rule, when the bow was not in use, was fastened only to one end, and hung down loose, in order that the bow might not lose its elasticity through the constant strain of the string. The arrow was a shaft about twenty-four inches long, usually of light reed, on which the point, supplied with two or more barbs, was fastened with a string; at the other end, it usually had a little weight, supplied with a notch for setting{477}

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Fig. 187.

it more firmly against the string. We have evidence in Greek excavations of the three-edged arrow mentioned by Homer; compare Fig. 187, an arrow-head from Megalopolis. The arrows were kept in a quiver made of leather or basket-work, of which two kinds are found: one wide kind of triangular form, worn on the left side, and generally used with the so-called Scythian bow; and a smaller cylindrical shape, which hung down on the back over the left shoulder, and belonged to the Greek bow. The sling consisted in a cord or strap, broad in the middle, and narrower at the two ends, by means of which little plummets were thrown; these were placed on the broad centre of the strap, the two ends of which were pressed together in the hand and swung a few times round the head; with a careful aim they then let go one end of the strap, whereupon the shot flew in the direction which it had received by the impulse of swinging. In the heroic age the sling-shots were always stone balls; afterwards they also used plummets of clay or lead, very often in the shape of an acorn. The most important part of the Greek army in the heroic age, both in the period of citizen armies and in that of mercenary troops, were the heavy-armed soldiers (ὁπλῖται). The weight which they had to carry, including offensive and defensive armour, amounted to about 70 lbs., but this considerable weight was only carried by a soldier in battle. On the march, part of the armour was carried in baggage-carts, or else the shield, or even the helmet, was given to a slave to carry (ὑπασπιστής). But as the inconvenience of the{478} baggage-waggons was great, and the number of slaves—which had formerly been very considerable, so that among the Lacedaemonians there were sometimes seven helots to one Spartan—gradually diminished, we notice a tendency to decrease the weight of the soldier’s armour, first by substituting for the brazen cuirass a tunic of leather plated with brass and shoulder-pieces, and afterwards by using a small round shield for the large oval one. In the time of the Persian wars the light infantry took the place of the slaves, who had formerly, in order that they might not be a useless addition to the army, been armed with javelins and stones. But as the skill required of the light-armed troops was not equally developed among all nationalities, it was necessary here to supply their defects by mercenary soldiers. Thus, as we have already mentioned, the Cretans were celebrated archers; excellent slingers came from Rhodes and Thessaly; and the best javelin-throwers from Acarnania and Aetolia. These three kinds of light-armed troops were distinct; they all went to battle without any defensive armour, not even wearing a helmet, but only a light felt cap or some national hat. Besides these, and standing midway between slaves and light-armed soldiers, were the “Peltasts,” originally a Thracian troop, deriving their name from the pelta, a small wooden shield covered with leather, which resembled the crescent-shaped shield of the Amazons; their offensive weapons were the sword, a long spear, and four or five little javelins. The light-armed troops and peltasts were placed in the field, now in front, now behind the main body of the army, on the wings, or wherever seemed good to the general; they were also used a good deal for sallies, archery, as spies, in ambushes, etc.{479}

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Fig. 188.


Fig. 189.

The Greeks did not attach any great importance to the cavalry, which was in part the result of the mountainous nature of their country, where cavalry regiments could seldom be properly deployed. Consequently the Greek cavalry, as a rule, rode badly and with uncertainty; they only fought against each other, and never attacked closed ranks of infantry, but pursued them when they were thrown into confusion; regular cavalry attacks, in which the horse not only carries its rider, but also is a means of attack, were unknown. The horses wore saddle-cloths, not regular saddles, and bit and bridle, and armour—consisting of head-piece, breast-plate, and side-pieces. The rider wore a brazen cuirass, with neck-pieces, protected his abdomen by the usual leathern apron with metal coverings, and also wore a special kind of mail over arms and shoulders; the hips were also protected.{480} The shield was not used for ordinary service, the offensive weapons were a long lance and a sword. There can be no doubt that spurs were used at that time, but it is possible that they wore them on only one foot, as the statues of the Amazons seem to show; Figs. 188 and 188 represent Greek spurs, still in existence. Horse-shoes and stirrups were unknown, the rider sprang on his horse with the help of his lance, or else used some stone, branch, or other object to enable him to mount.

We do not propose to enter into detail concerning the arrangement and discipline, tactics and strategy, of the Greek armies. A few words must be said about Greek sieges. Schliemann’s excavations at Mycenae and Tiryns have proved to us the magnificence of some ancient fortifications. It is, therefore, natural that the siege of a strongly-fortified place was a difficult matter for a Greek army, since effective besieging machines were only very gradually invented. For centuries they contented themselves with simply surrounding a city and trying to force it by hunger; an even more favourite device was trickery or treachery; they were neither able to storm a town nor make breaches in the wall. The first machine for storming made use of by the Greeks was the ram, an invention of the Carthaginians, but this, too, was ineffectual against very strong walls. They, therefore, very often resorted to the device of undermining the walls in order to make them fall; sometimes they raised the ground for attack by constructing a mound, or made movable towers in order to enable them to fight from the same height as the garrison. There were various devices, too, for setting the town, or at any rate its fortifications, on fire; and if the local conditions permitted it, they sometimes tried to reduce{481} the besieged to extremities by cutting off their drinking water, or producing an artificial flood. This primitive kind of siege warfare only gave way to a more rational method during the Macedonian wars; it was in particular the merit of King Philip, instead of enclosing a city, to concentrate the attack on one point in the wall, in which breaches were made. The discovery of heavy artillery, the perfection of breaching implements, movable batteries, protective apparatus, and revolving turrets, did not take place till the Alexandrine age.

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Fig. 190.

It was a natural consequence of the geographical position of Greece that seafaring developed far more quickly. Even in the heroic period fairly good ships were built, though they were better suited for coasting than sailing in the open sea. They were moved by twenty to fifty sailors, seated on thwarts on either side of the ship, while their oars were suspended in leathern straps between the rowlocks; if the wind was favourable, they replaced the oars by a sail suspended from the mast by a sail-yard; in the{482} stern, the helmsman directed the course of the ship with the rudder. The ship of Odysseus was thus represented, even in later art, cutting its way through the sea (compare Fig. 191). Still, this picture, which dates from a much later period, cannot give us a proper conception of the build of the Homeric ships: we should rather turn to the representations from ancient vases on Figs. 192 and 192, in spite of the roughness and smallness of the drawing. Both these have a strong spur at the prow, and were, therefore, apparently used for naval warfare, with which the Homeric age was not yet acquainted. Probably the ships of the heroic age had high projecting ends both forward and aft.

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Fig. 191.

As in the Homeric age, so probably also in the following period, the ships were constructed in such a{483}

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Fig. 192.

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Fig. 193.

manner as to be tolerably flat, and accommodate only one line of rowers on each side; consequently, in large ships there would be fifty oarsmen or more on either side. But they soon began to build the ships higher and to arrange the oarsmen in several ranks one above another, in two rows, as in Fig. 194, but more commonly in three rows, and these ships were then called Triremes; in later times, especially after the fourth century, there were four or even six rows, and possibly still more. The arrangement of these rowers’ benches is of particular interest, and is made tolerably clear by the Athenian relief represented in Fig. 195.[G] The rowers’ benches occupied the whole{484}

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Fig. 194.

space of the two long sides of the ship, with the exception of the two ends; they were arranged over one another in rows of different heights, not separated by partitions, but only by the open structure of wood. In each row each rower sat immediately in front of the next man in a straight line, but there is a difference of opinion as to the manner in which the rowing benches were arranged. According to Graser, they were immediately under one another, but the rowers did not sit perpendicularly above each other; but in order to save space as much as possible, and partly to facilitate their movements, they were arranged in such a way that the seat of the next highest was in the same direction and height as the head of the man on the next seat below, so that each man, instead of sitting directly under the man above, sat a little towards the back, and, in moving, kept his arms immediately under the seat of the man above. Lemaître, on the other hand, assumes that only the lowest benches were close to the edge, and those{485}

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Fig. 195.

above were removed by the breadth of the thwart, the third by two breadths, in which case the height must have been so arranged that the oar of the man above always passed over the head of the one immediately below. It is impossible to attain any certainty about this matter; both hypotheses are open to objection. For the length of the oars naturally increased in proportion to the distance of the rowers from the water, and those of the highest row must have been longest; according to Graser’s arrangement, the length of the oars increased 1 yard for each row, so that in a ship of five rows the lowest rank had oars 2½ yards long, the highest 6½; according to the arrangement{486} of Lemaître, the length was even greater, but there was this advantage, that the longer oars had also longer leverage, and could consequently be more easily controlled. The larger the number of rows, the greater in consequence was the length of the oars, but still they were able to build and control ships of fifteen or sixteen rows. The splendid ship of Ptolemy Philopater is said to have had no less than forty rows, and the length of the highest oars was 18½ yards; but this was not a ship of war, and was only used in calm water—in fact, a modern authority on seafaring regards the whole description of this forty-decker as a satire. Of course, the larger the ships the greater the number of oarsmen required, since the number of rows would be greater; a “trireme” was rowed by 174 men, a “quinquereme” by 310, the arrangement being that each higher row had two men more than the one below, because the bulk of the ship was broadened towards the top. In rowing the greatest regularity of movement was indispensable; this was attained by the command of a special captain, and also by marking time with flutes, so that all the oars might strike the water at the same moment. Here we meet with a problem, hitherto unsolved: how was it possible for the long oars of the upper rows to keep stroke with the short ones of the lower rows? This would have been impossible if the same word of command was given to all the rowing benches, since the stroke of a long oar would naturally require more time than that of a short one. Another difficulty is the great number of oarsmen which would have been required for Attica, where the number of ships was very considerable; still, the number of sailors and marines was very small, as in naval warfare the main object was to sink the enemy’s ship{487} by means of the prow, while they did not trouble much about shooting and fighting at a distance.

As to the construction of the ships, the prow and stern were, generally speaking, of similar build; both, as a rule, ended in curves, but there was usually a lofty decoration of leaves or feathers for the stern, while at the prow they put the image of a god, or the head of an animal, or some other picture, which often showed the name of the boat; these were constructed of wood or bronze, and a flag waved at the top. Below the prow, for the most part under water, lay the strong beak, made of boards firmly fastened into the bow, and protected in front by massive iron points. On the deck there was usually a little canopy at both ends; in Fig. 194 this is seen on the front deck, and apparently also in Fig. 191, though this may be a little tent used as a protection against the sun, such as was often placed on the upper deck. The tower at the back, and the little hut for the helmsman from which he directed both rudders, are wanting on these pictures. The old ships had two rudders, to the right and left of the stern; by means of a mechanical contrivance, which is, however, not represented in the pictures, these two rudders could be directed at the same time in a parallel direction.

In Figs. 192 and 192 we observe near the bow a round opening, corresponding to a similar hole in Fig. 191; the object of this was to enable the anchor-ropes to pass through the ship to the anchors, which resembled our modern ones in all essentials, and were hung up when not in use on little projections at both sides of the prow, which also served the purpose of keeping off the enemy’s ship when avoiding an attack. On the great mainmast there were, as a rule, two square yard sails, fastened one over another, with a{488} third above them, and at the top of the mast two triangular topsails. The ships of war also had two sails following the length of the ship, which were of particular importance for turning when the wind blew from the side. The Attic inscriptions give us many other details about seafaring, but these are only of special interest for professional sailors.{489}



The Ancient Greek Prejudice Against Labour—Cultivation of the Soil—Agricultural Implements—Cattle Rearing—Handicrafts—The Organisation of Labour—Various Trades—Wholesale and Retail—Bankers and Money-Changers.

The domains on which the activity of the ancients was chiefly concentrated were agriculture and cattle rearing, trade, and handicraft. Intellectual or artistic labour, which at the present day plays a very important part as a means of earning a livelihood, was hardly considered at all in Ancient Greece, and the artist, if he worked for pay, was put on the same footing as the artisan; in fact there were very few intellectual professions connected with money. These circumstances changed somewhat in the Hellenistic period; but even there the intellectual labour of teachers, physicians, etc., would be placed in the same class with other occupations, though gradually, as the payment of this labour increased, so did also the estimation in which it was held.

As to the statistical relation in which agriculture, industry, and trade stood to one another, there were naturally many changes as civilisation advanced; and again, local circumstances in every part of Greece, in every district, and perhaps even every city, as well as the geographical position, the nature of the land, the adaptability of the soil for cultivation, etc., were of importance for these branches; and again,{490} peculiarities of race, national prejudices, were often of great weight in the choice of a profession. It was an idea not peculiar to the Doric races, though most strongly developed among them, that in reality every kind of work done for pay was unsuitable for a citizen, and that his whole activity should be given without reward to the State; but this theory—though the main features of it are defended even by philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, and it rests on the assumption that every citizen must have sufficient possessions for himself and his family, and obtain what he requires by the labour of slaves—was only gradually developed, and was quite foreign to the Homeric age, as well as to the period immediately following, in which Hesiod could venture to say that not work but idleness was disgraceful. Changes in political conditions produced other changes as well. When the old Monarchy was succeeded by the rule of the Oligarchs, and the privileged class being in possession of landed property and numerous slaves, devoted its whole activity to military and political matters, the prejudice originated that only such occupations were worthy of a free and noble citizen, and that all work was low and servile; and it is natural that this opinion should have been obstinately maintained at Sparta, because the constitution there kept the character of the Oligarchy most rigidly. In other places a healthier conception of work gradually prevailed, and, in particular, the tyrants of the older period tried to combat the disinclination of the citizens for professional activity; in their case, however, it was not only reasons of political economy, but also political expediency that influenced them, since they did not wish to see their rule threatened by an unoccupied warlike population longing for a share in the government. But these{491} efforts were only partially crowned with success, and though in the time of absolute democracy many citizens practised occupations connected with money, yet the old idea still prevailed that those really stood on a higher footing whose fortune permitted them to live without any definite occupation, and we constantly meet with traces of it even in a philosopher like Socrates, whose statement that idleness was the sister of freedom reflects the opinion of the majority with particular emphasis.

The prejudice against many professions was not equally directed against all. Agriculture was least liable to it. In the heroic period, agriculture was the chief occupation, not only of the lower classes, but even of the nobles and princes, who regarded it as no disgrace to perform with their own hands, or superintend, many duties connected with farming. It was natural that a change should be gradually introduced in these patriarchal conditions, and this was due not only to political revolutions, but also to the advance of civilisation, and the growth of industrial and commercial life in Greece; yet agriculture always remained one of the most respected occupations, especially in those states whose geographical position cut them off from trade, and the nature of whose soil was suited for agriculture and cattle-rearing; in these places the citizens too took part in these occupations, though in other places, especially at Sparta, any work performed with the hands was regarded as unsuitable for citizens, and was assigned to slaves or free subjects. In the large towns, such as Athens, where trade and industry attained a great height, and democracy, growing freer and freer, tended to advance idleness by official gifts to citizens, such as the show-money and public meals, agriculture lost in general estimation, and the citizen of a{492} large town regarded the industrious countryman as a creature of a lower rank. This was but natural, and we find analogy for it in many of our modern conditions. Local circumstances naturally had a good deal to do in determining the position occupied by an agricultural population. Where the land was good and the profits considerable, the farmer occupied a better position than in those places where but a poor harvest rewarded his toil. The soil of Greece was not everywhere suited for agriculture, and in many places it required the most careful labour to win any fruits from it. In Hellas, the mountainous districts are more extensive than the plains suitable for cultivation; consequently in many places they had to construct artificial terraces, because the stony ground would not otherwise have borne any fruit. In other places too, want of water, which in the hot season of the year often amounted to actual drought, necessitated artificial irrigation by means of canals and drainage, and again, the mountain brooks, which often overflowed their banks in the rainy season and threatened destruction to the fields, had to be regulated by means of dykes. Descriptions of such structures have come down to us, and many traces of them may still be found in Greece, some of them even pointing to very considerable technical knowledge; the State, too, sometimes undertook work of this kind, as is proved by the office of water-superintendent, who, in many places, had the control of the natural and artificial watercourses, and whose duty it was to prevent undue use, and to inflict fines in such cases.

We know very little about the management of farms and the arrangements for dividing land among large landowners or small cultivators, in the separate districts of Greece. Greek antiquity shows no traces of{493} latifundia, such as gradually made way in Italy; there were some large estates with numerous slave-workers, but small farms were commonest. In some districts, as for instance in Arcadia, a small peasantry were the chief part of the population, and it is not surprising, therefore, that even the leaders of the State did not shrink from taking part in agricultural labour, though the larger landowners left this to their slaves and overseers. The Athenians, however, regarded the rough manners of these smaller farmers as coarse, and the citizens of the larger towns, accustomed to the refinements of ordinary life, mocked at their rustic manners; we scarcely ever find any recognition of the fact that a strong and healthy race of peasants together with an industrious middle-class is the best means for maintaining the life of a state.

In its technical aspects, ancient agriculture remained in much the same state throughout the whole of antiquity as it occupied in the heroic age, and probably this was the common inheritance of the Indo-Germanic race. In Homer, we find the custom, which always prevailed afterwards, of alternating only between harvest and fallow; even the succeeding ages seem to have known nothing of the rotation of crops. The implements used for the necessary farming occupations were of the simplest kind, in particular the primitive plough, which was not sufficient to tear up the earth, so that they had to use the mattock in addition; they had no harrow or scythe, in place of which they used the sickle, and their threshing arrangements were most unsatisfactory, since they simply drove oxen, horses, or mules over the threshing floor, and beat out the ears with their hoofs, by which means a great part of the harvest was lost. It was only the large number of labourers at the disposal of the{494} farmers, in consequence of the numerous slaves, to which at times, when there was a press of work, they added hired labourers, and the great care taken in manuring and improving the ground, etc., that enabled them to earn a living at all. Great wealth was never attained in ancient Greece by agriculture, certainly not by growing corn; vines and olives supplied better profits, though here too the instruments used were of the simplest, but the ground was especially favourable to their cultivation. Oil, in particular, could be supplied by Greece to foreign countries, but corn did not grow in a quantity sufficient to provide their own population, and consequently they had to import a great deal from foreign countries, especially from the Black Sea, and afterwards too from Egypt.

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Fig. 196.

Greek writers give us very little information about the life of the country people; a few simple pictures taken from vase paintings afford some little notion of it. Fig. 196 represents three countrymen surrounded by a variety of animals: deer, lizards,{495} a tortoise, a strange bird, and another creature, perhaps meant to represent a locust; each of the men is directing a plough drawn by two oxen, holding the handle in one hand, and in the other the goad-stick for urging on the beasts. Behind one of the ploughmen walks a man with a large basket on his left arm, in which, no doubt, there are supposed to be seeds, which he is about to strew with his right hand. Fig. 197 represents a scene from the olive harvest. On the right and left of an olive tree sit two men, before them on the ground stand jars; one of them holds a little flask in his left hand, and appears to be squeezing the juice of an olive into it through a funnel, in order to test the quality of the harvest. The inscription on the picture is, “O, Father Zeus, would that I might grow rich!” The reverse side of the vessel, not represented here, shows the fulfilment of this simple prayer in the picture and inscription.

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Fig. 197.


Cattle-rearing played a very important part in Greek farming. In the time of Homer it even exceeded agriculture in importance; the wealth of great people at that time consisted chiefly in herds; to give cattle as a bridal gift was very common; in calculations of value cattle formed the basis instead of coined money, which was at that time unknown. The kinds especially cultivated in the historic period were horses, asses, mules, and oxen, and also sheep, goats, and swine. Except in a few districts, horse-rearing was of little importance. The mountainous nature of the country made the use of horses for driving difficult, nor do they seem to have been required for carrying burdens; they were chiefly used for riding purposes, for the cavalry, and also for travelling, racing, etc.; and in connection with racing horse-rearing became a favourite occupation of the aristocracy, and almost a mania at Athens at the time of the Peloponnesian war, when many young men were ruined by it. Horse-rearing was best developed in Thessaly, where the wide plains were suitable for the purpose. The Thessalian cavalry was always noted for its quantity and excellence. For domestic use mules and asses took the place of horses, especially as beasts of burden. The mules were used for drawing and for the plough, while the asses were chiefly employed for carrying burdens. Cattle-rearing seems to have been more important in the Homeric age than afterwards, when the needs of the population could not be satisfied by the home growth, and importation of foreign cattle from the Black Sea and from Africa was necessary. The small number of herds of cattle was probably due to the fact that in Greek antiquity very little cow’s milk was drunk, but chiefly goat’s milk. Sheep-rearing, however, was very general, and brought to great{497} perfection, since they not only used the flesh and milk of the sheep for food, but in particular required their skin and wool for clothing. Linen was not much worn; the country people wore sheepskins, and the rest of their dress was almost entirely made of sheep’s wool. Excellent qualities of this were produced by Hellas proper, as well as by the Greek colonies in Asia Minor and Lower Italy, and a great deal of it was exported to foreign countries, where the woollen stuffs of Asia Minor, Attica, and Megara, were held in great repute from most ancient times. Goats were chiefly kept for the sake of the milk; the skins were used by the peasants for clothing. The goat’s hair was woven into stuff, not in Greece itself, but probably in Northern Africa and Cilicia, where a kind of coarse cloth was manufactured of it, which however was not often used for clothing. The facility of goat-rearing, which required no special care, and could be carried on even on rocky ground, where but little grass grew, enabled it to become very extensive, and we find it, in fact, throughout almost the whole of Greece in ancient times. Swine-rearing, on the other hand, played a very small part, for it was not sufficiently remunerative. Although the flesh was used for food, yet, in the historic period it was not so popular a dish as in the age of Homer, and they did not understand how to draw a profit in other ways from swine. Cattle-rearing was conducted on tolerably rational principles. They were very careful in the choice of the animals used for breeding, and in very early times attempts were made to improve the race by importing foreign kinds from other countries. The cattle were chiefly fed on pasture; the herds were driven out not only in summer, but even in winter, when the climate permitted it; and in summer they were taken to the mountains{498} and forests, in winter to the plains. The sheep got most attention, because the excellence of the wool depended on the care they received, and Diogenes is supposed to have said that it was better at Megara to be a ram than the son of a citizen, for the sheep were carefully covered up, but the children were allowed to run about naked. This custom of covering the sheep with skins to preserve the wool existed in other places too. As Greece was not rich in pasture land, there was a difficulty occasionally in providing sufficient pasture for the herds; sometimes they had to be sent to very distant parts, it even happened that states made treaties together, which permitted the citizens of one state to use the pasture land of another for a fixed period.

During the Homeric age, handicraftsmen seem to have been in a position which, corresponding to the ideas entertained in ancient times about physical labour, was by no means despised. This is easily comprehensible, since even the gods were represented as undertaking the labour of artisans; Hephaestus working at a forge, Athene weaving; and we find even the heroes, the princes, and nobles sometimes themselves working as carpenters and joiners, and with their own hands constructing some object for their home; nowhere in Homer do we find a trace of contempt for hand-work. Of course, handicrafts were not much developed at that time, and there were only a small number of crafts which could be looked upon as actual trades, such as that of smiths, workers in gold, carpenters, stone masons, etc., while many occupations which afterwards formed a distinct trade were performed at home by the masters and slaves. In later times a very important change took place connected with the political and social revolutions already{499} mentioned. Agriculture and cattle-rearing were still regarded as an occupation which a free citizen might carry on without degrading himself, since the more menial part of the work was performed by slaves or hired labourers, and the master only superintended; but the work of the handicraftsmen was designated by them with the word mechanical (βάναυσος), a word indicating a contempt that cannot be expressed in the translation. This word expressed the full scorn felt by the free citizen living on his own fortune, and devoting all his intellectual and physical powers to the State—of the gentleman, in fact—for the man with the horny hand, who toiled in his workshop to earn his daily bread. This reproach of “mechanical” was never aimed at the rich owner of a number of slaves, who worked for his benefit; a factory owner need not take part in the work himself, but had his overseers to attend to that; it was the little man who had no other hands to work for him, and who wielded the hammer himself, or who worked the cloth in the fuller’s shop, whom they looked down on. In vain wise lawgivers tried to call the attention of the citizens to the blessing of handicraft, and the honourable nature of this occupation; in vain the democrats gave political equality to artisans by permitting them to vote and speak in the Assembly of the people along with the other citizens; while there was even a law forbidding anyone publicly to reproach a citizen with his occupation. There were some states in which an important part of the prosperity depended on handicrafts, and there a more moderate view gradually made way, but, generally speaking, the contempt for handicraft remained and continued, the rather as even philosophers regarded it as but a necessary evil. Doubtless they recognised the usefulness of{500} handicrafts, but still they maintained that work of this kind in the workshop, near the hot furnace or in the gloomy room, was not suited to a free citizen, and that the effort of gaining money which was connected with it was injurious to the mind, and made it coarse and uncultivated, and it was thus that the word banausos came to be synonymous with common, low, and stupid. No wonder that even the artists, whose work depended on handicraft, and who, with few exceptions, worked for pay, were put in the same class with shoemakers, bakers, and smiths! It is strange indeed, that this depreciation of handicraft observed throughout Greek literature in no way prevented the development and perfection of the technical arts of Greece. There were many branches of it which continued for centuries at the same point without making any technical advances; but still trades attained a high degree of perfection in antiquity, though it was chiefly in those where the practical element was not as important as the artistic that the natural sense of beauty of the Greeks made itself felt, so that there are numerous productions of ancient handicraft which even our modern trades cannot rival. In fact, we might almost say that, with the exception of such trades as bakers, butchers, or fullers, Greek handicraft in almost every branch developed into art, while at the present day there are only a few branches which rise above the ordinary craft level.

The handicrafts were partly in the hands of citizens, and partly in those of free settlers (μέτοικοι) and slaves. The proportion in which they were divided among these three classes varied a good deal according to time and the nature of the occupation. At Athens the number of free citizens who carried on handicrafts was not small, in spite of the contempt in{501} which they were held; in Peloponnesus, it was only Sparta where the free citizen kept aloof from all trades, while in the other states the conditions were much the same as at Athens and elsewhere. The resident foreigners formed a very important part of the workmen; at the time when industry flourished most in Attica, trade seems to have been almost entirely in their hands; and it is but natural that in those countries where the free citizens kept aloof from trade, the settlers who performed their labour with the help of slaves should have formed a great part of the working population. Every master workman whose position permitted kept working slaves; rich capitalists invested their money in large undertakings, in which the work was done by a great number of slaves, who either belonged to them or were hired for the purpose. We shall have occasion later on to discuss the conditions under which they worked.

We know very little about the organisation of labour. There were no castes compelled by law to undertake certain trades, though in some places special occupations were hereditary; thus, for instance, at Sparta, the cooks and flute players always belonged to particular families. Otherwise, when we find any occupation hereditary, this is not due to legal compulsion, but to natural causes; thus the sons of sculptors very often became sculptors, or the medical profession was handed down in certain families, and so on. Nor do we meet with the guilds so early developed in Italy; these are not heard of until the Roman period, when we find them in Asia Minor. It is uncertain to what extent the State was concerned with trade and its productions. There do not seem to have been any limitations put upon it except{502} certain police regulations, such as that at Athens, which compelled tanners and cheesemongers to have their workshops and booths outside the denser parts of the city on account of the smell. There do not seem to have been any taxes on trade; at Athens there was a toll on hetaerae; at Byzantium jugglers, soothsayers, etc., paid one; but there is no reason to suppose that handicrafts were taxed in the same way.

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Fig. 198.

It would be impossible to enter into the technical details of all the trades. A few pictures taken from the life of artisans must suffice instead. The terra-cotta figure, No. 198, represents an artisan in his usual costume, the exomis, which left the right side free, and the pilos, or felt cap; it is not clear from the picture what occupation he is carrying on, since the object in his left hand is not distinct. Fig. 199 introduces us to a shoemaker at his work; he is seated on a low stool in front of his work-table, and with one hand holds a piece of leather, stretched over a board of hard wood; he is just about to cut it out with the curved shoemaker’s knife; a second knife is suspended above near some shoes, a hammer, and some strips of leather on the wall. Fig. 200 also introduces us into a shoemaker’s workshop. Here a girl is being measured for a pair of shoes; for this purpose she has got{503}

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Fig. 199.

on the table, so that the bearded workman, who is sitting in front of it, may mark the outline of her soles on the leather on which she is standing. In his right hand the shoemaker holds his crescent, a knife with a curved blade; the apprentice, seated on the other side, is holding a piece of leather bent together, probably destined to make the upper part of the shoes. A white-haired old man, perhaps the master of the{504} workshop, or the father of the girl, stands by giving directions; tools, lasts, strips of leather, and such like, are hung round on the walls. Fig. 201, the counterpart to Fig. 200, represents a smithy. Near the hearth, of which only a portion can be seen, crouches a young workman, holding a piece of iron on the anvil with the forceps in his right hand, while another workman, also without any clothing, strikes the iron with a massive hammer, suspended above his head by both hands. Two men wearing the himation, perhaps visitors to the workshop, are seated on low stools. On the ground lie a hammer and forceps; on the walls hang tools, such as hammers, chisels, drills, and productions of the workshop, viz. a sword and a can.

Fig. 202 introduces us to the workshop of an artist and a metal founder. In the presence of two men dressed in the himation, leaning on their sticks, two workmen are occupied in chiselling or working over the colossal figure of a warrior, represented in a posture of attack, which is placed under a scaffolding. There is another colossal figure of a naked youth, who has fallen to the ground, and is stretching out his arms as though praying for help. Here the head has not yet been added, for as a rule the ancients composed their large bronze figures in several pieces; the head lies on the ground near the statue, at which a workman is doing something with his hammer, perhaps trying to smooth away roughness produced in the casting. This second figure seems to be connected with the first, and the whole to represent a group of combatants. A little further is the furnace, behind which stands an assistant looking round; a workman crouching on a low stool wears the cap usually worn by labourers with fire, and consequently represented in pictures of Hephaestus; he is stoking the coals in the{505}

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Fig. 200.


furnace to a fresh glow with a long pole curved at the end, and a second apprentice stands looking at him, leaning on his hammer. On the walls hang a variety of tools—hammers, files, a saw, etc.; also models of feet and heads, and little tablets representing sketches of whole men and animals.

No less interesting is the workshop of a vase painter, represented in Fig. 203. Here we see a youth seated in an armchair, with a large two-handled cup on his knee, which he is painting with the brush held in his right hand; near him stands a little low table, on which are several pots containing paints or varnish. Behind him a young apprentice, who also has pots on the ground near him, is painting a large amphora; on the right a second boy and a girl are working at a cup and another amphora, while a jar and a large drinking-cup (κάνθαρος) stand on the ground, and other vessels hang on the wall. Athene, the patroness of the arts, and Nike are hasting to crown the skilful labourers as the reward of industry.

It is difficult to determine the kind of work which the magnificent old man in Fig. 204, a terra-cotta figure from Tanagra, is doing; in front of him is a board with which he is occupied, and a little gridiron. Some have pronounced him a baker, others a maker of plaster of Paris tablets, others a tanner; perhaps he might be a cook, seated in the street, and frying some quickly-cooked dish over the gridiron, in order to sell it to the common people, who often procured their food in this way from travelling cooks.

Even worse than the position of the artisans was that of the hired workmen, that is, those labourers who, though free citizens, had not learnt any technical art with which they could earn their living, and who were therefore obliged to hire themselves out for{507}

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Fig. 202.


hard bodily labour. Not only citizens, but even their wives, were often driven by need to perform such menial offices as day labourers in mills or in the fields; many such workmen carried weights in the harbour, or helped to load or unload the goods, to carry stones for building, etc. The pay was very small, if only on account of the competition of slave labour; sometimes a day’s wages was three or four obols, though higher amounts are mentioned. The fleets, and in particular the rowing boats, were manned out of this class, which was socially regarded as the lowest, and which bore the name of “thetes.”

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Fig. 202.

In the eyes of the Greeks, tradesmen stood on the same footing as mechanical labourers. There was, of course, a distinction; if the cultured Greek, who occupied himself only with higher intellectual pursuits, despised the artisan because he regarded his bodily activity as unworthy of a free man, the tradesman seemed to him contemptible because he was influenced only by desire for gain, and all his striving was to get the advantage over others. The{509}

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Fig. 203.


profit and wealth accruing to so many Greek states from trade was not sufficient to decrease the prejudice against money-making occupations, even the common people were not able to understand that the merchant, on account of the risk of injury, or even loss of his goods, changing conditions of price, and all his own trouble involved, was obliged to demand a higher price for his wares than what had been originally paid by himself; and the opinion that the merchant’s business was based on love of gain and deceit was so common that even a philosophical intellect like Aristotle’s was under the influence of this prejudice. It is possible that the Greek merchants often deserved the reputation of dishonesty which they bore; their predecessors, the Phoenicians, who had formerly carried on the whole trade of Greece, had not unduly been reproached with deceit and even robbery and piracy, and it is possible that there were traces of this still visible in the Greek merchants. Still the contempt for the merchant class was not equally directed at all; the wholesale dealer who imported his wares from a distance, and had little personal contact with the public, was less affected by it; in trading cities, such as Aegina and Athens, a great number of the rich citizens belonged to this class. But the small trader was the more exposed to the reproach of false weights and measures, adulteration of goods, especially food, and all manner of deceitful tricks. Some complaints were made that are still heard at the present day, that the wine dealers mixed water with their wine, that the cloth-workers used artificial dressing to make their materials look thicker, that the poulterers blew out the birds to make them seem fatter, etc. Worst of all was the reputation of the corn dealers. The division between{511}

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Fig. 204.


wholesale and retail traders seems to have been somewhat sharper in Greek antiquity than at the present day, partly because the former were not only merchants but also seafarers. The wholesale dealers as a rule were owners of ships; they fetched their goods themselves on their journeys, or commissioned responsible subordinates in their place. The ship was laden at home with goods which were likely to find a good sale at the port to which she journeyed; of course the owner made inquiries beforehand about the best places for disposing of his goods, the private conditions, possible competition, etc. It was, therefore, very important to hit the right moment, and artificial manoeuvres for sending up the price of goods were not unknown. Arrived at their destination, the wares were publicly sold, for which purpose bazaars were erected in large harbours; then the goods were either bought collectively by a wholesale dealer, or in small quantities by smaller traders; there were also agents who undertook the mediation between the buyer and seller in return for a commission. As a rule, therefore, goods were purchased with the money, chiefly products of the country which might be sold with advantage at home; it was almost necessary to make fresh purchases, since the money of another state would have no value at home, though Attic money could pass current anywhere. A merchant did not always content himself with putting in at one single port; he often visited a succession of neighbouring ports, calling at smaller stations on the way, sometimes selling, sometimes buying, and often the cargo of a ship changed three or four times during a journey. Probably these wholesale dealers did not deal only with particular goods as at the present day, but took anything which was likely to find a good sale, such as{513} corn, wine, oil, honey, skins, wool, clothes, textile ware, metal work, even statues and books. Payment was made in coined money, and the calculation cannot always have been an easy one, owing to the variety of money systems prevailing in antiquity. In the Homeric age barter was usual, but afterwards this ceased in civilised countries, though in some districts, as for instance the neighbourhood of the Black Sea, it continued for some time longer.

Very different was the position and occupation of the retail dealer or pedlar. He did not travel by sea, scarcely even by land, but usually carried on his business at one place; he either bought his goods direct from the producers or from the wholesale dealers, and offered them for sale in open shops or in booths on the market-place; in large towns there were special stands or markets for particular goods, but those who offered their wares at these places were usually the producers themselves, thus at the Pot Market at Athens, the wares were offered by real potters, who had doubtless made them themselves. We must therefore distinguish between shopkeepers who lived only by trade, and did not themselves produce, and producers, who brought their own goods to market; the latter were regarded as merchants by the ancients, and the hatred, where it existed, was chiefly directed at the small shopkeepers, who sold their wares for as high prices as possible. In small cities the circumstances may have been somewhat different, for it was only the most important trades connected with food and clothing that were carried on there, and many branches were not represented at all; consequently many kinds of goods had to be imported for sale by the small shopkeepers. No doubt the inhabitants of the small towns and even{514} the country people often went to the capital to satisfy their wants, especially to the great markets held on fixed days of the month, usually on the first; the national festivals too provided opportunities for many kinds of purchases, since a sort of fair was usually connected with them.

In the market-places of large towns there were usually covered arcades in which the merchants and dealers set up their wares; in some places there were market-halls of this kind for special goods, such as corn, oil, ointments, etc. Besides these permanent places of sale, there were light booths of a temporary nature, constructed in tent fashion of woven reeds and linen. The life in the market-place probably resembled that of the present day in the south; the custom of calling out and extolling goods existed in ancient Greece as well, and so did the excessive demands of the seller and the depreciation on the part of the purchaser, and even the notorious rudeness of the fish-wives seems to have been known to the Greeks. We find mention also of peddling, and carrying wares from house to house, and this was chiefly the case with provisions.

Greek art supplies very few pictures from the trader’s life. Fig. 205, taken from a vase-painting, though a caricature, has an especial interest on account of its subject: a certain king Arcesilas of Cyrene (probably mythical), is represented as a dealer in silphium; it is well known that the silphium plant, so much valued by ancient epicures, came from Cyrene, and was an important article of trade. Under a canopy, the curtains of which are suspended by rings, stands a large pair of scales, at which five men are weighing goods, some of which are heaped up on the scales and others lying about on the ground.{515}

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Fig. 205.

Most of the goods are as yet unpacked; these workmen, however, have already filled large woollen sacks with them, and one of them is in the act of tying his up, while another is carrying his away. The weighing and packing are conducted under the superintendence of king Arcesilas, who is seated close by, holding in his left hand his sceptre, and with his right apparently giving directions to a workman standing before him. His costume is very extraordinary. The panther under the prince’s seat, a lizard, a stork (or{516} crane), a monkey, and several pigeons, give life to the picture, and partly indicate the place where the scene is laid. Below the main picture, where we must suppose the cellar for the stores to be, workmen are piling up finished packets, under the direction of a man in a cloak.

Occupations connected with money were largely developed in antiquity. The merchants who dealt with such business—the bankers and money-changers—were called by the Greeks “table-merchants” (τραπεζῖται), from the table at which they originally carried on their occupations. Their duties were of a double nature; besides the actual business of changing, they undertook the investment of capital and the transaction of money business. When the increased coinage of money and the augmentation of trade and travel brought large sums into the hands of individuals, those who had not invested their possessions in wares or property or slaves, naturally desired to profit by it in some other way, and thus the loan business was gradually developed, in which capitalists lent money to those who required it for any mercantile undertaking, in return for a security and interest. In the bond executed in the presence of witnesses, the amount of the capital, the interest agreed upon, as well as the time for which the loan was arranged, had to be entered. For greater safety, a third person usually became security for the debtor, or else some possession was mortgaged, the value of which corresponded to the sum lent. They distinguished between pledges in movable objects, such as cattle, furniture, slaves, etc.; and mortgages given partly on movable objects, such as factory slaves, and partly on immovable property. Mortgages of this kind were very common in seafaring business. The merchant who borrowed{517} money from a rich citizen in order to carry on a particular business with it, pledged his ship or the goods with which he dealt, or perhaps both, to his creditor in a formal contract. They endeavoured to obtain as much security as possible by very exact arrangements concerning the object of the journey, the nature of the goods, etc.; moreover, the interest in business of this kind was very high, because the creditor ran the risk of losing his bargain entirely, or in part, by storms, or pirates, or other misfortunes. Mortgages were also given on property in land, and the creditor’s right of ownership was inscribed on stone tablets set up on the property in question, with the name of the creditor and the amount of the debt. In some places the State itself conducted books for mortgages, in which all the property was entered, together with the amount of the mortgages upon it. Here, as in other loans, interest was high, and this was due to the insecurity of trade and the very incomplete development of agricultural conditions. There were no laws against usury; from ten to twenty per cent., or higher if it was for risk at sea, was common, but there were even cases where thirty-six or forty-eight per cent. were taken. Of course, in these circumstances complaints of extortion were made.

The arrangement of this money business was chiefly in the hands of the bankers. Their original and chief occupation was the changing of money—the various kinds of coinage which became current through foreign trade; and here they got their profit from the rate of exchange. They also lent money, both small sums and capital for trade and other business undertakings, and this was their share in these monetary transactions. Rich people often invested their money with these bankers, who paid them interest{518} and gave them security or pledges; they then themselves lent the money to men of business, and on account of the risk naturally demanded higher interest than they paid. But even when money was lent direct by a capitalist to a merchant, the mediation of a banker was often resorted to in concluding the contract; for these men were well known to the public on account of their extensive business, and possessed considerable business knowledge. As a rule, though some were known as usurers, and trickery and bankruptcy occasionally occurred, they enjoyed so much confidence that they were gladly engaged as witnesses in business contracts, and requested to take charge of the documents. Money also was deposited with them, for which no particular use appeared at the moment, and which would not be safe if kept at home; of course, if this capital lay idle the banker could pay no interest, but often demanded a sum for taking charge of the deposit. Some of them left their money in the hands of money-changers to increase the business capital, and the extent to which this was done is proved by the fact that the banker Pasion, at the time of Demosthenes, in a business capital of 50 talents (£11,700), had 11 talents (£2,593) lent by private persons.{519}



Slaves in Ancient Greece—Captives Taken in War—The Slave Trade—The Price of Slaves—Native Serfs—The Helots—The Penestae and the Clarotae—The Status of the Slave—Protection against Ill-treatment—The Slave’s Duties—Modes of Liberation.

All the social and economic conditions of antiquity are based on the institution of slavery, and without it would have been impossible; in fact, slavery is so closely interwoven with the whole life of antiquity that even the political development of the ancient nations and their achievements in the domain of art and industry would be inexplicable without the existence of a large slave population. So great was the importance of slavery in antiquity that any account of Greek life would be incomplete, which did not give some slight sketch of these peculiar conditions.

The institution of slavery in Greece is very ancient; it is impossible to trace its origin, and we find it even in the very earliest times regarded as a necessity of nature, a point of view which even the following ages and the most enlightened philosophers adopted. In later times voices were heard from time to time protesting against the necessity of the institution, showing some slight conception of the idea of human rights, but these were only isolated opinions. From the very earliest times the right of the strongest had established the custom that captives taken in war, if not killed or ransomed, became the slaves of the{520} conquerors, or were sold into slavery by them. This custom, which was universal in the Homeric age, continued to exist in the historic period also, so that not only was it adopted in contests between Hellenes and barbarians, but even in the numerous feuds between Hellenes and Hellenes they often condemned their own countrymen to the hard lot of slavery; in later times, however, it was only in cases of special animosity that they resorted to this expedient; as a rule, they exchanged or ransomed captive Greeks. Besides the wars, piracy, originally regarded as by no means dishonourable, supplied the slave markets; and though in later times endeavours were made to set a limit to it, yet the trade in human beings never ceased, since the need for slaves was considerable, not only in Greece, but still more in Oriental countries.

In the historic period the slaves in Greece were for the most part barbarians, chiefly from the districts north of the Balkan peninsula and Asia Minor. The Greek dealers supplied themselves from the great slave markets held in the towns on the Black Sea and on the Asiatic coast of the Archipelago, not only by the barbarians themselves, but even by Greeks, in particular the Chians, who carried on a considerable slave trade. These slaves were then put up for sale at home; at Athens there were special markets held for this purpose on the first of every month; the slaves were arranged on platforms, so that the buyers might examine them on all sides, for they sought chiefly to obtain physical perfection and strength of limb for hard work, and therefore, if the purchasers desired it, the slaves had to be undressed. Of course, those slaves who were bought merely for the sake of their bodily strength were least valuable; a higher price was given for those who had any special skill or{521} were suited for posts of confidence, and considerable prices were also given for pretty female slaves or handsome boys. Consequently, there was great variety of price; at the time of Xenophon the price for a common male slave, who was only suited for rough work, was half a mina (about £2), else the ordinary average was two minae (about £8); for slaves who possessed any technical skill or higher education the price rose from five to ten minae (£20-£40), and even in exceptional cases amounted to one talent (£240).

A large portion of the slave population consisted of those who were born in slavery; that is, the children of slaves or of a free father and slave mother, who as a rule also became slaves, unless the owner disposed otherwise. We have no means of knowing whether the number of these slave children born in the houses in Greece was large or small. At Rome they formed a large proportion of the slave population, but the circumstances in Italy differed greatly from those in Greece, and the Roman landowners took as much thought for the increase of their slaves as of their cattle. Besides these two classes of slave population, those who were taken in war or by piracy and those who were born slaves, there was also a third, though not important, class. In early times even free men might become slaves by legal methods; for instance foreign residents, if they neglected their legal obligations, and even Greeks, if they were insolvent, might be sold to slavery by their creditors, a severe measure which was forbidden by Solon’s legislation at Athens, but still prevailed in other Greek states. Children, when exposed, became the property of those who found and educated them, and in this manner many of the hetaerae and flute girls had become the property of their owners.{522}

Finally, we know that in some countries the Hellenic population originally resident there were subdued by foreign tribes, and became the slaves of their conquerors, and their position differed in but few respects from that of the barbarian slaves purchased in the markets. Such native serfs were the Helots at Sparta, the Penestae in Thessaly, the Clarotae in Crete, etc. We have most information about the position and treatment of the Helots; but here we must receive the statements of writers with great caution, since they undoubtedly exaggerated a good deal in their accounts of the cruelty with which the Spartans treated the Helots. Still, it is certain that in many respects their lot was a sad one. The constant fear of general insurrection on the part of the Helots entertained by the Spartans, whose own numbers were far fewer, and the terrible severity with which they punished, not only real insurrection, but even merely suspected revolution, prove to us that the statements concerning the cruel treatment of the Helots are not absolutely without foundation. But, as a rule, they did not perform menial slave offices in the houses of the free citizens, but cultivated their lands, and as they were only obliged to hand over a certain part of the profit to the owners, they were able to keep the remainder for themselves, and sometimes to accumulate fortunes and even to purchase their freedom. Nor do we hear of cases in which individual Spartans treated the Helots who were subordinate to them with especial severity—most of the cases of cruelty towards Helots are those in which State reasons seemed to require such proceedings, and were aimed, not at individuals, but at the whole mass of slaves. This was due to a curious arrangement by which the Helots were not, like other{523} slaves, private property of the Individual citizens, but State property and assigned to a particular piece of land, and along with it to the owner for the time being, without enabling him to maintain right of ownership over them. We must not therefore regard the Helots in the same light as ordinary slaves; they were rather public serfs, and on this account they were better off than those who belonged to individual owners. There seems no doubt that besides the Helots there were also private slaves at Sparta, who rendered personal services in the households.

The position and treatment of the slaves varied in different periods, and differed also in the different parts of Greece. Here, too, the conditions of the heroic age were patriarchal, and the distinction between free men and slaves was not so great as afterwards. Trustworthy slaves superintended extensive farms and numerous herds; old female slaves had the whole direction of the household; they were often intimately connected with the inmates of the house, and showed touching fidelity and affection for their masters, with whom they lived on a familiar footing. Similar conditions existed in later times too, but only in remote pasture districts, such as Arcadia, where even in the historic age the slaves were almost regarded as members of the family, ate at the same table as their masters, and shared their labours and recreations. Generally speaking, the Dorians were regarded as stern masters, and the Athenians as kinder and more considerate; in fact, a common reproach against the Athenians was that their kindness degenerated into weakness, and that the slaves were nowhere so insolent as at Athens; they expressed themselves freely, it was said, did not give way even to free citizens in the street, they drank, they met{524} together for common banquets, carried on love affairs, etc., just like free men. These reproaches seem not to have been altogether exaggerated, as is proved by the important part played by slaves in the newer Attic comedy; they were usually insolent, cunning fellows, who cared little for an occasional beating, and were always ready to play their masters a trick, or to intrigue with the sons against their stern fathers. Still it was not unusual in Attica for slaves to run away, and therefore the slave-owners tried to prevent this by stern supervision, and even by chaining and branding. It is natural that the temperament of the Athenians, which changed quickly from extreme to extreme, should not often succeed in finding the right mean between severity and kindness, and therefore, in their sudden transitions from excessive consideration to severest cruelty, a real feeling of attachment between slaves and masters was very rare; still there were instances of devoted fidelity on the part of the slaves, and many inscriptions still extant speak of such devotion continuing even to the grave.

The rights assigned by law to the master over his slaves were very considerable. He might throw them in chains, put them in the stocks, condemn them to the hardest labour—for instance, in the mills—leave them without food, brand them, punish them with stripes, and attain the utmost limit of endurance; but, at any rate at Athens, he was forbidden to kill them. These severe punishments were generally reserved for special cases of obstinacy, theft, or such like; as a rule, the slaves were treated much as our servants are. Their masters gave them the ordinary dress of artisans and workmen—the exomis, or short garment with sleeves (compare the terra-cotta figure, No. 206);{525}

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Fig. 206.

their food was simple but nutritious, chiefly barley porridge and pulse, sometimes meat; their drink was the cheap wine of the country; they had their own sleeping apartments, usually those of the male slaves were separated from those of the female, except when the master allowed a slave to found a family and to live with one of his fellow-slaves. Legal marriages between slaves were not possible, since they possessed no personal rights; the owner could at any moment separate a slave family again, and sell separate members of it. On the other hand, if the slaves were in a position to earn money, they could acquire fortunes of their own; they then worked on their own account, and only paid a certain proportion to their owners, keeping the rest for themselves, and when they had saved the necessary amount they could purchase their freedom, supposing the owner was willing to agree, for he was not compelled. Generally speaking, the position of the public slaves was even more favourable. There were certain occupations which free men were unwilling to undertake, and for this purpose the State used slaves; thus, for instance, at Athens the executioner, torturers, gaolers, and police were all slaves; they had their own dwellings assigned them by the State, could possess property, and received a small salary from the State{526} out of which they had to feed and clothe themselves; they could also earn money by other kinds of work, and sometimes attained a position of fortune. Some of them, as for instance the Athenian police, held a position which gave them certain rights over the citizens, and, therefore, the position of these public slaves must have been a very independent one, while the numerous temple slaves also felt the hardness of their position much less than those whose owners were private persons.

The protection given to slaves by the State was very small, but here again there were differences in different states. It was only in cases of the utmost emergency that the State interfered between master and slave. In the oldest period the owner had power of life and death over his slave, but later legislation put an end to this, and at Athens, in particular, the master might not even kill a slave if he found him committing a crime, the penalty of which was death; cases of necessary defence, or such where the crime could only be prevented by killing the perpetrator, were, of course, excluded. If any owner had killed his slave without being able to justify himself, he was punished for so doing, not as severely as though he had murdered a free man, but only as if it were a case of manslaughter. Further protection against excessive ill-treatment from their masters was given by the right of sanctuary, which permitted the slave to take refuge at the altar of some god, where he found, at any rate, protection for the time being; they might even, supposing they were too cruelly used by their masters, ask to be sold to another master, and it even appears as if the owner could be legally compelled to grant this request. In other respects the State took little notice of slaves,{527} except to forbid certain things, such as gymnastic exercises, love-making with free citizens, participation in certain festivals and sacrifices. Very curious and characteristic of the view they held of slaves, were the arrangements when a slave had to give evidence in a court of law. So bad was their opinion of the moral character of barbarians, and especially of those who were not free, that they thought the slaves could only be induced to speak the truth by direct physical compulsion, and consequently they were always questioned under torture. If in a suit one party required the testimony of his opponent’s slave, the latter could refuse it, but he did so at the risk of losing the suit. Sometimes a master voluntarily offered his slave as witness. If the torture, of which there were various grades, some of them very severe, inflicted any lasting injury on his body or health, the owner might demand compensation, supposing that he was not the loser in the case.

The mode in which slaves were used varied a good deal, according as an owner required his slaves for his own personal service or household, or used them for work in the field or at some trade, or sent them out to work for others. Among those in the personal service of their master were all who were occupied with the duties of the household and service and attendance on their master and his family. Their number was, of course, regulated by the size of the household; a poor family had often to content itself with a single slave, but very few were so poor as not to have any; in large houses a whole army of slaves was kept, who all had their special duties, though often very slight ones. There were the door-keeper, the slaves who attended their master or his family in the street, the paidagogos, the lady’s maid, the cook,{528} the coachman, the stable boys, water carriers, wool workers, etc. This whole army of servants was usually under the direct supervision of a superintendent or steward, himself a slave, but a particularly trustworthy one, who was often trusted so much by his master as to have charge of his keys and his signet ring. The office of these stewards was of particular importance on the country estates, where they had all the slaves required for farming purposes immediately under them, and had to assign them occupations and superintend their work, unless the master undertook this or himself took up his dwelling on the estate. Slaves who could fill such posts of confidence would, of course, fetch a very high price, and their position can in no way be compared with that of ordinary slaves. The same may be said of those who possessed some intellectual culture, and could serve their masters as secretaries or readers, or even help them in scientific labours, by making extracts, etc.; but this was far rarer among the barbarian slaves of the Greeks than among the Greek slaves of the Romans. The slaves could also render their masters important assistance by technical skill; thus, in a rich household, there would be, besides the cook, a special baker for bread and cakes, also weavers, fullers, embroiderers, whose duty it was to provide the clothing. And as the slaves in the country had to work in field and meadow, to attend the vineyards, and olive gardens, to guard and attend the cattle, so the artisan set his slaves to work in his workshop, and either instructed them himself in his art or bought such as were already trained for the purpose. Even physicians often had slave assistants, and some of these were so much trusted by their masters that they took their place by the sick bed.{529}

It was very common, too, for people who were not themselves artisans to own a number of slaves who practised some particular trade, as in a factory. Among the ancients slaves took the place of machinery, for they were tolerably cheap to buy and maintain, and thus a factory of this kind, worked by slaves, was a good investment for capital, especially if the owner understood enough business to undertake the direction himself, or if he had a good overseer. These factory owners also escaped the prejudices against artisans; to own slaves who made money by the work of their hands was not regarded as “mechanical” so long as they kept their own hands from the work. Thus the father of Demosthenes possessed a knife factory, that of Isocrates a flute factory, Lysias and his brother owned a shield factory of one hundred and twenty workers. The slaves who worked in these were not all necessarily the property of the owner. Very often a slave proprietor who did not understand a business himself, let his house to someone who carried it on at his own risk; or, supposing a master to possess among his slaves one who understood some particular trade, he let him out for a certain time at a fee (which was paid not to the slave, but to the master) to someone who could make use of him, perhaps in a large factory. In this way slaves were often let out for work in the mines, which required a great many hands; in fact, they might be let out for a long or short period, even for days and half-days, for work in the fields, domestic occupations, personal service, etc. Many of the flute girls and hetaerae were slaves, and were hired out by their owners by the hour, day, or month, an arrangement with which we are familiar from ancient comedy.{530}

Moreover, it sometimes happened that slaves who had learned some profession made an agreement with their masters to pay them a certain proportion of their earnings, and keep the rest for themselves; sometimes these lived in their own houses and paid for their own food, and might easily earn enough to purchase their freedom.

There were various ways of liberating slaves, and the proceedings were different in different states; it was a matter of some importance too, whether a slave was private property or owned by the State or by some sanctuary. There was no definite legal formula for the manumission of private slaves as at Rome; the State did not interfere in the matter, but only demanded a certain tax from the liberated slave. As a rule, the act of manumission was performed before witnesses or publicly in some large assembly, at the Theatre, in courts of law, etc., in order to give the freed man a guarantee of its validity. It often happened that an owner gave all or some of his slaves their freedom in his will, either immediately upon his death or on the condition that the slave should serve his heirs for a certain period, or pay a certain sum to them out of his own earnings in return for his freedom. If a slave purchased his freedom during the lifetime of his master there was a curious arrangement for establishing the legality of the proceeding, since a slave was not able to conclude a legally valid contract. We owe our knowledge of this proceeding chiefly to documents at Delphi. A mock sale had to be carried on; the master sold the slave for a sum mentioned in the contract (which was paid by the slave himself, unless it was remitted by the master) to some god, e.g. at Delphi to Apollo, under the condition that he should be free as soon as he entered{531} the possession of the god. The slave did not then become a temple slave, but was set free by the god, probably in return for some small payment to the sanctuary. As these contracts were concluded in the presence of witnesses, usually priests of the divinity in question, and deposited in the sanctuary, the freed slave had the security of not being afterwards claimed by his former master or his heirs, and again losing his freedom. Sometimes these contracts contained clauses which pledged the slave to certain obligations towards his master as long as he lived, or towards his heirs, or to care for the burial and grave of his former master, etc. In most cases the freed slave did not immediately lose all connection with his old master; he was not a citizen, and therefore his former owner became his legal patron. It was not unusual for the contract to specify that in case the slave should die without children, his property should belong to his former master or his heirs, and sometimes this even extended to the children of the slave, supposing they in turn died without legal heirs. It may have often happened, as was also the case among some of the Russian serfs in our own time, that the freed slave was richer than his master, and we may thus explain such obligations as those already mentioned, or the condition that the liberated slave should maintain his master until his death. The right of citizenship was seldom conferred on slaves when they were set free; supposing this was the case, of course, all such obligations were omitted. This was usually done when a slave had deserved especially well of his country; thus, for instance, all those who fought at the battle of Arginusae received their freedom and the right of citizenship. The conditions at Sparta were different; sometimes the Helots received{532} their freedom from the State, especially those children of Helots who were educated and brought up together with the sons of citizens, but the right of citizenship was never combined with this freedom. Still, it was not unusual for children who were born of Spartan fathers and Helot mothers to be both free men and citizens; the celebrated Spartan generals Lysander, Gylippus and Callicratidas, were sons of Spartans and Helots.

It would be impossible to make a guess at the number of slaves in Greece. Statements on the subject are extant, but these are insufficient to give us any general idea. There can be no doubt that the number was a very large one; it was a sign of the greatest poverty to own no slaves at all, and Aeschines mentions, as a mark of a very modest household, that there were only seven slaves to six persons. If we add to these domestic slaves the many thousands working in the country, in the factories, and the mines, and those who were the property of the State and the temples, there seems no doubt that their number must have considerably exceeded that of the free population. The injurious influence of this part of the population, who were chiefly barbarians, was felt in many different ways; and though it is not as evident in Greece as in Rome, where the disastrous results of slavery are most marked, yet we cannot hesitate to affirm that the speedy fall of Greece from her political and social height, and the sad picture she offered under Roman dominion, was due, among other causes, in very great part to the institution of slavery.




I.—Works Bearing on the Subject Generally.

J. A. St. John. “The Hellenes.” London, 1844.

J. P. Mahaffy. “Social Life in Greece from Homer to Menander.” London, 1875.

W. A. Becker. “Charikles neu bearbeitet von H. Goell.” Berlin, 1877.

C. F. Hermann. “Griechische Privataltertümer,” 3rd ed., edited by H. Blümner. Freiburg and Tübingen, 1882.

Panofka. “Bilder antiken Lebens.” Berlin, 1843.

Panofka. “Griechen und Griechinnen.” Berlin, 1844.

Weiszer. “Lebensbilder aus dem Klassichen Altertum.” Stuttgart, 1862.

A. Baumeister. “Denkmäler des Klassichen Altertums.” Munich, 1884.

Th. Schreiber. “Kulturhistorischer Atlas des Altertums.” Leipzig, 1885.

H. Blümner. “Kunstgewerbe im Altertum.” Leipzig and Prague.

II.—Works Dealing with Special Subjects.

1. Costume.

W. Helbig. “Das homerische Epos aus den Denkmälern erläutert.” Leipzig, 1884, pp. 115-180.

J. Boehlau. “Quaestiones de re vestiaria Graecorum.” Weimar, 1884.

Fr. Studniczka. “Beiträge zur Geschichte der altgriechischen Tracht.” Vienna, 1886.

Th. Schreiber. “Mitteilungen des deutschen archaeologischen Instituts in Athen.” Vol. VIII. (1883), pp. 246 f.; IX. (1884), pp. 232 f.{534}

2. Birth and Early Childhood.

H. v. Swiecicki. “Die Pflege der Kinder bei den Griechen.” Breslau, 1877.

Becq de Fouquières. “Les jeux des anciens.” Paris, 1869.

L. Grasberger. “Erziehung und Unterricht im Klassischen Altertum.” Würzburg, 1864-1881.

3. Education.

L. Grasberger. (See 2.)

J. L. Ussing. “Erziehung und Jugendunterricht bei den Griechen und Römern.” Berlin, 1885.

4. Marriage and Women.

No special books quoted.

5. Daily Life within and without the House.

G. Bilfinger. “Die Zeitmesser der antiken Völker.” Stuttgart, 1886.

6. Meals and Social Entertainments.

Anastasios Maltos. A modern Greek work on the symposia of the Ancient Greeks. Athens, 1880.

7. Sickness and Physicians; Death and Burial.

Welcker. “Kleine Schriften.” III., pp. 1 f.

8. Gymnastics.

L. Grasberger. (See 2.)

J. H. Krause. “Die Gymnastik und Agonistik der Hellenen.” 2 vols. Leipzig, 1841.

Ed. Pinder. “Ueber den Fünfkampf der Hellenen.” Berlin, 1867.

H. Marquardt. “Zum Pentathlon der Hellenen.” 1886.

9. Music and Dancing.

K. v. Jan. “Die Griechischen Saiteninstrumente. Programm des Lyceums von Saargemünd.” Leipzig, 1882.

Gevaert. “Histoire et théorie de la musique dans l’antiquité.” Vol. II. (1881), pp. 241 f.

K. v. Jan. An article in “Baumeister’s Denkmäler des Klassischen Altertums.” I., 553 f.

10. Religion.

K. F. Hermann. “Lehrbuch der gottesdienstlichen Altertümer der Griechen.” Second edition. Revised by K. B. Stark. Heidelberg, 1858.{535}

Metzger. An article entitled Divinatio in Pauly’s “Realencyklopädie.” II., pp. 1113 f.

Bouché-Leclerque. “Histoire de la divination dans l’antiquité.” Paris, 1880.

Büchsenschütz. “Traum und Traumdeutung im Altertum.” Berlin, 1882.

11. Games and Festivals.

J. H. Krause. “Ἑλληνικά.” Part I. Olympia. Vienna, 1838. Part II., Pythien, Nemien, und Isthmien. Leipzig, 1841.

E. Curtius. Olympia. Berlin, 1852.

Ad. Böttiger. Olympia. “Das Fest und seine Stätte.” Second Edition. Berlin, 1886.

Holwerda. An article in the “Archæologische Zeitung” for 1880, pp. 169 f.

A. Mommsen. “Delphica.” Leipzig, 1878, pp. 149-214.

H. Guhrauer. “Der Pythische Nomos” in “Supplemente der neuen Jahrbücher für Philologie und Pädagogie.” Vol. VIII., pp. 309 f.

A. Mommsen. “Heortologie. Antiquarische Untersuchungen über die städtischen Feste der Athener.” Leipzig, 1864.

A. Michaelis. “Der Parthenon.” Leipzig, 1871.

Preller. An article in Pauly’s “Realencyklopädie.” Vol. III., pp. 83 f.

Preller. “Demeter und Persephone.” pp. 342 f.

12. The Theatre.

Wieseler. An article entitled “Griechisches Theater,” in Ersch. Gruber’s “Encyklopädie.” First series. Vol. LXXXIII., pp. 243 f.

Wieseler. “Theatergebäude und Denkmäler des Bühnenwesens.” Göttingen, 1851.

Alb. Müller. “Lehrbuch der szenischen Altertümer.” Freiburg-im-Br., 1886.

W. Donaldson. “Theatre of the Greeks.” Ninth edition, London, 1879.

Lüders. “Die Dionysischen Künstler.” Berlin, 1873.

Sommerbrodt. “Scaenica.” Berlin, 1876. pp. 199 f.

Arnold. An article in “Verhandlungen der 29ten Philologen Versammlung,” 1875. pp. 16 f.

Wieseler. “Das Satyrspiel.” Göttingen, 1848.{536}

O. Benndorf. “Beiträge zur Kenntnis des Attischen Theaters,” an article in the “Zeitschrift für österreichische Gymnasien.” 1875.

13. War and Seafaring.

W. Rüstow and H. Köchly. “Geschichte des Griechischen Kriegswesens.” Aarau, 1852.

Helbig. “Das Homerische Epos aus den Denkmälern erläutert.” pp. 195-250.

Jähns. “Handbuch einer Geschichte des Kriegswesens von der Urzeit bis zur Renaissance.” Leipzig, 1880.

A. Müller. An article in Baumeister’s “Denkmäler des Klassischen Altertums.” Vol. I., pp. 525 f.

Boeckh. “Urkunden über das Seewesen des Attischen Staates.” Berlin, 1840.

Graser. “De veterum re navali.” Berlin, 1864.

A. Cartault. “La trière Athénienne.” Paris, 1880.

A. Breusing. “Die Nautik der Alten.” Bremen, 1886.

Raoul Lemaître. “Sur la disposition des rameurs sur la trière antique,” an article in the Revue Archéologique for 1883. pp. 89 f.

14. Agriculture, Trade, and Commerce.

Büchsenschütz. “Besitz und Erwerb.” Halle, 1869.

Büchsenschütz. “Die Haupstätten des Gewerbfleiszes im klassischen Altertum.” Leipzig, 1869.

W. Drumann. “Die Arbeiter und Kommunisten in Griechenland und Rom.” Königsberg, 1860.

Blümner. “Die gewerbliche Thätigkeit der Völker des klassischen Altertums.” Leipzig, 1869.

Blümner. “Technologie und Terminologie der Gewerbe und Künste bei Griechen und Römern.” 4 vols. Leipzig, 1875-1887.

15. Slaves.

Wallon. “Histoire de l’esclavage dans l’antiquité.” Second edition. Paris, 1879.

Büchsenschütz. “Besitz und Gewerb.” pp. 104—208.{537}


A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

Abacus, The, 111
Academy, The, at Athens, 119, 127
Acarnania, Javelin-throwers of, 478
“Achaeans, Curly-haired,” 64, 72
Achilles, Wail at the death of, 248;
bandaging the arm of Patroclus, 464
Acropolis, Buildings on the, 179
Actors, Dress of, 4, 46;
Gloves of, 56;
sometimes poets, 421;
selected by poets, and examined by the State, 421;
Division of parts to, 422;
Dumb, 423;
Payment of, 423;
Guilds and Schools of, 423;
Costumes and masks of, 422-444;
Prizes of, 449
Adonis, Festival of, 152
Aeschines, Figure of, 2;
his employment in boyhood, 104;
his allusion to slaves, 532
Aeschylus, The Trilogy of, 411;
his introduction of a second actor, 412;
Songs and Chorus of, 413;
his “Eumenides,” 428;
his contest with Sophocles, 449
Aesculapius, 234;
Sanctuaries of, 238;
Sacrificial offering of cocks to, 336
Aesop’s Fables, 88
Aetion exhibits his picture at Olympia of Alexander’s Marriage, 364
Aetolia, Javelin-throwers of, 478
Agesilaus, Dress of, 50;
Anecdote of, and the hobby-horse, 93
Agora, The, 128
Agrae, The lesser Eleusinia at, 378
Agricultural implements, 493
Agricultural pursuits, 176
Agriculture, in statistical relation to industry and trade, 489;
the chief occupation in the heroic period, 491;
at Sparta, 491;
at Athens, 491;
Irrigation in, 492;
in Arcadia, 493;
Allusion in Homer to, 493;
Implements of, 493
Alcibiades, Shoes named after, 55;
at a banquet, 216
Alcmene, her song to her children, 85
Alexander the Great and Roxana;
picture of their marriage, by Aetion, 364
{538}Alexandria, School of, 128
Alexandria Troas, Ruins of Wrestling School at, 121
Alexandrine period, Varieties of female dress in the, 43
Altis, Grove of, 121, 304, 362, 365
Amazons, Chiton of, 39;
Battle-axe of, 475;
Shields of, 478
Ambrosia, Festival of, 385
Amorgos, Looms of, 48
Ampechonion, The, 43
Amphiaraus, Temple of, 243;
Oracle of, 346;
Figure of, 465;
Helmet of, 469
Amphictyons, The, 369
Amphidromia, The, 82, 83, 84
Amphoras, 373
Amulets for infants, 83, 84;
in curing disease, 243
Anacreon on Conversation, 219
Anaximander introduces methods of measuring time, 184
Anaximenes lecturing at Olympia, 364
Andromache, Head-dress of, 74, 145
Andromeda, Masks relating to, 430
Animals, Sacrifice of, 137, 138, 203, 336, 337
Animals, wild, Hunting, 196
Anthesterian Festival, The, 385
Antioch, School of, 128
Antiphon on spear-throwing, 278
Antisthenes, 127
Aphrodite Anadyomene, 172
Aphrodite bathing, 159
Aphrodite Pandemos, 134
Aphrodite Urania, 134, 151
Apollo, Figure of, 4;
The chlamys of, 19;
Head-dress of, 66;
invoked at weddings, 137, 144;
at the purification of Orestes, 330;
Sacrifice of asses to, 336;
Oracles of, 342;
Clarian Temple of, 344;
Sacrifice at Pythian Games to, 367;
Hecatomb to, 370;
A slave set free by, 531
Apollo-Coropaeus, Oracle of, 345
Apoxyomenos, The, of Lysippus, 285
Arcadians, The, 458
Arcesilas of Cyrene, 514
Archery, Skill of Cretans in, 300;
{539}Instruction in, 124 (See, also, Bow and Arrows)
Archon Basileus, Dress of the, 4
Areopagus, The, 102
Arginusae, the battle of, Slaves at, 531
Argolis, 371
Argos, Prophecy at, 344
Ariadne, 444
Aristarchus, inventor of sun-dials, 185
Aristophanes, his allusions to chitons and mode of wearing the hair, 69;
allusions to nurseries, 85;
allusion to the mother of Pheidippides, 98;
his descriptions of marriage, 134, 170;
“Birds” of, 140;
“Frogs” of, 200;
allusion to fidelity of citizens to judicial duties, 195;
The “Acharnians” of, 236, 383;
his account of the recovery of Plutus from blindness, 240;
Comedies of, 392;
Jokes of, 436
Aristotle, Shaven face of, 73;
his allusion to the flute, 112;
teaches in the Lyceum, 127;
his opinion of work, 490;
of tradesmen, 510
Arithmetic in Spartan education, 101;
in Attic education, 111, 127
“Armour-race,” The, 273, 274
Arms, Exposure of, 18
Arms, presented to ephebi, 118;
used in war, 452;
of Homeric soldiers, 460;
of later times, 462-480
Army of Sparta, 454-456;
of Athens, 456-460 (See, also, Soldiers)
Artemidorus, Dream-book of, 342
Artemis, Chiton of, 29;
Dolls offered to, 92;
invoked at weddings, 137, 144;
Sacrifice at Pythian Games to, 367
Artist, Profession of, 489, 500;
Workshop of an, 504
Askolia, Game of, 384
Aspasia, 172
Astragals (See Knuckle-bones)
Astronomy in Attic schools, 114, 127
Athene at her toilet, 159;
as a weaver, 498
Athene-Hygeia, 375
Athene Polias, 372, 375, 377
Athens, Dress at, 12;
Shoes worn at, 55;
Walking-sticks at, 64;
Mode of dressing the hair at, 68;
System of education at, 102-132;
Tribes and clans of, 143;
Daily life in, 179-201;
Streets and suburbs of, 179, 180;
Houses at, 179, 181;
Duties and voluntary services of citizens of, 194, 195;
Banquets in, 203-232;
Festivals of, 372-390;
Theatre of, 396;
Military service in, 456
Athletes, Hair of, 69;
Complexion of, 285;
Position and training of, 302-305;
useless to the State, 305;
at Olympia, 358
Auditorium of theatres, 398-402
Augustus, Obelisk of, in the Campus Martius, 185

Babylonians, their arrangements for measuring time, 184
Ball, Game of, 223, 299
{540}Bankers, 190, 516, 517, 518
Banquets for men, 203;
Order of proceedings at, 205;
The various dishes served at, 206, 207;
Drinking at, 209;
at religious festivals, 349;
at Olympia, 363 (See, also, Symposium)
Barbers’ shops, 189, 190
Barbiton, The, 314
Barley-cake, 208
Barter, 515
Basilinna, 386, 387
Baskets for learning to walk, 86
Bathing children, 85
Baths for new-born infants, 80;
in gymnasia, 121;
for bride and bridegroom, 137;
of women, 159;
for men, 192-194;
Public and private, 192, 193;
connected with the gymnasia, 192
Battering-ram, 480
Battle-axe, The, 475
Beard, the, Modes of wearing, 71-74
Beer, 211
Bib, The, 24, 28, 32, 33, 35, 36, 39
Birds, Snaring, 197;
Sacrifice of, 336
Birds of Aristophanes, 140
Birth and Infancy, Period of, 78-98
Birthdays, 203
“Black broth,” 178
Blindness, Cures for, 240
Board of Inspection in Sparta, 99
Boating, 126
Boehlau on the woman’s chiton, 21
Boeotians, Food of, 206
Bogies, 88
Boots, 52, 53
Boule, The, 195
Bow and Arrows, Teaching the use of, 124;
Construction of, 300;
in war, 476, 477 (See, also, Archery)
“Bowl of Duris,” The, 307
Boxing, 116, 123, 291, 292;
subject to special rules, 292;
Injuries from, 293;
Methods of, 293-296;
Thongs used in, 293, 296;
at Olympia, 353
Boys, Clothing of, 100, 118;
Education of, 99-132;
Gymnastic exercises of, 100, 115, 116, 119-124;
Oath taken by, 117;
period when classed as ephebeia, 117;
exercised in arms, 124;
horse-riding, swimming, boating, and marching, 124-126;
Advanced instruction of, 127, 128;
at quoit-throwing, 278;
as priests, 325, 326;
at the Olympic games, 353, 354;
at Pythian games, 368;
at theatres, 447;
as slaves, 521
Branchidae, The Sanctuary of, 344
Bread, 207, 208
Bridal dress, 138
Bridal presents, 135
Bridal procession, 139
Bridal song, 140
Bridal torches, 139
Brooches, 6
Brygos, vase painter, 30
Burning the dead, 250, 254, 255
Byzantium, Intemperance at, 197

Cakes, 207, 208;
for Cerberus, 245
{541}Callirhoe, The sacred water of, 137
Calypso, 145
Camps, 455
Caps, Shape and material of, 59
Captives taken in war, 452
Carriages for infants, 90;
of the rich, 198
Caryatid, Dress of a, 37;
Head-dress of a, 75
Castanets, 320
Cattle rearing, 176, 496, 497
Cavalry, 452, 457, 479, 480
Cenotaphs, 264
Ceos, Burial ordinances of, 251
Cerberus, 245
Chairs, 202
Chariot races, 353, 354-357, 368, 373
Charioteers, Costume of, 4, 354
Chariots, Fighting from, 451
Charon, The pilos of, 59;
his fees, 245
Chemises, 43
Children, Customs at the birth of, 78-80;
Swaddlings for, 80;
Suckling, 81;
Legitimation of, 81;
Exposure of, 82;
Naming, 83;
Welcome and Dedication of, 82, 84;
Charms for, 84;
in the nursery, 85;
Bathing, 85;
Weaning, 85;
learning to walk, 87;
Clothing of, 88;
Threats for quieting, 88;
Stories for, 88;
Toys for, 89-92;
Games of, 92-97;
Chastisement of, 98;
Education of, 98;
Registration of new-born, 143;
bound to obedience, 148;
at meals, 178;
at the Feast of Cans, 386;
as slaves, 521 (See, also, Boys and Girls)
Chionis, jumping feat of, 269
Chiton, The, long and short, and by whom worn, 3, 4;
Homeric descriptions of, 6;
Change in the cut of, 8;
of Hermes, 11;
of workmen and others, 12;
Modes of wearing the, 14, 15;
combined with the himation, 17;
worn at home, 19;
its resemblance to the peplos, 20;
worn by women, 21, 24-26;
Changes in, 30;
Construction of, 33;
Folds of, 33, 34;
Arrangement of, 37;
Varieties of, 39-41;
Colour of, 44, 45;
Patterns of, 46;
Material of, 47, 48;
on the stage, 438;
of soldiers, 465
Chlaina (Cloak), 3;
shape of, 7, 8;
material of, 15
Chlamys, The, 7;
place of its origin, 17;
shape and mode of wearing, 18;
of Hermes and Apollo, 18, 19
Choragia, The, 418
Choruses, 214, 350, 389, 392, 394, 413, 415;
Training of, 417, 419, 420;
Prizes to, 419;
The selection of, 420;
Dress of, 444
Circe, 145
Cirrha, 368
Cithara, The, taught in Attic schools, 112;
Construction of, 309-311;
Manner of playing, 311;
at Pythian games, 366
Cithara player, Dress of, 32;
{542}at banquets, 133
Citizens, Daily life of, 188-201;
Judicial duties and voluntary services of, 195;
as soldiers, 456
Civic rights of young men, 133
Civil duties, 195
Clans at Athens, 143
Clarian Temple of Apollo, The, 344
Clarotae, The, 522
Cleisthenes, Reforms of, 457
Cleon, 428
Cloak, The, 7;
Mode of wearing, 15, 17, 19;
Coloured, 47
Clocks, Water, 185-187
Clothes, Washing, 156, 157
Club, The, 475
Club-rooms, 179, 192
Cnidus, Medical school of, 235, 239
Cock and quail fighting, 228
Coffins, Material and shapes of, 252, 253
Coins put into mouths of dead men, 245
Callicratidas, 532
Colours of dress, 44-47
Comedy, 414, 415, 436-442
Comus, The, 230
Concubinage, 145, 146
Condottiere, The, 459
Conjurers, 217
Conversations and discussions at symposia, 219
Cooking, 206
Corinth, Female morality at, 170;
The hetaerae of, 171;
Temple of Aphrodite at, 173
Corn dealers, 510
Corymbus, The, 68
Cos, Medical school of, 235, 239
Cosmetics, 165
Costume, Knowledge of, essential to a complete picture of past ages, 1;
Theatrical, 432-444
(See, also, Dress)
Costume, Greek, Incorrect ideas of, 2;
Two kinds of, 2;
Names of garments in, 3
(See, also, Dress)
“Cothurnus,” The, 436
Cottabus, Game of, 194, 220, 221
Cotton garments, 49
Council of Five Hundred, 195, 449
Cradles, 81
Crematoria, The, 250
Crepida, 54
Crete, Marriage custom at, 145;
skill of its people in archery, 300, 478
Crobylus, The, 68, 75
Ctesibius, Water clock of, 187
Cuirass, The, 460, 462, 464, 465, 479
Culture of Greeks, 110
Cup-bearers, 178, 221
Cups, Wine, 213
“Curl-holders,” 64, 71
Curls worn by men, 64, 65, 68
Curse on murderers, 251
Cybele, Musical instruments used in the worship of, 319, 320
“Cyclops,” The, 415
Cymbals, 320
Cynic philosophers, Dress of, 20;
Bare feet of, 49;
Beards of, 74;
at the Cynosarges, 127
{543}Cynosarges, The, at Athens, 119
Cyrene, Silphium of, 514

Daily life at Sparta, 175-179;
at Athens, 179-201
Dancing, at symposia, 216;
Pantomimic, 217;
chiefly confined to professional performers, 321;
between the sexes unknown, 321;
for religious purposes, 321;
in the worship of Dionysus, 321;
in armour, 321;
Singing combined with, 321;
Distinction in ancient and modern, 322;
in connection with religious mysteries, 348;
after religious ceremonies, 350;
Choric, 417
“Daughter of Niobe, A,” 39
Death and burial, Customs connected with, 244-264
Delos, Proficiency in swimming of inhabitants of, 126
Delphi, Oracle of, 342, 343;
Pythian games at, 366-370
Demeter, Offering of swine to, 336;
Wanderings of, 381;
Festival in honour of, 382
Democedes, the physician, 238
Demosthenes, 194;
Factory of the father of, 529
Dice, 97, 192, 194, 223, 224, 225, 347
Diogenes, his allusion to the care taken of sheep, 498
Diomede, Helmet of, 468
Dionysus, Fillet on forehead of, 71;
Festival of, 118;
in a vase picture, 169;
his journey to Hades, 200;
Hymn in praise of, 212;
Worship of, 320;
Sacrifice to, 333;
Goats offered to, 336;
Festivals of, 383-390;
Theatre of, 298, 403, 445;
on the stage, 442
“Dionysus, The Little,” 96
Dionysos-Eleutheros, 386, 389
Diplax, The, 8
Discipline in Sparta, 100
“Discobolus,” The, in the Vatican, 277
Diseases, described in inscriptions, 239;
Modes of curing, 239-243
Dishes at a birth-festival, 84;
sometimes enumerated in verse, 206
Divorce, Grounds of, 148, 149
Dodona, Oracle of Zeus at, 344
Dogs for hunting, 196;
carried about in the propitiation of Hecate, 331
Dolls, 90-92
Door, Decking the, on the birth of a child, 78
Doric and Ionic costume, Differences between, 22-30
Dough, as a substitute for table-napkins, 206
Dowry, Bride’s, 135,136;
Return of, 149
Dragon, Apollo’s fight with the, 367
Drama, Origin of, 392;
Divisions of the, 411, 416;
Choregraphic element in the, 417;
Representation of the, 421-448
Dramas at Eleusinian festivals, 381;
at the Feast of Cans, 389, 390
Drapery in Egypt 4000 B.C., 9;
the Phoenicians, 9;
as shown in vase paintings, 30, 33, 34
Drawing, Teaching of, 113, 127
Drawing lots at Olympia, 360
Dream oracles, 240-243
Dream-book of Artemidorus, 342
Dreams, 341;
revealing the will of the gods, 342
Dress, of actors, 4;
at Athens, 12;
of charioteers, 4;
of cynic philosophers, 20;
of flute players, 4;
of gods, 3;
of harp players, 4;
in Ionia, 12;
of the age of Pericles, 2;
of priests, 4, 327;
of riders, 18, 125;
of soldiers, 8, 18, 455;
in Sparta, 12;
of workmen, 12, 19, 502;
of youths, 18, 100, 106, 118;
of women, 20-49;
Colour and pattern of, 44;
with designs of figures, 47;
Material of, 47, 48;
of hetaerae, 48;
of children, 87, 88;
paidagogoi, 103;
of female gymnast, 132;
of bride, 138;
of bridegroom, 139;
of a corpse, 245;
of funeral mourners, 251;
of peasants, 497;
of slaves, 524
Drinking parties, 197, 202, 209;
Representations of, 212
Drinking songs, 215
Drunkenness, 230;
of women, 170
Dumb-bells, 116;
used in jumping, 266
Duris, vase-painter, 30;
his representation of school-teaching, 106
Dwellings in Sparta, 177;
in Athens, 179, 181
Dyeing the hair, 166

Early rising, 194
Ear-rings, 65
Ecstasy, 341
Education, Distinction in the Doric and Ionic states in system of, 99;
in Sparta, 99-102, 130, 132;
in Athens, 102-132
(See, also, Schools)
Egypt, Drapery in, 9
Eleusinian celebrations, 151, 377-382
Elians, The, 358, 363
Embalming, 249
Embroidery, 45, 130
Ephebi, 117;
Double use of the term, 117;
The oath taken by, 117;
their change of dress, and dedicatory rites, 118;
Military education of, 124, 126, 127, 456
Ephesus, Ruins of wrestling school at, 121;
theatre of, 402
Ephors, The, 454
Epicureans, The, 128
Epidaurian sacrifice, 379
Epidaurus, Sanctuary of Aesculapius at, 239, 242, 243
Epithalamium of Helen, 141
Erinnys, The, 335
Eros, Glorification of, 220
Ethics, 110
Etruscan graves, Spirals found in, 65
Euphorbus, The hair of, 65
Euripides, his tirades against married life, 134, 170;
Songs from 216;
Olympic games, 365;
Tetralogies of, 412;
“Cyclops” of, 415;
represented on the stage, 428
Evil eye, The, 83
Exomis, mode of wearing the chiton, 13;
on the stage, 438
Exposure of infants, 82
Eyebrows, Dyeing the, 166

Factories, 529
Fair at Olympic Festival, 367
Fairy tales, 88
Farms, Management of, 492, 493
“Fast and Loose,” Game of, 226
Feast of Adonis at Alexandria, 391
“Feast of Pitchers,” The, 386
Feet, the, Coverings for, 49-55
Felt garments, 49
Fencing, 124
Festivals, Costume for, 3, 46;
at the birth of children, 82-84;
of the Panathenaea, 124;
at marriages, 138;
for women, 151;
of Adonis, 152;
Religious, 195, 349, 350, 351;
Frequency of, 203;
National, 350;
at Olympia, 351-366;
at Delphi, 366-370;
Isthmian, 370;
Nemean, 371;
Athenian, 372-391
Fibulae, 6, 32, 33, 39, 69
“Ficoronese Cista,” The, 296
Fireless sacrifices, 334
Fish, Eating, 207
Fish-market, 191
Fishing, 197
“Five-lines,” Game of, 224
Flowers for funeral wreaths, 245
Flute, the, Instruction in, 107, 112;
neglected at Athens, but popular at Thebes, 112;
its Bacchic origin, 112;
carefully avoided in Sparta, 113;
Construction of, 315;
playing, 316-319;
at Pythian games, 366
Flute players Costume of, 4;
at symposia, 214, 216;
at sacrificial ceremonies, 338;
as slaves, 521
Forfeits, 213
Fortune-telling, 347
“Frogs,” The, of Aristophanes, 200
“Frog’s wine,” 210
Fruits, 208
Fuller’s earth used in washing, 188
Funerals, 203, 245-264;
Bearers at, 252;
Cars at, 250;
Games at, 290;
Laments at, 246;
Orations at, 255

Gamelion, The month, favourite time for weddings, 136
Games of children, 92-97, 223;
at the symposium, 220, 223-229
Gaming houses, 197
Gaolers, 525
Gardens at Athens, 182
Geometry in Attic schools, 114, 127
Gifts for new-born children, 83
Girdle, The, 11, 20, 23, 24, 35, 39
Girls, Early marriages of, 92;
Education of, 129;
Domestic instruction of, 130;
Plato on the education of, 130;
{546}their gymnastic training in
Sparta, 130, 131;
debarred from social intercourse, 133;
as priestesses, 325, 326;
of Elis, 366
Glaucus, 304
Gloves, 55, 56
Goat-rearing, 497
Gods, Costume of, 3;
Libations to, 212;
Temples of, 324;
modes of revealing their will, 324;
their desire for worship and sacrifice, 324;
Prayers to, 328;
Sacrifices to the, 331-335
Gold masks discovered at Mycenae, 72
“Good genius,” the, Drinking in honour of, 209
Gorgias, his discourses at Olympia, 364
Graser on arrangement of rowing-benches, 484
Grasshoppers, Golden, for the hair, 68, 69, 71
Graves, 252;
Adornment of, 254;
Libations at, 256;
Care of, 262
Greaves, 460, 461, 462
Greece, Conditions in heroic period, 451
“Guest-friend,” The, 199, 200
Guests, Reception of, 203, 204
Gylippus, 532
Gymnasia, The, 115;
State institutions, 119;
at Athens, and their arrangement, 119, 120;
of Rome, 120;
Teachers in, 122, 123
Gymnasiarchs, The, 122
Gymnastic exercises, 265-305;
in Sparta, 301;
in Athens, 115-124;
of Spartan girls, 130, 131

Hades, Temple of, 243
Hair, the, Modes of wearing, of men, 64-74;
of women, 74-77;
curled, 64, 75;
plaited, 66, 67, 75;
ornamented, 65, 68, 77;
cut short, 69;
Modes of cutting, 71;
Shaving, 71;
Scenting, 74;
Kerchiefs for 76, 77;
parted in the middle, 76;
with “Greek knot,” 76;
with a fillet, 77;
of ephebi, 118;
Laconian custom of cutting off the bride’s, 144;
dyeing, 166;
cut off at funerals,