The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.


422 ; M'enand. p. 185, ed. Mein.) The door of a bed-chamber was sometimes covered with a curtain [velum].

In the Odyssey (i. 442, iv. 802, xxi. 6, 46— 50) we find mention of a contrivance for bolting or unbolting a door from the outside, which consisted in a leathern thong (lftds) inserted through a hole in the door, and by means of a loop, ring, or hook (kAeta, K\r)'t's\ which was the origin of keys, capa­ble of laying hold of the bolt so as to move it in the.manner required. The bolt by the progress of improvement was transformed into a lock, and the keys found at Herculaneum and Pompeii and those attached to rings (Gorlaei, Dactylioth. 42, 205—209) prove, that among the polished Greeks and Romans, the art of the locksmith (K\€iSoTroibs) approached very nearly to its present state. (Achill. Tat. ii. 19.)

The door represented in the first woodcut to this, article has a ring upon each valve, which was used to shut the door, and therefore called the eTTLaira-ffTTJp. Herodotus (vi. 91) tells a story of a captive who having escaped to a temple of Ceres, clung to the rings on the doors with both his hands. This appendage to the door, which was sometimes gilt and very handsome, was also called, on account of its form, icpircos and Kopc&vri, i. e. a " circle " or " crown " (Horn. Od. i. 441, yii. 90) ; and, be­cause it was used sometimes as a knocker, it was called poirrpov (Harpocrat, s. v. ; Xen. Hdlen. vi. 4. § 36). The term K6pa%, " a crow " (Brunck, Anal. iii. 168), probably denoted a knocker more nearly approaching the form of that bird, or per­haps of its neck and head. The lowest figure in the last woodcut shows a richly ornamented epi-spaster, from the collection at Naples. That with a lion's head is taken from a bas-relief, represent­ing the doors of a temple, in the collection at Ince-Blundell, near Liverpool. The third figure is from the Neapolitan Museum.

Before the door of a palace, or of any private house of a superior description, there was a passage lead­ing to the door from the public road, which was called vestibulum (Isid. Grig. xv. 7 ; Plant. Most. iii. 2. 132 ; Gell. xvi. 5) and irp6Qvpov (Vitruv, vi. 7. 5 ; Horn. Od. xviii. 10—100 ; Herod, iii. 35, 140). It was provided with seats (Herod, vi. 35). It was sometimes covered by an arch [camera], which was supported by two pillars (Serv. ad Virg. Aen. ii. 469) ; and sometimes adorned with sculptures (Virg. Aen. vii. 181 ; Juv. vii. 126). Here persons waited, who came in the morning to pay their respects to the occupier of the house. (Gell. iv. 1.) In the vestibule was placed the domestic altar [aha]. The Athenians also planted a laurel in the same situation, beside a figure designed to represent Apollo (Aristoph. Tiiesm. 496 ; Plaut. Merc. iv. 1. 11, 12); and statues of Mercury were still more frequent (Thu-cyd. vi. 27), being erected there on the principle of setting a thief to catch a thief. (Schol. ad Aris­toph. Plut. 1155.)

The donaria offered to the gods were suspended not only from the antae, but likewise from the door-posts and lintels of their temples (Virg. Aen. iii. 287, v. 360 ; Ovid. Trist. iii. 1. 34 ; Hor. O.tnn. iv. 15. 8. Epist. i. 1. 5, i. 18, 56 ; Pers. Sat. vi. 45 ; Plin. H. N. xxxv. 4), as well as of palaces, which in ancient times partook of the sanctity of temples. (Virg. Aen. ii. 503, vii. 183.) Victors ic the games suspended their crowns at



the door of a temple. (Pind. Nem. v. 53.) In like manner persons fixed to the jambs and lintels of their own doors the spoils which they had taken in battle. (Festus, s. v. Resignare ; Plin. H. N. xxxv. 2.) Stag's horns and boar's tusks were on the same principle used to decorate the doors of the temples of Diana, and of the private indivi­duals who had taken these animals in the chacc. Owls and other nocturnal birds were nailed upon the doors as in modern times. (Pallad. de Re Rust. i. 35.) Also garlands and wreaths of flowers were suspended over the doors of temples in connection with the performance of religious rites, or the ex­pression of public thanksgiving, being composed in each case of productions suited to the particular divinity whom they were intended to honour. In this manner the corona spicea was suspended in honour of Ceres (Tib. i. 1. 21 ; see also Virg. Ciris, 95—98). Laurel was so used in token of victory, especially at Rome (Ovid. Met. i. 562), where it sometimes overshadowed the corona civica on the doors of the imperial palace. (Ovid. Trist. iii, 1, 35—49 ; Plin. H. A7", xv. 39 ; laureatis foribus, Sen, Consol. ad Polyb. 35 ; Val. Max. ii. 8. § 7,) The doors of private houses were orna­mented in a similar way, and with different plants according to the occasion. More especially, in cele­bration of a marriage either laurel or myrtle was placed about the door of the bridegroom. (Juv. vi. 79, 228 ; Claud, de Nupt. Hon. et Mar. 208.) Catullus, in describing an imaginary marriage, sup­poses the whole vestibulum to have been tastefully overarched with the branches of trees. (Epitlial. Pel. et Thet. 278—293.) The birth of a child was also announced by a chaplet upon the door (Juv. ix. 84), and a death was indicated by cy­presses, probably in pots, placed in the vestibulum. (Plin. H. N. xvi. 60 ; Serv. in Virg. Aen. iii. 64.) In addition to* trees, branches, garlands, and wreaths of flowers, the Romans sometimes dis­played lamps and torches before the doors of their houses for the purpose of expressing gratitude and joy. (Juv. xii. 92.) Mu&ic, both vocal and instru­mental, was sometimes performed in the vestibulum, especially on occasions when it was intended to do honour to the master of the bouse, or to one of his family. (Pind. Nem, i. 19, 20, Isth. vii. 3.)

It was considered improper to enter a house without giving notice to its inmates. This notica the Spartans gave by shouting ; the Athenians and all other nations by using the knocker already de­scribed, but more commonly by rapping with the knuckles or with a stick (Kpoi>€iv, /c^Trreiy, Becker, Charik. voL i. pp. 230^-234; Plat. Protag. pp. 151, 159, ed. Bekker.) In the houses of the rich a porter (janitor^ custos, frup«p<5s) was always in at­tendance to open the door/ (Tibull. i. 1. 56.) He was commonly a eunuch or a slave (Plat. I. c.\ and was chained to his post. (Ovid. Amor. i. 6 ; Sueton. de CLar. Rliet. 3.) To assist him in guard­ing the entrance, a dog was universally kept near it, being also attached by a chain to the wall (Theo-crit. xv. 43 ; Apollodor. ap. A then. i. 4 ; ArLtoph. Thesm. 423, Lysist. 1217 ; Tibull. ii. 4. 32—36) ; and in reference to this practice, the warning Cave Canem, ev\a€ov t^v /ciW, was sometimes written near the door. Of this a remarkable example oc­curs in " the house of the tragic poet "at Pompeii, where it is accompanied by the figure of a fierce dog, wrought in mosaic on the pavement. (Gell's Pomp. 2nd Ser. vol. i. pp. 142, 145.) Instead

s~s 2

About | First | English Index | Classified Index | Latin Index | Greek Index



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of