Page 0489

489 GREECE-MANNERS AND CUSTOMS.

were gorgeous to the last degree, but in democratic Greece the same class of motives did

not exist for rich and costly trappings. Here it was merely the gratification of the

aesthetic faculties that led to whatever elegance was displayed in the furniture of the

Grecian dwelling. This taste led to a considerable variety of patterns and designs. The

chairs, tables, and couches were frequently of costly workmanship. Sometimes the frames

were cast of bronze, or when carved of wood were inlaid with silver and ivory. The feet

and exposed parts of the frames of such articles of furniture were generally executed in

imitation of the form of some animal or creature of mythology-the lion's paw, the

dolphin's back, the half-developed form of a nymph. Many of the chairs, especially those

of the women, were of great elegance, the backs being carved to fit the person, and the

seats laid with ornamented cushions, upon which the deft fingers of the maidens of Greece

had exhausted their skill, which has probably never been surpassed either in ancient or

modern times.

The Greek couch consisted of a kind of bench for the mattress, guarded at one end with a

head-board, but without a back. Over this, in the earlier times, were laid covers, but

these at a later date were superseded with cushions filled with feathers. The bedstead,

like the frame of the chair, was sometimes artistically designed, and sometimes plainly-

even roughly-executed, according to the taste and means of the owner. The frame of the bed

was generally concealed by drapery drawn around it, the same being ornamented with

fringes, tassels, and gold and silver embroidery.

Preserved in chests in the gynaeconitis were the articles of the toilet belonging to the

women-a numerous array of caskets, cosmetics, and jewelry. Indeed, no people, whether

ancient or modern, have given more attention to artistic care of the person than did the

matrons and maidens of Greece. But the peculiarity of the latter was, to their honor, that

their whole notion of personal attractiveness as heightened by art consisted in

beautifying and not destroying nature. Night divides the world with the day.

What should the Greeks do in the darkness? It is matter of surprise that the great genius

of the race did not more concern itself with the; matter of artificial illumination. The

problem of light was one in which neither they nor any other people of antiquity seemed to

take much interest. The homes of the Greeks were lighted with oil-lamps with wicks, and

the streets with torches. In the actual contrivance there seems to have been no advance

from the first principles, such as are adopted by half-civilized races in illumination;

but in the designs of the lamps it is easy to discover the peculiar and superior qualities

of Greek taste. These have the most elegant forms, being of that flat, bowl-like pattern

which the best modern art is proud to imitate. They were ornamented with an endless

variety of designs, some in color and some in relief-vines and fruits and figures of

animals and birds. The materials in most common use were terra-cotta and bronze, but the

rich had their lamps of silver and sometimes of gold. They were designed for hanging or

standing, and for the latter use were supported by candelabra of the slenderest and most

beautiful styles. These were set by the couches in the andronitis, and here reclined the

Greek in the evening and read. Near by stood the library, with its tiers of pigeon-holes,

into which were inserted the cylindrical cases containing the rolls of manuscript.

The material used in writing was prepared papyrus brought from Egypt. Upon this the poem

or disquisition of the philosopher was carefully copied by a scribe. The Greek manuscripts

were generally executed with great care and exquisite finish as to neatness and accuracy.

In the house of a prominent and influential man a small library of favorite authors might

always be expected. In the age of the Macedonian ascendancy, however, the library became a

public rather than a private enterprise; and the example of Alexander in founding in Egypt

and elsewhere vast collections of books was emulated by Yearly all the great men of

subsequent times. Book collectors were common in Greece, and the possession of rare or

exquisite rolls was in many a rage, as in modern times. Of this sort were the