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Ostrakon

(261 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὄστρακον; óstrakon). Sherd of pottery, sometimes of (lime)stone, which was used as writing material for short  messages, smaller documents, receipts, etc.; they were rarely used for literary texts (Sappho fr. 2 Lobel-Page). Ostraca are attested from pre-Ptolemaic Egypt and then up to the end of Graeco-Roman antiquity. The respective texts were written in ink or scratched into the ostrakon; examples have survived in the Hieratic, Demotic, Greek, Coptic and Arabic scripts. In contrast to expensive papyrus, óstraka were waste products of a household, and th…

Bathing costume

(98 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] (ᾤα λουτρίς; ṓia loutrís, subligar). Men and women wore loin cloths or bath towels made from sheepskins or cloth during the communal bath in bath houses (Poll. 7,66; 10,181,   perizoma ,   subligaculum ), women also wore a breast band (vase paintings, ‘bikini girl’ of  Piazza Armerina). Men's bathing costumes could also be made from leather ( aluta, Mart. 7,35,1). In Pap. Cair. Zen. 60,8, there is mention of an ἐκλουστρίς ( ekloustrís). It is uncertain if bonnets ( vesica) were worn. Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg) Bibliography R. Ginouvès, Balaneutikè, 1962, 223-225 W. Hein…

Dice (game)

(530 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] (κυβεία/ kybeía; Lat. alea). Allegedly invented by the Lydians (Hdt. 1,94,3),  Palamedes [1] before Troy (Paus. 2,20,3; 10,31,1) or the Egyptian god Thot (Pl. Phdr. 274c-d). Dice are occasionally mentioned in mythology (Hdt. 2,122,1), e.g., Eros plays with Ganymede (Apoll. Rhod. 3,114-126), Hercules with a temple guard (Plut. Romulus 5,1 f.) and Patroclus with Clysonymus (Hom. Il. 23,87 f.). Either four-sided knuckle bones ( astragalos [2], Lat. also talus) that had inscribed on them the values one and six as well as three and four, or six-sided dice (κύβοι/ kýboi;…

Pataikoi

(193 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] (Πάταικοι; Pátaikoi). Dwarf figures, mounted on the bow of Phoenician triremes according to Hdt. 3,37. Coins from Aradus [1] and Sidon from the late 4th cent. BC onward show half-figures or protome heads on ships [1. table 2,1, table 18,12-14]. From these Phoenician figures the term was transferred to figures of dwarfs; pátaikos thus became a descriptive proper name for people of short stature (Hdt. 7,154; cf. also the Pataíkeia festival at Delos, named after its founder Pátaikos). The term also became proverbial for thieves, however. Herodotus compares t…

Lycurgus Painter

(174 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] Apulian vase painter of the ornate style ( Apulian vases) from the middle of the 4th cent. BC, student of the Iliupersis Painter, named after the image of the ‘madness of Lycurgus’ on a calyx crater (London, BM Inv. F 271, [1. 415, no. 5, pl. 147]). The Lycurgus Painter painted mostly vessels with large surfaces (craters, hydrias, situles), which he liked to ornament with mythological themes. He further developed the use of spatial depth and perspective, distributed his mytholo…

Canosa Vases

(129 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] Type of  Apulian vases, between c. 350 and 300 BC, probably made exclusively for use in graves. Their distinguishing feature is their decoration in a variety of water-soluble pigments (blue, red/pink, yellow, pale purple, brown) on a white background. Preferred  vessel forms are the volute-krater, cantharus, oinochoe, and askos, whose main bodies were frequently decorated with figures of women on small pedestals and with three-dimensional decor (winged heads, gorgoneia et al.). The gre…

Chamber pot

(190 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] The terms ἀμίς/ amís, λάσανα/ lásana, Lat. matella, matellio, matula described vessels made of various materials used in agriculture (Cato Agr. 10,2; 11,3) as well as vessels for water and washing in the household; but they were particularly used to designate chamber pots (Aristoph. Plut. 816f.) that were set up in the latrine or were portable (Anth. Pal. 11,74,7; Hor. Sat. 1,6,109; Petron. Sat. 27). Ath. 1,519e attributed to the Sybarites ( Sybaris) the first use of chamber pots; from there, the chamber pot was brought to Athens. During the symposium, a special slave ( la…

Toga

(520 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] The toga, adopted from the Etruscans, was the official garment of Roman citizens which was worn in public and which non-Romans were not allowed to wear (Suet. Claud. 15,3; gens togata: Verg. Aen. 1,282). Originally, the woolen toga was worn over the bare upper body and over the subligaculum that covered the lower body, later over the tunica . The common toga of the simple Roman citizen was white ( toga pura, toga virilis). Furthermore, there was the toga praetexta with a crimson stripe along the edges ( clavi; status symbols) which was worn by curule officials, by the Flamines …

Lacerna

(172 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] A fringed (schol. Pers. 1,54) open cloak, a special form of the sagum , probably introduced in the 1st cent. BC (first mention Cic. Phil. 2,30,76); used at first as a soldier's coat which in poetry might also be worn by mythical kings and heroes (e.g. Ov. Fast. 2,743-747; Prop. 4,3,18). The lacerna soon became an everyday garment and was popular in the 1st cent. AD. Initially made of coarse wool, light fabrics were also used which were dyed purple or scarlet (Mart. 2,29,3; 4,61,4; 4,8,10; Juv. 1,27). The lacerna was worn over the tunica, instead of the toga, or over…

Household equipment

(1,622 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] (Greek τὰ ἔπιπλα/ tà épipla, ἡ σκευή/ hē skeuḗ; Latin supellex, instrumentum). Household equipment (HE) comprises the objects that are needed in daily life and that constitute the majority of moveable belongings; this includes primarily  furniture, cooking utensils and kitchen crockery, lighting devices,  carpets,  blankets, and in a wider sense also  jewellery and  clothing, furthermore, according to current understanding, objects belonging to the sphere of immovables, e.g. the doors and ro…

Footstool

(241 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] (θρῆνυς/ thrḗnys, ὑποπόδιον/ hypopódion, σφέλας/ sphélas, rarely χελώνη/ chelṓnē; Latin scabellum, scamnum). The footstool was used as a foot bench for a person sitting on the  klismos,  throne or a similar high seating (cf. Hom. Od. 17,409 f.), or as a step for climbing up on the  Kline or down from it. There were three footstool variants: rectangular footstools with simple vertical legs, rectangular footstools with curved legs that ended in animal feet (lion feet), sphinxes etc., as well a…

Mortar

(231 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὅλμος/ hólmos, ἴγδις/ ígdis, θύεια/ thýeia, ὕπερον/ hýperon, Latin mortarium, pistillum, pila). Mortars and pestles of various materials were among the household utensils (Plaut. Aul. 94-95; Household equipment) necessary for kneading dough, grinding corn, chopping and mixing fruits, vegetables, etc. Mortars were also used for preparing cosmetics and drugs, pigments and metal alloys. Mortars included smaller grinding bowls (with or without a lip and round grinding stone, called a coticula in Latin, Plin. HN 34,106; made of granite for eye ointment…

Chlaina

(253 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] (χλαῖνα; chlaîna, from χλιαίνω; chliaínō, ‘to warm’). Already mentioned in Homer (Il. 16,224; Od. 4,50 and passim) as a warm coat for men made out of sheep's wool to protect against cold and rain. The chlaina could be laid over the shoulders unfolded (ἁπλοΐς; haploís) or double-folded (δίπλαξ; díplax) and be held together with a pin; it could be red or purple in colour and decorated with patterns or figures (Hom.Il. 10,133; 22,441). The chlaina was, according to Poll. 7,46, worn as a cape over the  chiton and was part of the dress of farmers and shepher…

Money boxes

(209 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] (ἀργυροθήκη/ argyrothḗkē; Latin arcula, crumena). It seems that MB were unknown in archaic and classical Greece; money was kept in trunks and chests together with jewellery and other objects of value (e.g. Theophr. Char. 10). Probably the oldest surviving MB is from Priene (2nd/1st cent. BC) and has the form of a little temple with a slit in the pediment for inserting money, which can be taken out again through a lockable opening at the rear [1. 190 f. no. 25]. The Romans used small pots for keeping money ( olla or aula, Cic. Fam. 9,18,4, cf. also Plautus's comedy Aulularia).…

Lamp

(725 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] As containers for flammable oil and wick holders, lamps made of clay are a ubiquitous find from antiquity; less numerous are lamps made of bronze, marble and plaster. The basic shape of the lamp was the stone bowl, which was already used as a lamp early in the Stone Age. Early lamps of clay follow this basic form; they are shaped on a potter's wheel and creased one or several times to accommodate the wick in the spout that is thereby created. These Phoenician lamps (also called ‘P…

Tokens

(469 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] (σύμβολον/ sýmbolon, tessera). From 450 BC onwards in Athens, the State gave poor citizens free tickets for performances in the Theatre of Dionysus to the value of two oboloi (θεωρικòν διόβολον/ theōrikòn dióbolon); these tokens, called σύμβολα ( sýmbola), were given to the lessee of the theatre, who then collected the corresponding money for them from the State treasury. This institution was later extended to all citizens, followed by payments for participation in people's assemblies and in court. Numerous bronze symbola survive from the period between the s…

Writing materials

(1,589 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg) | Hurschmann
[German version] I. Writing media In Antiquity, a large variety of media were used as writing support. Modern scholarship divides them into inorganic and organic materials. Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg) [German version] A. Inorganic An inorganic medium for writing is natural rock on which inscriptions were chiselled; they are found in Egypt and in the mountains of to the east Mesopotamia from the 2nd half of the 3rd millennium BC. An early example from Greece are the inscriptions of Thera (IG XII 3,536-601; 1410-1493) from the end…

Greeting

(1,186 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
I. Gestures of greeting [German version] A. Handshake According to Greek and Roman custom, one would shake the right hand of guests, family members, close acquaintances or friends and squeeze it firmly (Hom. Il. 10,542 et passim; Xen. Cyr. 3,2,14; Aristoph. Nub. 81; Plut. Cicero 879; Plut. Antonius 952; Plut. De amicorum multitudine 94b), both as a greeting (according to Plut. Caesar 708 more a form of affability) and to say good-bye. Shaking hands was seen as a sign of friendship and trust (Xen. Cyr. 3…

Cothurnus

(248 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] (ὁ κόθορνος; ho kóthornos, cot[h]urnus). The Greek cothurnus was a high-shafted soft leather boot that fitted tightly to the leg and foot (and, by extension, was used as a synonym for an adaptable person in Xen. Hell. 2,3,30-31). It was wrapped with bands or tied at an opening at the front. The cothurnus is mentioned as women's footwear (Aristoph. Eccl. 341-346; Lys. 657), but was worn in particular by elegant youths at a symposium and  komos. It was the preferred footwear of Hermes, …

Mourning

(981 words)

Author(s): Hurschmann, Rolf (Hamburg)
[German version] I. Literary sources In Greece and Rome, deaths and accidents, financial and business losses and military defeats were occasions for mourning (πένθος/ pénthos; Lat. luctus). Aside from the characteristic mourning dress, women displayed their mourning by renouncing gold jewellery (Dion. Hal. Ant. 5,48,4; Liv. 34,7,10), by beating, and sometimes baring, their chests (Prop. 2,13,27; Petron. 111,2), by loosening and tearing their hair (Catull. 64,348-351; Tib. 1,1,67 f.; Liv. 1,26,2), by crying and wailing (P…
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