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[10] Lassaret viduas peudula tela manus. It is related of Penelope, that, being greatly importuned by her lovers, some of whom threatened to carry her away by force, she begged a respite till she had finished the web she had in hand; and that, to lengthen out the time, she undid in the night what she had woven in the day. Hence arose the proverb, “Penelopes telam texere”, to do and undo. See Odyssey 19.124-163.

The term pendula is used because the warp (stamen, from stare) stood erect in the loom, and did not lie horizontally, like those of the present day. Though weaving was a trade among the Greeks and Romans, every house of distinction, especially in the country, contained a loom, with the requisite apparatus for working wool. This occupation was supposed to be especially pleasing to Minerva, who was regarded in this character as the guardian of female industry and decorum. The work was mostly carried on by the female slaves, under the supervision of the mistress of the house, who, with her daughters, occasionally took a part in the more tasteful portion of their labors. The Greeks and Romans supplied themselves from their own looms with the ordinary articles of clothing; but the finer textile works of scarfs, shawls, carpets, and tapestry were mostly supplied them from the East. In the earlier ages of Greece and Rome, it was the duty of the matron, assisted by her daughters, to weave clothing for her husband and sons. Thus Lucretia is depicted by Ovid, in the Second Book of the Fasti, as weaving a cloak for her husband (2.741-742); see also Livy 1.57-59. In the Ion of Euripides, Creusa proves herself to be the mother of Ion by describing the pattern of a shawl which she had made, and in which she had wrapped her infant son (l. 1417). In the Iphigenia in Tauris of Euripides, Iphigenia recognizeds Orestes (812 ff), and in the Choephori of Aeschylus, Electra also recognizes him (l. 231), by the figured clothing which he wears, and which they had respectively long before woven for him. Shawls and fine garments were frequently woven as offerings to the temples of the divinities.

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