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dim. Focŭlus (ἑστία: ἐσχάρα, ἐσχάρις, dim. ἐσχάριον). A fireplace; a hearth; a brazier. The fireplace, while serving all the requirements of ordinary life, possessed a sacred character both among the Greeks and Romans. In the primitive Greek house the ἐσχάρα stood against, or near, the back wall of the μέγαρον, the kitchen and livingroom of the family; in the more spacious dwellings of a later age it was transferred, with other objects of domestic worship, to a small private chapel, vaulted so as to resemble the Tholos, the dome-shaped ἑστία of the State. The well-known use of the hearth as a sanctuary for suppliants occurs as early as Homer ( Od. vii. 153-169). See Domus.

Among the Romans the fireplace was dedicated to the Lares of each family (Plaut. Aul. ii. 8, 16); a consecration which did not interfere with its homely uses. On festivals the housewife decorated the hearth with garlands (Ovid, Trist. v. 5, 10); a woollen fillet was sometimes added, nor were animal sacrifices unknown (Propert. v. 6, 1-6). The phrase pro aris et focis expressed attachment to all that was most dear and venerable (Cic. N. D. iii. 40.94). At Rome, too, the progress of wealth and refinement led to the removal of the focus and Penates to an inner apartment (Marquardt, Privatl. 234). In the Pompeian houses we see the atrium, now become a reception-room, adorned with a fountain and a marble table (cartibulum), but no longer with a hearth. See Lararium.

The focus was usually a fixture, constructed of

Focus from Caeré. (British Museum.)

stone or brick, and elevated a few inches above the ground. It was also frequently made of bronze, variously ornamented, and could then be carried from room to room.

The small portable brazier or chafing-dish, called foculus or ἐσχάριον, was especially used in sacrifices; and the same name was applied to the hollow or fire-pan at the top of an altar (Livy, ii. 12; Pro Domo, 47.123; see Ara). The movable focus or foculus was also employed in the kitchen (Plaut. Capt. iv. 2, 68; Juv.iii. 262), and for

Bronze Foci from Pompeii. (Overbeck.)

keeping things hot was brought into the diningroom (Plin. Ep. 78.23). See Caldarium, and the illustration under Authepsa.

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