). Silk. Silk was known to the Greeks
and Romans, who generally supposed that it grew upon leaves and was
scraped off them (Strabo, xv. p. 693). It was imported overland from China through Samarcand
and the Persian Gulf, and thence to Phœnicia (or Egypt) and Rome
25), probably in woven pieces. Silk soon became popular, and was worn
even by men (Tac. Ann. ii. 33
), so that its use
became the subject of legislative enactment, as by Tiberius, who discouraged it, and Caligula,
who approved of it (Suet. Cal. 52
). It was
always very expensive, and at one time, at least, sold for its weight in gold (Vopisc.
45). It was frequently mixed with flax or wool (subserica
), from which a garment of pure silk
was distinguished by the name holoserica.
Raw silk began to be produced
in Europe in the reign of Justinian (A.D. 530), silkworms having then been brought to
Constantinople by monks, and the production of silk was long a flourishing industry, though it
was a government monopoly. See Pariset, Histoire de la Soie
, i. pp. 1- 90;
Wardle, Silk (1888)
; and Blümner,
, i. 192.