, a dwelling-house; οἶκος
, generally a room; in Homer and the Tragedians, δόμος
, but more usually in the plural as a
dwelling-house), a house.
One special form of hut appears to have been commonly used by many
different races of men at an early stage of their development. This was
a small circular structure made of branches of trees stuck into the
ground in a circle, and then bent inwards till their ends met and were
tied together at the top. This rude framework was then filled in by
wattled work woven in and out, and the whole was daubed over with
tempered mud or clay. The hut of Achilles, thatched with rushes (Il. 24.450
), was probably a dwelling of
this sort, and similar huts are said to have been used in Lydia, Sardis,
and other places in Western Asia Minor (Hdt.
): it seems probable that a reminiscence of this form of
building exists in the stone domical structures of Mycenae, Orchomenos,
and other early sites in Greece.
Even in historic times a survival of this ancient circular form of house
existed in the form of the Prytaneum in Athens and elsewhere, and also
in the Athenian Tholus,
which was built in
the newer part of Athens as an adjunct, in a more convenient position
for the use of the Prytanes. The Tholus was a round building with a
domical roof, and must have had some resemblance to the Roman Temple of
Vesta, to which the same name was frequently applied. The original
Temple of Vesta was a round hut formed with wattle-work of osiers (Ov. Fast. 6.261
Fest. p. 250, M.). Mr. James Frazer, in a
valuable article (Journ. of Philol.
vol. xiv.), derives
the form both of the Greek Tholus and the Roman Temple of Vesta, in both
of which a perpetual fire was kept burning, from the pre-historic round
hut of the village chief, under whose charge was the ever-burning fire,
which was kept lighted for the general convenience--a very important
thing at a time when a fresh fire could only be obtained by the
laborious process of friction.
Even during the imperial period in Rome one or more wattled huts were
preserved in memory of the primitive dwellings of its founders. One of
these, which stood at the western angle of the Palatine hill, was known
as the Casa Romuli
(Dionys. A. R. 1.79
; Plut. Rom. 20
); it was twice burnt and
repaired during the reign of Augustus (D. C.
, and 54.29. See also Ov. Fast.
; V. Max. 4.4
; Liv. 5.53
The Tugurium Faustuli is probably another name for the same thing.
Another hut, also called after Romulus, appears to have been preserved
on the Capitoline hill (Vitr. 2.1
1.6; Macrob. Saturn.
A careful representation of this early form of house, as used by the
pre-historic Latin race, exists in the small sepulchral
“house-urns,” which are found in considerable numbers
in the early cemeteries of Central Italy and elsewhere. In these the
construction is less simple, the roof being evidently formed of separate
branches, laid so as to form projecting eaves. These curious pieces of
archaic pottery have small movable doors fixed with a wooden peg. (See
Virchow, Die italienischen und deutschen Haus-Urnen,
During the many centuries which elapsed before the commencement of the
historic period of Greece, a state of society existed very different
from that with which Greek literature has made us familiar. Instead of
the large cities with their flourishing trade and carefully constructed
systems of political, religious, and social organisation, a number of
small, highly-fortified towns or villages were ruled in an autocratic
way by some chieftain of semi-oriental
habits, who lived in a style of much luxury and splendour, surrounded by
a group of followers, very much like those of a mediaeval feudal lord.
At this early period wealth and splendour, which in historic times were
devoted to the more public uses of the agora, the council chamber, and
the temples of the gods, were lavished on the palace of the chief. It is
this period which is celebrated in the Homeric poems; which, there is
every reason to believe, give us a faithful, if highly coloured, picture
of the magnificence which adorned the dwellings of wealthy chiefs, such
as Alcinous and, in a lesser degree, Ulysses. The recent discoveries
made by Dr. Schliemann and Dr. Dörpfeld, within the massive
walls of Tiryns (the Τίρυνς
of Homer), have for the first time shown us that
the stately and richly decorated palaces of the Odyssey were not wholly
the offspring of a poet's fancy.
Plan of the Palace of Tiryns.
--Some doubt has been thrown
on the remote antiquity of
Plan of the Palace at Tiryns.
Plan of the Palace at Tiryns
- 1. Main entrance.
- 2. Inner gate.
- 3. First propylaeum.
- 4. Second.propylaeum.
- 5. Open court.
- 6. Portico of hall.
- 7. Vestibule of hall.
- 8. Megaron.
- 9. Men's rooms.
- 10. Thalami.
- 11. Guard rooms.
- 12. Passage to women's part.
- 13. Open courts.
- 14. Thalamus or women's hall.
- 15. Thalami.
- 16. Passage to postern.
- 17. Narrow postern.
- 18. Projecting bastion.
- 19. Defences at the entrance.
these remains; but new discoveries of a similar pre-historic
building at Mycenae have put an end to any doubt as to the antiquity of
the Tirynthian palace. On the whole the evidence of the general planning
of the building, its methods of construction, and the style of its
ornament give overwhelming proofs that the house is one which belongs to
a far-off prehistoric period of Greek architecture, prior in all
probability to the Dorian invasion of the Peloponnesus. The house itself
occupies more than a third of the Tirynthian Acropolis, the massive
stones of which excited the wonder of Herodotus, Diodorus, and
Pausanias, and led to their being associated with the fables of Heracles
and Perseus, and the mysterious Cyclops, who were supposed to have been
their builders. The accompanying plan shows the arrangement of the
house, which is evidently carefully designed to suit its special
On entering through the main gateway of the Acropolis, the approach (as
shown by the dotted line on the plan) leads through a narrow passage,
strongly defended on both sides by massive walls, to a second doorway. A
continuation of the passage leads to the outer porch of the palace--a
propylaeum, decorated on both sides by two columns in
very similar in design to the 5th-century
propylaeum built by Ictinus at Eleusis. On passing this an outer court
is reached; and then a second propylaeum, smaller but of similar design
to the first, leads into the main courtyard of the palace. Rooms for
guards are placed at the sides of both these propylaea. The main court
), round which the apartments
of the men are grouped, was surrounded on three sides by a colonnade
), forming a cloister.
Near the propylaeum stands a stone altar with a rock-cut hollow beneath
it, into which the ashes would fall. This was probably an alter to Zeus
which is frequently
mentioned in the Odyssey (e. g. 22.335) as being placed in the courtyard
of a house. Opposite the propylaeum is the great hall (μέγαρον,
), with an open portico of two columns, and an inner
), into which three
doors open from the portico, and one into the hall. The roof of the hall
was supported on four columns, which probably carried a partly open
lantern [p. 1.656]
to give light, and also to form an
escape for the smoke of the fire--below, the circular stone hearth
) of which is placed midway
between the pillars. On the west side of the hall are a number of small
rooms for the use of the men; among them is a small bathroom, about 12
feet by 10 feet, the construction of which is very remarkable for its
ingenuity and the extreme care which has been taken in the workmanship.
The whole floor is formed of one great slab of stone, smoothed accurately
so as to fall to one point, where the water made its exit through a
stone pipe, and so into the main drain. The walls were lined with wooden
boards, each of which had its lower end fastened to the stone floor by
two wooden pegs or dowels. The edge of stone on which these boards
rested is raised about an inch above the general level of the floor, so
that water splashed by the bathers might not soak in under the wooden
wall-lining. The bath itself, which was made of clay deco-rated with a
red spiral pattern, much resembled in shape and size the fire-clay baths
now made in large quantities at Stourbridge.
The eastern half of the house seems to have been intended for the use of
the women, and probably the married members of the chief's family. This
portion, like the other, contains two open courts, and a hall with a
single vestibule--all on a rather smaller scale. In this hall the hearth
is square, and, the span being less, the roof was not supported by
pillars. On the east of the hall and court are two ranges of rooms, more
in number and larger than those on the men's side of the house. There
appear to have been three means of access to the women's part: one by a
long passage (λαύρη
) leading from a
side door in the outer propylaeum, another from the north-east corner of
the men's court, while a third way led by a long passage round the back
of the two halls to a rock-cut stairway, at the foot of which was a
small postern door in the outer fortification wall. In case of a siege
this little postern would be blocked up with stones, but in times of
peace the women of the household probably used this path to fetch water
from some spring in the plain below. When blockaded by an enemy, the
garrison appear to have depended on their stores of rain-water, large
cisterns for which were formed in the thickness of the outer wall. The
surface water was collected and carried to the cisterns in clay pipes
and stone drains.
In addition to the rooms on the ground-floor, the walls of which still
exist to a height of from two to three feet, there was also an upper
), which probably
extended over all the rooms except the two halls. Traces of a staircase
in two flights still exist on the east side of the women's hall.
Construction of the Palace of Tiryns.
The walls, about three feet thick, are built of roughly-dressed
limestone bedded in clay up to a height of about two feet above the
floor level: the rest of the wall was of sun-dried brick, and the
whole was covered inside and out with three coats of hard stucco,
made of lime mixed with sand, gravel, and broken pottery, forming a
coating nearly as hard as stone, which must have completely
protected the unburnt bricks from the effects of weather.
The floors, both of the roofed parts and of the open courts, were
made of a thick layer of good lime concrete. In the rooms the
pavement was worked to a smooth surface, on which simple patterns of
squares or spirals were incised, and then painted blue and red.
Pliny (Plin. Nat. 36.184
below, p. 664a
) speaks of painted
floors having been used by the Greeks before mosaic came into use:
those at Tiryns are the first examples of this kind of paving that
have been found.
The concrete paving of the open-air courts is laid so as to fall
towards open stone gullies, through which the rain-water escaped
into the drains: its upper surface is formed of a sort of rough
mosaic made of pebbles; these are set more closely together in
places where there was most traffic.
The various doorways have massive stone sills or thresholds (λάϊνος οὐδός
), mostly provided with
two large drill-holes, in which the bronze pivots of the doors
revolved, showing that in most cases folding doors were used. Some
of these bronze pivots were found during the excavations: they are
of very neat and solid workmanship, and much resemble the pivots of
the great Balawat gates of Shalmaneser II. (859-824 B.C.), which are
now in the British Museum. It is probable that the construction of
the doors themselves in the Tirynthian palace resembled that of the
Balawat doors. A number of thick wooden planks were placed side by
side, and held in their place by strong bronze bands, which were
nailed on to them, and lapped round the circular post on which the
door swung; each end of this post was shod with a pivot, which
revolved at the bottom in a hole drilled in the sill, and at the top
in a similar hole in the lintel (ὑπερθύριον
). The neatly-fitted planks are spoken of by
Homer (Hom. Od. 2.344
) as σανίδες πυκινῶς ἀραρυῖαι.
of hanging heavy doors lasted throughout the Greek and Roman
periods, and was used, as can still be seen, for the great doors in
Aurelian's wall round Rome. The wide bronze bands which were
constructionally necessary for this sort of door formed also in some
cases a rich and elaborate method of decoration, as they could be
enriched with repoussé reliefs and gilt. A beautiful
little earthenware box (pyxis
) of the
4th century B.C. in the British Museum shows that doors of similar
construction were used by the Greeks of later times. The painting on
it represents a toilet scene in a lady's room, and in the background
is a double door covered with wide bands, attached by rows of rivets
along each edge, exactly like the Balawat doors. Owing to the use of
soft unbaked brick for the jambs of the doorways, it was necessary
to line the whole opening with woodwork, so as to protect the angles
from injury. In some cases there seems to have been a stone lining,
but even then the woodwork was not omitted. Grooves cut in the stone
upright of some of the door-jambs (σταθμός
) show with what extreme care and neatness the
wood lining was fitted into its place. It is interesting to note
that this system of using wooden doorlinings survived till later
times, and was used in cases where it would seem needless. Even the
beautifully-finished white marble doorways in [p. 1.657]
the Parthenon and Propylaea at Athens had their reveals
concealed by wooden casings.
The roof of the men's hall was supported by four intermediate columns
), which, like all the
columns at Tiryns, were made of wood, resting on a
carefully-levelled block of stone. The construction of the roof, of
which nothing but charred fragments and ashes remains, may be
guessed from an early rock-tomb in Phrygia discovered by Prof.