And for washing the hands they also used something which they called σμῆμα, or soap, for the sake of getting off the dirt; as Antiphanes mentions in his Corycus—
A. But while I'm listening to your discourse,And besides this they used to anoint their hands with perfumes, despising the crumbs of bread on which men at banquets used to wipe their hands, and which the Lacedæmonians called κυνάδες,1 as Polemo mentions in his Letter on Mean Appellations. But concerning the custom of anointing the hands with perfumes, Epigenes or Antiphanes (whichever was the author of the play called the Disappearance of Money) speaks as follows:—
Bid some one bring me water for my hands.
B. Let some one here bring water and some σμῆμα.
And then you'll walk about, and, in the fashion,And Philoxenus, in his play entitled the Banquet, says—
Will take some scented earth, and wash your hands
And then the slaves brought water for the hands (νίπτρα κατὰ χειρῶν,）[p. 646] And Dromo, in his Female Harp-player, says—
And soap (σμῆμα) well mix'd with oily juice of lilies,
And poured o'er the hands as much warm water
As the guests wish'd. And then they gave them towels
Of finest linen, beautifully wrought,
And fragrant ointments of ambrosial smell,
And garlands of the flow'ring violet.
And then, as soon as we had breakfasted,
One handmaid took away the empty tables,
Another brought us water for our hands;
We wash'd, and took our lily wreaths again,
And crown'd our heads with garlands.