, 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
), 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
, 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.
; 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.
). See Caldarium
and the illustration under Authepsa