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πυρεῖα). Fire-sticks. One of the earliest methods of producing fire was by the friction of two specially prepared sticks—a method which Lucretius (v. 199) supposes the primitive peoples to have learned from the ignition of forest trees by friction. (Cf. Thuc. ii. 77; Pliny , Pliny H. N. xvi. 208). It was the means prescribed by Roman usage for relighting the vestal fire when by any oversight it became extinguished. In Greece, the sacred flame was rekindled from the sun's rays by the use of burning-glasses (Numa, 9). Seneca (Nat. Quaest. ii. 22) speaks of producing fire from flints, and also from igniaria. These last were


a block of soft wood with a hollow in it, and called ἐσχάρα, and


a bit of hard wood (τρύπανον). The τρύπανον was whirled around in the hollow of the former. The sparks produced by this friction were caught in a sort of tinder made of dried grass and shavings. Instead of this primitive tinder the ancients also used bits of wood smeared with sulphur (ramenta sulpurata), such as were common in modern times until the invention of lucifer matches in the present century. With these, the sparks produced from the igniaria or from the flints were caught; and these more quickly and surely ignited than the ordinary tinder, saving both time and breath. See Seneca, Nat. Quaest. i. 1, 8; Mart.x. 3; Juv.xiii. 145; Stat. Silv. i. 6, 73; Pliny , Pliny H. N. xxxvi. 138; Blümner, Technologie, ii. 353, and iv. 407; Tylor, Early Hist. of Mankind, p. 237 (1865); and Dr. M. H. Morgan in the Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, vol. i. (1890).

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  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, 5.199
    • Statius, Silvae, 1.6
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 10.3
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