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ἔνοπτρον, κάτοπτρον). For mirrors the ancients used round or oval, also square, plates of polished metal, generally of copper, mixed with tin, zinc, and other materials, and often silvered and gilded. In later times they were also made of massive silver, the finest being the work of Praxiteles in B.C. 328. They were often provided with a decorated handle and ornamented on the back with engravings, mostly of mythological objects. To keep them bright, a sponge with powdered pumice-stone was usually fastened to them (Plato, 72 C). The best metallic mirrors were produced at Brundisium.

Glass mirrors were probably known in antiquity, consisting of a glass plate covered with a thin leaf of metal at the back (Pliny , Pliny H. N. xxxvi. 26). As thus prepared, however, they were not so good as the others, the modern backing of tinfoil and quicksilver being yet unknown.

The Etruscan mirrors are in some respects remarkably fine, the finest of all being represented below. Besides these hand-mirrors, there were also in the time of the emperors mirrors as high as a man

Back of Etruscan Mirror. (Berlin Museum.)

(Q. N. i. 17; cf. Quintil. xi. 3, 68), which were either permanently fixed in the wall or (as in Vitruv. ix. 8, 2) let up and down like a sash.

Greek mirrors were unknown to archaeologists until 1867, when the first specimen was discovered at Corinth. In design they are even more beautiful than those of Etruria. They are of two kinds: (a) disc mirrors, like the Etruscan mirrors, and generally round, consisting of a single disc with a polished convex front, to reflect the face, and a concave back, ornamented with figures traced with the engraver's burin. This variety had a handle in the form of a statuette resting on a pedestal. (b) Another variety (“box-mirrors”), especially frequent in Greece, consists of two metallic discs, one enclosed within the other, and sometimes held together by a hinge. The cover was externally ornamented with figures in low-relief, and was internally polished and silvered to reflect the face. The second disc, forming the body of the case, was decorated internally with figures engraved with a sharp point. In the British Museum is a mirror from Corinth, representing Pan playing at the game of “Five Stones” with a Nymph attended by Eros. There is no mention of mirrors in Homer; and the oldest Greek mirrors now extant do not antedate the sixth century B.C. See Blümner, Technologie, iv. pp. 192, 194, 265 foll., 403; E. Gerhard, Etruskische Spiegel (Berlin, 1843); and De Witte, Les Miroirs chez les Anciens (Brussels, 1873).

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    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 36.26
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