: ἐσχάρα, ἐσχάρις,
), a fire-place; a hearth; a brasier. The fire-place,
while serving all the requirements of ordinary life, possessed a sacred
character both among the Greeks and Romans. In the primitive Greek house the
stood against, or near, the
back wall of the μέγαρον,
the kitchen and
living-room 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 (θόλος
), the dome-shaped ἑστία
of the state (Hermann-Blümner, Privatalt.
where the identity of ἑστία
is maintained; Guhl and Koner, ed. 5, p.
97). The well-known use of the hearth as a sanctuary for suppliants occurs
as early as Homer (Hom. Od. 7.153
: cf. Apollon.
; Thu<*>yd. 1.136).
Among the Romans the fire-place was dedicated to the Lares of each family
2.8, 16; Cato, de R. R.
15; Ov. Fast. 1.135
, 6.302); a consecration which
did not interfere with its homely uses (Hor. Epod.
1.5, 7; Ov. Met.
; Senec. Cons. ad Helv.
10.7). On festivals the
housewife decorated the hearth with garlands (Cato, de R. R.
143; Ov. Tr. 5.5
); a woollen fillet was sometimes added, nor were animal
sacrifices unknown (Propert. 5.6, 1-6). The phrase “pro aris et
focis” expressed attachment to all that was most dear and venerable
(Cic. N. D. 3.4. 0
§ 94; Flor. 3.13
). At Rome, likewise,
the progress of wealth and refinement led to the removal of the focus and
penates to an inner apartment (Marquardt, Privatl.
change from the single atrium
“house-place” to the more elaborate arrangement of a
separate dining-room, culina, and Lararium is described under DOMUS
p. 670 a,
In the Pompeian houses we
see the atrium,
now become a reception room,
adorned with a fountain and a marble table [CARTIBULUM
], but no longer with a hearth.
The focus was usually a fixture, constructed of stone or brick, and elevated
a few inches
Focus. (From British Museum.)
above the ground; see the first figure on p. 672 a.
It was also frequently made of bronze, variously
ornamented, and could then be carried from room to room. One is shown under
p. 276 b:
another, found at Caere in Etruria, and preserved
in the British Museum, is represented in the annexed woodcut.
The small portable brasier or chafing-dish, called foculus
especially used in sacrifices; and the same name was applied to the hollow
or fire-pan at the top of an altar (Liv. 2.12
Cic. pro Domo,
). The movable focus or foculus was also employed
in the kitchen (Plaut. Capt.
4.2, 68; Juv. 3.262
), and for keeping things hot was brought into the
dining-room (Senec. Ep.
78.23). The treasures of Herculaneum
and Pompeii are rich in illustrations of this kind of focus, whether
pictorial or in bronze vessels actually preserved. See CALDARIUM
and the second cut