previous next


SPO´NGIA (σπόγγος), a sponge. The use of sponges has come down from very early times, for the cleansing both of the body (Hom. Il. 18.414) and of tables (Od. 1.111). For the latter purpose, i. e. cleaning furniture, walls, and floors, it is more especially noticed in Latin literature (Mart. 14.144; Ulp. Dig. 32, 7, 12): as regards the use of sponges by invalids in Roman baths, see BALNEAE Vol. I. p. 279. Small sponges were often fastened on a stick, and were then called peniculi (Ter. Eun. 4.7, 7; cf. Mart. 12.48; Plaut. Stich. 2.2, 23), and were then used not only with long sticks for cleaning walls, &c., but also with short handles for cleaning boots (Plaut. Menaechm. 2.3, 40; Fest. p. 230). The penicillus used for painting was no doubt generally a brush made with hair [PICTURA], but for laying on colour broadly and coarsely a penicillus made with sponge was also used (Plin. Nat. 9.148; Blümner, Technol. 4.429). For its use to obliterate writing, see Mart. 4.10; LIBER p. 59 a; Marquardt, Privatl. 824; and to this use also we must refer Aesch. Ag. 1283. Pliny (Plin. Nat. 9. § § 148-150) mentions especially the neighbourhood of Torone, the Syrtes, the Hellespont, and Malea as hunting-grounds for sponges, and the coasts of Lycia for the softest kind. Three kinds are distinguished--the hard and coarse τράγος, the softer μανός, and the fine ἀχίλλειον [cf. OCREA]. In this he is following Aristot. H. A. 5.16, p. 548. The searcher for sponges is called σπογγοθήρας, σπογγοκολυμβητὴς or σπογγεύς (Poll. 1.96, 7.137 Athen. 7. 282 c; Becker-Göll, Gallus, 1.36; Hermann-Blümner, iv. p. 31).


hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Homer, Odyssey, 1.111
    • Homer, Iliad, 18.414
    • Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 1283
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 9
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 12.48
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.144
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 4.10
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: