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Earth for making bricks should never be extracted from a sandy or gravelly soil, and still less from one that is stony; but from a stratum that is white and cretaceous, or else impregnated with red earth.1 If a sandy soil must be employed for the purpose, it should at least be male2 sand, and no other. The spring is the best season for making bricks, as at midsummer they are very apt to crack. For building, bricks two years old are the only ones that are approved of; and the wrought material of them should be well macerated before they are made.

There are three different kinds of bricks; the Lydian, which is in use with us, a foot-and-a-half in length by a foot in breadth; the tetradoron; and the pentadoron; the word "doron" being used by the ancient Greeks to signify the palm3—hence, too, their word "doron" meaning a gift, because it is the hand that gives.—These last two kinds, therefore, are named respectively from their being four and five palms in length, the breadth being the same. The smaller kind is used in Greece for private buildings, the larger for the construction of public edifices. At Pitane,4 in Asia, and in the cities of Maxilua and Calentum in Farther Spain, there are bricks5 made, which float in water, when dry; the material being a sort of pumice-earth, extremely good for the purpose when it can be made to unite. The Greeks have always preferred walls of brick, except in those cases where they could find silicious stone for the purposes of building: for walls of this nature will last for ever, if they are only built on the perpendicular. Hence it is, that the Greeks have built their public edifices and the palaces of their kings of brick; the wall at Athens, for example, which faces Mount Hymettus; the Temples of Jupiter and Hercules at Patræ,6 although the columns and architraves in the interior are of stone; the palace of King Attalus at Tralles; the palace of Crœsus at Sardes, now converted into an asylum7 for aged persons; and that of King Mausolus at Halicarnassus; edifices, all of them, still in existence.

Muræna and Varro, in their ædileship, had a fine fresco painting, on the plaster of a wall at Lacedæmon, cut away from the bricks, and transported in wooden frames to Rome, for the purpose of adorning the Comitium. Admirable as the work was of itself, it was still more admired after being thus transferred. In Italy also there are walls of brick, at Arretium and Mevania.8 At Rome, there are no buildings of this description, because a wall only a foot-and-a-half in thickness would not support more than a single story; and by public ordinance it has been enacted that no partition should exceed that thickness; nor, indeed, does the peculiar construction of our party-walls admit of it.

1 "Rubrica."

2 See B. xxxi. c. 28.

3 Which was, as a measure, nearly three inches in breadth. See Introduction to Vol. III.

4 See B. v. c. 32.

5 Ajasson says that these bricks have been imitated by Fabroni, with a light argillaceous earth, found in the territory of Sienna. Delafosse thinks that a place called "Cala," in the Sierra Morena, probably marks the site of the cities above mentioned.

6 See B. iv. c. 5, and B. xxxvi. c. 4.

7 "Gerusia."

8 See B. iii. c. 19.

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  • Cross-references to this page (8):
    • Harper's, Funus
    • Harper's, Pictūra
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), FUCUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), FUNUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), LATER
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), TYRANNUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), PITANE
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), TRALLES
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