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E´XEDRA or EXHEDRA (ἐξέδρα) is properly a recessed seat built out from a portico and opening into it (Marquardt, Privatl. 242 n.); usually of a semicircular shape, hence called absis in a glossary ap. Mai Auctar. Class. 3.459; and probably identical with the hemicyclium of Cic. de Am. 1, § 2 [HEMICYCLIUM]. Hence it came to mean, among the Greeks, a hall or colonnade furnished with recessed seats, where people met to enjoy conversation; such as the rooms which opened on to the peristyle of the andronitis [DOMUS p. 662 a] (Vitruvius says gynaeconitis, but this is a mistake, ib. 660 b) ; or in the gymnasia and schools of philosophers. Vitruvius reckons exedrae with peristylia as open buildings, where colours would fade in the strong sunlight (7.9.2), but they must have included also covered halls, cool and shady (Lucian, Anachars. 16, p. 895 R; Becker-Göll, Charikles, 2.233). Late writers (e. g. Pollux, 7.123) sometimes identify the ἐξέδρα with the παστάς, a room on the side of the peristyle facing the entrance [DOMUS p. 662 b]; but this applies only to Roman times and manners (Hermann-Blümner, Privatalterth. p. 150 n.). The use of the word in Eur. Orest. 1449 is peculiar; the slaves are driven, some to the house, some to the stables, others to the ἐξέδραι, i. e. apparently to “out-houses:” the gloss ἀπόπατοι, however supported by similar words (ἀφεδρών, θᾶκος), would be a comic touch quite out of keeping.

In early Greece the λέσχη was simply a lounge or place of gossip, not a building at all; in later times the word denoted a larger and more public place of resort than the ἐξέδρα [LESCHE].

Among the Romans the word had a wider meaning, answering to both the Greek terms, ἐξέδρα and λέσχη. Thus it is not only used to signify a chamber for ordinary resort and conversation in a private house, or in the public baths and gymnasia open to the sun and air (Vitr. 5.11, 7.9; Cic. Orat. 3.5.17, de Nat. Deor. 1.6.15; Varro, R. R. 3.5.8 ; Ulpian, Dig. 9, 3, 5.2), but the word is even applied to the hall attached to the theatre of Pompey, which was used as a place of meeting by the senate (Plut. Brut. 14, 17). The diminutive exedrium also occurs (Cic. Fam. 7.2. 3).

[P.S] [W.W]

hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 7.2.3
    • Euripides, Orestes, 1449
    • Vitruvius, On Architecture, 5.11
    • Vitruvius, On Architecture, 7.9
    • Cicero, De Amicitia, 1
    • Plutarch, Brutus, 14
    • Plutarch, Brutus, 17
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