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With gold my tablets were not costly made,
On common box the sordid wax was laid. The tables were used as being more convenient for correction by erasure. The writing when completed was thence transcribed into Volumina, or books of parchment, whether intended for sale or to be deposited in the library for private use.
This method of making use of tablets or diptychs is particularly recommended by Quintilian'; and Ovid, in the story of Caunus and Byblis, minutely describes the usage: Byblis it will be remembered is about to address her brother by letter ;
.... Then fits her trembling hands to write:
The wax thus fill'd with her successless wit,
She verses in the utmost margin writ. 2
i Institutes, book x. chap. 2.
library, as also rooms appropriated to philosophical discussion. The probable and comparative extent to which the bibliomania was carried at Rome may be inferred from the circumstance of Serenus Samonicus, a physician of the age of Severus, having left his library of 62,000 volumes to M. Antonius Africanus Gordianus, who had been his pupil. The splendid and matchless library at Althorp, in Northamptonshire, belonging to Earl Spencer, is at present computed at about 33,000 volumes.
The Ecı, or SALOONS. The term Ecus is derived from Greece, where it was used to imply the House; but the Romans, in the arrangement of their more ample mansions, gave it the signification of Saloon! A small room of this description, or
· Vitruvius's Architecture, book vi. chap. 5, 6, and 10. Saloon, the term here used to express a spacious hall or kind of state room, is derived from the French salon, but perhaps came originally from the German sal.
one adorned with only four columns, was denominated Tetrastyle, from that circumstance; its form was square, and consequently its height was equal to one breadth and a half. The columns supported an entablature, or beams, encrusted with gilded enrichments', and the floor was of mosaic. There is no proof that the Greeks were acquainted with the last species of decoration. Dr. Clarke considers that the tessellated pavement, or Lithostratum, was introduced into Rome from Persia in the time of Sylla, and succeeded the painted floor of the Greeks". Pliny is replete in his description of all kinds of mosaic pavements, which, as objects of elegance and curiosity, were in high request amongst the Romans. The first essays in this species of art only presented lines of various forms made of stones of different colours, In a short time glass, united to the most precious marbles, and to pastes susceptible of polish
Statius, lib. 1. Sylvæ 2. v. 153. 2 Clarke's Travels, vol. v. p. 123.
and capable of resisting the action of water, enabled the artists in mosaic to form complete pictures. Landscapes even were composed, with men and animals tinted with the different shades that the accidents of light and the passions give to animated beings'.
In the Eci, or Banqueting-rooms, of which
· The best examples of the orthodox portraits of Christ, the Madonna, and the Apostles, are to be found in the mosaics which generally encrust the absis of the ancient Basilicæ at Rome. It is probable that it was from one of these early designs, which may be traced as high at least as Constantine, that Nicephorus composed his description, The tessellated pavement in Westminster Abbey Church was brought from Rome in the reign of Henry III.; the materials are porphyry, lapis lazuli, jasper, alabaster, Lydian and ser, pentine marbles, and touchstone. The pieces are of different sizes, many of them scarcely half an inch square, and the largest not more than four inches, with the exception of the principal centres; the whole was highly polished. The modern mosaic is said to be composed of a semivitrified substance called fritta, mostly manufactured at Venice. It is cut with a diamond, and then with an iron hammer broken into cubes of different sizes, which are immersed in a strong plaster.
there were several, the centre of each of the walls was painted; and as every room in a Roman mansion bore its distinct name', that with one of the Seasons represented on each side would be termed The Hall of the Seasons : a room so decorated was found at Herculaneum.
A Corinthian Hall was surrounded by columns of that order of architecture upon pedestals, and was panelled with spotted marbles procured from the islands of Thasos and Lesboso. The vaulted ceiling, divided into caissons or sunk panels of stucco, was enriched with gilt and coloured ornaments, and harmonized with the variety of marbles shining on all sides through the opening purposely made in the
1 Plutarch in his Life of Lucullus.-Tiberius's twelve villas in the Isle of Capri, had the name of a deity attached to each of them, the most conspicuous and most favoured of which was the Villa Jovis, where the Emperor, after the defeat of Sejanus's conspiracy, retired for the space of eight successive months : considerable remains of this villa still exist.-Hoare's Italy.
2 Vitruvius, book vi. chap. 5, 6 and 10.