What Is The Function Of The Petal In A Flower Perfume In Ancient Greece

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Perfume In Ancient Greece

Perfume has been a coveted commodity since ancient times, and many of the techniques used are still used to some extent today. Looking at ancient attitudes towards perfumes, it is surprising to discover how much they actually reflect the expectations of them today. To understand its nature in ancient Greece, historians rely on written sources, excavated mosaics and other pictorial representations, and artifacts such as perfume bottles. From these objects, a lot can be determined about the function, importance and production in ancient Greece.

The art of perfume making began on an island like Crete and other Greek colonies. It was taken to the agora or market and sold from stalls. The ancient Greeks quickly began experimenting with them and created their own extraction techniques that involved boiling the herbs and flower petals. Using these methods, the necessary plant ingredients were isolated, and then perfumes were made by infusing the extracted scents into oils. The process was a simple version of modern techniques, but it was able to create a wide variety of them that can be enjoyed today.

The ingredients were mainly native flowers such as iris and marjoram, roses, lilies and violets. Herbs and spices such as sage and cumin were also used. Frankincense and myrrh were considered decadent and were perfume ingredients reserved for the gods until the 4th century when tastes, ideology and availability changed. Like other ancient civilizations, the ancient Greeks imported eastern essences to create more exotic perfumes. However, unlike other civilizations, they kept them mainly for their own needs and not for export.

Perfume was a central part of life in ancient Greece. It was so popular that the politician Solon temporarily banned it to prevent an economic crisis. It was at the center of hospitality, wealth, status, everyday life and even philosophy. It was considered erotic, mystical and spiritual. He was associated with beauty which was inextricably linked with divinity. The origin of perfume and perfumery is intertwined with Greek mythology. In the Homeric tradition, the Olympian gods taught people perfumery. The color and fragrance of the rose are attributed to the events surrounding Venus and Cupid.

Perfume was worn by both men and women and was a central part of cultic worship as it was thought to please the gods and be able to gain their favor. It covered the smell of the sacrifice during the ceremony, and was used as a good sign for marriage and the birth of a child. Babies were smeared with it for good health. She was also key to death. Scented meals were carried at the head of the funeral procession. Bodies were burned wrapped in scented shrouds that were thought to help ensure a happy afterlife. Other bodies were buried with vessels containing it, again as sacrifices to the gods.

Perfume was also an integral part of cleanliness, and was used by both men and women in complex bathing rituals. It was so widespread that the philosopher Socrates openly disliked it and rejected its use, arguing that it made a free man indistinguishable from a slave. After training, athletes used perfumes for medicinal purposes in the form of balms and ointments. This is an early recognition of possible therapeutic and medicinal properties reminiscent of attitudes towards aromatherapy and aromatology in modern times. Hospitality also required an abundance of perfume, as the guest’s feet were washed and anointed before sitting down. Some wines were also perfumed according to the works of Apicius, in the hope that they would have medicinal properties.

With such obvious importance of perfume, it is not surprising that it was stored in bottles in the shape of birds or animals, sometimes only a few centimeters in size. Many have been found from around the 6th century BC and are known as plastics. In fact, perfume bottles are made of spun ceramic and usually have a shape that reflects the type of perfume that will be contained.

Lekutos were used for liquid perfumes and were thin elegant glass bottles. Aryballes were used for oils and fats. Alabastron perfume bottles were highly prized, mostly among women, and it was common for artisans to stamp the bottles to mark their craftsmanship, making them even more collectible. As you can see, there are many similarities with modern attitudes towards perfumes.

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