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p480 Exedra

Article by Philip Smith, B.A., of the University of London
on p480 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

EXEDRA (ἐξέδρα), which properly signifies a seat out of doors, came to be used for a chamber furnished with seats, and opening into a portico, where people met to enjoy conversation; such as the room which Vitruvius describes as opening on to the peristyle of the gynaeconitis of a Greek house [Domus], and as the rooms attached to a gymnasium, which were used for the lectures and disputations of the rhetoricians and philosophers [Gymnasium.] The former class of exedrae Vitruvius indeed calls by another name, namely παραστάς or παστάς, but the word ἐξέδρα occurs in Euripides (Orest. 1449) in this sense, and Pollux mentions the words ἐξέδραι and παστάδες as synonymous (VII.122). In this sense the word might be translated parlour.

In old Greek the word λέσχη appears to have had a similar meaning; but the ordinary use of the word is for 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, (Vitruv. V.11; VII.9; Cic. Orat. III.5, De Nat. Deor. I.6; Varro, R. R. III.5; Ulpian, Dig. 9 tit. 3 leg.5); 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. ad Fam. VII.23).


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