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p632 Inauris

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p632 of

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

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	INAURIS, an ear-ring; called in Greek ἐνώτιον, because it was worn in the ear (οὖς), and ἐλλόβιον, because it was inserted into the lobe of the ear (λοβός), which was bored for the purpose (Hom. Il. XIV.182, Hymn. II in Ven. 9; Plin. H. N. XII.1).

Ear-rings were worn by both sexes in oriental countries Plin. H. N. XI.50); especially by the Lydians (Xen. Anab. III.1 §31), the Persians (Diod. Sic. V.45), the Babylonians (Juv. I.104), and also by the Libyans (Macrob. Sat. VII.3), and the Carthaginians (Plaut. Poen. V.2.21). Among the Greeks and Romans they were worn only by females.

This ornament consisted of the ring (κρίκος, Diod. Sic. l.c.) and of the drops (stalagmia, Festus, s.v.; Plaut. Men. III.3.18). The ring was generally of gold, although the common people also wore ear-rings of bronze. See Nos. 1, 4, from the Egyptian collection in the British Museum. Instead of a ring a hook was often used, as shown in Nos. 6, 8. The women of Italy still continue the same practice, passing the hook through the lobe of the ear without any other fastening. The drops were sometimes of gold, very finely wrought (see Nos. 2, 7, 8), and sometimes of pearls (Plin. ll. cc.; Sen. de Ben. VII.9; Ovid, Met. X.265; Claud. de VI Cons. Honor. 528; Sen. Hippol. II.1.33), and precious stones (Nos. 3, 5, 6). The pearls were valued for being exactly spherical (Hor. Epod. VIII.13), as well as for their great size and delicate whiteness; but those of an elongated form, called elenchi, were also much esteemed, being adapted to terminate the drop, and being sometimes placed two or three together for this purpose (Plin. H. N. IX.56; Juv. VI.364). In the Iliad (XIV.182, 183), Hera, adorning herself in the most captivating manner, puts on ear-rings made with three drops resembling mulberries (see Eustath. ad loc.). Pliny observes (XI.50) that greater expense was lavished on no part of the dress than on the ear-rings. According to Seneca (l.c.) the ear-ring, No. 3, in the preceding woodcut, in which a couple of pearls are strung both above and below the precious stone, was worth a patrimony (see also De Vita Beata, 17). All the ear-rings above engraved belong to the Hamilton collection in the British Museum.

In opulent families the care of the ear-rings was the business of a female slave, who was called Auriculae Ornatrix (Gruter, Inscrip.). The Venus de' Medici, and other female statues, have the ears pierced, and probably once had ear-rings in them. The statue of Achilles at Sigeum, representing him in female attire, likewise had this ornament (Serv. in Virg. Aen. I.30; Tertull. de Pall. 4).

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Page updated: 30 Apr 08