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 p1097  Tapes/Tapete

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on pp1097‑1098 of

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

TAPES or TAPE′TE (Non. Marcell. p229, ed. Merceri), τάπης, τάπις, or δάπις, dim. δαπίδιον, a piece of tapestry, a carpet.

The use of tapestry was in very ancient times characteristic of Oriental rather than European habits (Athen. II p48, n.); we find that the Asiatics, including the Egyptians and also the Carthaginians, who were of Asiatic origin, excelled in the manufacture of carpets, displayed them on festivals and other public occasions, and gave them as presents to their friends (Xen. Anab. VII.3 §18, 27). They were nevertheless used by the Greeks as early as the age of Homer (Il. XVI.224, XXIV.230, 645, Od. IV.298, VII.337), and by some of the later Roman Emperors they were given as presents to the combatants at the Circensian Games (Sidon. Apoll. Carm. XXIII.427). The places most renowned for the manufacture were Babylon (Arrian, Exped. Alex. VI. p436, ed. Blanc.; Sidon. Apoll. Epist. IX.13), Tyre and Sidon (Heliodor. V p252, ed. Commelin.), Sardes (Athen. II p48B, VI p255E, XII. p514C; Non. Marcell. p542), Miletus (Aristoph. Ran. 542), Alexandria (Plaut. Pseud. I.2.13), Carthage (Athen. I p28A), and Corinth (Athen. I p27D). In reference to the texture, these articles were distinguished into those which were light and thin with but little nap, chiefly made at Sardes and called ψιλοτάπιδες (Athen. VI. p255E, XII. p514C; Diog. Laërt. V.72), and those in which the nap (μαλλός) was more abundant, and which were soft and woolly (οὔλοι, Hom. Il. XVI.224; μαλακοῦ ἐρίοιο, Od. IV.124). The thicker and more expensive kinds (μαλλωτοί) resembled our baize or drugget, or even our soft and warm blankets, and were of two sorts, viz. those which had the nap on one side only (ἑτερόμαλλοι), and those which had it on both sides, called ἀμφίταποι (Athen. V. p197B, VI. p255E; Diog. Laërt. V.72, 73), amphitapae (Non. Marcell. p540; Lucil. Sat. I. p188, ed. Bip.), or ἀμφιτάπητες (Eustath. in Hom. Il. IX.200), and also ἀμφίμαλλοι or amphimalla (Plin. H. N. VIII.48 s73). Instead of being always used, like blankets, in single pieces as they came from the loom [Pallium], carpets were often sewed together (Plaut. Stich. II.2.54). They were frequently of splendid colours, being dyed either with the kermes (Hor. Sat. II.6.102‑106) or with the murex (ἁλουργεῖς, ἁλιπορφύροι), and having figures, especially hunting-pieces, woven into them (Sidon. Apoll. l.c.; Plaut. Pseud. I.2.14). These fine specimens of tapestry were spread upon thrones or chairs, and upon benches, couches, or sofas, at entertainments (Hom. Il. IX.200, Od. XX.150; Virg. Aen. I.639, 697‑700; Ovid. Met. XIII.638; Cic. Tusc. V.21), more especially at the nuptials of persons of distinction. Catullus (Argon. 47‑220) represents one to have been so employed, which exhibited the whole story of Theseus and Ariadne. They were even used to sleep upon (Hom. Il. X.156; Anac. VIII.1, 2; Theocrit. XV.125; Aristoph. Plut. 540; Virg. Aen. IX.325, 358), and for the clothing of horses (Aen. VII. 277). The tapestry used to decorate the bier and catafalque at the Apotheosis of a Roman Emperor was interwoven with gold (Herodian, IV.2, p82, ed. Bekker). The orientals upon occasions of state and ceremony spread carpets both over their floors and upon the ground (Aeschyl. Agam. 879‑936; Athen. IV. p131B, XII. p514C).

Besides the terms which have now been explained, the same articles of domestic furniture had denominations arising from the mode of using them, either in the Triclinium (triclinaria Babylonica, Plin. H. N. VIII.48 s74) or in the Cubiculum (cubicularia polymita, Mart. XIV.150), and especially from the constant practice of spreading them out (textile stragulum, Cic. Tusc. V.21; stratum, C. Nepos, Ages. VIII.2; vestis stragula, Liv. XXXIV.7; Hor. Sat. II.3.118; στρωμναί, Plut. Lycurg. p86, ed. Steph.; Athen. IV. p142A, στρώματα, II p48D). The Greek term peristroma, which was transferred into the Latin (Diog. Laërt. l.c.; Plaut. Stich. II.2.54; Cic. Phil. II.27), had a  p1098 special signification, meaning probably a coverlet made so large as to hang round the sides of the bed or couch.

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