In ancient Greece, as in ancient Egypt, only persons of the highest social rank possessed much furniture. Most Greek citizens owned only a three-legged stool and perhaps a crudely made table.
The Greeks borrowed many furniture forms, including the bed and the couch, from the Egyptians. Beds became major pieces of household decoration in ancient Greece because they were used for dining as well as for sleeping. During a meal, a person would lie on the bed on his or her side, leaning on one elbow for support.
Greek artisans produced a variety of seating furniture. The most important were the thrones made for people of high rank. Some thrones had a low back decorated with one or more carvings of animal heads. Others had a high back with flowerlike carvings. The arm supports were in the form of rams' heads. The most common type of Greek chair, called the klismos, had curved legs. The front legs curved forward, and the rear legs curved to the back.
Most Greek tables had three legs that ended in feet shaped like hoofs or paws. Greek artisans decorated the finest furniture with inlaid patterns of fine wood, silver, gold, and gems. They either carved ivory to form the feet or cast them in silver or bronze.
Ancient Rome (700's B.C. - A.D. 400's)
What is a curule?
The Romans borrowed many furniture forms from the Greeks but gave them a distinctly Roman character. For example, the Romans used more bronze and silver in their furniture than did the Greeks. Romans used the Greek klismos but made it heavier and larger. They also covered it with upholstery. Roman furniture makers adopted a Greek stool design and developed it into a stool called a curule. The curule had two pairs of legs. The delicate, curved legs in each pair were crossed in the form of an X.
Tables were very popular among the Romans. Many tables had three or four legs connected by crossbars. The slab table was a major Roman contribution to table design. The tabletop consisted of a large slab of marble or wood, which rested on carved upright marble slabs. Artisans sculptured various designs into the upright slabs, including animals, flowers, fruits, and vines.
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