The State Hermitage will open in the 7th of March 2007 an interesting exhibition devoted to the world and culture of aromas, perfumes and fragrances in the times of the Ancient Greece and Rome. The event will be hosted in the Arab Hall of the famous museum in St Petersburg.
It was mandatory in the Ancient times for the beautiful marble statues to be painted in bright, even intense colors, for them to resemble living people. This taste might seem too much today, as we are accustomed with the splendid and cold beauty of the Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture, but then it was very fashionable. But not only statues were painted over, but even the smallest and most trivial items, such as the vessels for cereals or dried fish, were carefully painted over and richly recorated. And literature was very important too, as the Iliad, for example, was copied over and over again in Ancient Greek, being the most copied work of those times.
The Antiquity was a free and rich world, filled with events, values and especially aromas. Aromas and perfumes were very important and valued at that time, but today, in order to catch a mere scent of the popular fragrances of that time, the only was is by studying the texts of the Ancient classics. For them, and especially for the Greeks, the aromas and perfumes played a key-role in everyday life, being a sign of respect, luxury, civilisation and a symbol of the Gods. The word aroma has Greek origin defined it all : perfumes, spices, fragrances, pleasant smelling medicines and others, in short what we now call cosmetics and perfumes. A perfume was maybe not the most powerfull odor, but was highly valued and useful in the Ancient World.
The State Hermitage has a rich collection of censers and flasks from that time, created to hold the fragrances and substances used for creating perfumes, by the masters of this art. Some of this bottles and flasks equal in their beauty the complicated and intriguing ones used in our time, being simply extraordinary works of art, real masterpieces. Today we know about these aromas mainly from the works of Ancient authors, as the writers and poets of those times were fascinated by the universe of aromas and often presented how these were used.
The exhibition at the State Hermitage presents an unique chance to discover this world and to dream with open eyes about returning evening for a quarter of an hour there and to sense the fragrances that trasformed the spirit then.