Breeze of the Gods
Don Arp Jnr
In ancient Greece, the scent of perfume was thought to signal the presence of a god. Breeze of the Gods starts its exploration of perfume in ancient Greece in the realm of these gods, searching for the mythological origins of perfume in the nebulous and complex interaction of gods and men. From there, the exploration follows perfumes development in the secular world, examining ingredients, production techniques, trade relationships, and pottery. The perfumes of ancient Greece held a resemblance, at least in ingredients, to what we would recognize as perfume today. Lilies, bergamot, thyme, saffron, and dozens of other substances played a role in perfume.
In Greece, spices were more sought after for perfume than flowers, but both played significant roles in developing the scents of the time. Like today, a waft of perfume was not as simple as it seemed and carried with it complicated implications of wealth, social status, and social philosophy. The wealthy embraced perfume and the poor sought out cheaper forms to emulate the rich, causing a race to find more exotic ingredients that could be used to distinguish one’s social standing from other perfume users. The great thinkers of the time declared war on the substances, from Solon’s legal reforms that made the production of perfume illegal to Socrates who contended that the odor of exercise was the proper emblem of a free man. Breeze of the Gods explores these olfactory aspects of ancient Greece and allows us to explore history with our sense of smell.