The diffusion of fragrance is intimately tied to the ancient Greek civilization. From the Cretomycenian era (1500 b.c.), the ancient Greeks believed in the existence of divine entities revealed by aromas and fragrances.
But not only, after centuries of exclusive divine appanage, man became more and more aware of the pleasure of fragrance.
Believed to be of divine or fabled origin, fragrances were essential for worship: after the animal offerings, rare perfumed substances such as myrrh and incense were burned. Equally, birth, marriage, and death were accompanied by fumigations and perfumed anointing due to their purifying virtues. Fragrance covered an even greater role in funerals, because it favoured the passage to the afterlife. The body was wrapped in perfumed sheets and burnt or buried with precious containers and fragrant plants such as rose, lily and violet, without doubt symbols of eternal life.
In ancient Greece, beauty myth and culture found a perfect synthesis with fragrance. The "euodia", or the good odours – a divine research tool - reached their height in the refined Athens of Pericle. Some examples: "susinon" based on lily or "kipros" based on mint and bergamot. And despite the veto of some illustrious characters such as Socrates, the importance attributed to fragrance is confirmed by the famous "The treatment of odours" by Theophrastus a basic text of ancient perfumery.
In ancient Greece, air and bodies were perfumed. Since the time of Homer, during banquets, guests feet were washed as a sign of hospitality then garlands of flowers were offered, perfumed wines, rose-oil ointments and clove oil. In Crete, before participating in the famous shows with the Mycenae bulls, the athletes would anoint their bodies with perfumed oil.
The ancient Greeks created a true bodily hygiene and plastic beauty culture. Body fragrance became part of daily life and was the finishing touch to female beauty. The use of fragrance as an offering was by now profane: it was used by men and women and had strong sexual connotations.
In medicine Hippocrates cited remedies based on sage, mallow and cumin used as fumigations, rubs and baths. After their ablutions in the public baths, places of socialization, men and women would perfume their bodies with iris and marjoram oils.
The natural flora of the country offered numerous aromatic plants. Vegetable oils, such as olive oil, allowed the ancient Greeks to fix fragrances. Alexander the Greats’ conquests, the discovery of the Spice and Aroma Trade, introduced the use of sandalwood, cinnamon, nutmeg, spikenard, benzoin and costus. Fragrances also started to use aromas of animal origin for the first time: beaver, musk, civet and grey amber. During the time of ancient Greece, fragrance became a finished and exportable product. The raw materials came from the whole known world.