Attica, or the Attic peninsula, is a historical region that encompasses the city of Athens, the capital of Greece. It is a peninsula projecting into the Aegean Sea, bordering on Boeotia to the north and Megaris to the west; the history of Attica is linked with that of Athens, the Golden Age of Athens during the classical period. Ancient Attica was divided into demoi or municipalities from the reform of Cleisthenes in 508/7 BC, grouped into three zones: urban in the region of Athens main city and Piraeus, coastal along the coastline and inland in the interior; the southern tip of the peninsula, known as Laurion, was an important mining region. The modern administrative region of Attica is more extensive than the historical region and includes Megaris as part of the regional unit West Attica, the Saronic Islands and Cythera, as well as the municipality of Troizinia on the Peloponnesian mainland, as the regional unit Islands. Attica is a triangular peninsula jutting into the Aegean Sea, it is divided to the north from Boeotia by the 10 mi long Cithaeron mountain range.
To the west of Eleusis, the Greek mainland narrows into Megaris, connecting to the Peloponnese at the Isthmus of Corinth. The western coast of Attica known as the Athens Riviera, forms the eastern coastline of the Saronic Gulf. Mountains separate the peninsula into the plains of Pedias and the Thriasian Plain; the mountains of Attica are the Hymettus, the eastern portion of the Geraneia, Parnitha and Penteli. Four mountains—Aigaleo, Parnitha and Hymettus —delineate the hilly plain on which the Athens urban area now spreads. Mesogeia lies to the east of Mount Hymettus and is bound to the north by the foothills of Mount Penteli, to the east by the Euboean Gulf and Mount Myrrhinous, to the south by the mountains of Lavrio and Laureotic Olympus; the Lavrio region terminates in Cape Sounion. Athens' water reservoir, Lake Marathon, is an artificial reservoir created by damming in 1920. Pine and fir forests cover the area around Parnitha. Hymettus, Penteli and Lavrio are forested with pine trees, whereas the rest are covered by shrubbery.
The Kifisos is the longest river of Attica. According to Plato, Attica's ancient boundaries were fixed by the Isthmus, toward the continent, they extended as far as the heights of Cithaeron and Parnes; the boundary line came down toward the sea, bounded by the district of Oropus on the right and by the river Asopus on the left. During antiquity, the Athenians boasted about being'autochthonic', to say that they were the original inhabitants of the area and had not moved to Attica from another place; the traditions current in the classical period recounted that, during the Greek Dark Ages, Attica had become the refuge of the Ionians, who belonged to a tribe from the northern Peloponnese. The Ionians had been forced out of their homeland by the Achaeans, forced out of their homeland by the Dorian invasion; the Ionians integrated with the ancient Atticans, afterward, considered themselves part of the Ionian tribe and spoke the Ionian dialect. Many Ionians left Attica to colonize the Aegean coast of Asia Minor and to create the twelve cities of Ionia.
During the Mycenaean period, the Atticans lived in autonomous agricultural societies. The main places where prehistoric remains were found are Marathon, Nea Makri, Thorikos, Agios Kosmas, Menidi, Spata and Athens. All of these settlements flourished during the Mycenaean period. According to tradition, Attica comprised twelve small communities during the reign of Cecrops, the legendary Ionian king of Athens. Strabo assigns these the names of Cecropia, Epacria, Eleusis, Thoricus, Cytherus, Sphettus and Phaleron; these were said to have been incorporated in an Athenian state during the reign of Theseus, the mythical king of Athens. Modern historians consider it more that the communities were progressively incorporated into an Athenian state during the 8th and the 7th centuries BC; until the 6th century BC, aristocratic families lived independent lives in the suburbs. Only after Peisistratos's tyranny and the reforms implemented by Cleisthenes did the local communities lose their independence and succumb to the central government in Athens.
As a result of these reforms, Attica was divided into a hundred municipalities, the demes, into three large sectors: the city, which comprised the areas of central Athens, Ymittos and the foot of Mount Parnes, the coast, that included the area between Eleusis and Cape Sounion and the area around the city, inhabited by people living on the north of Mount Parnitha and the area east of the mountain of Hymettus. Principally, each civic unit would include equal parts of townspeople and farmers. A “trittýs” of each sector constituted a tribe. Attica comprised ten tribes. During the classical period, Athens was fortified to the north by the fortress of Eleutherae, preserved well. Other fortresses are those of Oenoe and Aphidnae. To protect the mines at Laurium, on the coast, Athens was fortified by the walls at Rhamnus, Sounion, Anavyssos and Eleusis. Although these forts and walls had been constructed, Attica did not establish a fortification system un
The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, Hellenistic period, it is succeeded by medieval Greek. Koine is regarded as a separate historical stage of its own, although in its earliest form it resembled Attic Greek and in its latest form it approaches Medieval Greek. Prior to the Koine period, Greek of the classic and earlier periods included several regional dialects. Ancient Greek was the language of Homer and of fifth-century Athenian historians and philosophers, it has contributed many words to English vocabulary and has been a standard subject of study in educational institutions of the Western world since the Renaissance. This article contains information about the Epic and Classical periods of the language. Ancient Greek was a pluricentric language, divided into many dialects; the main dialect groups are Attic and Ionic, Aeolic and Doric, many of them with several subdivisions.
Some dialects are found in standardized literary forms used in literature, while others are attested only in inscriptions. There are several historical forms. Homeric Greek is a literary form of Archaic Greek used in the epic poems, the "Iliad" and "Odyssey", in poems by other authors. Homeric Greek had significant differences in grammar and pronunciation from Classical Attic and other Classical-era dialects; the origins, early form and development of the Hellenic language family are not well understood because of a lack of contemporaneous evidence. Several theories exist about what Hellenic dialect groups may have existed between the divergence of early Greek-like speech from the common Proto-Indo-European language and the Classical period, they differ in some of the detail. The only attested dialect from this period is Mycenaean Greek, but its relationship to the historical dialects and the historical circumstances of the times imply that the overall groups existed in some form. Scholars assume that major Ancient Greek period dialect groups developed not than 1120 BCE, at the time of the Dorian invasion—and that their first appearances as precise alphabetic writing began in the 8th century BCE.
The invasion would not be "Dorian" unless the invaders had some cultural relationship to the historical Dorians. The invasion is known to have displaced population to the Attic-Ionic regions, who regarded themselves as descendants of the population displaced by or contending with the Dorians; the Greeks of this period believed there were three major divisions of all Greek people—Dorians and Ionians, each with their own defining and distinctive dialects. Allowing for their oversight of Arcadian, an obscure mountain dialect, Cypriot, far from the center of Greek scholarship, this division of people and language is quite similar to the results of modern archaeological-linguistic investigation. One standard formulation for the dialects is: West vs. non-west Greek is the strongest marked and earliest division, with non-west in subsets of Ionic-Attic and Aeolic vs. Arcadocypriot, or Aeolic and Arcado-Cypriot vs. Ionic-Attic. Non-west is called East Greek. Arcadocypriot descended more from the Mycenaean Greek of the Bronze Age.
Boeotian had come under a strong Northwest Greek influence, can in some respects be considered a transitional dialect. Thessalian had come under Northwest Greek influence, though to a lesser degree. Pamphylian Greek, spoken in a small area on the southwestern coast of Anatolia and little preserved in inscriptions, may be either a fifth major dialect group, or it is Mycenaean Greek overlaid by Doric, with a non-Greek native influence. Most of the dialect sub-groups listed above had further subdivisions equivalent to a city-state and its surrounding territory, or to an island. Doric notably had several intermediate divisions as well, into Island Doric, Southern Peloponnesus Doric, Northern Peloponnesus Doric; the Lesbian dialect was Aeolic Greek. All the groups were represented by colonies beyond Greece proper as well, these colonies developed local characteristics under the influence of settlers or neighbors speaking different Greek dialects; the dialects outside the Ionic group are known from inscriptions, notable exceptions being: fragments of the works of the poet Sappho from the island of Lesbos, in Aeolian, the poems of the Boeotian poet Pindar and other lyric poets in Doric.
After the conquests of Alexander the Great in the late 4th century BCE, a new international dialect known as Koine or Common Greek developed based on Attic Greek, but with influence from other dialects. This dialect replaced most of the older dialects, although Doric dialect has survived in the Tsakonian language, spoken in the region of modern Sparta. Doric has passed down its aorist terminations into most verbs of Demotic Greek. By about the 6th century CE, the Koine had metamorphosized into Medieval Greek. Ancient Macedonian was an Indo-European language at least related to Greek, but its exact relationship is unclear because of insufficient data: a dialect of Greek; the Macedonian dialect (or l
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the second-century AD, who lived in the time of Roman emperors Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece, a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from his first-hand observations; this work provides crucial information for making links between classical literature and modern archaeology. Andrew Stewart assesses him as: A careful, pedestrian writer...interested not only in the grandiose or the exquisite but in unusual sights and obscure ritual. He is careless or makes unwarranted inferences, his guides or his own notes sometimes mislead him, yet his honesty is unquestionable, his value without par. Pausanias was born in 110 AD into a Greek family and was a native of Lydia. Before visiting Greece, he had been to Antioch and Jerusalem, to the banks of the River Jordan. In Egypt, he had seen the pyramids. While at the temple of Ammon, he had been shown the hymn once sent to that shrine by Pindar. In Macedonia, he appears to have seen.
Crossing over to Italy, he had seen something of the wonders of Rome. He was one of the first known to write of seeing the ruins of Troy, Alexandria Troas, Mycenae. Pausanias' Description of Greece is in each dedicated to some portion of Greece, he begins his tour in Attica, where the city of its demes dominate the discussion. Subsequent books describe Corinthia, Messenia, Achaea, Boetia and Ozolian Locris; the project is more than topographical. Pausanias digresses from the description of architectural and artistic objects to review the mythological and historical underpinnings of the society that produced them; as a Greek writing under the auspices of the Roman empire, he was in an awkward cultural space, between the glories of the Greek past he was so keen to describe and the realities of a Greece beholden to Rome as a dominating imperial force. His work bears the marks of his attempt to navigate that space and establish an identity for Roman Greece, he is not a naturalist by any means, although from time to time, he does comment on the physical realities of the Greek landscape.
He notices the pine trees on the sandy coast of Elis, the deer and the wild boars in the oak woods of Phelloe, the crows amid the giant oak trees of Alalcomenae. It is in the last section that Pausanias touches on the products of nature, such as the wild strawberries of Helicon, the date palms of Aulis, the olive oil of Tithorea, as well as the tortoises of Arcadia and the "white blackbirds" of Cyllene. Pausanias is most of Delphi, yet in the most secluded regions of Greece, he is fascinated by all kinds of depictions of deities, holy relics, many other sacred and mysterious objects. At Thebes he views the shields of those who died at the Battle of Leuctra, the ruins of the house of Pindar, the statues of Hesiod, Arion and Orpheus in the grove of the Muses on Helicon, as well as the portraits of Corinna at Tanagra and of Polybius in the cities of Arcadia. Pausanias has the instincts of an antiquary; as his modern editor, Christian Habicht, has said, In general, he prefers the old to the new, the sacred to the profane.
Some magnificent and dominating structures, such as the Stoa of King Attalus in the Athenian Agora or the Exedra of Herodes Atticus at Olympia are not mentioned. Unlike a Baedeker guide, in Periegesis Pausanias stops for a brief excursus on a point of ancient ritual or to tell an apposite myth, in a genre that would not become popular again until the early nineteenth century. In the topographical part of his work, Pausanias is fond of digressions on the wonders of nature, the signs that herald the approach of an earthquake, the phenomena of the tides, the ice-bound seas of the north, the noonday sun that at the summer solstice, casts no shadow at Syene. While he never doubts the existence of the deities and heroes, he sometimes criticizes the myths and legends relating to them, his descriptions of monuments of art are unadorned. They bear the impression of reality, their accuracy is confirmed by the extant remains, he is frank in his confessions of ignorance. When he quotes a book at second hand he takes pains to say so.
The work left faint traces in the known Greek corpus. "It was not read", Habicht relates. The only manuscripts of Pausanias are three fifteenth-century copies, full of errors and lacunae, which all appear to depend on a single manuscript that survived to be copied. Niccolò Niccoli had this archetype in Florence in 1418. At his death in 1437, it went to the library of San Marco, Florence it disappeared after 1500; until twentieth-century archaeologists concluded that Pausanias was a reliable guide to the sites they were excavating, Pausanias was la
William Smith (lexicographer)
Sir William Smith was an English lexicographer. He made advances in the teaching of Greek and Latin in schools. Smith was born in Enfield in 1813 of Nonconformist parents, he attended the Madras House school of John Allen in Hackney. Destined for a theological career, he instead was articled to a solicitor. In his spare time he taught himself classics, when he entered University College London he carried off both the Greek and Latin prizes, he was entered at Gray's Inn in 1830, but gave up his legal studies for a post at University College School and began to write on classical subjects. Smith next turned his attention to lexicography, his first attempt was A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, which appeared in 1842, the greater part being written by him. Followed the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology in 1849. A parallel Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography appeared in 1857, with some leading scholars of the day associated with the task. In 1867, he became editor of a post he held until his death.
Meanwhile, he published the first of several school dictionaries in 1850, in 1853 he began the Principia series, which marked an advance in the school teaching of Greek and Latin. Came the Student's Manuals of History and Literature, of which the English literature volume went into 13 editions, he himself wrote the Greek history volume. He was joined in the venture by the publisher John Murray when the original publishing partner met difficulties. Murray was the publisher of the 1214-page Latin–English Dictionary based upon the works of Forcellini and Freund that Smith completed in 1855; this was periodically reissued over the next thirty-five years. It goes beyond "classical" Latin to include many entries not found in other dictionaries of the period, including Lewis and Short; the most important of the books Smith edited were those that dealt with ecclesiastical subjects. These were the Dictionary of the Bible; the Atlas, on which Sir George Grove collaborated, appeared in 1875. From 1853 to 1869 Smith was classical examiner to the University of London, on his retirement he became a member of the Senate.
He sat on the Committee to inquire into questions of copyright, was for several years registrar of the Royal Literary Fund. He edited Gibbon, with Guizot's and Milman's notes, in 1854–1855. Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology Smith was created a DCL by Oxford and Dublin, the honour of a knighthood was conferred on him in 1892, he died on 7 October 1893 in London. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Smith, Sir William". Encyclopædia Britannica. 25. Cambridge University Press. Pp. 270–271. Works by William Smith at Project Gutenberg Works by or about William Smith at Internet Archive "Smith, Sir William". A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. 1910 – via Wikisource. A Short History of Ancient Greece with notes, study links and illustration by Elpenor Online facsimile version of Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology Online facsimile version of Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities
Cecrops was a mythical king of Attica which derived from him its name Cecropia, having borne the name of Acte or Actice. He was the founder and the first king of Athens itself though preceded in the region by the earth-born king Actaeus of Attica. Cecrops was a culture hero, teaching the Athenians marriage and writing, ceremonial burial; the name of Cecrops was not of Greek origin according to Strabo, or it might mean'tail-face': it was said that, born from the earth itself and was accordingly called a γηγενής, described as having his top half shaped like a man and the bottom half in serpent or fish-tail form. Hence he was called διφυής or of two natures. Diodorus rationalized that his double form was because of his double citizenship and barbarian; some ancients referred the epithet διφυής to marriage. Cecrops married Aglaurus, the daughter of Actaeus, former king of the region of Attica, whom he succeeded to the throne, it is disputed. Erysichthon predeceased him, he was succeeded by Cranaus, said to have been one of the wealthiest citizens of Athens at that time.
Cecrops was the father of three daughters: Herse and Aglaurus. To them was given a box or jar containing the infant Erichthonius to guard unseen, they looked, terrified by the two serpents Athena had set within to guard the child, they fled in terror and leapt from the Acropolis to their deaths. Some accounts say. Cecrops was represented in the Attic legends as the author of the first elements of civilized life such as marriage, the political division of Attica into twelve communities, as the introducer of a new mode of worship, he was said to have been the first who deified Zeus, ordained sacrifices to be offered to him as the supreme Deity. Cecrops was affirmed to have been the first who built altars and statues of the gods, offered sacrifices, instituted marriage among the Athenians, before his time, it seems, lived promiscuously. Pausanias tells us that he forbade the sacrificing of any living creatures to the gods, as well as any sort of other offering, only allowing cakes formed into the shape of an ox with horns, called by the Athenians Pelanous, which signifies an ox.
He is said to have taught his subjects the art of navigation. Some make him the founder of the areopagus; the Acropolis was known as the Cecropia in his honor. The Athenians are said to have called themselves Cecropidæ, during the reigns of the five following kings, in his honor. During his reign which lasted for 50 years, the gods resolved to take possession of cities in which each of them should receive his own peculiar worship. Athena became the patron goddess of the city of Athens in a competition with Poseidon as judged by Cecrops; the two raced ferociously towards the Acropolis and it was a close race. Poseidon was the first that came to Attica and struck the acropolis with his trident and thereby created a salt sea, known in times by the name of the Erechthean well, from its being enclosed in the temple of Erechtheus. After him came Athena who having called on Cecrops to witness her act of taking possession, she planted an olive tree on the hill of the acropolis which continued to be shewn in the Pandrosium down to the latest times.
But when the two strove for possession of the country, Zeus parted them and appointed arbiters, not, as some have affirmed and Cranaus, nor yet Erysichthon, but the twelve gods. And in accordance with their verdict the country was adjudged to Athena, because Cecrops bore witness that she had been the first to plant the olive. Athena, called the city Athens after herself, Poseidon in hot anger flooded the Thriasian plain and laid Attica under the sea. A rationalistic explanation of the fable was propounded by the eminent Roman antiquary Varro. According to him, the olive-tree appeared in Attica, at the same time there was an eruption of water in another part of the country. So king Cecrops sent to inquire of Apollo at Delphi; the oracle answered that the olive and the water were the symbols of Athena and Poseidon and that the people of Attica were free to choose which of these deities they would worship. Accordingly, the question was submitted to a general assembly of the citizenesses. All the men voted for the god, all the women voted for the goddess.
Chagrined at the loss of the election, the male candidate flooded the country with the water of the sea, to appease his wrath it was decided to deprive women of the vote and to forbid children to bear their mother's names for the future. The Athenians said that the contest between Poseidon and Athena took place on the second of the month Boedromion, hence they omitted that day from the calendar; the name of Cecrops occurs in other parts of Greece where there existed a town of the name of Athenae, such as in Boeotia, where he is said to have founded the ancient towns of Athenae and Eleusis on the river Triton, where he had a heroum at Haliartus. Tradition there called him a son of Pandion. In Euboea, which had a town Athenae, Cecrops was called a son of Erechtheus and Praxithea, a grandson of Pandion. Fro
Greek mythology is the body of myths told by the ancient Greeks. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities and mythological creatures, the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself; the Greek myths were propagated in an oral-poetic tradition most by Minoan and Mycenaean singers starting in the 18th century BC. Two poems by Homer's near contemporary Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, contain accounts of the genesis of the world, the succession of divine rulers, the succession of human ages, the origin of human woes, the origin of sacrificial practices. Myths are preserved in the Homeric Hymns, in fragments of epic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of the tragedians and comedians of the fifth century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Age, in texts from the time of the Roman Empire by writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias.
Aside from this narrative deposit in ancient Greek literature, pictorial representations of gods and mythic episodes featured prominently in ancient vase-paintings and the decoration of votive gifts and many other artifacts. Geometric designs on pottery of the eighth century BC depict scenes from the Trojan cycle as well as the adventures of Heracles. In the succeeding Archaic and Hellenistic periods and various other mythological scenes appear, supplementing the existing literary evidence. Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture and literature of Western civilization and remains part of Western heritage and language. Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in the themes. Greek mythology is known today from Greek literature and representations on visual media dating from the Geometric period from c. 900 BC to c. 800 BC onward. In fact and archaeological sources integrate, sometimes mutually supportive and sometimes in conflict.
Mythical narration plays an important role in nearly every genre of Greek literature. The only general mythographical handbook to survive from Greek antiquity was the Library of Pseudo-Apollodorus; this work attempts to reconcile the contradictory tales of the poets and provides a grand summary of traditional Greek mythology and heroic legends. Apollodorus of Athens wrote on many of these topics, his writings may have formed the basis for the collection. Among the earliest literary sources are the Iliad and the Odyssey. Other poets completed the "epic cycle", but these and lesser poems now are lost entirely. Despite their traditional name, the "Homeric Hymns" have no direct connection with Homer, they are choral hymns from the earlier part of the so-called Lyric age. Hesiod, a possible contemporary with Homer, offers in his Theogony the fullest account of the earliest Greek myths, dealing with the creation of the world. Hesiod's Works and Days, a didactic poem about farming life includes the myths of Prometheus and the Five Ages.
The poet gives advice on the best way to succeed in a dangerous world, rendered yet more dangerous by its gods. Lyrical poets took their subjects from myth, but their treatment became less narrative and more allusive. Greek lyric poets, including Pindar and Simonides, bucolic poets such as Theocritus and Bion, relate individual mythological incidents. Additionally, myth was central to classical Athenian drama; the tragic playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides took most of their plots from myths of the age of heroes and the Trojan War. Many of the great tragic stories took on their classic form in these tragedies; the comic playwright Aristophanes used myths, in The Birds and The Frogs. Historians Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, geographers Pausanias and Strabo, who traveled throughout the Greek world and noted the stories they heard, supplied numerous local myths and legends giving little-known alternative versions. Herodotus in particular, searched the various traditions presented him and found the historical or mythological roots in the confrontation between Greece and the East.
Herodotus attempted to reconcile the blending of differing cultural concepts. The poetry of the Hellenistic and Roman ages was composed as a literary rather than cultic exercise, it contains many important details that would otherwise be lost. This category includes the works of: The Roman poets Ovid, Valerius Flaccus and Virgil with Servius's commentary; the Greek poets of the Late Antique period: Nonnus, Antoninus Liberalis, Quintus Smyrnaeus. The Greek poets of the Hellenistic period: Apollonius of Rhodes, Pseudo-Eratosthenes, Parthenius. Prose writers from the same periods who make reference to myths includ
The public domain consists of all the creative works to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable; the works of William Shakespeare and Beethoven, most early silent films, are in the public domain either by virtue of their having been created before copyright existed, or by their copyright term having expired. Some works are not covered by copyright, are therefore in the public domain—among them the formulae of Newtonian physics, cooking recipes, all computer software created prior to 1974. Other works are dedicated by their authors to the public domain; the term public domain is not applied to situations where the creator of a work retains residual rights, in which case use of the work is referred to as "under license" or "with permission". As rights vary by country and jurisdiction, a work may be subject to rights in one country and be in the public domain in another; some rights depend on registrations on a country-by-country basis, the absence of registration in a particular country, if required, gives rise to public-domain status for a work in that country.
The term public domain may be interchangeably used with other imprecise or undefined terms such as the "public sphere" or "commons", including concepts such as the "commons of the mind", the "intellectual commons", the "information commons". Although the term "domain" did not come into use until the mid-18th century, the concept "can be traced back to the ancient Roman Law, as a preset system included in the property right system." The Romans had a large proprietary rights system where they defined "many things that cannot be owned" as res nullius, res communes, res publicae and res universitatis. The term res nullius was defined as things not yet appropriated; the term res communes was defined as "things that could be enjoyed by mankind, such as air and ocean." The term res publicae referred to things that were shared by all citizens, the term res universitatis meant things that were owned by the municipalities of Rome. When looking at it from a historical perspective, one could say the construction of the idea of "public domain" sprouted from the concepts of res communes, res publicae, res universitatis in early Roman law.
When the first early copyright law was first established in Britain with the Statute of Anne in 1710, public domain did not appear. However, similar concepts were developed by French jurists in the 18th century. Instead of "public domain", they used terms such as publici juris or propriété publique to describe works that were not covered by copyright law; the phrase "fall in the public domain" can be traced to mid-19th century France to describe the end of copyright term. The French poet Alfred de Vigny equated the expiration of copyright with a work falling "into the sink hole of public domain" and if the public domain receives any attention from intellectual property lawyers it is still treated as little more than that, left when intellectual property rights, such as copyright and trademarks, expire or are abandoned. In this historical context Paul Torremans describes copyright as a, "little coral reef of private right jutting up from the ocean of the public domain." Copyright law differs by country, the American legal scholar Pamela Samuelson has described the public domain as being "different sizes at different times in different countries".
Definitions of the boundaries of the public domain in relation to copyright, or intellectual property more regard the public domain as a negative space. According to James Boyle this definition underlines common usage of the term public domain and equates the public domain to public property and works in copyright to private property. However, the usage of the term public domain can be more granular, including for example uses of works in copyright permitted by copyright exceptions; such a definition regards work in copyright as private property subject to fair-use rights and limitation on ownership. A conceptual definition comes from Lange, who focused on what the public domain should be: "it should be a place of sanctuary for individual creative expression, a sanctuary conferring affirmative protection against the forces of private appropriation that threatened such expression". Patterson and Lindberg described the public domain not as a "territory", but rather as a concept: "here are certain materials – the air we breathe, rain, life, thoughts, ideas, numbers – not subject to private ownership.
The materials that compose our cultural heritage must be free for all living to use no less than matter necessary for biological survival." The term public domain may be interchangeably used with other imprecise or undefined terms such as the "public sphere" or "commons", including concepts such as the "commons of the mind", the "intellectual commons", the "information commons". A public-domain book is a book with no copyright, a book, created without a license, or a book where its copyrights expired or have been forfeited. In most countries the term of protection of copyright lasts until January first, 70 years after the death of the latest living author; the longest copyright term is in Mexico, which has life plus 100 years for all deaths since July 1928. A notable exception is the United States, where every book and tale published prior to 1924 is in the public domain.