The Greek Roots of the Red Carpet: A Post-Oscar Must-Read

The History of the Red carpet traces back to Ancient Greece

Have you ever wondered when was the first red carpet ever held in history and why rolling out a red carpet indicates an honor for those stepping on it? The history of the red carpet goes back as far as ancient Greece.

The first red carpet event is described in the ancient Greek play Oresteia when Clytemnistra rolls out a carpet in honor of her husband, Agamemnon, as he returns victorious from the Trojan war.  The carpet may have been purple rather than red, although there are conflicting views on translation.

In the ancient Greek tragedy written by Aeschylus, she plays the loving, waiting wife and attempts to persuade Agamemnon to step on a red tapestry or carpet to walk into “his” palace as a true returning conqueror. The problem is that this might indicate hubris on Agamemnon’s part and anger the Gids so he is reluctant. Eventually, for reasons that are still heavily debated, Clytemnestra does persuade Agamemnon to cross the tapestry to enter the oikos, the home. Ever since, the red carpet has been rolled out to give a regal welcome.

In modern times red carpet  refers to a red colored rug, usually fairly long, that would be rolled out so that various dignitaries would receive what was considered a suitable welcome.

Some argue that the red carpet is now too much in use. Instead of being reserved for special occasions only, virtually every premiere of a film, and almost all award shows, large or small, feature a red-colored carpet, upon which guests walk, to theaters or auditoriums. Proceeding down the carpet is a way for actors and performers of other types to receive media attention, answer questions, and give information about the designers of their clothes and jewelry, who usually loan expensive items to stars in exchange for promotional statements by the star.

The weird part in Agamemnon’s story is that after he steps on the carpet, Clytemnistra murders him. In modern times the media have “murdered” many stars that walk the carpet with harsh criticism and questions in different occasions!

Watch the latest red carpet event that Greek Reporter covered a few days ago: