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p108 Apsis

Article by Philip Smith, B.A., of the University of London
on p108 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

APSIS or ABSIS (ἁψίς), in its literal meaning from ἄπτω, is a fastening of any kind; for example, the meshes of a net (Hom. Il. V.487). It was applied specially to the joining together the extremities of a piece of wood, so as to give it the shape of a bow; and hence it came to signify anything of that shape, such as a bow, an arch, or a wheel (Hes. Op. 424; Herod. IV.72). A potter's wheel is described, in the Anthology, as κύκλος ἁψῖδος. The next transition of meaning is to anything vaulted (for example, ἡ ὐπουρανία ἁψίς, the vault of heaven, Plat. Phaedr. p247B); and in this sense it was adopted in architecture, first, for any building or portion of a building of a circular form, or vaulted (Plin. Epist. II.17 § 18), and more especially for the circular and vaulted end of a Basilica (Paul. Nol. Ep. 12; Augustin. Ep. 203; Isid. Orig. XV.8). For other applications of it, all with the general meaning of a vault or curve, see Forcellini.

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Page updated: 3 Sep 06