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p119 Arca

Unsigned article on p119 of

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

ARCA, a chest or coffer.—

  1. A chest, in which the Romans were accustomed to place their money: the phrase ex arca solvere had the meaning of paying in ready money (cf. Cic. ad Att. I.6). These chests were either made of or bound with iron, or other metals (Juv. XI.26, XIV.259). The name arca was usually given to the chests in which the rich kept their money, and was opposed to smaller loculi (Juv. I.89), sacculus (Juv. XI.26), and crumena.

  2. Arca publica was used under the empire to signify the city-funds, which were distinct from the aerarium and the fiscus, and the administration of which belonged to the senate (Vopisc. Aurel. 20). The name arca was, however, also used as equivalent to fiscus, that is, the imperial treasury: thus, we read of the arca frumentaria, arca olearia, arca vinaria, &c. (Symm. X.33; compare Dig. 50 tit. 4 s1).a

  3. Arca also signified the coffin in which persons were buried (Aur. Vict. De Vir. Ill. 42; Lucan, VIII.736), or the bier on which the corpse was placed previously to burial (Dig. 11 tit. 7 s7).

  4. It was also a strong cell made of oak, in which criminals and slaves were confined (Cic. Pro Milon. c22; Festus, s.v. Robum).


Thayer's Note:

a imperial treasury: For the evolution of the term in the later Roman Empire, where the arca was a specific type of government fund, see Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire, ch. 2, p51.


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