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p260 Cella

Article by Anthony Rich, Jun. B.A. of Caius College, Cambridge
on p260 of

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

CELLA, in its primary sense, means a store-room of any kind (Varro, De Ling. Lat. V.162, ed. Müller). Of these there were various descriptions, which took their distinguishing denominations from the articles they contained, as, for instance, the cella penuaria or penaria, the cella olearia and cella vinaria. The slave to whom the charge of these stores was intrusted, was called cellarius (Plaut. Capt. IV.2.115; Senec. Ep. 122), or promus (Colum. XII.3), or condus, "quia promit quod conditum est" (cf. Hor. Carm. I.9.7, III.21.8), and sometimes promus condus and procurator peni (Plaut. Pseud. II.2.14). This answers to our butler and housekeeper.

Any number of small rooms clustered together like the cells of a honeycomb (Virg. Georg. IV.164) were also termed cellae; hence the dormitories of slaves and menials are called cellae (Cic. Phil. II.27; Columella, I.6), and cella familiaricae (Vitruv. VI.10 p182) in distinction to a bedchamber, which was cubiculum. Thus a sleeping-room at a publichouse is also termed cella (Petron. 55). For the same reason the dens in a brothel are cellae (Petron. 8; Juv. Sat. VI.128). Each female occupied one to herself (Ibid. 122), over which her name and the price of her favours were inscribed (Senec. Controv. I.2); hence cella inscripta means a brothel (Mart. XI.45.1). Cella ostiarii (Vitruv. VI.10; Petron. 29), or janitoris (Suet. Vitell. 16), is the porter's lodge.

In the baths the cella caldaria, tepidaria, and frigidaria, were those which contained respectively the warm, tepid, and cold bath. [Balneae.]

The interior of a temple, that is the part included within the outside shell, σηκός (see the lower woodcut in Antae), was also called cella. There was sometimes more than one cella within the same peristyle or under the same roof; in which case they were either turned back to back, as in the temple of Rome and Venus, built by Hadrian on the Via Sacra, the remains of which are still visible; parallel to each other, as in the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus in the Capitol. In such instances each cell took the name of the deity whose statue it contained, as cella Iovis, cella Junonis, cella Minervae.


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Page updated: 24 Mar 07