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p358 Corbis

Article by Anthony Rich, Jun. B.A. of Caius College, Cambridge
on p358 of

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

CORBIS, dim. CO′RBULA, CORBICULA, a basket of very peculiar form and common use among the Romans, both for agricultural and other purposes. It was made of osiers twisted together, and was of a conical or pyramidal shape (Var. L. L. V.139, ed. Müller; Isidor. Orig. XX.9; Cic. pro Sest. 38; Ov. Met. XIV.643; Plaut. Aul. II.7.4; Suet. Ner. 19). A basket answering precisely to this description, both in form and material, is still to be seen in everyday use among the Campanian peasantry, which is called in the language of the country "la corbella," a representation of which is introduced in the lower portion of the annexed woodcut. The hook attached to it by a string is for the purpose of suspending it to a branch of the tree into which the man climbs to pick his oranges, lemons, olives, or figs. The upper portion of the woodcut (Antichità di Ercolano, tom. III tav. 29) represents a Roman farm, in which a farming man, in the shape of a dwarfish satyr, is seen with a pole (ἀσίλλα) across his shoulder, to each end of which is suspended a basket resembling in every respect the Campanian corbella; all which coincidences of name, form and did not leave no doubt as to the identity of the term with the object represented.


[image ALT: Two distinct images, that together illustrate a type of basket known in Antiquity as a 'corbis'. The upper shows a caricatural scene with two dwarflike men surveying a landscape with two small towered buildings. One of them carries a curved staff, the other a pair of corbis-baskets at oppose ends of a pole slung across his shoulder. The lower depicts one of these baskets, lying on it side: it is roughly conical in shape, with a sharp point at the base, obviously for affixing it to the ground; and a hook attached to the handle.]


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Page updated: 13 Dec 06