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Bill Thayer

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p372 Article by Philip Smith, B.A., of the University of London
on p372 of

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

CUBITUS (πῆχυς), a measure of length used by the Greeks, Romans, and other nations, was originally the length of the human arm from the elbow to the wrist, or to the tip of the forefinger; the latter was its signification among the Greeks and Romans. It was equal to a foot and a half; and therefore the Roman cubit was a little less, and the Greek cubit a little more, than a foot and a half English. The cubit was divided by the Greeks into 2 spans (σπιθαμαί), 6 hand-breadths (παλαισταί), and 24 finger-breadths (δάκτυλοι), and by the Romans into 1½ feet, 6 breadths (palmi), and 24 thumb-breadths (pollices). (Wurm, De Pond. Mens. &c.; Hussey, On Ancient Weights, &c., see the Tables.) Respecting the Egyptian and other cubits, see Böckh, Metrol. Untersuch. p211.

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