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Bill Thayer

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p634 Incus

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p634 of

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

[image ALT: A woodcut of an old man, bearded and completely naked, standing, holding some flaming object with a pair of tongs against an anvil, and preparing to strike it with a hammer. Behind him a roughly sketched work bench or table with another flame. It is an illustration of the ancient god Vulcan plying his trade as a smith.]
	INCUS (ἄκμων, an anvil. The representations of Vulcan and the Cyclopes on various works of art, show that the ancient anvil was formed like that of modern times. When the smith wanted to make use of it, he placed it on a large block of wood (ἀκμόθετον, Hom. Il. XVIII.410, 476, Od. VIII.274; positis incudibus, Virg. Aen. VII.629; VIII.451); and when he made the link of a chain, or any other object which was round or hollow, he beat it upon a point projecting from one side of the anvil. The annexed woodcut, representing Vulcan forging a thunderbolt for Jupiter, illustrates these circumstances; it is taken from a gem in the Royal Cabinet at Paris. It appears that in the "brazen age," not only the things made upon the anvil, but the anvil itself, with the hammer and the tongs, were made of bronze. (Hom. Od. III.433, 434; Apollon. Rhod. IV.761, 762.) [Malleus.]

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Page updated: 13 Dec 06