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p707 Librator

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh
on p707 of

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

LIBRA′TOR is in general a person who examines things by a Libra; but the name was, in particular, applied to two kinds of persons.

1. Librator aquae, a person whose knowledge was indispensable in the construction of aqueducts, sewers, and other structures for the purpose of conveying a fluid from one place to another. He examined by a hydrostatic balance (libra aquaria) the relative heights of the places from and to which the water was to be conducted. Some persons at Rome made this occupation their business, and were engaged under the curatores aquarum, though architects were also expected to be able to act as libratores (Plin. Epist. X.41;º Frontin. de Aquaed. 105; cf. Vitruv. VIII.6; Cod. 10 tit. 66 s.1).

2. Libratores in the armies were probably soldiers who attacked the enemy by hurling with their own hands (librando) lances or spears against them (Tacit. Ann. II.20, XIII.39; in both these passages some MSS. have libritores.) Lipsius (ad Tacit. Ann. l.c.) thinks that the libratores were men who threw darts or stones against the enemy by means of machines, tormenta (compare his Poliorcet. IV.3). But this supposition can scarcely be supported by any good authority. During the time of the republic libratores are not mentioned in the Roman armies.


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