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Litra

p709 Article by Philip Smith, B.A., of the University of London
on p709 of

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

LITRA (λίτρα), a word which was used by the Greeks of Sicily in their system of weights and money, and which occurs as early as in the fragments of Simonides and Epicharmus, is evidently another form of the Italian word libra, as we are told by Festus (s.v. Lues, "Λίτρα enim libra est"). It was the unit of an uncial system similar to that used in the Roman and Italian weights and money [As; Libra], its twelfth part being called ὀγκία (the Roman uncia), and six, five, four, three, and two of these twelfth parts being denominated respectively ἡμίλιτρον, πεντόγκιον, τετρᾶς, τριᾶς, and ἑξᾶς. As a coin, the λίτρα was equal in value to the Aeginetan obol; and hence the origin of the word may be explained, by supposing that the Greeks of Sicily, having brought with them the Aeginetan obol, afterwards assimilated their system of coinage to that used by their Italian neighbours, making their obol to answer to the libra, under the name of λίτρα. In the same way a Corinthian stater of ten obols was called in Syracuse a δεκάλιτρον, or piece of ten litras (Aristot. ap. Pollux, IV.24.173, III.6.80; Müller, Dor. III.10 §12). See Nummus and Pondera.

The cotyla, used for measuring oil, which is mentioned by Galen [Cotyla], is also called by him λίτρα. Here the word is only a Greek form of libra [see Libra, sub fin.].


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