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p732 Marsupium

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p732 of

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


[image ALT: An engraving of a naked man holding a caduceus and a drawstring purse, standing behind four rams. It represents Mercury and illustrates the Greco-Roman marsupium or purse.]

MARSUPIUM (μαρσύπιον, βαλάντιον), a purse (Non. Marcellus, s.v.; Varro, de Re Rust. III.17; Plaut. Men. II.1.29, II.3, 33, 35, V.7.47, Poen. III.5.37, Rud. V.2.26; Xen. Conviv. IV.2).

The purse used by the ancients was commonly a small leathern bag, and was often closed by being drawn together at the mouth (σύσπαστα βαλάντια, Plat. Conviv. p404, ed. Bekker). Mercury is commonly represented holding one in his hand, of which the annexed woodcut from an intaglio in the Stosch collection at Berlin, presents an example.


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Page updated: 17 Oct 07