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p872 Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on pp872‑873 of

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

PATINA (λεκάνη, dim. λεκάνιον al. λεκάριον, λεκανίσκη, Athen. VI p268, λεκανὶς, second dim. λεκανίδιον, Bekker, Anec. 794), a basin or bowl of earthenware, rarely of bronze (Pallad. de Re Rust. p873I.40; Plin. H. N. XXXIV.11 s25) or silver (Treb. Poll. Claud. p208C).

patina, covered with a lid (operculum), was sometimes used to keep grapes instead of a jar (Col. de Re Rust. XII.43), a proof that this vessel was of a form intermediate between the Patera and the Olla, not so flat as the former, nor so deep as the latter. Hence it is compared to the crater (Schol. in Aristoph. Acharn. 1109). [Crater.] This account of its shape accords with a variety of uses to which it was applied, viz., to hold water and a sponge for washing (Aves, 1143, 1146), in vomiting (Nub. 904), and in smelting the ore of quicksilver (Plin. H. N. XXXIII.8 s41). But its most frequent use was in cookery and pharmacy (Plin. H. N. XXIII.2 s33). Although the patera and the olla were also used, the articles of diet were commonly prepared, sometimes over a fire (Plaut. Pseud. III.2.51; Plin. H. N. XVIII.11 s26, XXII.25 s80), and sometimes without fire, in a patina, and more especially when they were accompanied with sauce or fluid (Hor. Sat. I.3.80). Hence the word occurs in almost every page of Apicius De Opsoniis [Opsonium]; and hence came its synonym, ὀψοδόκη (Photius, Lex s.v.). In the same bowl the food was commonly brought to table (Xen. Cyrop. I.3, § 4; Athen. IV p149, f.-->; Plaut. Mil. III.1.164; Ter. Eun. IV.7.46; Hor. Sat. II.8.43), an example of which is λεκάνιον τῶν λαγῷων κρεῶν, i.e. "a basin of stewed hare" (Aristoph. Acharn. 1109). But it is to be observed, that dishes [Lanx, Patera] were used to bring to table those articles of food, the form and solidity of which were adapted to such vessels.

The silver bowl was sometimes ornamented, as with ivy-leaves (hederata, Treb. Poll. l.c.), or by insertion of mirrors (specillata, Fl. Vopisc. Probus, p234, ed. Salmasii).a These bowls weighed from 10 to 20 lbs. each. Vitellius, wishing to obtain an earthenware bowl of immense size, had a furnace constructed on purpose to bake it (Plin. H. N. XXXV.12 s46; Juv. IV.130‑134.)

A method of divination by the use of a basin (λεκανομαντεία) is mentioned by Tzetzes on Lycophron, V.813.

Thayer's Note:

a Most unlikely; the Loeb editor translates "polished to reflect the light", which is almost certainly what the author meant.

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Page updated: 29 Sep 12