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p1011 Scamnum

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh
on p1011 of

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

SCAMNUM, dim. SCABELLUM, a step which was placed before the beds of the ancients in order to assist persons in getting into them, as some were very high: others which were lower required also lower steps, which were called scabella (Varro, de Ling. Lat. V.168; Isidor. XX.11; Ovid, Ars Am. II.211). A scamnum was sometimes also used as a foot-stool (Ovid, Ars Am. I.162). A scamnum extended in length becomes a bench, and in this sense the word is frequently used. The early Romans, before couches were introduced among them, used to sit upon benches (scamna) before the hearth when they took their meals (Ovid. Fast. VI.305). The benches in ships were also sometimes called scamna. In the technical language of the agrimensores a scamnum was a field which was broader than it was learning, and one that was longer than broad was called striga (Varii Auctor. Rei Agr. pp46, 125, 198, ed. Goes). In the language of the Roman peasantry a scamnum was a large clod of earth which had not been broken by the plough (Colum. II.2).


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