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Bill Thayer

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 p1140  Torus

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p1140 of

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

TORUS, a bed;a originally made of straw (Plin. H. N. VIII.48 s73), hay, leaves, woolly plants (Mart. XIV.160, 162), sea-weed (de mollibus ulvis, Ovid, Met. VIII.656), also stuffed with wool, and afterwards with feathers (XI.611), or swans-down (Mart. XIV.161), so as to be as much raised and as soft as possible (Virg. Aen. VI.603; Ovid, Amor. II.4.14). It was sometimes covered with the hide of a quadruped (Virg. Aen. VIII.177), but more commonly with sheets or blankets, called Toralia (Hor. Sat. II.4.84, Epist. I.5.22). The torus may be observed on the sopha in the first woodcut, p308; and its appearance there may suffice to explain the transference of its name to the larger semi-circular mouldings in the base of columns. [Atticurges; Spira.]

Thayer's Note:

a Not really; this is misleading. The standard word for a bed is Lectus (q.v.). The basic meaning of torus is a bolster or a cushion, as Lewis & Short has it; and for those of us who live in garrets, the closest equivalent might even be a futon. Bed is a derived meaning (as in "to hit the sack").

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Page updated: 5 Oct 07