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p1174 Turibulum

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p1174 of

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

TURIBULUM (θυμιατήριον), a censer. The Greeks and Romans, when they sacrificed, commonly took a little frankincense out of the Acerra and let it fall upon the flaming altar [Ara]. More rarely they used a censer, by means of which they burnt the incense in greater profusion, and which was in fact a small moveable grate or Foculus (Aelian, V. H. XII.51). The annexed woodcut, taken from an ancient painting, shows the performance of both these acts at the same time. Winckelmann (Mon. Ined. 177) supposes it to represent Livia, the wife, and Octavia, the sister of Augustus, sacrificing to Mars in gratitude for his safe return from Spain (Hor. Carm. III.14.5). The censer here represented has two handles for the purpose of carrying it from place to place, and it stands upon feet so that the air might be admitted underneath, and pass upwards through the fuel.


[image ALT: A three-legged brazier.]

As the censer was destined for the worship of the gods, it was often made of gold or silver (Ep. ad Heb. ix.4; Thucyd. VI.46) and enriched with stones and gems (Herod. IV.162; Cic. Verr. IV.21‑24). We find a silver censer in the official enumerations of the treasures presented to the Parthenon at Athens: its bars (διερείσματα) were of bronze (Böckh, Corp. Inscrip. vol. I pp198, 235, 238).


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