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p1183 Vannus


[image ALT: A fragment of an ancient bas-relief depicting a baby in a basket by two dancing bacchantes clothed in skins, the one male and carrying a thyrsus, the other female and carrying a torch. It is an illustration of the type of Roman basket called a 'vannus'.]

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p1183 of

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

VANNUS (λικμός, λίκνον), a winnowing-fan, i.e., a broad basket, into which the cornº mixed with chaff (acus, ἄχυρα) was received after thrashing, and was then thrown in the direction of the wind (Col. de Re Rust. II.21; Virg. Georg. III.134). It thus performed with greater effect and convenience the office of the pala lignea, or winnowing-shovel. [Pala.] Virgil (Georg. I.166) dignifies this simple implement by calling it mystica vannus Iacchi. The rites of Bacchus, as well as those of Ceres, having a continual reference to the occupations of rural life, the vannus was borne in the processions celebrated in honour of both these divinities. Hence Λικνίτης (Hesych. s.v.) was one of the epithets of Bacchus. In an Antefixa in the British Museum (see the annexed woodcut) the infant Bacchus is carried in a vannus by two dancing bacchantes clothed in skins, the one male and carrying a Thyrsus, the other female and carrying a torch [Fax]. Other divinities were sometimes conceived to have been cradled in the same manner (Callim. Jov. 48; Schol. in loc.; Hom. H. in Merc. 254). The vannus was also used in the processions to carry the instruments of sacrifice and the first fruits or other offerings, those who bore them being called the λικνοφόροι (Callim. Cer. 127).


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