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Bill Thayer

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 p91  Ampulla

Unsigned article on p91 of

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

AMPULLA (λήκυθος, βομβύλιος), a bottle, usually made either of glass or earthenware, rarely of more valuable materials. Bottles both of glass and earthenware are preserved in great quantities in our collections of antiquities, and their forms are very various, though always narrow-mouthed, and generally more or less approaching to globular. From their round and swollen shape, Horace applies the word, as the Greeks did λήκυθος, to indicate grand and turgid, but empty, language (Hor. Ep. I.3.14, de Ar. Poët. 97). Bottles were used for holding all kinds of liquids, and are mentioned especially in connection with the bath. Every Roman took with him to the bath a bottle of oil (ampulla olearia), for anointing the body after bathing, and as such bottles frequently contained perfumed oils we read of ampullae cosmianae (Mart. III.82.26). A bottle of this kind is figured under Balneum.

The dealer in bottles was called ampullarius, and part of his business was to cover them with leather (corium). A bottle so covered was called ampulla rubida (Plaut. Rud. III.4.51, Stich. II.1.77, compared with Festus, s.v. Rubida).

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Page updated: 19 Nov 06