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 p220  Calamus

Article by Alexander Allen, Ph.D.,
on p220 of

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

CA′LAMUS (κάλαμος, Pollux, X.15), a sort of reed which the ancients used as a pen for writing (Cic. ad Att. VI.8; Hor. De Art. Poët. 447). The best sorts were got from Aegypt and Cnidus (Plin. H. N. XVI.36, 64). So Martial (XIV.38), "Dat chartis habiles calamos Memphitica tellus." When the reed became blunt, it was sharpened with a knife, scalprum librarium (Tac. Ann. V.8; Suet. Vitell. 2); and to a reed so sharpened the epithet temperatus, used by Cicero, probably refers (Cic. Ad Qu. F. II.15, "calamo et atramento temperato res agetur"). One of the inkstands given under the article Atramentum has a calamus upon it. The calamus was split like our pens, and hence Ausonius (VII.49) calls it fissipes or clovenfooted.

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Page updated: 1 Jul 13