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 p270  Chalcidicum

Article by Anthony Rich, Jun. B.A. of Caius College, Cambridge
on p270 of

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

CHALCI′DICUM is merely defined by Festus (s.v.) as a sort of building (genus aedificii), so called from the city of Chalcis, but what sort is not explained; neither do the inscriptions or the passages of ancient writers, in which the word occurs, give any description from which a conclusion can be drawn with certainty respecting the form, use, and locality of such buildings.

Chalcidica were certainly appurtenances to some basilicae (Vitruv. V.1), in reference to which the following attempts at identification have been suggested:— 1. A mint attached to the basilica, from χαλκὸς and δίκη, which, though an ingenious conjecture, is not supported by sufficient classical authority. 2. That part of a basilica which lies directly in front of the tribune, corresponding to the nave in a modern church, of which it was the original, where the lawyers stood, and thence termed navis causidica. 3. An apartment thrown out at the back of a basilica, either on the ground floor or at the extremity of the upper gallery, in the form of a balcony. 4. Internal chambers on each side of the tribune for the convenience of the judices, as in the basilica of Pompeii. 5. The vestibule of a basilica, either in front or rear; which interpretation is founded upon an inscription discovered at Pompeii, in the building appropriated to the fullers of cloth (fullonica):—

Eumachia · L · F · sacerd · pub · * * * *
* * * * * * chalcidicum · cryptam porticus
* * * sua · pqunia · fecit · eademque · dedicavit ·

By comparing the plan of the building with this inscription, it is clear that the chalcidicum mentioned can only be referred to the vestibule. Its decorations likewise correspond in richness and character with the vestibule of a basilica described by Procopius (De Aedific. Justin. I.10), which is twice designated by the term χαλκῆ. The vestibule of the basilica at Pompeii is shown upon the plan on page 199, a.

In another sense the word is used as a synonymeº with coenaculum. "Scribuntur Dii vestri in tricliniis coelestibus atque in chalcidicis aureis coenitare" (Arnobius, p149). These words, compared with Hom. Od. XXIII.1,

Γρηῢς δ’ εἰς ὑπερῷ ἀνεσβήσατο καγχαλόωσα,

and the translation of ὑπερῷον by Ausonius (Perioch. xiii. Odyss.),

"Chalcidicum gressu nutrix superabat anili,"

together with the known locality of the ancient coenacula, seem fully to authorise the interpretation given. (Turneb. Advers. XIII.34; Salmas. in Spart. Pescen. Nigr. c12 p677).

Finally, the word seems also to have been used in the same sense as maenianum, a balcony (Isid. De Orig.;º Reinesius, Var. Lect. III.5).

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Page updated: 20 Feb 08