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Bill Thayer

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 p667  Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p667 of

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

LANX, dim. LANCULA, a large dish, made of silver or some other metal, and sometimes embossed, used at splendid entertainments to hold meat or fruit (Cic. ad Att. VI.1; Hor. Sat. II.2.4, II.4.41; Ovid, de PontoIII.5.20; Petron. 31); and consequently at sacrifices (Virg. Georg. II.194, 394, Aen. VIII.284, XII.215; Ovid. de PontoIV.8.40) and funeral banquets (Propert. II.13.23). The silver dishes, used by the Romans at their grand dinners, were of a vast size, so that a boar, for example, might be brought whole to table (Hor. l.c.). They often weighed from 100 to 500 pounds (Plin. H. N. XXXIII.52).​a

The balance (Libra bilanx, Mart. Cap. II.180) was so called, because it had two metallic dishes (Cic. Acad. IV.12, Tusc. V.17; Virg. Aen. XII.725; Pers. IV.10).

Thayer's Note:

a The most famous lanx today is a fairly small one, not 50 cm long, the size of a small tea-tray: while not the biggest nor the most elaborate, owing its fame to having been found more or less by itself rather than as part of a large hoard, the Corbridge Lanx (q.v.) is an excellent example of Late Antique silver work, "embossed", as our article says, with mythological scenes that took two hundred years to unravel.

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Page updated: 29 Aug 12