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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