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 p893  Petaurum

Unsigned article on pp893‑894 of

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

PETAURUM (πέταυρον, πέτευρον) is said by the Greek grammarians to have been a pole or board, on which fowls roosted (Hesych. s.v.; Pollux, X.156).  p894 We also find the name of Petaurum in the Roman games, and considerable doubt has arisen respecting its meaning. It seems, however, to have been a board moving up and down, with a person at each end, and supported in the middle, something like our see-saw; only it appears to have been much longer, and consequently went to a great height than is common amongst us. Some writers describe it as a machine, from which those who exhibited were raised to a great height and then seemed to fly to the ground; but this interpretation does not agree so well with the passages of the ancient authors as the one previously mentioned (Lucil. ap. Fest. s.v. Petaurist. Juv. XIV.265; Mart. XI.21.3; Manil. V.433). The persons, who took part in this game, were called Petauristae or Petauristarii; but this name seems to have been also applied in rather a wider signification (compare Petron. 53).

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Page updated: 31 Oct 17