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Bill Thayer

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 p985  Regula

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on pp985‑986 of

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

REGULA (κανὼν), the ruler used by scribes for drawing right lines with pen and ink (Brunck, Anal. III.69, 87); also the rule used by carpenters, masons, and other artificers, either for drawing straight lines or making plane surfaces (Aristoph. Ran. 798; Vitruv. VII.3 §5). That it was marked with equal divisions, like our carpenter's rules,​a is manifest from the representations of it among the "Instrumenta fabrorum tignariorum," in the woodcuts at pp283,º 806. The substance, in which the lines were made, was raddle or red ochre (μίλτος, Brunck, Anal. I.221; φοίνικι κανόνι, Eurip. Herc. Fur. 925). [Linea.]º The  p986 scale-beam is sometimes called κανὼν instead of ζυγόν. [Jugum.]

Thayer's Note:

a the ruler was marked with equal divisions: Oddly though, the idea of the tape measure does not seem to have occurred to the ancients: the 1c A.D. doctor Cornelius Celsus, when he wants to measure a patient's waist on successive days, suggests you use a string, marking it by hand (III.21.8).

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Page updated: 12 Mar 03