The Ancient Library

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On this page: a – Abacus – Abolla – Absyrtus – Academy – Acamas – Acarnan – Amphoterus – Acastus – Acca Larentia – Accensi

Abacus (Gr. Sbax, dbdklSn). \\) A square

plate, especially the stone slab that covers the capital of a column (see architecture, orders of, figs. 1 and 6). (2) A dice-board. (3) A mathematician's table strewn with fine sand, on which figures were drawn with a stilus. (4) A counting-board, on which sums were worked for private and public accounts. The reckoning was done with counters lying on the board (calculi) or with beads sliding in vertical grooves. (On the sideboard called Abacus, see tables.)

Abolla. A thick woollen cloak, worn by Homan soldiers and philosophers.

Absyrtus. Son of king jEetes, and bro­ther of Medea, who, in her flight with Jason the Argonaut, cut Absyrtus into pieces, and threw them one by one into the sea, so that her father, stopping to pick them up, might be delayed in his pursuit.

Academy (Gr. Akademla). A grove on the Cephissus near Athens, sacred to the hero Academus, and containing a gymna­sium. Here Plato, whose country-house was near, delivered his lectures; hence the school of philosophy founded by him received the name of " The Academy."

Acamas (Gr. Akdmas). Son of Theseus and Phaedra, was brought up with his brother DemSphob'n by Elephenor, king of Euboea, and sent with Diomedes as ambassador to Troy, to persuade Priam to send Helen back in peace. After the fall of Troy, in which he took a prominent part as one of the heroes concealed in the wooden horse, he with his brother recovered his father's sovereignty over Attica, and then led a colony from Athens to Cyprus, where he died. (Comp. demophoon, 2.)

Acarnan and AmphSterus (Gr. Akarnan, Amphoterfis). Sons of Alcmaeon and Cal-lirrhoe. Their mother, hearing of her hus­band's murder by Phegeus and his sons, prays Zeus, who loves her, to let her boys grow up into men at once, so that they can avenge their father. This done, they slay the sons of Phegeus at Tegea and himself at Psophis, offer up at Delphi the Jewels of Harmonia, which they have thus acquired,

and then found a kingdom called after the elder of them Acarnania. (See alphe-sibcea.)

Acastus (Gr. Akastds). Son of Pgllas, king of lolcos, who joined the Argonautic expedition, though against his father's will, as a friend of Jason. At his father's death he celebrated funeral games which were the theme of ancient poets and artists, and in which Peleus was represented as par­ticipating. He took part in the Calydonian boar-hunt. But his wife Astydameia fell in love with Peleus (q.v.), and this brought ruin on the wedded pair. His daughter was La5dameia, renowned for her tender love to Protesllaus (q.v.).

Acca Larentia. According to the com­mon legend, wife of the herdsman Faustulus, and nurse to Romulus and Rgmus ; accord­ing to another, a favourite of Hercules, and wife to a rich Etruscan, Tarutius, whose possessions she bequeathed to Romulus or (according to another account) the Roman people. She is said to-have had twelve sons, with whom she sacrificed once a year for the fertilizing of the Roman fields (arva), and who were thence named Arval Brothers (fratres arvales). One of them having died, Romulus took his place, and founded the priesthoodso called. (SeeARVALBROTHERS.) She at last disappeared on the spot where, afterwards, at the feast of Larentalia (Dec. 23), the flamen of Quirlnus and the pontiffs sacrificed to her while invoking Jupiter. All this, together with her name, meaning " mother of the Lares," shows that she was originally a goddess of the earth, to whose care men entrusted their seed-corn and their dead. (See lares.) In particular she per­sonified the city lands and their crops. Probably she is the Dea Dla worshipped by the Arval Brothers.

Accensi. In the older constitution of the Roman army, the accensi were men taken from the lowest assessed class to fill gaps in the ranks of the heavy-armed soldiers. They followed the legion un­armed, simply in their clothes (velatl, or accensi velnf-i). In action they stood in the

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All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.