The Ancient Library

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On this page: Aquaelcium – Aqueducts – Arachne – Aratus


at Madaura in Numidia, of a wealthy and honourable family; the most original Latin writer of his time. Educated at Carthage, he went to Athens to study philosophy, especially that of Plato; then he travelled far and wide, everywhere obtaining initiation into the mysteries. For some time he lived in Rome as an advocate. After returning to Africa, he married a lady considerably older than himself, the mother of a friend, Emilia Pudentilla, whereupon her kinsmen charged him with having won the rich widow's hand by magic, and of having contrived the death of her son: a charge to which he replied with much wit in his oration De Magia (earlier than a.d. 161). He afterwards settled down at Carthage, and thence made excursions through Africa, delivering orations or lectures. Of the rest of his life and the year of his death nothing is known. Beside the Apologia above-mentioned, and a few rhetorical and philo­sophic writings, another work, his chief one, also survives, which was composed at a ripe age, with hints borrowed from a book of Lucian's. This is a satirical and fantastic moral romance, MetamorphasKn libri XI (de Aslno Aurlo), the adventures of one Lucius, who is transformed into an ass, and under that disguise has the amplest opportunities of observing, undetected, the preposterous doings of mankind. Then, enlightened by this experience, and with the enchantment taken off him by admission into the mys­teries of Osiris, he becomes quite a new man. Of the many episodes interwoven into the story, the most interesting is the beautiful allegorical fairy tale of Cupid and Psyche, so much used by later poets and artists. Throughout the book Apuleius paints the moral and religious conditions of his time with much humour and in lifelike colours, though his language, while clever, is often affected, bombastic, and disfigured by obso­lete and provincial phrases.

Aqnaellcium. The Roman name for a ceremony for bringing on rain. (See j jupiter.)

Aqueducts were not unfrequently con­structed by the Greeks, who collected the spring-water of neighbouring hills, by chan- \ nels cut through the rock, or by under­ground conduits of brick and stone work, into reservoirs, and thence distributed it by j a network of rills. An admirable work of this kind is the tunnel, more than a mile i in length, which was bored through the ! mountain now called Kastri, by the archi- I tect Eupalinus of Mfigara, probably under !

Polycrates (in the 6th century B.C.).—The Roman aqueducts are among the most magnificent structures of antiquity. Some of these were likewise constructed under­ground ; others, latterly almost all, con­veyed the water, often for long distances, in covered channels of brick or stone, over lofty arcades stretching straight through hill and valley. They started from a well­head (<:dput dquaruni) and ended in a reser­voir (castellum), out of which the water ran in Rome into three chambers, lying one above another, the lowest chamber sending it through leaden or clay pipes into the pub­lic fountains and basins, the middle one into the great bathing establishments, the uppermost into private houses. Private citizens paid a tax for the water they ob­tained from these public sources. Under the Republic the construction and repair of aqueducts devolved upon the censors, their management on the sediles, but from the time of Augustus on a special curator aqua-rum assisted by a large staff of pipe-mas­ters, fountain-masters, inspectors, and others, taken partly from the number of the public slaves. The amount of water brought into Rome by its numerous aqueducts, the first of which, the aqua Appia, was projected B.C. 312, may be estimated from the fact that the four still in use—aqua virgo (now Acqua Vergine, built by Agrippa b.c. 20), aqua Marcia (now Acqua Pia, b.c. 144), aqua Claudia (now Acqoa Felice, finished by Claudius a.d. 52), aqua Traiana (now Acqua Paola, constructed by Trajan a.d. Ill)—are sufficient to supply all the houses and innu­merable fountains of the present city in superfluity. Among the provincial aque­ducts, one is specially well preserved, that known as Pont du Gard, near Nimes, in the south of France (see cut on p. 48).

Arachne (= spider). Daughter of the Ly-dian purple-dyer Idmon, challenged Athena, of whom she had learnt weaving, to a weav­ing match. When the offended goddess tore up Arachne's web, which represented the loves of the gods, Arachne hung herself, but Athena changed her into a spider.

Aratus. A Greek poet, of Soli in Cilicia, about 270 B.C., contemporary of Callimachus and Theocritus. At the request of the Macedonian king Antigfinus Gonatas, at whose court he lived as physician, he wrote, without much knowledge of the subject, but guided by the works of Eudoxus and Theophrastus, an astronomical poem, Phce-nomina and PrognGsttea (aspects of the sky and signs of weather). Without genuine

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