The Ancient Library

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On this page: Ball, Games of – Ballista – Banks and Banking


Rome. Side by side with these there existed a number of private bakeries, which. made it their business to provide the finer sorts of bread, so numerous in antiquity.

Baking was carried on sometimes in fur­naces (such as are found in Pompeii), some­times in the kllbdnSs or krlbanos (Latin cllbanus). This was a clay vessel with a lid on the top and small holes in the sides, wider at the bottom than at the top. To heat it they surrounded it with hot ashes. The ancients were unacquainted with rye, and made their bread mostly of wheat, with several varieties depending on the quality of the flour and the mode of preparation. The loaves were generally round, and divided into four parts, to facilitate break­ing them.

Ball (Games of). Games of ball were among the commonest and most popular forms of exercise in antiquity, among the young and old alike. Playing went on in public places, such as the Campus Martins at Rome; and in gymnasia and thermce a room (sphceristerium, from the Greek sphaira, a ball) was set apart for the purpose, in which a professional attended to give instruction in the art (sphairistlkl). During the imperial period country-houses often had a sphceristerium attached to them. The balls (Lat. piles) were made of hair, feathers, or fig-seeds, covered with leather or many-coloured cloth. The largest (as, for instance, the Roman follis) were filled with air. At this time there were five sorts of ball: the small, the middle-sized, the large, the very large, and the inflated ball. In throwing the little ball the rule was that the arm should not rise above the shoulder. There were games for one, two, three, or a larger number of players. In many of these several small balls were used at once. Two of the games with the little ball may be mentioned, called by the Greeks Urdnfa and Aporraxis. In the urania (" sky-high ") the player threw the ball as high as possible, to be caught either by himself or his antagonist. In the aporraxis (" bounce-ball ") the ball was thrown obliquely to the ground, and its several rebounds were scored up until another player caught it with the flat of his hand and threw it back. In another form of the game the point was to keep tossing the ball up, as long as possible, with the open hand. A very favourite game at Rome was the trigon (" three-corner"), which required special dexterity with the

left hand. The game of episkyrSs, at first peculiar to Sparta, was played by a large number. It took its name from the line (skyrori) which separated the two sides. On this line the player took his stand to throw the ball; another line, behind the players, marked the point beyond which you might not go back in catching it. If you failed to catch the ball when standing within this line, you lost the game. Another game played by a large number was the harpastum (Latin) or phaininda (Greek). In this the player made as though he were going to send the ball to a particular man on the other side, and then suddenly threw it in another direction. The kOrykos was not so much a game as a trial of strength. The kOrykSs was a large leather bag filled with flour, sand, or fig-seeds. It hung from the ceiling so as to reach to about the middle of the player's body. His business was to keep the bag in increasingly violent motion, beating it back with breast and hands. Ballista. See artillery. Banks and Banking. Bankers were called by the Greeks trdpezrtta>, because they sat at tables in the market-places, the centre of all business transactions. They acted as money-changers, exchanging for a commis­sion heavy money or gold into smaller coin, and the moneys of different systems with each other. In commercial cities they would do a considerable trade in this way; the difference of standards and the uncertainty of the stamping of coins in Greece creating a great demand for their assistance. They also acted as money-lenders, both on a small and a large scale. Finally, they received money on deposit. People placed their money with them partly for safe custody, partly to facilitate the management of it. The depositors, according to their conven­ience, either drew out sums of money them­selves, or commissioned their banker to make payments to a third person. In this line the business of the banks was con­siderable. If a citizen had a large sum of money circulating in business, he probably preferred to put it in a bank, and to hand over to the banker the business of making his payments. Strangers too found that the banks offered them such facilities that they were glad to make considerable use of them. The bankers kept strict accounts of all the monies in their charge. If a person were making a payment to another who was a depositor at the same bank, the banker would simply transfer the requisite sum from one account to the other. The bankers

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