The Ancient Library

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On this page: Rhyton – Ricinium – Rings – Roads



RhytSn. A hind of drinking-horn. (See vessels.)

RIcInium. A covering for the head worn by the Roman women (See clothing.)

Rings. Among the Greeks and Romans these were worn originally only as signet-rings on the fourth finger of the left hand. Among the Romans of the olden time, as among the Spartans, they were exclusively of iron. Then golden rings came in as dis­tinguishing marks of senators and magis­trates, and afterwards also of knights. It was only in the course of the imperial age that the golden signet-ring lost its original meaning, and became finally a sign of free birth, or of the privileges thereto attached. Extravagant sums were paid for ornamental rings, the value of which consisted partly in the stone itself, partly in the art dis­played in the stone-cutting. Among the Greeks this kind of luxury arose at an early time ; among the Romans it began only in the last years of the Republic, while it considerably increased under the Empire. Men, as well as women, used sometimes to wear rings on all their fingers.

Roads. The earliest levelled roads in

\ Greece were the " sacred ways." These

led to the most important religious centres,

i where national festivals were celebrated,

such festivals also serving the purpose of

public markets or fairs. In general, the

f Greeks set a high value on excellent and

j well-levelled roads, which made travelling

easy. But, in the best days of Greece, only

unpaved roads were known, paved roads

being of comparatively late origin.

The grandest work in ancient road-making was that done by the Romans, who, mainly for military purposes, connected

; Rome with her newly acquired provinces by means of high-roads. They laid out their roads as far as possible in straight lines. The nature of the ground is almost entirely disregarded; where mountains intervened they were broken through, and interposing streams and valleys were spanned with

j bridges and viaducts.

The first Roman high-road, which, even in its present condition, is worthy of admira­tion, was the Via AppiS, so called after the censor Appius Claudius, who constructed it. It was made in b.c. 312 to join Rome to Capua, and was afterwards continued as far as Brundtsium. This " queen of roads," as it is called [by Statius, Silvce ii 2,12, Appia longarwn teritur regina viarum], was a stone causeway, constructed, according to the nature of the country, with an embank­ment either beneath or beside it, and was, of such a width that two broad wagons.

(1) * VIA APPIA, NEAR ARICCIA. (Caninn, Arch. Bom., tav. 183.)

could easily pass each other. [Fig. 1 shows partof this road below the village of Ariccia, where it runs for a considerable distance on an embankment faced with freestone, and with massive balustrades and seats on both sides, as well as vaulted openings in the basement to serve as outlets for the mountain streams.] The surface was paved with polygonal blocks of hard stone, gene­rally basalt, fitted closely together, and so laid down that the centre of the road was at a higher level than the sides, to allow


(Piranesi, AntichM ii Roma, iii 7.)

the rain-water to run off. [Fig. 2 shows the construction of the pavement.] Ac­cording to a subsequent method, the

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