The Ancient Library

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On this page: Bicos – Bidens – Bidental – Bidiaei – Biga – Bigatus – Bipalium – Bipennis – Biremis – Birrus – Bisellium – Bissextum – Blabes Dike


libraries on the capitol (Suet. Dom. 20), in the temple of Peace (Gell. xvi. 8), in the palace of Tiberius (Gell. xiii. 18), besides the Ulpian library, which was the most famous, founded by Trajan (Gell. xi. 17 ; Dion Cass. Ixviii. 16), called Ulpian from his own name, Ulpius. This library was attached by Diocletian, as an ornament, to his thermae. (Vopisc. Prob. 2.)

Private collections of books were made at Rome soon after the second Punic war. The zeal of Cicero, Atticus, and others in increasing their libraries is well known. (Cic. Ad Ait. i. 7, 10, iv. 5 ; Ad Quint. ft. iii. 4.) The library of Lu-cullus was very extensive, and he allowed the public free access to it. (Plut. Lucutt. 42.) To­wards the end of the republic it became, in fact, the fashion to have a room elegantly furnished as a libraiy, and reserved for that purpose. However ignorant or unstudious a person might be, it was fashionable to appear learned by having a library, though he might never even read the titles of the books. Seneca (De Tranq. An. 9) condemns the rage for mere book-collecting, and rallies those who were more pleased with the outside than the in­side. Lucian wrote a separate piece to expose this common folly (irpbs aTraiSeuroj/ Kai iroAAci

A library generally had an eastern aspect. (Vitruv. vi. 7.) In Herculaneum a library fully furnished was discovered. Round the walls it had cases containing the books in rolls [liber] ; these cases were numbered. It was a very small room ; so small that a person by stretching out his arms could touch both sides of it. The cases were called either armaria (Plin. Ep. ii. 17 ; Vopisc. Tacit. 8), or loculamenta (Seneca, De Tranq. An. 9), orfbruli (Juv. Sat. iii. 219), or nidi (Mart. i. 118; 15, vii. 17. 5). Asinius Pollio had set the fashion in his public library of adorning the room with the portraits and busts of celebrated men, as well as statues of Minerva and the Muses. This example was soon followed in the private labraries of the rich. (Juv. iii. 219 ; Plin. Ep. iii. 7, iv. 28 ; Cic. ad Fam. vii. 23 ; Plin. H. N. xxxv. 2 ; Suet. Tib. 70 ; Mart. ix. Ep. ad Turan. ; Lipsius, De Bibliothecis Syntagma, in Opera, vol. iii. ; Becker, Gallus, vol. i. p. 160, &c.) , [A. A.]

BICOS (j8?/cos), the name of an earthen vessel in common use among the Greeks. (Pollux, vi. 14, vii. 162, x. 73.) Hesychius (s. v.) defines it as a (TT&JJ.VOS with handles. It was used for holding wine (Xen. Anal), i. 9. § 25), and salted meat and fish. (Athen. iii. p. 116, f.) Herodotus (i. 194) speaks of fiixovs (f>owiKf]'iovs KaTdyovffi otvov TrAeous, which some commentators interpret by " vessels made of the wood of the palm tree full of wine." But as Eustathius (in Od. p. 1445) speaks of ofoov fyoivutivov /3tkos, we ought pro­bably to read in Herodotus pikovs (powiicrji'ov, k. r. A., " vessels full of palm wine."

BIDENS. [rastrum.]

BIDENTAL, the name given to a place where any one had been struck by lightning (Festus, s. v. fulguriium\ or where any one had been killed by lightning and buried. Such a place was con­sidered sacred. Priests, who were called biden-tales (i. e. sacerdrtes\ collected the earth which had been torn up by the lightning, and everything that had been scorched, and burnt it in the ground with a sorrowful murmur. (Lucan, i. G06.) The officiating priest was said condere fulyiir (Juv. Sat.


blabes dike;

vi. 587 ; compare Orelli, Inscr. vol. i. p. 431. No. 2482); he further consecrated the spot by sacri­ ficing a two-year-old sheep (bidens), whence the name of the place and of the priest, and also erected an altar, and surrounded it with a wall or fence. It was not allowable to tread on the place (Persius, ii. 27), or to touch it, or even to look at it. (Amm. Marc, xxiii. 5.) Sometimes a bidental which had nearly fallen to decay from length of time was restored and renovated (Orelli, Inscr. No. 2483); but to remove the bounds of one (movere bidental)., or in any way to violate its sacred precincts, was considered as sacrilege. (IIor. Art. Poet. 471.) From the passage in Horace, it appears to have been believed that a person who was guilty of profaning a bidental, would be pu­ nished by the gods with frenzy; and Seneca (Nat. Quaest. ii. 53) mentions another belief of a similar kind, that wine which had been struck by lightning would produce in any one who drank it death or madness. Persons who had been struck by light­ ning (fulyuriti) were not removed, but were buried on the spot. (Pers. Sat. ii. 27; Plin. H. N. ii. 54; Hartung, Religion der Rmner, vol. ii. p. 13.) [A. A.]

BIDIAEI (/3i<ua?oi), called in inscriptions /3t§eot or /StSVot, were magistrates in Sparta, whose business was to inspect the gymnastic exercises. Their house of meeting (a/3%e?oz/) was in the market-place. (Paus. iii. 11. § 2.) They were either five (Paus. 1. c.} or six in number (Bockh, Corp. Inscrip. nr. 1271. 1364), and had a presi­dent who is called in inscriptions Trp4(r§vs /3i5eW. (Bockh, Corp. Inscrip. vol. i. p. 611.) Bockh con­jectures that /SiSeoi or fiidvoi is the Laconian form for ffivoi or fi'Suo*, and signifies witnesses and judges among the youth. (Coinp. Mliller, Dorians^ iii. 7. § 8.) Valckenaer (ad Herod, vi. 57) sup­poses that the bidiaei were the same as the vo^jlo-(pvXaKts ; but the inscriptions given by Bockh show that the bidiaei and yo^o^vXaKes were two separate classes of officers.

BIGA or BIGAE. [currus.]

BIGATUS. [denarius.]

BIPALIUM. [pala.]

BIPENNIS. [securis.]

BIREMIS. [navis.]

BIRRUS (/3ip^os), a cape or hood, which was worn out of doors over the shoulders, and was sometimes elevated so as to cover the head. On the former account it is classed by an ancient gram­marian with the lacerna^ and on the latter with the. cowl, or cuculius. It had a long nap, which was commonly of sheep's wool, more rarely of beaver's wool. It probably derived its name from the red colour (irvppos) of the wool of which it was made. It is only mentioned by the later writers. (Vopisc. Carin. 20 ; Claudian, Epigr. 37.)

BISELLIUM. [sella.]

BISSEXTUM. [calendarium.]

BLABES DIKE (fadgys 5k??). This action was available in all cases in which one person had sustained a loss by the conduct of another; and from the instances that are extant, it seems that whether the injury originated in a fault of omission or commission, or impaired the actual fortune of the plaintiff, or his prospective advantage, the action would lie, and might be maintained, against the defendant. It is of course impossible to enumerate all the particular cases upon which it would arise, but the two great classes into which /3Aaocu mny

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