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On this page: Discus – Dithyrambus – Diversorium – Dividiculum – Divinatio


in the same manner asdirimere is of dis an&emere; the li disappears as in praebere and debere, which come respectively from prae and Jiabere^ and de and kabere. In several passages the word cannot have any other signification than that given "by "VVimder. (Cic. Pro Plancio, 20, ad Qu. Fratr. iii. 4. § 1 ; Varro, De Re Rust. iii. 2. § 1, iii. 5. §18.)

When Cicero says (in Pison. 15), " vos roga-tores, vos diribitores, vos cnstodes tabellarum," we may presume that he mentions these officers in the order in which they discharged their duties in the comitia. It was the office of the rogatores to col­lect the tabellae which each century gave, as they used, before the ballot was introduced, to ask (rogare) each century for its votes, and report them to the magistrate who presided over the comitia. The diribitores^ as has been already re­marked, divided the votes when taken out of the cistae, and handed them over to the custodes, who checked them off by points marked on a tablet. [Compare cista ; situla.]

DISCUS (Stcr/cos), a circular plate of stone (KiQivoi Siovcor, Find. Isth. i. 34), or metal (splen-dida pondera disci. Mart. xiv. 164), made for throwing to a distance as an exercise of strength and dexterity. This was, indeed, one of the prin­cipal gymnastic exercises of the ancients, being included in the Pentathlon. It was practised in the heroic age. (Horn. II. ii. 774, Od. viii. 129, 186—188, xvii. 168.)

The discus was ten or twelve inches in diameter, so as to reach above the middle of the forearm when held in the right hand. The object was to throw it from a fixed spot to the greatest distance ; and in doing this each player had a friend to mark the point at which the discus, when thrown by him, struck the ground. (Od. viii. 186—200 ; Stat. Theb. m. 703.) The distance to which it was commonly thrown became a measure of length, called rb Siaitovpa. (II. xxiii. 431, 523.)

The space on which the discobolus, or thrower of the discus, stood, was called /3aA.£is-, and was indicated by being a little higher than the ground surrounding it. As each man took his station, with his body entirely naked, on the j8a\£is, he placed his right foot forward, bending his knee,


and resting principally on this foot. The discus being held, ready to be thrown, in his right hand, he stooped, turning his body towards it, and hia left hand was naturally turned in the same direc­tion. (Philostr. Imag. i. 24 ; Welcker, ad foe.) This attitude was represented by the sculptor Myron in one of his works, and is adduced by Quintilian (Inst. Or. ii. 13. § 10) to show how much greater skill is displayed by the artist, and how much more powerful an effect is produced on the spectator, when a person is represented in action, than when he is at rest or standing erect. We fortunately possess several copies, more or less entire, of this celebrated statue ; and one of the best of them is in the British Museum (see the preceding woodcut). It represents the player just ready to swing round his outstretched arm, so as to describe with it a semicircle in the air, and thus, with his collected force, to project the discus at an angle of forty-five degrees, at the same time springing forward so as to give to it the impetus of his whole body. Discum " vasto contorquet tur­bine, et ipse prosequitur." (Statius, I. c.)

Sometimes a heavy mass of a spherical form ) was used instead of a discus, as when the Greeks at the funeral games contended for a lump of iron, which was to be given to him who could throw it furthest. (II xxiii. 826—846.) The cr6\os was perforated in the centre, so that a rope or thong might be passed through and used in throw­ ing it. (Eratosth. ed. Bernhardy, p. 251.) In this form the discobolia is still practised by the moun­ taineers of the canton of Appenzell, in Switzer­ land. They meet twice a year to throw round stones of great weight and size. This they do by a sudden leap and forcible swinging of the whole body. The same stone is taken by all, as in the case-of the ancient discus and cr6\os : he who sends it to the greatest distance receives a public prize. The stone is lifted as high as the right shoulder (see woodcut ; /carwyuaSiOio, 11. xxiii. 431) before being projected. (Ebel, Scltilderung der Gebirgs* volker der Schweitz, i. p. 174.) [J, Y.J DISPENSA'TOR. [calculator.]

DITHYRAMBUS. [chorus.]

DIVERSORIUM. [caupona.]

DIVIDICULUM. [aquaeductus, p. 114, a.]

DIVINATIO is, according to Cicero (De Divined, i. 1), a presension and a knowledge of future things ; or, according to Chrysippus (Cic. De Divinat. ii. 63), a power in man which foresees and explains those signs which the gods throw in his way, and the diviner must therefore know the disposition of the gods towards men, the import of their signs, and by what means these signs are to be obtained. According to this latter definition, the meaning of the Latin word divinatio is nar­rower than that of the Greek ^ucw'Tt/iTj, in as much as the latter signifies any means by which the decrees of the gods can be discovered, the natural as well as the artificial; that is to say, the seers and the oracles, where the will of the gods is re­vealed by inspiration, as well as the divinatio in the sense of Chrysippus. In the one, man is the passive medium through which the deity reveals the future ; while in the other, man discovers it by his own skill or experience, without any pre­tension to inspiration. As, however, the seer or vates was also frequently called divinus, we bhall treat, under this head, of seers as well as of other

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