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On this page: Megalesia – Melleiren – Membrana – Menelaeia – Mensa


magistrate of the same name under him, who perhaps took his place in case of death, or of his boing incapacitated by illness or other causes from discharging his duties. In Oscan inscriptions the name occurs in the form of meddiss tuvtiks; so that the orthography of Festus is more correct than that of Livy, which is placed at the head of this article. (Lepsius, Inscr. Umbr. et Oscae.)

MEGALESIA, MEGALENSIA, or MEGA-LENSES LUDI, a festival with games celebrated at Rome in the month of April and in honour of the great mother of the gods (Cybele, peydht) &eds, whence the festival derived its name). The statue of the goddess was brought to Rome from Pessinus in the year 203 B. c., and the day of its arrival was solemnised with a magnificent procession, lecti-sternia, and games, and great numbers of people carried presents to the goddess on the Capitol. (Varro, de Ling.Lat.\\. 15 ; Liv. xxix. 14.) The vegular celebration of the Megalesia, however, did Hot begin till twelve years later (191 B. c.), when the temple which had been vowed and ordered to be built in 203 b. c., was completed and dedicated by M. Jiiniiis Brutug. (Liv. xxxvi. 36.) But from another passage of Livy (xxxiv. 54) it appears that the Megalesia had already been celebrated in 193 b.c. The festival lasted for six days, be­ginning on the 4th of April. The season of this festival, like that of the whole month in which it took place, was full of general rejoicings and feast­ing. It was customary for the wealthy Romans on this occasion to invite one another mutually to their repasts, and the extravagant habits and the good living during these festive days were pro­bably carried to a very high degree, whence a senatusconsultum was issued in 161 b. c., pre­scribing that no one should go beyond a certain extent of expenditure. (GelliuSj ii. 24 ; compare xviii. 2.)

The games which were held at the Megalesia were purely scenic, and not circenses. They were at first held on the Palatine in front of the temple of the goddess, but afterwards also in the theatres. (Cic. de Harusp. Resp. 11, &,c.) The first ludi scenici at Rome were, according to Valerius An-tias, introduced at the Megalesia, £ e. either in 193 or 191 b. c. The day which was especially set apart for the performance of scenic plays was the third of the festival. (Ovid. Fast. iv. 377 ; Ael. Spartian. Antonin. Came. c. 6.) Slaves were not permitted to be present at the games, and the ma­gistrates appeared dressed in a purple toga and praetexta, whence the proverb, purpura Megalensis. The games *were under the superintendence of the curule aediles (Liv. xxxiv. 54), and we know that four of the extant plays of Terence were performed at the Megalesia. Cicero (de Harusp. Resp. 12), probably contrasting the games of the Megalesia with the more rude and barbarous games and ex­hibitions of the circus, calls them maxinie casti^ solemncs, religiosi. (See Ovid.-Fast. iv. 179—372 ; P. Manutius, ad Cic. ad Famil. ii. 11.) [L. S.J

MELLEIREN (/AeAAefpijv)- [EniEN.]

MEMBRANA. [liber.]

MENELAEIA (/uej/eAaeia),a festival celebrated at Therapnae in Laconia, in honour of Menelaus and Helena, who were believed to be buried there. (Pans. iii. 19. § 9.) Menelaus was to the Lacedae­monians what Nestor was to the Messenians, a model of a wise and just king, and hence they raised him to the rank of one of the great gods (Isocrat. Panath.

MENSA. 749

p. 247, b.), and honoured him and Helena with annual and solemn sacrifices at Therapnae, which continued to be offered in the days of Isocrates. {Helen. Encom. p. 218, d.) These solemnities are sometimes called 'EAeVm. (See Creuzer, Symbol. iii. p. 38.) [L. S.]

MENSA (T/mTrefa), a table. The simplest kind of table was one with three legs, round, called dlliba (Festus, s. v.; Varro, de Ling. Lat. v.

25. p. 123, ed. Spengel; Hor. Sat. i. 3. 13 ; Ovid. Met. viii. 662), and in Greek rp'nrovs. (Xen. Anal. vii. 3. § 10; Athen. iv. 21, 35, v.28.) It is shown in the drinking-scene painted on the wall of a wine-shop at Pompeii. (Gell's Pompeiana, 1832, vol. ii. p. 11.) (See woodcut.) The term T/m7re£or, though commonly used in Greek for a table of any kind, must, according to its etymology, have denoted originally a four-legged table. Ac­cordingly, in paintings on vases, the tables are usually represented with four legs, of which au example is given in the annexed cut. (Millin,

Pcinturcs de Vases Antiques, vol. i. pi. 59.) Horace used at Rome a dining-table of white marble, thus combining neatness with economy. (Sat. i. 6. 116.) For the houses of the opulent, tables were made of the most valuable and beautiful kinds of wood, especially of maple (a-tyeM/avivi), Athen. ii. 32 ; acerna, Hor. Sat. ii. 8. 10; Mart. xiv. 90), or of the citrus of Africa, which was a species of cy­press or juniper. (Cittea, Cic. Verr. iv. 17 ; Mart. ii. 43, xiv. 89 ; Plin. //. N. xiii. 29.) For this purpose the Rorrians made use of the roots and tubers of the tree, which, when cut, displayed the greatest variety of spots, beautiful waves, and curl­ing veins. The finest specimens of tables so adorned were sold for many thousand pounds. (Plin. //. N. xiii. 29, xvi. 26, 84 ; Tertull. de Pallio, sub fin. ; A. Aikin, On Ornamental Woods9 pp. 23, 24.) Besides the beauty of the boards (e7n077/x,ara) the legs of these tables were often very tasteful, being carved in imitation of lion's or tiger's feet, and made of ivory. (Athen. I. c. ; Mart. ii. 43. 9.)

One of the principal improvements was the in«

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