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On this page: Mensarii – Mensis – Mensores – Mensura



mention of the jnonopodium^ a round table (orhis) supported by a single foot ; this, with other elegant kinds of furniture, was introduced into Rome from Asia Minor by Cn. Manlius. (Plin. II.N. xxxiv. 8.) Under the Roman emperors semi­circular tables were introduced, called mensae lunalae from comparing them to the half-moon, and sigmata^ because they had the form of that letter, C. (Lamprid. Hel. 25, 29.) This lunate table was surrounded by a sofa of the same form, called stibadium^ which was adapted to hold seven or eight persons. (Mart. x. 48, xiv. 87.)

As the table was not very large, as we see from the preceding cut, it was usual to place the dishes and the various kinds of meat upon it, and then to bring it thus furnished to the place where the guests were reclining: hence such phrases as men-sam apponere or opponere (Plant. A sin. v. 1. 2, Most. i. 3. 150 ; Cic. ad. Att. xiv. 21 ; Ovid, Met. viii. 570), and mensain cmferre or removere. (Plant. Ampliit. ii. 2. 175 ; Virg. Aen. i. 21 6.) As the board of the table is called by a distinct name emOt^a (Athen. 1. c. ; Pollux, x. 81), it appears that it was very frequently made separate from the tripod or other stand (/aAAigas) on which it was fixed.

Among the Greeks the tables were not covered with cloths at meals, but were cleansed by the use of wet sponges (Horn. Od. i. Ill, xx. 151 ; Mart. xiv. 144), or of fragrant herbs. (Ovid. Met. viii. 665.) The Romans used for the same pur­pose a thick cloth with a long woolly nap (gau-snpe, Hor. 1. c. ; Heindorf in loc.)

Under the influence of the ideas of hospitality, which have prevailed universally in the primitive states in society, the table was considered sacred, (Juv. ii. 110.) Small statues of the gods were placed upon it. (Arnob. contra Gentes, lib..iL) On this account Hercules was worshipped under the title Tpairt&os and eTrirpairefros. The Cretans ate in public ; and in the upper part of their avfipeiov, or public dining-room, there \vas a con­stant table set apart for strangers, and another sacred to Jupiter, called Tpairtfa £e*/ia, or Atos ^zviov. (Athen. iv. 22 j Hock's Kreta, vol. iii. pp. 120—128.)

The two principal courses- of a §e?7rz/oz/ and cocna, or a Greek and Roman dinner, were called respect­ively irp&TT] Tpdirefa 5ei''repa rpaTre^a, and mensa prima^ mensa secunda. [CoENA.]

The name of rpdirefa or mensa was given to a square tomb-stone (Becker, Chcirikles, vol. ii. pp,191, 193) [FuNUS, p. 556, b.] ; and the same name was also given to square altars. Every curia at Rome had an altar, called mensa^ which was sacred to Juno Curitis. (Dionys. ii. 50 ; Festus, pp. 49, 64, 156, ed Miiller ; Macrob. Sat. iii. 11 ; Becker, Rom. Altertfi. vol. ii. pt. i. p. 34.) [3. Y.]

MENSARII, MENSULA'RII, or NUMU-LA'RII, were a kind of public bankers at Rome who were appointed by the state ; they were dis­tinct from the argentarii, who \vere common bankers and did business on their own account. (Dig. 2. tit. 13. s. 6.) The mensarii had their banks (mensae) like ordinary bankers around the forum, and in the name of the aerarmm they of­fered ready money to debtors who could give se­curity to the state for it. Such an expediency was devised by the state only in times of great distress. The first time that mensarii (rjumqueviri mGiisarii) we^e appointed was in 352 b. c., at the


time Avhen the plebeians were so deeply involved in debt, that they were obliged to borrow money from new creditors in order to pay the old ones, and thus ruined themselves completely. (Liv. vii, 21 ; compare fenus (roman) and argen­tarii.) On this occasion they were also autho­rized to ordain that cattle or land should be re­ceived as payment at a fair valuation. Such bankers were appointed at Rome at various times and whenever debts weighed heavily upon the people, but with the exception of the first time they ap­pear during the time of the republic to have always been triumviri mensarii. (Liv. xxiii. 21, xxvi. 36.) One class of mensarii, however (perhaps an inferior order), the mensularii or numularii^ seem to have been permanently employed by the state, and these must be meant when we read that not only the aerarium but also private individuals deposited in their hands sums of money which they had to dispose of. (Tacit. Annal. vi. 17 ; Dig. 16. tit. 3. s. 7 ; 42. tit. 5. s. 24.) As Rome must have often been visited by great numbers of strangers, these public bankers had also, for a certain percentage, to exchange foreign money and give Roman coinage instead, and also to examine all kinds of coins whether they were of the proper metal and ge­nuine,or not. (Dig. 46. tit. 3. s. 39.) During the time of the empire such permanent mensarii were under the control of the praefectus urbi and formed a distinct corporation. (Dig. 1. tit. 12. s. 1 ; Cod. Theod. 16. tit. 4. s. 5.)

Bankers appointed by the state also existed in other ancient towns, and Cicero (pro Place. 19) mentions mensarii at Temnos in Asia Minor who were appointed by the people. [L. S.]

MENSIS. [calendarium.]

MENSORES, measurers or surveyors. This name was applied to various classes of persons whose occupation was the measurement of things.

1. It was applied to land-surveyors who mea­sured and denned the extent of fields, and appear to have been the same as the agrimensores. (Coliun. v. 1 ; compare agrimensores.)

2. To persons who measured in the Roman camps the space to be occupied by the tents. They must bs distinguished from the metatores, who selected the place for a camp. (Veget. dc Re Milit. ii. 7.)

3. To a class of officers during the time of the empire who provided quarters for the soldiers in the towns through which they passed and where they made a temporary stay. They not only as­signed to each soldier the house in which he avrs to be quartered, but also wrote the name of the oc­cupant upon the door-post, and he who effaced or destroyed this name was punished as a falsi reus. (Cod. Theod. 7. tit. 8. s. 4.)

4. Mensor aedificiorum is sometimes applied to architects, or more especially to such architects as conducted the erection of public buildings, the plans of which had been drawn up by other archi­tects. (Plin. Epist. x. 28 and 29.)

5. Mensores frumentarii was the name of officers who had to measure the corn which was conveyed up the Tiber for the public granaries. (Dig. 27. tit. 1. s. 26 ; Cod. Theod. 14. tit, 9. s. 9 ; and tit. 15. s. 1.) They were stationed in the port near Ostia, and were employed under the praefectus annonae. Their name is mentioned in various ancient inscriptions. [L. S.]

MENSURA (jUeVpoz/), measure, in its widest

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