The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Plastica – Plaustrum – Plebes



Saturnumque gravem nostro Jove frangimus una.

Pers. v. 48.

Te Jovis impio Tutela Saturno refulgens Eripuit.

Hor. Carm. ii. 16. 22.

It must be understood that in the above remarks, we have confined ourselves entirely to the popular notions which prevailed among the ancients with­ out attempting to trace the progress of scientific observation, a subject which belongs to a formal history of astronomy, but does not fall within our limits. (Plut. de Pladtis Philos. ii. 14, 15, 16 ; Stob. Ed. Ptys. i. 23. § 1, 25. § 1; Diogen. Laert. viii. 14, ix. 23 ; Arat. Pliaen. 454 ; Gemini Ele- menta Aslron. c. 1 ; A chill. Tat. Tsag. ad Arat. Phaen. xvii. ; Lydus, De Mens. v. &c. ; Cic. de Nat. Deor. ii. 20 ; PI in. H. N. ii. 6. 8 ; Tac. Hist. V. 4 ; Macrob. Somn. Scip. 4.) [W. K.]

PLASTICA. [statuaria.]

PLAUSTRUM or PLOSTRUM, dim. PLOS-TELLUM (a,ua|a, dim. ajua£js), a cart or waggon. This vehicle had commonly two wheels, but some­times four, and it was then called the plaustrum ma jus. The invention of four-wheeled waggons is attributed to the Phrygians. (Plin. //. N. vii. 56.)

Besides the wheels and axle the plaustrum con­sisted of a strong pole (fe?«o), to the hinder part of which was fastened a table of wooden planks. The blocks of stone, or other things to be carried, were either laid upon this table without any other support, or an additional security was obtained by the use either of boards at the sides (uTreprepia, Horn. Od. vi. 70 ; Plato, Theaet. p. 467, Heindorf.) or of a large wicker basket tied upon the cart (ireiptvs, Horn. //. xxiv, 267, Od. xv. 131). The annexed woodcut, taken from a bas-relief at Rome, exhibits a cart, the body of which is supplied by a basket. Similar vehicles are still used in many parts of Europe, being employed more especially to carry charcoal.

In many cases, though not universally, the wheels were fastened to the axle, which moved, as in our children's carts, within wooden rings adapt­ed for its reception and fastened to the body. These rings were called in Greek a,ua£o7ro8es, in Latin arbusculae. The parts of the axis, which re­volved within them, were sometimes cased with iron. (Vitruv. x. 20. § 14.) The commonest kind of cart-wheel was that called tympanum, " the dram,'* from its resemblance to the musical instru­ment of the same name. (Varro, de Re Rust. iii. 5 ; Virg. Georg. ii. 444.) It was nearly a foot in thickness, and was made either by sawing the trunk of a tree across in an horizontal direction, or by nailing together boards of the requisite shape and size. It is exemplified in the preceding


woodcut, and in the sculptures on the arch of Septimius Severus at Rome. Although these wheels were excellent for keeping the roads in repair and did not cut up the fields, yet they rendered it necessary to take a long circuit in turning.. They advanced slowly. (Virg. Georg. i. 138.) They also made a loud creaking, which was heard to a great distance (stridentia pkmstra^ Virg. Georg. iii. 536 ; gementia, Aen. xi. 138). Their rude construction made them liable to he- overturned with their load of stone, timber, manure, or skins of wine (Juv. iii. 241 — 243), whence the Emperor Hadrian prohibited heavily loaded wag­ gons from entering the city of Rome. (Spartian. Hadr. 22.) The waggoner was sometimes required to aid the team with his shoulder. Accidents of this kind gave origin to the proverb " Plaustrum perculi," meaning " I have had a misfortune/' (Plaut. Epid. iv. 2. 22.) Carts of this description, having solid wheels without spokes, are still used in Greece (Dod well's Tour, vol. ii. pp.102, 103) and in some parts of As'ia. (Sir R. K. Porter's Travels, vol. ii. p. 533.) [J. Y.J PLEBE'II LUDI. [LuDi plebeii.]

PLEBES or PLEBS. PLEBEII. This word contains the same root as im-pleo, com-pleo, &c., and is therefore etymologically connected with 7rA?}0os, a term which was applied to the plebeians by the more correct Greek writers on Roman his­ tory, while others wrongly called them 5^/xos or oi

The plebeians were the body of commons or the commonalty of Rome, and thus constituted one of the two great elements of which the Roman nation consisted, and which has given to the earlier periods of Roman history its peculiar character and in­terest. Before the time of Niebuhr the most in­consistent notions were entertained by scholars with regard to the plebeians and their relations to the patricians ; and it is one of his peculiar merits to have pointed out the real position which they oc­cupied in the history of Rome.

The ancients themselves do not agree respecting the time when the plebeians began to form a part of the Roman population. Dionysius and Livy represent them as having formed a part of the Ro­mans as early as the time of Romulus, and seem to consider them as the clients of the patricians, or as the low multitude of outcasts who flocked to Rome at the time when Romulus opened the asy­lum. (Dionys. i. 8 ; Liv. i. 8.) If there is any truth at all in these accounts of the early existence of the plebeians, we can only conceive them to have been the original inhabitants of the districts occupied by the new settlers (Ramnes or Romans), who, after their territory was conquered, were kept in that state of submission in which conquered na­tions were so frequently held in early times. There are also some other statements referring to such an early existence of the plebeians ; for the clients, in the time of Romulus, are said to have been formed out of the plebeians. (Dionys. ii. 9 ; Plut. Romid. 13 ; Cic. de Re Publ, ii. 9 ; Feat. s. v. Patrocinia.} In the early times of Rome the position of a client was in many respects undoubt­edly far more favourable than that of a plebeian, and it is not improbable that some of the plebeians may for this reason have entered into the relation of clientela to some patricians, and have given up the rights which they had as free plebeians ; and occurrences of this kind may have given rise to the

About | First | English Index | Classified Index | Latin Index | Greek Index



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of