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On this page: Portentum – Porticus – Portisculus – Portitores



(Wyttenbach's Roman Ant. of Treves^ pp. 9—39.) Its rows of ornamental windows and the general style of its architecture, afford sufficient indica­tions, that although very strong, it was not intended solely, nor principally, for the purposes of defence, but to be applied in time of peace to the various objects of civil government. To these latter pur­poses the gate house (TruActjj/) was commonly de­voted, more especially in Eastern countries. Hence Poly bins (xv. 29) calls a building at Alexandria tov •^p-ri^a'riffTiKbv ttv\u>vo, t&>v j8cc<nAeicw, i. e. " the gate-house of the palace, used for the trans­action of public business." In the Old Testa­ment the references to this custom are very fre­quent. By metonymy " the gates " meant those who administered justice at the gates and wielded the powers of government. (Horn. II. ix. 312 ; Matt. xvi. 18.)

Statues of the gods were often placed near the gate, or even within it in the barbican, so as to be ready to receive the adoration of those who entered the city. (Pans. iv. 33. § 4; Lucret. i. 314 ; Acts, xiv. 13.) The probable position of the statue was the point S in the above plan. The gate was sometimes much ornamented. Sculp­ tured elephants, for example, were placed upon the Porta Aurea at Constantinople. [J. Y.J

PORTENTUM. [prodigium.]


PORTICUS (cn-oa), a walk covered with a roof, which is supported by columns, at least on side. A porticus was either attached to

temples and other public buildings, or it was built independent of any other edifice. Such shaded walks and places of resort are almost indispensable in the southern countries of Europe, where people live much in the open air, as a protection from the heat of the sun and from rain. This was the case in ancient times to a much greater extent than at present. The porticoes attached to the temples were either constructed only in front of them, or went round the whole building,and temples received different names according to these different porticoes, and according to the arrangement of the columns of the porticoes. [templum.] They were origin­ally intended as places for those persons to assemble and converse in who visited the temple for various purposes. As such temple-porticoes, however,, were found too small or not suited for the various pur­poses of private and public life, most of the Greek towns had independent porticoes, some of which were very extensive, especially in their places of public assembly [agora] ; and as the Greeks, in all their public works, soon went beyond the limits of mere utility, these public walks were not only built in the most magnificent style, but were adorned with pictures and statues by the best masters. Of this kind were the Poecile (<rroa TroiKiXfi] 'and crroa {3afft\eios at Athens (Athen. xiii. p. 577 ; Pans. i. 3. § 1, &c.), and the o-roa riepcn/d? at Sparta. (Pans. iii. 11. § 3.) The SMas at Sparta, where the popular assemblies were held, seems to have been a building of the same kind. (Paus. iii. 12. § 8.) In most of these stoae, seats [exedrae] were placed, that those who were tired might sit down. They were fre­quented not only by idle loungers, but also by philosophers, rhetoricians, and other persons fond of intellectual conversation. The Stoic school of philosophy dei ived its name from the circumstance, that the founder of it used to converse with his disciples in a stoa. The Romans derived their


great fondness for such covered walks from tho Greeks ; and as luxuries among them were carried in everything to a greater extent than in Greece, wealthy Romans had their private porticoes, some­ times in the city itself, and sometimes in their country-seats. In the public porticoes of Rome, which were exceedingly numerous and very ex­ tensive (as that around the Forum and the Campus Martius), a variety of business was occasionally transacted: we find that law-suits were conducted here, meetings of the senate held, goods exhibited for sale, &c. (See Pitiscus, Lexicon^ s. v. Porticus^ who has given a complete list of all the porticoes of Rome.) [L. S.]

PORTISCULUS (/ceAet/orfc), an officer in a ship, who gave the signal to the rowers, that they might keep time in rowing. The same name was also given to the pole or hammer, by the striking of which he regulated the motion of the oars, (Festus, s. v.) The duties of this officer are thus described by Silius Italicus (vi. 360, &c.) : —

" Mediae stat margine puppis, Qui voce alternos nautarum temperet ictus, Et remis dictet sonitum, pariterque relatis Ad sonitum plaudat resonantia caerula tonsis.11

This officer is sometimes called Hortator (Ovid, Met. iii. 618; Plant. Merc. iv. 2. 5 ; Virg. Aen. iii. 128) or pausarius. (Compare Blomfield, ad Aescli. Pers. 403.)

PORTITORES. [portorium ; publicani.] PORTO'RIUM was one branch of the regular revenues of the Roman state, consisting of the duties paid on imported and exported goods : sometimes, however, the name portorium is also applied to the duties raised upon goods for being carried through a country or over bridges. (Plin. H. N. xii. 31 ; Sueton. Vitell. 14.) A portorium, or duty upon imported goods, appears to have been paid at a very early period, for it is said that Valerius Publicola exempted the plebes from the portoria at the time when the republic was threat­ened with an invasion by Porsenna. (Liv. ii. 9 ; compare Dlonys. v. 22.) The time of its intro­duction is uncertain ; But the abolition of it as­cribed to Publicola can only have been a temporary measure ; and as the expenditure of the republic increased, new portoria must have been intro­duced. Thus the censors M. Aemilius Lepidus and M. Fulvius Nobilior instituted portoria et veo-tigalia multa (Liv. xl. 51), and C. Gracchus again increased the number of articles which had to pay portoria. (Veil. Pat. ii. 6.) In conquered places and in the provinces the import and export duties, which had been paid there before, were generally not only retained, but increased, and appropriated to the aerarium. Thus we read of portoria being paid at Capua and Puteoli on goods- which were imported by merchants. (Liv. xxxii. 7.) Sicily, and above all, Asia furnished., to the Roman trea­sury large sums which were raised as portoria. (Cic. c. Verr. ii. 75, pro Leg. Manil. 6.) In some cases, however, the Romans allowed a subject nation, as a particular favour, to raise for them­selves whatever portoria they pleased in their ports, and only stipulated that Roman citizens and socii Latini should be exempted from them. (Liv. xxxviii. 44 ; Gruter, Inscript. p. 500.) In the year 60 b. c. all the portoria in the ports of Italy were done away with, by a lex Caecilia carried by the praetor Q. Metellus Nepos. (Dioa

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