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On this page: Quadrans – Quadrantal


torium. (Suet. Vespas. 1. ; Quintil. Declam. 359 ; Symmach. Epist. v. 62, 65.) Tacitus (Ann. xiii. 51) says that the Quadragesima was abolished by Nero and had not been imposed again (manet aholitio quadragesimae) ; but it appears most pro­bable that this Quadragesima abolished by Nero was not the Portormm, but the tax imposed by Caligula (Suet. Cal. 40) of the fortieth part of the value of all property, respecting which there was any law-suit. That the latter is the more probable opinion appears from the fact, that we never read of this tax upon law suits after the time of Nero, while the former one is mentioned to the latest times of the empire. Considerable difficulty, how­ever, has arisen in consequence of some of the coins of Galba having Quadragesima Remissa upon them, which is supposed by some writers to con­tradict the passage of Tacitus, and by others to prove that Galba abolished the Quadragesima of the portorium. The words, however, do not neces­sarily imply this ; it was common in seasons of scarcity and want, or as an act of special iuvour, for the emperors to remit certain taxes'for a certain period, and it is probable that the coins of Galba were struck in commemoration of such a remission, and not of an abolition of the tax. (See Bur-raann, de Vectigal. p. 64, &c., who controverts the opinions of Spanheim, de Praest. et Usu Numism. vol. ii. p. 54,9.)

QUADRANS. [As, pp. 140, b, 141, a.]

QUADRANTAL, or AMPHORA QUAD­RANTAL, or AMPHORA only, was the princi­pal Roman measure of capacity for fluids. Ail the Roman measures of capacity were founded on weight, and thus the amphora was originally the space occupied by eighty pounds of wine. (Festus, s. v.)

There is also preserved to us by Festus (s. v. Publica JPottt/era, p. 246, Muller), a plebiscitum (the Sillian) of unknown date, regulating the weights and measures, to the following effect: —Ex pon­der ilms publicis, quibus hac tempestate populus oetier sold, uti coaeqitetur sedulum, uti quadrantal vini odoginta pondo siet: congius vini decem p. (i. e. pondo} siet: sex scxtari congius siet vini ; duode-quinquaginta sextari quadrantal siet vini:—~that is, that the quadrantal should contain 80 pounds of wine4', and the conguis 10 ; and that the sexta-rius should be l-6th of the congius, and ]-48th of the quadrantal. The quadrantal was subdivided into 2 urnae, 8 congii, 48 seoctarii, 96 heminae, 192 quartarii, 384- acetaoula, 576 cyathi, and 2304 ligulae. As compared with the Roman dry measure, the quadrantal was three times the modius. The only measure larger than the quadrantal was the culeus of 20 amphorae, which was used, as well as the amphora itself,- in estimating the produce of a vineyard. [CutEtis : comp. amphora sub fin.]

The quadrantal was connected with the mea­sures of length, by the law, that it was the cube of the foot, whence its name quadrantal, or, as other writers give it (using the Greek kv§os in­stead of the Latin quadrantal) amphora cubits.

* The Romans were aware that there is a differ­ence in the specific gravity of wine and of water, and in the different sorts of each, but, for the sake of simplicity, they regarded them as of the same specific gravity: when, however, they wished a very exact determination, they used rain water. <B('ick'h, c. 3.)


(Cato, R. R. 57 ; Cell. i. 20 ; Priscian. Carm. de Metis, et Pond. vv. 5.9—63 : —

" Pes longo in spatio latoque altoque notetur : Angulus ut par sit, quern claudit linea triplex Quatuor et medium quadris cingatur inane : Amphora fit cubus, quam ne violare liceret, Sacravere Jovi Tarpeio in monte Quirites."

A standard model of the Amphora was kept with great care in the temple of Jupiter in the Capitol, and was called amphora Capitolina (Pris­cian. I.e.; Capitolin. Maximin. 4). There still exists a congius which professes1 to have been made according to this standard. [congius.] For a full account of this congius, see H. Hase, Abhandl. d. Bed. Akad. 1824.

There are two questions of very great interest connected with the Roman quadrantal; namely, (1), whether the equality to the cubic foot was originally exact, or only approximate, and (2), whether there was any exact ratio between the Roman and the Grecian measures. The full dis­cussion of these questions would be inconsistent both with the limits and with the chief object of this work. A general statement of the matters in dispute will be found under mensura, p. 754. It may here be added that, whether there was or was not originally any precise ratio between the Greek and Roman measures of capacity, they were at least so nearly related to one another, that, when the two systems came to exist side by side, it was found easy to establish the following definite ratios. Of the liquid measures ; the Roman amphora, or quadrantal, was 2-5ths of the Aeginetan, and 2-3rds of the Attic amphora or metretes ; and the congius of the Roman system was equal to the Xovs of the Attic. Again, comparing the Roman liquid with the Greek dry measures, the quadrantal was l-3rd of the Aeginetan, and one half of the Attic, medimnus. Consequently, of the dry measures, the modius (which was l-3rd of the quadrantal} was l-9th of the Aeginetan, and l-6th of the Attic, medimnus. The connecting subordinate unit in all these sets of measures is the Roman aextarius, or sixth part of the congius, which was introduced into the Greek system under the name of £e<rT??9, and which stands to the several measures now men-tion'ed in the following relations : —

1. Liquid Measures.

The Roman quadrantal = 48 sextarii

= 72 = 120


Attic metretes Aeginetan ^

2. Dry Measures.

The Roman modius " — 16 sextarii

„ Attic medimnus96 „

„ Aeginetan ,$ = 144 „

The ^(TTf]s, or Roman sextarius, is not to be con­founded with the genuine Attic e/creus or sixth of the medimnus', which was equal to the Roman modius. (On the. whole of this part of the' sub­ject, see Bcickh, cc. iii. xi. xv,—xvii.)

From the preceding remarks it will be seen that the only safe mode of computing the content of the amphora in terms of our own measures of capacity is by deducing it froni' the value already assigned to the Roman pound, on the authority chiefly of the coins. That value may be taken, in round numbers, at 5050 grains. Now the im­perial gallon contains 70,000 grains. ThereforiS

S r 2

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