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Serafina Cuomo

An abacus (ἄβαξ, ἀβάκιον), a counting board, was the usual aid to reckoning in antiquity. The Greeks and Romans alike used a board with vertical columns, on which (working from right to left) units, tens, and hundreds; or (where money was in question) units of currency, for instance the Attic signs for ⅛ obol, ¼ obol, ½ obol, 1 obol, drachma and so on, could be inscribed. The Salamis abacus is an example of a type of flat, large counting board, made of stone, of which more than twenty have survived from antiquity (Figure 1).There are also significantly fewer examples of small, bronze abacus. (Figure 2).The extant flat, large counting boards have been found in the Greek-speaking part of the Mediterranean, whereas the small bronze abaci appear to originate in the Roman world, and are engraved with Roman numerals. There are different possible reconstructions of how calculations were carried out on the ancient Greek or Roman abacus, which would seem to indicate that different procedures were also in use in antiquity In general, with addition, the totals of the columns were carried to the left, as in ordinary 21st-century addition.


Patty Baker

Complex perceptions existed about abortion in the ancient world, indicated by different medical definitions of what constituted an abortive, contraceptive, and expulsive. According to Soranus (1st/2nd century ce) an abortive was “that which destroys what has been conceived”; a contraceptive (atokion) was something that prevents conception, and an expulsive (ekbolion) could be defined in two ways (Gyn 1.59–65). Some thought it was synonymous with an abortive because both resulted in the termination of a pregnancy. In contrast, others defined an expulsive strictly as shaking and leaping to dislodge the fetus from the womb. In explaining this, Soranus (Gyn 1.60) repeats a story told in the Hippocratic work (see hippocrates) Nature of the Child (13, L7.488–490; late 5th bce) about a dancing girl thought to be six days pregnant. She was told to expel the seed by jumping up and down so her heels touched her buttocks. After the seventh leap, the fetus dropped from her body. This technique for early-stage abortion was preferable to termination caused by pharmaceutical preparations and surgical intervention, which could cause harm to the mother. Therefore, Soranus stated that it was safer to prevent pregnancy than to perform an abortion (Gyn 1.


R. M. Errington

Achaean Confederacy, federal organization developed by the twelve Achaean cities (see achaea) united in the cult of Zeus Hamarios. First mentioned in 453 bce as Athenian allies, Achaea's independence was guaranteed in 446 (*Thirty Years Peace). In the Peloponnesian War neutrality proved impossible and Achaea fell into Sparta's sphere of influence. Common citizenship existed by 389, when it had already been extended to non-Achaean Calydon. In the 4th cent. coins were issued. Polybius (2. 41. 4–6) claimed the ‘democratic’ constitution of his own time for the early confederacy, but since in 367 the ruling class was exiled and democracy installed (Xen. Hell. 7. 1. 43) this cannot be accurate, unless the two sources mean different things by ‘democracy’. The confederacy was dissolved sometime before its revival in 281/280. It then exploited the political vacuum in Greece after the collapse of the empire of *Demetrius (4) Poliorcetes, soon expanded beyond Achaea, and under the leadership of *Aratus (2) of Sicyon developed a locally expansionist anti-Macedonian policy in the 240s and 230s.


Pierre Briant

The term, as used by Herodotus (1. 125), refers to one of the three clans (phrētrē) of the Pasargadae tribe to which the Persian kings belonged; its eponymous ancestor was supposedly Achaemenes (Hdt. 7. 11). The statement corresponds in part to *Darius I's account at *Bisutun, where he links himself explicitly to Achaemenes (OP: Haxāmaniš): ‘For this reason we are called Achaemenids. From long ago we have been noble. From long ago we have been kings’ (DB 1. 2–3). But this is the official version promulgated by Darius after his brutal seizure of power. This also led him to erect inscriptions in *Cyrus (1)'s name at *Pasargadae describing the founder of the empire as an Achaemenid: they served to hide the fact that Darius himself had no genealogical claim to the throne in 522 bce. Probably around this time a foundation legend about Achaemenes was created and put into circulation; he is said to have been abandoned as a small child and brought up by an eagle (Ael. NA 12, 21).


Andrew Brown

Achilles (Ἀχιλλεύς), son of *Peleus and *Thetis; greatest of the Greek heroes in the Trojan War; central character of *Homer's Iliad.

His name may be of Mycenaean Greek origin, meaning ‘a grief to the army’. If so, the destructive Wrath of Achilles, which forms the subject of the Iliad, must have been central to his mythical existence from the first.

In Homer he is king of Phthia, or ‘Hellas and Phthia’, in southern Thessaly (see phthiotis), and his people are the Myrmidons. As described at Il. 2. 681–5 the size of his kingdom, and of his contingent in the Trojan expedition (50 ships), is not outstanding. But in terms of martial prowess, which is the measure of excellence for a Homeric hero, Achilles' status as ‘best of the Achaeans’ is unquestioned. We are reminded of his absolute supremacy throughout the poem, even during those long stretches for which he is absent from the battlefield.


Massimo Raffa

From the earliest stages of Greek thought, sound was thought to originate as the result of an impact between two objects. At first it was believed that the swiftness and force of the impact affected both volume and pitch; then it became clear that these were two different parameters. Pitch, in particular, was connected either to quantitative factors, such as the speed of the movement or the number of subsequent impacts, or to qualitative ones, like the idiotes (“peculiarity”) theorized by Theophrastus. The least investigated parameter of sound is timbre, which was usually attributed to the physical characteristics of the source.There is no specific branch of ancient Greek science or physics named akoustike; nevertheless, the Greeks showed a keen interest in sound and its characteristics from the earliest stages of their literature. In the Homeric poems, sound is conceived of as something that possesses magnitude and direction. Such adverbial forms as .



John Percy Vyvian Dacre Balsdon and Andrew Lintott

Acta means ‘the things that have been done’ and has two specialized, overlapping senses in Roman history; one is a gazette, the other is official acts, especially of an emperor.The Acta diurna were a gazette, whose publication dates from before 59 bce (a 2nd-cent. bce example of these is quoted by Renaissance antiquarians but its authenticity has been doubted); from the late republic onwards it recorded not only official events and ceremonies, but lawsuits and public speeches, and was read both at Rome and in the provinces (Asc. 30–1 C; Tac. Ann. 16. 22). The Acta senatus (or Commentarii senatus) constituted the official record of proceedings in the senate, first published in 59 bce (Suet. Iul. 20). Under the Principate a senator was selected by the emperor to be responsible for the record (Tac. Ann. 5. 4). The proceedings were available to senators but *Augustus forbade their wider publication (Suet. Aug.



Herbert Jennings Rose and Jenny March

Actaeon, in mythology son of *Aristaeus and Autonoë, daughter of *Cadmus, and a great huntsman. Ovid gives the most familiar version of his death (Met. 3. 138 ff.): one day on Mt. Cithaeron he came inadvertently upon *Artemis bathing, whereupon the offended goddess turned him into a stag and he was torn apart by his own hounds. Other versions of his offence were that he was *Zeus' rival with *Semele (our oldest authorities: Stesichorus fr. 236 Davies, PMGF; Acusilaus fr. 33 Jacoby), or that he boasted that he was a better huntsman than Artemis (Eur. Bacch. 339–40), or that he wished to marry Artemis (Diod. Sic. 4. 81. 4). After his death his hounds hunted for him in vain, howling in grief, until the *Centaur Chiron made a lifelike image of him to soothe them (Apollod. 3. 4. 4).Actaeon torn by hounds is found in many works of art from the 6th cent. In earlier pictures he sometimes wears a deerskin (as apparently in Stesichorus), but the first vases on which he sprouts antlers are after the middle of the 5th cent. Artemis surprised bathing appears first in Pompeian paintings. See L.



W. M. Murray

Actium (Ἄκτιον), a flat sandy promontory at the entrance to the Ambracian Gulf, forming part of the territory of Anactorium, as well as the NW extremity of *Acarnania. A cult of Apollo was located here as early as the 6th cent. bce to judge from the torsos of two archaic kouroi found on the cape in 1867. At this time, or soon thereafter, a temple stood on a low hill near the tip of the promontory where games were celebrated in honour of the god as late as the end of the 3rd cent. bce. In 31 bce the cape was the site of M. *Antonius (2)'s camp, and gave its name to the naval battle, fought just outside the gulf, in which he was defeated by *Octavian (2 September). A few years later, when Octavian founded *Nicopolis (3) on the opposite (northern) side of the strait, he took care to enlarge Apollo's sanctuary at Actium by rebuilding the old temple and adding a monumental naval trophy (not to be confused with the naval trophy he dedicated at Nicopolis). In ship-sheds constructed in the sacred grove at the base of the hill, he dedicated a set of ten captured warships, one from each of the ten classes that had fought in the battle (Strabo 7. 7. 6). Although the ships and their ship-sheds were gone (destroyed by fire) by the time Strabo composed his account, recent excavations have located the site where the kouroi were found in 1867 and have confirmed the location of the temple, obscured for many years.


Max Cary and W. M. Murray

Adriatic Sea (Gk. ὁ Ἀδρίας; Lat. Mare adriaticum or superum), used as an alternative to ‘*Ionian Sea’ for the waters between the Balkan peninsula and Italy, and like ‘Ionian’, sometimes extended to include the sea east of Sicily. In neolithic times seafarers from the south settled around the gulf of Valona at the entrance to the Adriatic (c.80 km. (50 mi.) north of Corcyra). In the bronze age there is evidence for trade in Baltic *amber and perhaps in Bohemian *tin while weapons apparently came by sea from the north to Italy and to Greece, with ports of call in between. Seafarers from the Adriatic occupied the Nidhri plain in *Leucas, where they built tumulus burials like those known from Albania in the Middle Helladic period. In historical times, Greek exploration of the Adriatic was said to be the work of the Phocaeans (see phocaea), who penetrated to its upper end by 600 bce (Hdt.



Michael Crawford

Aes, bronze, also more loosely copper or brass, hence (a) money, coinage, pay, period for which pay is due, campaign; (b) document on bronze. The earliest Roman monetary system involved the weighing out of bronze by the pound or its fractions (see weights); transactions per aes et libram, by bronze and balance, became fossilized in Roman private law as a formal means of transferring ownership. Sums recorded in the sources as ‘so many aeris (gravis, heavy, or rudis, raw)’ are to be taken as intended to mean so many pounds of bronze and then so many coins weighing (more or less) a pound and called asses. In the late 140s bce, the Roman state changed from reckoning in asses to reckoning in sestertii = ¼ denarius = 4 asses each; at this point certain valuations were probably transferred from asses to the same number of sestertii, although the real value was different.


Holt Parker and Nicholas Purcell

The miraculous transferral of the god of healing *Asclepius from *Epidaurus to Rome and the origin of the important healing-cult of the Tiber island there in 292 bce constituted significant moments in Roman narratives of the history of their religion (Val. Max. 1. 8. 2: Ovid made it his final Metamorphosis, Met. 15; 622–745); the summoning of a prestigious god from Greece, in accordance with the Sibylline Books (see sibyl) and perhaps after a consultation of the *Delphic oracle, to remedy a Roman crisis (pestilence), represented a stage in the domestication of external religion and acted as a prototype for the closely related tale of the summoning of the Magna Mater in 204 bce. (See cybele.) In fact the cult was becoming widely diffused at that time everywhere (even our Rome-centred stories preserve some consciousness of the contemporary importance of the cult at nearby *Antium).



J. S. Rusten

Aesop, as legendary a figure as Homer. What we now call *fables (Gk. αἶνοι, μῦθοι, λόγοι), i.e. stories clearly fictitious (often about speaking animals), which illustrate a point or support an argument, are first alluded to by Hes.Op. 202–12 and Archil. fr. 174 West, but by the 5th and 4th cents. such fables in prose are regularly attributed to Aesop (Ar.Vesp.566, Av.471; Arist. fr. 573 Rose; a black-figured portrait of Aesop with talking fox, Beazley, ARV2 2 p. 916 no. 183, K. Schefold, Die Bildnisse der antiken Dichter, Redner und Denker (1943) 57.4). Hdt. 2. 134–5 places him in the 6th cent. bce as the slave of Iadmon, a Samian later murdered by Delphians (cf. Ar. Vesp. 1446–8); Plato Com. fr. 70 KA has his soul returning from the grave (cf. Plut. Sol. 6); the legend suggests a ritual scapegoat (φαρμακός).


George Chatterton Richards and M. T. Griffin

Tragic actor, “dignified” (Hor. Epist. 2.1.82), contemporary of Q. *Roscius (Quint. Inst. 11.3.111 “Roscius is livelier, Aesopus more dignified”). He gave *Cicero lessons in elocution (Auct. ad Her. (3.21.34) suggests that he was greatly his senior) and supported Cicero's recall from exile (Sest. 120–123); he returned to the stage for *Pompey's *ludi, 55 bce, without much success (Fam. 7.1.2). See Div. 1.80; Tusc. 4.55; QFr. 1.2.14. His son, M. Clodius Aesopus, was rich enough to be a wastrel (Hor. Sat. 2.3.239; Plin. HN 9.122).


Arthur Geoffrey Woodhead and R. J. A. Wilson

Aetna (1), Europe's highest active volcano (3,326 m. (10,912 ft.) in 1966), lying between *Tauromenium and *Catana in eastern Sicily. The lower slopes are remarkably fertile, principally today in vines, olives, lemons, and oranges, and are thickly populated; woods and scrub cover the middle slopes; the upper are desolate. Eruptions were attributed to a giant (*Typhon or Enceladus) beneath the mountain. The Sicans traditionally transferred westwards because of them. Few ancient eruptions are recorded, those of 475, 396, and 122 bce. being the most notable; Etna has apparently been more active in modern times. The mountain is the subject of an anonymous poem, *Aetna, probably late Augustan. Ancient tourists known to have climbed the mountain include the emperors *Gaius (1) and *Hadrian. Etna basalt was widely used, in Sicily and further afield, for corn *mills (Strabo 6. 2. 3; cf. Aetna, 400–1).


Stephanie Dalley

(1) Term used until 1869 for the language now known as *Sumerian. (2) Term used since 1869 for the East Semitic language that is also known by its northern and southern dialects as Assyrian and Babylonian. The language is first attested from personal names of the mid-3rd millennium when it began to supersede Sumerian. It was written on clay, stone, and waxed writing boards in *cuneiform script.



Peter Heather

Alaric, Gothic leader c. 395–410 ce who created the *Visigoths. By 408 he had united the Tervingi and Greuthungi who had crossed the Danube in 376 with survivors of Radagaisus' force which had invaded Italy in 406. He approached the Roman state with a mixture of force and diplomacy to extract an advantageous, but above all permanent, settlement. In search of this, he switched the focus of his operations from the Balkans and the eastern half of the empire, to Italy and the west (first in 402, then permanently after 408). He sacked Rome on 24 August 410 when the emperor *Honorius refused to negotiate; he died a few months later, after briefly threatening to transfer his Goths to Africa.


John Maxwell O'Brien and Barney Rickenbacker

The ancient Romans were as interested in the harmful effects of excessive drinking and chronic intoxication as their Greek counterparts. In On the Nature of Things, *Lucretius writes that wine's fury disturbs the soul, debilitates the body, and provokes quarrels (3. 476–83). The younger *Seneca warns that habitual drunkenness so weakens the mind that its consequences are felt long after the drinking has stopped (Ep. 83. 26). He notes that some men become so tolerant of wine that even though they are inebriated they appear to be sober (Ep. 83. 11). Seneca also suggests that drunkenness tends to disclose and magnify character defects (Ep. 83. 19–20). In his Naturalis historia, *Pliny (1) the Elder finds irony in the fact that men spend hard-earned money on something that can damage the mind and cause madness (14. 137). Like the Greeks, Pliny comments on truth in wine (‘in vino veritas’), but emphasizes that the truths therein revealed are often better left unspoken (HN 14.


Richard Stoneman

The Alexander Romance is a fictionalized life of Alexander III of Macedon (Alexander the Great, 356–323 bce), originating in the 3rd century BC, though the earliest evidence for its circulation in textual form is from the 3rd century ce. Originally written in Greek (in which there are five recensions), it was translated into Latin in the 4th century ce, and from the 5th century, into every language of Europe and the Middle East. It narrates Alexander’s birth to Olympias, as son of the last Pharaoh, Nectanebo II, of Egypt; his upbringing; his campaigns (in a strange order); his encounter with Queen Candace of Meroe; and particularly his adventures in India and beyond, including his encounter with the naked philosophers of Taxila; his death, and his will. Later versions (recensions L, gamma) include a meeting with the Amazons and his invention of a diving bell and a flying machine.The Greek .


P. J. Rhodes

Fundamentally, an agreement between states to fight together (symmachein) against a common enemy, so that the standard term is symmachia. Such alliances might be made either for a limited period or for all time. *Thucydides (2), 1. 44. 1, 5. 48. 2, distinguishes between a symmachia, as a full offensive and defensive alliance, and an epimachia, as a purely defensive alliance; but that use of the two terms is not widespread, and, for instance, the prospectus of the *Second Athenian Confederacy, which was a defensive alliance, consistently uses symmachein and cognate words (IG 22. 43 = RO no. 22). In a full offensive and defensive alliance it was commonly stated that the participating states were to ‘have the same friends and enemies’: that formulation might be used when the alliance was on an equal basis, but it could be adapted to circumstances in which one participant was inferior to the other, as in 404 bce when *Athens undertook both to have the same friends and enemies as *Sparta and to follow Sparta's lead.