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The caprice of the human mind is marvellously exemplified in the varying fashions of silver plate; the work of no individual manufactory being for any long time in vogue. At one period, the Furnian plate, at another the Clodian, and at another the Gratian,1 is all the rage—for we borrow the shop even at our tables.2—Now again, it is embossed plate3 that we are in search of, and silver deeply chiselled around the marginal lines of the figures painted4 upon it; and now we are building up on our sideboards fresh tiers5 of tables for supporting the various dishes. Other articles of plate we nicely pare away,6 it being an object that the file may remove as much of the metal as possible.

We find the orator Calvus complaining that the saucepans are made of silver; but it has been left for us to invent a plan of covering our very carriages7 with chased silver, and it was in our own age that Poppæa, the wife of the Emperor Nero, ordered her favourite mules to be shod even with gold!

1 So called from the silversmiths who respectively introduced them. The Gratian plate is mentioned by Martial, B. iv. Epigr. 39.

2 "Etenim tabernas mensis adoptamus."

3 "Anaglypta." Plate chased in relief. It is mentioned in the Epigram of Martial above referred to.

4 "Asperitatemque exciso circa liniarum picturas,"—a passage, the obscurity of which, as Littré remarks, seems to set translation at defiance.

5 He alludes, probably to tiers of shelves on the beaufets or sideboards —"repositoria"—similar to those used for the display of plate in the middle ages. Petronius Arbiter speaks of a round "repositorium," which seems to have borne a considerable resemblance to our "dumb waiters." The "repositoria" here alluded to by Pliny were probably made of silver.

6 "Interradimus."

7 "Carrucæ." The "carruca" was a carriage, the name of which only occurs under the emperors, the present being the first mention of it. It had four wheels and was used in travelling, like the "carpentum." Martial, B. iii. Epig. 47, uses the word as synonymous with "rheda." Alexander Severus allowed the senators to have them plated with silver. The name is of Celtic origin, and is the basis of the mediæval word "carucate," and the French carrosse.

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    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 17
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