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Crates

ταρσός, γέρρον). A hurdle, used by the ancients in many different ways—especially, as among ourselves, for agricultural purposes. Thus textae crates are the wattled hurdles of which sheep-folds are made (Hor. Epod. ii. 45); vimineae crates are bush-harrows ( Georg. i. 95 Georg. 104). The name was also applied to any wooden frame composed of bars with interstices—our “crate,” “grate”; and the interstices might be filled up with mats of straw, rushes, or fern (Colum. xii. 15). The following special senses may be noticed:


1.

Crates were used by the country people upon which to dry figs, grapes, etc., in the rays of the sun; or to screen growing fruit from the weather (Colum. xii. 16); or for spreading manure (R. R. 10).


2.

A rack for provisions.


3.

Among military terms we find crates used in forming the roadway of Caesar's bridge over the Rhine (B. G. iv. 17); for parapets or breastworks; as fascines for crossing ditches; and as mantlets or wooden screens for sheltering the advance of troops under cover (Ammian. Marcell. xxi. 12). From the plutei, which were employed in the same way, they differed only in being without the covering of raw hides.


4.

By the besieged they were used joined together so as to form what Vegetius calls a metella, and filled with stones; these were then poised between two of the battlements, and as the storming-party approached upon the ladders, overturned on their heads (Veget. Mil. iv. 6).


5.

In poetry, the wicker-work of shields is so called (Verg. Aen. vii. 633).


6.

A capital punishment was called by this name, whence the phrase sub crate necari. The criminal was either thrown into a pond or well and drowned under a hurdle (Tac. Germ. 12), or crushed by the weight of stones heaped upon it (Liv.iv. 50).

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