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Mensūra

μέτρον). Measure. The earliest measures known are probably those derived from parts of the human body (Vitruv. iii. 1, 5), and were at first, naturally, less definite and exact than those employed in later times. Thus, the foot, the finger, the palm of the hand, the forearm were all employed as primitive units of length and breadth. Units of capacity were generally based upon such natural objects or measures as were approximately uniform. The Jews and some of the Kelts employed the hen's egg as a unit; the natives of Zanzibar the gourd; the Romans a mussel-shell (cochlear). Possibly the Greek κύαθος was originally a pod or gourd of some kind. The filled hand also is mentioned as serving as a measure of capacity. Afterwards a more precise system was adopted and ratified by law. Thus Phidon of Argos fixed the standard measure for the people of the Peloponnesus (Herod.vi. 127), Solon for the Athenians (Andoc. 11, 25), and Augustus for the later Romans.

The principal measure of length among the Greeks was the foot (ποῦς), there being three different standards, the Attic, the Olympic, and the Aeginetan. The first was 295.7 millimetres; the second, 320.5 mill.; the third, 330 mill. In Western Europe there were three kinds of foot (pes), the Italian (275 mill.), the Roman (296 mill.), and the pes Drusianus (333 mill.). In both the Greek and the Roman systems the unit (μονάς) was the finger-breadth (δάκτυλος, digitus). The palmus (δοχμή) was four digiti. The foot was regarded as equal to 16 digiti. The cubit (πῆχυς, cubitus) was the distance from the point of the elbow to the point of the middle finger, and=24 digiti.

The fathom (ὀρεγυιά, ulna or tensum in Low Lat.) was the length of the extended arms=six feet. The πλέθρον (Oscan and Umbr. vorsus) was about 100 feet. The Roman actus was 120 feet. Among the itinerary measures the stadium (στάδιον) was 600 feet; the ἱππικόν, or race-course, was four stadia; the parasang (παρασάγγης), a Persian measure, was 30 stadia or four Roman miles; the millarum (μίλιον) was 1000 feet (milia passuum).

Of land measures were the Homeric unit γύης (γύη), about 60 feet; the square plethrum=10,000 sq. ft.; the scripulum=100 sq. ft.; the iugerum= 288 sq. rods; the heredium=2 iugera; the centuria = 200 iugera (perhaps originally 100); the saltus= 800 iugera.

Of liquid and dry measures, the chief are the κύαθος=.08 of an Eng. pint; the κοτύλη=6 cyathi; the Roman sextarius (ξέστης)=12 cyathi, nearly an Eng. pint; the χοῦς, congius=12 cyathi, or about six pints; the ἀμφορεύς, amphora=8 congii or 48 sextarii, about 22 quarts; and the culleus=20 amphorae. Distinctly for dry measure were the χοῖνιξ=four κοτύλαι, or about one quart; the μόδιος, modius=about a peck; the μέδιμνος= 6 modii.

See the standard work by Hultsch, Griechische und römische Metrologie (Berlin, 1882); R. Lepsius, Längenmasse der Alten (Berlin, 1884); Queipo, Essai sur les Systèmes Métriques Monétaires des Anciens Peuples (Paris, 1859); and for a full list of equivalents, the tables given in the Appendix to this Dictionary.

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