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dim. of sporta, “a basket.” Originally the portion of food given in a basket by the Roman patron to his clients who paid a ceremonial call (salutatio) in the morning. This was the equivalent of the invitation to a regular dinner (cena recta), which, under the Republic, the clients used from time to time to receive. Later, instead of giving food, a sum of money was substituted, generally a hundred quadrantes (about a dollar). Hence the word sportula ultimately came to mean this dole of money. For a lively picture of the scene at one of these distributions, see Juv.iii. 294 foll., with Mayor's note; cf. also the articles Clientes; Salutatio.

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