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BRAT´TEA

BRAT´TEA (not Bractea: see Lachmann on Lucr. 4.727), a finely beaten-out plate of metal, especially gold (Lucr. l.c.; Verg. Acn. 6.209). Thicker plates were called laminae (Isid. Orig. 16.8, 2). Martial (8.33, 11) also calls brattea, owing to its fineness, sputum. Such plates were fastened on objects as ornaments, and this was a proceeding as old as the Phoenicians (Curtius, Hist. of Greece, 1.143, 145, Eng. trans.), and is alluded to in Homer (περιχεύας, Od. 3.384). The Latin term for fastening on these plates is imbratteare (Ammian. 14.6, 8). It was still in practice in the time of Sidonius Apollinaris (Sid. Ep. 8.8 fin.), where see Savaro's note. The gold-beater is brattearius or bratteator (Orelli, 4153; Firmic. 8.16, 4.15) or tritor (Henzen, 7281). The fastener is inaurator (Orelli, 4201); or if both functions were performed by the same man, bratteator inaurator (Orelli, 4067). In Cod. Just. 10.64, 1, bratteatores is explained by πεταλουργοί. Pliny (Plin. Nat. 33.61) tells us that from an ounce of gold 750 plates, each four fingers square, could be beaten. The process of beating was called bratteam exprimere (Tert. de Idol. 8). The thicker plates were called bratteae Praenestinae, the finest bratteae quaestoriae (Plin. l.c.). These plates were used for adorning statues (Juv. 13.152; cf. Pers. 2.55), sedan-chairs (Sidon. Apoll. l.c.), furniture (Mart. 8.33, 5, 6), walls and ceilings (Senec. Epist. 115.9; cf. Marquardt, Privatl. 700, note 15), and garments (χρυσόπαστοι, Ath. 12.535-6). On the latter were fastened gold ornaments representing animals (ζωωτὸς χιτών, Ath. 5.197 e), flowers, stars, &c. (Poll. 10.43; cf. Suet. Nero 35). The Romans called such vestes auratae (Ov. Met. 8.448) or sigillatae (Trebell. Trig. Tyr. 16, 1). Compare on the whole Vopiscus, Aurelian, 46, 1, and the long notes of Salmasius. Bratteae were also used when stamped or embossed as ornaments and amulets, and many such are found in tombs. (See Saglio in Dict. des Antiquités, s. v.; Mayor on Juv. 13.152.)

For nummi bratteati, see Eckhel, Doctr. Nummorum, i. p. 115.

[L.C.P]

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