(dim. CAPSULA, CAPSELLA) or
SCRINIUM, the box for holding books and papers among the Romans (Cic. Div. in Caecil. 16
§ 51; Cat. 68.36; Hor. Sat.
1.10, 63). These boxes were usually made of beech-wood [p. 1.359]
(Plin. H. V.
16.229), and were of a cylindrical
form. Many representations of them exist: the following cut represents the
Muse Clio with an open capsa by her side.
The Muse Clio with a Capsa. (|
vol. ii. pl. 2.)
was a larger capsa,
holding a considerable number of rolls, and hence
jokingly assigned to voluminous authors (Hor. Sat.
1.1, 120; Mart. 1.2
). Boxes used for preserving other things besides
books, for instance fruit, were also called capsae
(Plin. H. V.
15.65; Mart. 11.8
in this sense,
other hand, is almost exclusively applied to cases for writings; yet we find
in Pliny (Plin. Nat. 7.108
The circular toilet-or jewel-cases of the Romans, if in wood, were called
if in metal, cistae.
Some fine examples of the latter, both in silver and
bronze, have been preserved, and are described under CISTA: whether capsa
could be used interchangeably, as some think,
seems doubtful, though we find cista
book-box in Juvenal (3.206). In Petronius (100.67) a lady wears a golden
suspended from her neck. The
phrase in Seneca, Noris complures juvenes ... totos de
115.2), means “redolent of
The slaves who had the charge of these book-chests were called capsarii,
and also custodes
and the slaves who carried in a capsa behind their
young masters the books, &c., of the sons of respectable Romans,
when they went to school, were also called capsarii
accordingly find them mentioned together with the paedagogi
(Suet. Nero 36
When the capsa contained books of importance, it was sealed or kept under
lock and key (Mart. 1.66
); whence Horace (Hor. Ep. 1.20
says to his work, Odisti claves, et grata sigilla
The fastening of a lock is shown in the engraving; other
representations of the capsa exhibit locks and keys, and the straps by which
it was carried. (Becker-Goll, Gallus,
443; Böttiger, Sabina,