), derived from
“to gape;” hence it means “a yawn” (Hesych.); also
the “cockle,” from its gaping double shell (Arist. H.
5.15, 4). Lat. chama.
of cockles, see Pliny, Plin. Nat. 32.147
But its best known signification is that of a small measure of capacity,
about the size of a cockle-shell (cf. κόγχη
). Its exact size is variously related.
1. In Galen's table of liquid measures χήμη μικρά ῀
= 1/12 κοτύλη
= 1/24 of 27.36 centilitres = 2.28 centilitres = 2.28 x
0.0176 Eng. pints 0.04 Eng. pints. In the table called that of Cleopatra's
cosmetics, a similar measure is called ἐλάττων
It was equal to two cochlearia.
2. In this table of Cleopatra there is a special section devoted to very
small measures of capacity, arranged according to weight in drachmas. One
drachma of oil or wine (see Hultsch, Metrologie der Griechen,
&c. p. 110, n. 5) represented the capacity of 1/60 of an Attic
In this table the χήμη ἡ μεγάλη
is a capacity for holding three
drachmas ... 3/60 Attic κοτύλη
centilitres = 0.024 Eng. pint. The χήμη ἡ
is 2/3 of this = 0.016 Eng. pint.
3. In the table of Dioscorides the χήμη
1/4 of the κύαθος
(which is itself 1/6 of a
) = 1.14 centilitres = 0.02 Eng.
pint. This latter is the Ptolemaic reckoning (Metrologie,
625). It was = one cochlear.
The symbol for χήμη
Evidence for most of the above statements will
be found in F. Hultsch, Metrologici Scriptores,
Index, s. vv.