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CHERNIBON or CHEIRONIPTRON χερνιβεῖον [in Hom. Il. 24.304 it is χέρνιβον] or χειρόνιπτρον), a basin used for holding the lustral water at a sacrifice; and generally a basin for washing the hands in. Lat. malluvium. Pollux (6.92) says the term χειρόνιπτρον embraced both jug (πρόχους) and basin (λέβης): cf. Serv. ad Aen. 3.466, “lebes pro vase capitur, in quod aqua, dum manus abluuntur, decidit.” The water, whether sacrificial or not, was called χέρνιψ. In the state religious ceremonies, this basin was of gold (Andoc. c. Alcib. § 29). The λέβης in Hom. Od. 1.137 is of silver. For another example of a silver basin, see Hermann-Blümner, p. 168, note 4. At private dinners, before the dishes were brought in, servants handed round water for washing the hand: ὕδωρ κατὰ χειρός (Ar. Vesp. 1216). This was called ἀπονίζειν (Plat. Symp. 175 A). At [p. 1.411]the end of the meal, too, water was handed round for a similar purpose (Hermann-Blümner, p. 245). The view of Ar. Byz. ap. Ath. 408f, that κατὰ χειρὸς refers to the washing before dinner, and ἀπονίψασθαι to that after dinner, is disproved, not only by the passages of Homer there cited, but also by the passages from Philyllius and Menander quoted by Athenaeus a few lines previously. The water was poured over the hands of the guests in both cases (Philox. ap. Ath. 409e). We must remember that the Greeks and Romans used to eat with their fingers (Hermann-Blümner, p. 242, note 4; Marquardt, Röm. Privatl. 308, note 3). At these dinners the jug and basin were usually of silver, both in Greece, as we have seen, and at Rome (Dig. 34, 2, 19, 12). The shape was round; both shallow and deep ones are found represented, and sometimes they had highly ornamented covers: see the pictures in Saglio, Dict. 1.1101.


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