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1. In its primary sense, a large circular vessel for containing liquids, and used in cooking (Plin. Nat. 36.191), or preparing defrutum (Col. 1.6, 19), dyeing wool or preparing dye (Plin. Nat. 35. § § 43 and 150), and receiving oil when it first flows from the press. (Cat. de Re Rust. 66.) The illustration given under FULLO shows its use by fullers. In Plautus, Poen. 5.5, 12 ( “qui cortinam ludis per circum ferunt” ), it is supposed to denote a vessel in which water was carried round the circus during the games for the use of the horses, drivers, or attendants, which is possibly represented in the cut on p. 435 in the hands of two of the children thrown down by the horses.

2. The table or hollow slab, supported by a tripod, upon which the priestess at Delphi sat to deliver her responses; and hence the word is used for the oracle itself. (Verg. A. 6.347) The Romans made tables of marble or bronze after the pattern of the Delphian tripod, which they used as we do our sideboards, for the purpose of displaying their plate at an entertainment, or the valuables contained in their temples, as is still done in Catholic countries upon the altars. These were termed cortinae Delphicae, or Delphicae simply. (Plin. Nat. 34.8; Schol. ad Hor. Sat. 1.6, 116; Mart. 12.66, 7; Suet. Aug. 52.) [TRIPOS]

3. From the conical form of the vessel which contains the first notion of the word, it came also to signify the vaulted part of a theatre over the stage (“magni cortina theatri,Aetn. 295), such as is in the Odeium of Pericles, the shape of which we are expressly told was made to imitate the tent of Xerxes (Paus. 1.20.3 Plut. Per. 13); and thence metaphorically for anything which bore the appearance of a dome, as the vault of heaven (Ennius, ap. Varr. de Ling. Lat. 7.48, ed. Müller); or of a circle, as a group of listeners surrounding any object of attraction. (Tac. Dial. 19.) Finally, in the Vulgate (Exod. xxvi.) cortina is used in the sense of a curtain.

[A.R] [J.H.F]

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