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FISTU´CA

FISTU´CA an instrument used for ramming down pavements and threshing-floors and the foundations of buildings (Cato, Cat. Agr. 18, 28; Plin. Nat. 36. § § 185, 186, 188; Vitr. 3.3, s. 4.1; 10.3, s. 2.3); and also for driving piles (Caes. Gal. 4.17). When used for the former purpose, that of making earth solid, it was no doubt a mere log of wood (shod perhaps with iron), with handles to lift it up; just like a paviour's rammer. But in the case cited from Caesar, where it was used for driving the piles of his bridge over the Rhine, it is almost evident that it must have been a machine, something like our pile-driving engine (or monkey), by which a heavy log of wood, shod with iron, was lifted up to a considerable height and then let fall on the head of the pile. It is probable that fistuca and festuca are two forms of the same word and connected with fustis. In the passages of Pliny festuca, festucare are now read with MS. authority.

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