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FORCEPS

FORCEPS tongs, pincers, nippers or pliers, were used in antiquity for the same purposes, and with many of the same varieties of shape, a. in modern times.

1. A pair of tongs (πυράγρα, θερμαστρίς), for [p. 1.872]taking heated metal out of the fire or holding it upon the anvil; used by smiths, and therefore attributed to Vulcan and the Cyclopes: see cuts under INCUS and MALLEUS (Hon. Il. 18.477, Od. 3.434; Callim. Hymn. in Del. 144; Verg. G. 4.175, Aen. 8.453 forcipe curva, Ov. Met. 12.277

2. As a surgical instrument, a forceps (λαβίς, Hippocr.). Several specimens found at Pompeii are figured under CHIRURGIA p. 415 a, and by Guhl and Koner, p. 707, ed. 5. Among special kinds may be mentioned one for extracting spear-or arrow-heads from wounds (Verg. A. 12.404, where Servius gives ἀρδιοθήρα as the Greek equivalent); another for drawing teeth (Cels. 7.12.1), in Greek ὀδοντάγρα, described at some length by Aristotle (Mechan. 21), who, here at least, uses θερμαστρὶς as apparently an equivalent term; a variety for extracting the roots of teeth (Cels. l.c.), for which ῥιζάγρα is quoted from Paulus Aegineta.

3. In military language, a tenaille; in which sense, however, FORFEX is more used (Amm. Marc. 16.11.3)

Forcipes. (From ancient monuments, Blümner.) a, b, and c, from vase-paintings; c, from the altar of Vulcan at, Veii; d, from a bas-relief; f, from an original now in the Zürich Museum.

The word was derived by the ancient etymologists from forvus or formus, “hot” (Fest. pp. 84, 91, M.; Serv. ad Verg. ll. cc.); this however, though accepted in some modern dictionaries of repute, as well as by Curtius, Gr. Etym. 486, is appropriate only to one of its meanings. It is hardly possible to separate forceps from forfex and forpex; and the first syllable in each is best explained with Donaldson (Varron.2 p. 297) as referring to the “opening” or “door” (foris) which these instruments make in order to grasp the object. (Blümner, Technol. &c. ii. pp. 192, 193.)

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