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
, Od. 3.434
; Callim. Hymn. in Del.
144; Verg. G. 4.175
8.453 forcipe curva,
Ov. Met. 12.277
2. As a surgical instrument, a forceps (λαβίς,
Hippocr.). Several specimens found at Pompeii are figured
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
as the Greek equivalent);
another for drawing teeth (Cels. 7.12.1), in Greek ὀδοντάγρα,
described at some length by Aristotle
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
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
The word was derived by the ancient etymologists from forvus
“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,
486, is appropriate only to one of its
meanings. It is hardly possible to separate forceps from forfex
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.
&c. ii. pp. 192, 193.)