dim. FURCULA, FURCILLA
(δίκρανον, δίκρουν ξύλον
), a fork. 1.
A two-pronged fork used for various agricultural purposes, e. g. haymaking
(Varr. R. R.
1.49.1). It is this kind which gave rise to the
proverbial expression “to turn out with a pitchfork,” i. e.
forcibly and without ceremony (δικροῖς ὠθεῖν,
Aristoph. Peace 637
; δικράνοις ἐξωθεῖν,
12; furcillis extrudimur,
Cic. Att. 16.2
, § 4; musae furcillis praecipitem ejiciunt,
naturam expellas furca,
Hor. Ep. 1.10
). 2. A wooden fork used as a prop, e. g. for vines (Verg. G. 1.264
); for planks to stand on in the Circus Maximus (Liv. 1.35.9
); for supporting a two-wheeled
carriage while the animals were being yoked to it (Greek στήριγξ,
Lys. ap. Poll. 10.157); or as explained
by Plutarch of props in general (ἐκαλεῖτο δὲ
φούρκιφερ: ὃ γὰρ Ἕλληνες ὑποστάτην καὶ στήριγμα, τοῦτο
Π̔ωμαῖοι φούρκαν ὀνομάζουσι,
24). 3. The end of the pole of a carriage, forked
like a Λ
where it joins the axle (Ginzrot,
Wagen und Fahrwerke,
1.96). This, Marquardt thinks, was
the original furca placed round the necks of slaves as an old domestic
182). 4. From the earliest times the
furca was a well-known instrument for punishing not only slaves, but freemen
). Here, however, we must
distinguish between the punishment awarded to Horatius at his first trial,
which was scourging under a furca followed by hanging (not crucifixion: see
p. 567 a
), and the punishment believed in later times to have been
in which the criminal was
scourged to death (Tac. Ann. 2.32
; Suet. Nero
[where it is described]; Aurel. Vict. Epit.
these cases the furca was a piece of wood in the form of the letter A, which
was placed upon the shoulders of the offender, whose hands were tied to it.
Slaves were frequently flogged in this way, and were obliged to carry about
the furca wherever they went (Liv. 2.36
; Cic. de Div. 1.2. 6
§ 55; Plut. Cor.
l.c.; cf. Plaut.
2.6, 37, Pers.
5.2, 78; Donat.
whence furcifer as a term of reproach (Cic. in
, § 15; Hor. Sat.
2.7, 22). A some-what similar instrument was used in
carrying burdens on the neck, and occurs in the reliefs of the Column of
Trajan. For the furca in crucifixion, see PATIBULUM
5. The question of the use of table forks
in antiquity has lately been re-opened, but the negative conclusions
o<*> Beckmann (Hist. of Inventions,
ed. Bolin) have not been seriously shaken. Forks were doubtless used for
kitchen purposes, such as taking down meat from the carnariumn
(Petron. 95), carving, &c.; but the fact that
forks for eating are neither mentioned by authors, represented in paintings
or sculptures, nor found among the ample domestic stores of Herculaneum and
Pompeii, was rightly judged decisive of the question. Some doubtful and
unverified exceptions are discussed by Beckmann (l.c.
p. 411),. and more recently by Marquardt (Privatl.
308 n.). Some slightly better evidence is now produced. Two silver forks of
tasteful design were dug up in Rome in 1874, and pronounced by Castellani to
be of the second century; from which date, he thinks, forks were in constant
use among the cultivated classes: a bronze fork was also found at Rome, and
an iron one at Rondineto, in 1878. Marquardt, while recording these facts,
remarks cautiously that further discoveries will perhaps yield a solution.
The use of fingers is too well attested to be easily disposed of; cf. CENA
pp. 394 a,
(Rich, s.v. Marquardt,
182 f., 307 f.)