or AMPHORA QUADRANTAL
, or AMPHORA
only, was the principal Roman measure of capacity for fluids. (Amphora
was the later name for the quadrantal, and
is not found as a measure earlier than Cic. Font.
; cf. Fest. p. 258,
“quadrantal vocabant antiqui, quam ex Graeco amphoram
dicunt” ; so also Volus. Maecian. Dist. Part.
“quadrantal, quod nunc plerique amphoram vocant.” This was
in the middle of the 2nd century A.D.) All the Roman measures of capacity
were founded on weight, and thus the amphora
was originally the space occupied by eighty pounds of wine.
There is also preserved to us by Festus (s. v. Publica
p. 246) a plebiscitum [LEX SILIA
] of unknown date, regulating the weights
and measures, to the following effect:--“Ex ponderibus publicis,
quibus hac tempestate populus oetier (uti) solet, uti coaequetur
sedulum, uti quadrantal vini octoginta pondo siet: congius vini decem p.
) siet: sex sextari congius siet
vini; duodequinquaginta sextari quadrantal siet vini:” --that is,
that the quadrantal
should contain 80 pounds of
and the congius
10; and that the
should be 1-6th of the congius,
and 1-48th of the quadrantal.
The quadrantal was subdivided into 2 urnae,
and 2304 ligutae.
with the Roman dry measure, the quadrantal
three times the [p. 2.531]modius.
The only measure larger than the quadrantal
was the culleus
amphorae, which was used, as well as the amphora itself, in estimating the
produce of a vineyard. [CULLEUS: comp. AMPHORA
The quadrantal was connected with the measures of length, by the law, that it
was the cube of the foot, whence its name quadrantal,
or, as other writers give it (using the Greek
instead of the Latin quadrantal
(Cato, Cat. Agr. 57
; Gel. 1.20
; Auct. Carm. de Mens. et
Pes longo in spatio latoque altoque notetur:
Angulus ut par sit, quem claudit linea triplex
Quatuor et medium quadris cingatur inane:
Amphora fit cubus, quam ne violare liceret, Sacravere Jovi Tarpeio in
A standard model of the amphora
was kept with
great care in the temple of Jupiter in the Capitol, and was called amphora Capitolina
(Carm. de Mens.
l.c. Capitol. Maximin.
4). It was under the charge of the
aediles (C. I. L.
6.1520, 10.8067; Plb.
; cf. Mommsen, Staatsrecht,
ii.3 p. 500). There still exists a congius
which professes to have been made according to this
] For a full
account of this congius, see H. Hase, Abhandl. d. Berl. Akad.
There are two questions connected with the Roman quadrantal:
namely, (1) whether the equality to the cubic
foot was originally exact, or only approximate; and (2) whether there was
any exact ratio between the Roman and the Grecian measures. The full
discussion of these questions would be inconsistent both with the limits and
with the chief object of this work. A general statement of the matters in
dispute will be found, under MENSURA
pp. 160, 161. It may here be added that, whether there was or
was not originally any precise ratio between the Greek and Roman measures of
capacity, they were at least so nearly related to one another, that, when
the two systems came to exist side by side, it was found easy to establish
the following definite ratios. Of the liquid measures: the Roman amphora,
was 2-5ths of the Aeginetan, and 2-3rds of the Attic amphora
and the congius
of the Roman system was equal to the
of the Attic. Again, comparing the
Roman liquid with the Greek dry measures, the quadrantal
was, 1-3rd of the Aeginetan, and one-half of the
Consequently, of the dry
measures, the modius
(which was 1-3rd of the
) was 1-9th of the Aeginetan, and
1-6th of the Attic, medimnus.
subordinate unit in all these sets of measures is the Roman sextarius,
or sixth part of the
which was introduced into the Greek. system under the name
and which stands to the several
measures now mentioned in the following relations:--
|The Roman quadrantal
|The Attic metretes
|The Aeginetan metretes
|The Roman modius
|The Attic medimnus
|The Aeginetan medimnus
or Roman sextarius,
is not to be confounded with the genuine Attic
or sixth of
which was equal to the Roman modius.
From the preceding remarks it will be seen that the only safe mode of
computing the content of the amphora in terms of our own measures of
capacity is by deducing it from the value already assigned to the Roman
pound, on the authority chiefly of the coins. That value may be taken, in
round numbers, at 5050 grains. [PONDERA
Vol. II. p. 455.] Now the imperial gallon contains 70,000
grains. Therefore the Roman amphora = 5050 [multi] 80/70000 = 5.77
imperial gallons, i. e. a very little over 5 gallons and 6 pints. It is
clear, therefore, that for rough calculations, at any rate when the numbers
dealt with are not very large, if we reckon the sextarius as a pint (instead
of .96 of a pint) and the quadrantal or amphora at 6 gallons, it will be a
close enough approximation. (Boeckh, Metrol.
pp. 112 if., ed. 2, 1882.)