a kind of common cart or waggon, which was
used by the country people of Italy for conveying the produce of their
fields, trees, and the like from one place to another (Vitr. 10.1
; Juv. 3.254
). Its name,
as well as the fact that it was used by several barbarous nations, shows
that it was introduced from them into Italy (Sidon. Epist.
4.18; Amm. Marc. 31.2
). That persons also
sometimes rode in a sarracum, is clear from a passage of Cicero quoted by
Quintilian (8.3.21), who regards the word sarracum
as low and vulgar. Capitolinus (Anton.
13) states that during a plague the mortality at Rome was so
great that it was found necessary to carry the dead bodies out of the city
upon the common sarraca. Several of the barbarous nations with which the
Romans came in contact used these waggons also in war, and placed them
around their camps as a fortification (Sisenna, ap. Non. 3.35), and the
Scythians used them in their wanderings, and spent almost their whole lives
upon them with their wives and children, whence Ammianus compares such a
caravan of sarraca with all that was conveyed upon them to a wandering city.
The Romans appear to have used the sarracum for all purposes for which the
plaustrum was employed [PLAUSTRUM
], and Juvenal (5.22) even applies it to the constellation
which was generally called Plaustrum; but that there must have been some
difference in the build is clear from the fact that plaustrum and sarracum
are mentioned together in Juvenal and Vitruvius. What the difference was
cannot be positively decided: both alike were formed with two wheels as well
as with four (Ed. Diocles.
15, 23-28); from a general survey
of the passages cited it may, however, be surmised that the sarracum was
larger and heavier than the plaustrum. (Scheffer, de Re
2.31; Marquardt Privatl.