previous next


A cart; also a rectangular twowheeled carriage, enclosed, and with an arched or sloping cover overhead.

The carpentum was used to convey the Roman matrons in the public festal processions; and, as this was a high distinction, the privilege of riding in a carpentum on such occasions was allowed to particular women by special grant of the Senate. This was done on behalf of Agrippina, who availed herself of the privilege so far as even to enter the Capitol in her carpentum (Tac. Ann. xii. 42). A

Carpentum. (Medal of Caligula.)

medal was struck (see illustration) to commemorate this decree of the Senate in her favour. When Claudius celebrated his triumph at Rome, he was followed by his empress, Messalina, in her carpentum (Claud. 17).

This carriage contained seats for two, and sometimes for three persons, besides the coachman (Liv.i. 34). It was commonly drawn by a pair of mules (carpentum mulare), but more rarely by oxen or horses, and sometimes by four horses like a quadriga. For grand occasions it was very richly adorned. Agrippina's carriage, as above represented, shows painting or carving on the panels, and the head is supported by Caryatides (q.v.) at the four corners. The convenience and stateliness of the carpentum were also assumed by magistrates, and by men of luxurious habits, or those who had a passion for driving. When Caligula instituted games and other solemnities in honour of his deceased mother, Agrippina, her carpentum went in the procession (Calig. 15).

Carpenta, or covered carts, were much used by the Britons, and by the Gauls, the Cimbri, the Allobroges, and other Northern nations (Flor.i. 18et al.). These, together with the carts of the more common form, including baggage-wagons, appear to have been comprehended under the term carri or carra, which is the Keltic name with a Latin termination. The Gauls and Helvetii took a great multitude of them on their military expeditions; and, when they were encamped, arranged them in close order, so as to form extensive lines of circumvallation (B. G. i. 24, 26).

The agricultural writers use carpentum to denote either a common cart or a cart-load—e. g. xxiv stercoris carpenta (Pallad. x. 1).

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Tacitus, Annales, 12.42
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 34
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: