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Follis

dim. Follicŭlus.


1.

An inflated ball of leather, no doubt originally the skin of a quadruped filled with air. The Roman games of ball, of which Marquardt reckons five, are described under Pila. The follis was the largest as well as the lightest and softest ball in use, as the pila was the hardest, the paganica being intermediate between the two (Mart.xiv. 45; cf. vii. 32). According to Marquardt, the follis might be either filled with air (κενή), or lightly stuffed with feathers; but this is perhaps a wrong inference, as the plumea pondera follis (Mart.iv. 19) may simply mean “light as a feather”; and it is only the paganica and pila which are expressly stated to have been so stuffed. It was not the same, however, as the tightly-blown modern football; it was much more like a child's ball, so soft that it could hurt no one, and hence is recommended as a gentle exercise, fit for small

Folles. (From a Coin of Gordianus III.)

boys and old men, but to which iuvenes would not condescend (Mart.xiv. 47). The folliculus (τὸ φούλλικλον καλούμενον) is said to have been invented by one Atticus of Naples, a teacher of gymnastics (παιδοτρίβης), for the benefit of Pompeius Magnus (Athen. i. p. 14 foll.). Augustus, who was rather delicate in health, took to it comparatively early in life, soon after the Civil Wars (Suet. Aug. 83). For the follis pugilatorius of Plautus ( Rud. iii. 4, 16), see Corycus. (Becker-Göll, Gallus, iii. 171 foll.).


2.

An air-cushion or mattress (Lamprid. Elagab. 25).


3.

A pair of bellows (φῦσα), consisting of two

Folles. (Rich.)

boards, with an air-valve (parma), united by a skin of ox or cow hide, so as to form a machine similar to what we now use, as shown in the annexed figure, from a terra-cotta lamp (Cic. N. D. i. 20; Pers. v. 11). Bellows, also made of goat's skin (folles hircini), are mentioned by Horace ( Sat. i. 4, 19).


4.

Under the later Empire, follis was the name of a small debased coin. In the absence of a better currency, large sums had to be paid in this coinage, which for the purpose was done up in bags, also called folles, analogous to the “purses of piastres” still used in reckoning in the East. The number of coins that went to a bag was probably 500, and its worth 1/12 of a solidus, or about $0.25. From this the follis became, under Constantine and his successors, a “money of account,” which was used in reckoning gold and silver as well as copper (Euseb. H. E. x. 6.1; Cod. Theod. vi. 2, 8).

hide References (8 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (8):
    • Plautus, Rudens, 3.4
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 83
    • Horace, Satires, 1.4
    • Cicero, de Natura Deorum, 1.20
    • Persius, Saturae, 5
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.45
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.47
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 4.19
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