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A set of bed-steps, consisting of several stairs (Varro, L. L. v. 168), which were

Gradus. (From the Vatican Vergil.)

requisite for ascending the highest couches. See Lectus.


A flight of steps leading to the pronaos of a temple (Ad Att. iv. 1). In Greek temples there were usually but three steps, but Roman architects added a dozen or more, dividing them into several flights. The number of steps, however, was always uneven, so that a person ascending, and commencing with the right foot (pes dexter), might place the same one on the topmost step when he entered the porch, to enter with the left foot being illomened (Vitruv. iii. 4.4; Petron. 30).


The seats on which the spectators sat in a theatre, amphitheatre, or circus. See Amphitheatrum.


The parallel ridges, like steps, on the inside of a dice-box (fritillus), for the purpose of mixing

Gradus in a dice-box. (Rich.)

the dice when shaken, and giving them a disposition to rotate when cast from it (Auson. Profess. i. 28).


A studied and feminine arrangement of the hair, when artificially disposed in parallel waves or gradations rising one over the other, like steps (Quint.xii. 10.47), the same as now termed “crimping.” Nero is said to have had his head always dressed in this manner (Suet. Nero, 51); and a statue representing that emperor in the character of Apollo Citharœdus (given under Nero) has the hair parted in the centre, and regularly crimped on both sides, like a girl's.


As a measure of length (βῆμα), the gradus was half a pace (passus), and contained 2 1/2 feet, Greek and Roman respectively. The Greek βῆμα, therefore, was rather more and the Roman gradus rather less than 2 1/2 feet English.

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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Suetonius, Nero, 51
    • Petronius, Satyricon, 30
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