Nuts. Several games of skill were played by the Greeks and Romans with nuts. So identified
with childhood and its sports were nuts that nuces relinquere
conventional phrase used for “putting away childish things.” The games in
question were as follows:
Pitching nuts into a hole, from a given distance—a game possibly called in Latin
, from the jar which was often used as the receptacle of the nuts
thrown (Pers. iii. 50
). The Greeks also pitched the nuts into a
circle drawn on the ground (ὤμιλλα
), or into a hole
) dug in the ground (Poll.ix.
and 103). The nuts that fell outside the jar, circle, or hole were forfeited.
A second game was called castellum
, which was somewhat as follows:
three nuts were placed on the ground, with a fourth resting on them,
Roman Boys playing Castellum. (Relief in the Blundell Collection.)
making a sort of pyramid. Then the player aimed his nut so as to scatter the
), and, having done this, he had one or two more shots, the object of which was to cannon on the nuts, as boys do in
playing marbles. The first shot was taken standing (rectus
), the next
), the next being flipped, as in the
“knuckle-down tight” of modern boys. Sometimes, however, the nuts were
rolled down a board (tabula
), as in the accompanying illustration, where
the kneeling boy is probably arranging the castellum
, or pyramid.
A third game with nuts was called delta.
In this a triangle (delta
) was chalked on the ground, and marked across with lines and bars
) drawn parallel to the base. The player then flipped nuts into
the triangle, and won as many nuts as he crossed bars, provided that he did not roll them out
of the triangle, in which case they were forfeited. The best play was, therefore, that which
drove the nut exactly to the apex of the delta.
For various games of chance, odd or even, played with nuts, see Par
Impar and on the general subject of the games briefly described above, see Becq de
Fouquières, Les Jeux des Anciens.