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ὀδούς). A tooth.


Artificial teeth were made and used by the ancients, as may be seen from several passages in the classic writers. Cicero (De Legibus, ii. 24) quotes a very old sumptuary law forbidding gold to be placed in the tomb with the body, but especially excepting the gold used in fastening the artificial teeth. Little is known of the degree of skill attained by ancient dentistry. Martial (i. 73) speaks of one Aeglé as provided with teeth “of purchased bones and ivory” (dentata . . . emptis ossibus Indicoque cornu).


The word dens is also used of a number of pointed objects, such as the fluke of an anchor (Verg. Aen. vi. 3); the barb of a hunting-spear (Cyneget. 108); the prong of the implement called ligo (q. v.); of the ploughshare (Varr. L. L. v. 135); the tooth of a rake or harrow (irpex, occa, rastrum); the tooth of a saw (Ovid, Met. viii. 246); the wards of a key (Tibull. i. 2, 18); the hook of a clasp (Sidon. Carm. ii. 397); the cog of a wheel (Vitruv. x. 5); and poetically of a pruning-hook (dens curvus Saturni, Georg. ii. 406).


Dens densus is the name given to a finetoothed comb (Tibull. i. 9.68), a specimen of which,

Dens Densus, or Comb. (Rich.)

exactly like those in use to-day, is given in the above illustration of one found in a Roman tomb.

hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 8.246
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 6.3
    • Vergil, Georgics, 2.406
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