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MARSU´PIUM

MARSU´PIUM (μαρσύπιον, βαλάντιον), a purse. (Non. Marcellus, s. v.; Varro, de Re Rust. 3.17;--Plaut. Men. 2.1, 29; 2.3, 33, 35; 5.7, 47; Poen. 3.5, 37; Rud. 5.2, 26;--Xen. Conviv. 4.2) The word is a diminutive of μάρσιπος, a bag, which occurs in Xen. Anab. 4.3, 11, as a clothes-bag, equivalent to στρωματόδεσμος. Marsupium, therefore, is strictly a small bag or pouch.

Mercury holding a Marsupium.

The purse used by the ancients was commonly a small leathern bag, and was often closed by being drawn together at the mouth (σύσπαστα βαλάντια, Plat. Symp. p. 190 D). Mercury is commonly represented holding one in his hand, of which the annexed woodcut from an intaglio in the Stosch Collection at Berlin presents an example. For journeys and campaigns, the safer girdlepurse (zona) was used. (See also CRUMENA, ZONA.)

[J.Y] [G.E.M]

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