, a cart or waggon. The
plaustrum, strictly so called, was a heavy two-wheeled cart (Isid.
20.12): the four-wheeled waggon was properly
distinguished as plaustrum majus
(Cato, Cat. Agr. 10.2
; Varro, R. R.
1.20). The plaustrum was of simple construction--a platform of boards, with
a strong pole projecting from it, fastened upon the pair of wheels and axle.
The blocks of stone or other things to be carried were either laid upon this
platform without any other support, or were secured by upright boards
forming sides to the platform (ὑπερτερία
Hom. Od. 6.70
; Plat. Theaet.
p. 270 A), or openwork rails (palae,
5.140); or a large wicker basket was fastened on
the platform (scirpea,
). The annexed woodcut shows a cart
the body of which is supplied by a basket.
Plaustrum, from a Roman bas-relief. (Ginrot.)
The wheels ordinarily had no spokes (non sunt
Verg. G. 1.165
), but were solid, of the kind
or “drums,” nearly
a foot in thickness, and made either by sawing them whole from the trunk of
a tree or by nailing together boards of the requisite shapes and size. These
wheels were fastened to the axle, which moved within wooden rings (arbusculae,
) attached to the under-side of
the platform (Vitr. 10.20
; Varro, R. R.
3.5; Verg. G. 2.444
). Although these wheels were
excellent for the preservation of the roads, they turned with a long
circuit, and advanced slowly and with a creaking sound (stridentia, gementia,
Verg. G. 3.536
They were drawn usually by oxen, but sometimes by mules (Oppian.
5.20). They could, of course, upon a necessity, be used
for transporting people as well as goods, but we are not to conclude from
, that it was constructed for that
purpose, nor (as Ginzrot does) that the plaustrum there mentioned differed
from the ordinary kind. The plaustrum majus,
four-wheeled waggon, had sometimes solid wheels, sometimes spoked wheels,
and sometimes also a body of open-work rails (palae
), as shown in the cut under AMPHORA, representing part of a
plaustrum majus carrying wine-skins.
The Greek ἅμαξα
corresponded both to the
plaustrum and the plaustrum majus. The
is mentioned in Od. 9.241
: but the word also was used to express a vehicle to convey
people (Hdt. 1.31
, &c.). [HARMAMAXA
] Probably it had
usually four wheels, differing little from the ἀπήνη
for travelling (e. g. D. L. 8.73
), for the use
of the bride in weddings (Poll. 10.33, &c.), in processions [DIONYSIA
Vol. I. p. 639].
Taf. xc.) shows boat-shaped ἅμαξαι,
which he conceives to have been used at
some time in processions. (Ginzrot, Wagen,
1.166, 228; Guhl
and Koner, 277; Marquardt, Privatleben,