previous next


PYXIS (πυξίς), a casket, a jewel-box (Mart. 9.38); also a small box for holding drugs or poisons (Cic. pro Cael, 25, 61; Quint. Inst. 6.3, 25). Quintilian (8.6.35) produces this term as an example of catachresis, because it properly denoted that which was made of box (πύξος), but was applied to things of similar form and use made of any other material. In


fact, the caskets in which the ladies of ancient times kept their jewels and other ornaments were made of gold, silver, ivory, mother-of-pearl, tortoise-shell, &c. The pyxis, in which Nero dedicated the cuttings from his beard to Jupiter, was of gold, studded with pearls (Suet. Nero 12). They were also much enriched with sculpture. A silver coffer, 2 feet long, 1 1/2 wide, and I deep, most elaborately adorned

Terra-cotta Pyxis. (Dennis.)

with figures in bas-relief, is described by Böttiger (Sabina, vol. i. pp. 64-80, plate iii.). The first woodcut (from Ant. d'Ercolano, vol. ii. tav. 7) represents a very plain jewel-box, out of which a dove is extracting a riband or fillet: the second is of terra-cotta, from Etruria. The word is also used for the iron cap at the end of a pestle (Plin. Nat. 18.112).

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

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: