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RASTRUM, RASTRI, RASTELLUS. In this word the neuter form belongs to the singular; the masculine, as though from raster, to the plural. As regards its use, it seems to us necessary to make a clear distinction between (1) the rastrum quadridens, which is a rake; and (2) the rastrum bidens, which is a hoe or mattock. When rastrum stands alone, the quadridens or rake is usually meant, but not always in poetry; for instance, in Verg. G. 1.94, Aen. 9.608, the bidens is to be understood. (1.) The quadridens or four-toothed rake (in Greek probably λίστρον) was sometimes of iron; it is mentioned by Cato in his list of ferramenta, for an olive garden (Cat. Agr. 10), and for a vineyard (ib. 11); but in Col. 2.11, 4, lignei rastri are used to rake the earth over seeds. The diminutive rastellus is nearly always a rake, and, as far as its material is stated, a wooden rake, for raking sown ground (Col. 2.12, 6), for raking up straw (Varr. R. R. 1.49). In Suet. Nero 19, however, the rastellus is a light bidens.

(2.) The two-pronged rastrum, rastrum bidens (nearly always bidens alone), was used as a hoe or mattock for breaking up the ground (=Greek δίκελλα or σμινύη). It was probably always of iron (as in Pallad. 8.5), so as to be driven forcibly into the ground, “fossores jactant bidentes” (Col. 3.13): the farmer uses it in the vineyard, turning up the earth “vel aratro vel bidente” ; “fossor qui crebris bidentibus soli terga comminuit” (id. 4.14). It is used for stony ground, while the pala or spade suits marshy ground (Plin. Nat. 18.46). The woodcut under PALA shows a bidens with curved prongs; cf. curvi rastri in Catull. 64, 39.

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

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