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ABSIS or APSIS (the former more correct in Latin) (ἁψίς), in its literal meaning from ἅπτω, is a fastening of any kind; for example, the meshes of a net. (Hom. il. 5.487.) It was applied specially to the joining together the extremities of a piece of wood, so as to give it the shape of a bow; and hence it came to signify anything of that shape, such as a bow, an arch, or a wheel. (Hes. Op. 424; Hdt. 4.72.) A potter's wheel is described, in the Anthology, as κύκλος ἁψῖδος. The next transition of meaning is to anything vaulted (for example, ὑπουρανία ἁψίς, the vault of heaven, Plat. Phaedr. p. 247 b); and in this sense it was adopted in architecture, first, for any building or portion of a building of a circular form, or vaulted (Plin. Ep. 2.17.18), and more especially for the circular and vaulted end of a Basilica. (Paul. Nol. Ep. 12; Augustin, Ep. 203; Isid. Orig. 15.8.) For the application of the word in Christian churches, see Dict. of Christ. Ant. S. V. APSE.


hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.72
    • Homer, Iliad, 5.487
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 2.17.18
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