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βελόνη, βελονίς, ῥαφίς, ἀκέστρα), a pin or needle, made sometimes of metal, sometimes of wood, bone, or ivory. They varied greatly in size, according to the purposes for which they were employed; and those used in dressing the hair or fastening the robe were

Acus--Greek pins.

often of gold or silver, and ornamented with figures. The ῥαφὶς seems to have answered to our sewing-needle, the ἀκέστρα (from ἀκέομαι) to our darning-needle, while βελόνη was apparently [p. 1.24]a wider term, corresponding both to our pin and needle (cf. Pollux, 7.42; 10.136). The preceding engraving represents a few of the more ordinary types. [J.H.O]

2. Roman

a pin or needle (qua sarcinatrix vel etiam ornatrix utitur, Festus, s. v.). As a pin the acus seems to have been specially used for women's hair (acus crinalis, Apul. Met. 100.13, or comatoria, Petron. 21; or simply crinale, Or. Met. 5.53), and is accordingly figured, together with a comb, on the funeral monument of an ornatrix or coiffeuse. The acus crinalis was used to part the hair; hence called discriminalis (Hieron. in Rufin. 3, 42); and other acus served to curl, dye, or perfume it (Ov. Amor. 1.14, 15, and 30; Quint. Inst. 2.5.12; Juv. 2.94, 6.498). When the coiffure was complete, an ornamental pin, such as the one figured in the annexed illustration, confined the plaits or ribbons. The length of these hair-pins varies from 6 to 9 inches; the material is generally gold or silver. Pins used for other purposes, such as fastening parts of the dress, were of course smaller, though adorned with equal art; the material is various, bone, ivory, and metal being all found. As a needle, the acus is mentioned in embroidery (pingere acu, Verg. A. 9.582; Mart. 8.28, 17, 14.150) and in surgical use for sewing wounds (Celsus, 7.16).

The mode of plaiting the hair, and then fastening it with a pin or needle (figat acus tortas sustineatque comas, Mart. 14.24), is shown in the annexed figure of a female head, taken from a marble group which was found at Apt, in the south of France.

Acus. Roman gold Hair-pin from British Museum.

(Montfaucon, Ant. Exp. Sueppl. 3.3.) This fashion has been continued to our own times by the females of Italy, and of some parts of Germany, as, for instance, in the neighbourhood

Hair fastened with Pin.

of Coblenz. (Böttiger, Sabina, i. p. 163; Becker-Göll, Gallus, iii. p. 272.)


hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 9.582
    • Ovid, Amores, 1.14
    • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, Book 2, 5.12
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.150
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.24
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 8.17
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 8.28
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