), dim. calathiscus
Calathus is a Greek word, though used by the Latin writers. The Latin word
corresponding to it is qualus
(Cat. Agr. 11
; Verg. G.
; Hor. Carm. 3.12.4
(Cic. Phil. 3.4
; Tib. 4.10, 3; Prop. iv. (v.) 7, 41; “calathos Graeci, nos
dicimus quasillos,” Fest. p. 47).
usually signified the basket in
which women placed their work, and especially the materials for spinning. It
was generally made of osiers or reeds (πλέκειν
τάλαρους καὶ καλαθίσκους,
Poll. 7.173; virgati calathisci,
Catull. 64.320; calathos e vimine nexos,
Ov. Fast. 4.435
“scraped or smooth osiers,” id. Her.
sometimes of more valuble materials. Homer (Hom.
) speaks of a silver τάλαρος.
Calathus presented by a slave to her mistress. (From a
The calathus was narrow at the rising to a larger size at the top
(“ab angustiis in latitudinem paulatim sese laxantis
Plin. Nat. 21.23
). As spinning was the
chief occupation of women, the calathus
constantly mentioned in connexion with them (Anth. Pal.
147, et al.;
Verg. A. 7.805
; Ov. Met. 12.474
, Ars Am.
1.693, 2.219; Juv. 2.54
). Pollux (10.125) speaks of both τάλαρος
as τῆς γυναικωνίτιδος
: and they frequently occur in paintings on vases,
indicating that the scene represented takes place in the gynaeconitis, or
women's apartments. In the above woodcut, taken from a painting on a vase
(Millin, Peintures de Vases Antiques,
vol. i. pl. 4), a
slave, belonging to the class called quasillariae,
is presenting her mistress with the calathus, in
which the wool was kept.
For the same reason Penelope is constantly represented in ancient works of
art with the calathus. (Cf. Blümner, Gewerb. u.
Künst bei Griech. u. Römer,
i. p. 118.)
Penelope, with the Calathus under her seat. (British
2. The calathus
was also the name of a similar basket for carrying fruits,
corn, flowers, &c. (Il. 18.568
293; Aristot. Rh.
; Mosch. 2.34, 61; Verg. Ecl.
; Ov. Ars Am.
) It was also used for holding cheeses, the whey running off
through the wicker-work. (Hom. Od. 9.247
Theocr. 5.90, 8.70; Col. 7.8
; Ov. Met. 12.436
3. The name was likewise given to vessels made in the form of a wicker basket
for holding milk (Verg. G. 3.400
; Calp. Sic.
2.77; Col. 10.397
), and to wine-cups of a
similar shape (Verg. Ecl. 5.71
; Mart. 9.60
4. The calathus
was used as a religious
Calathus on a chariot in the Eleusinian procession. (British
emblem, and we accordingly find it figured on monuments in
connexion with Athena or [p. 1.331]
Minerva, who taught women
the art of weaving; of Demeter or Ceres, the goddess of harvests; of Tellus
and other divinities, as an emblem of abundance. It was carried in honour of
Demeter at the Eleusinian festival (Callim. in Cer.
is so represented in a bronze medal of Trajan figured above. It was
frequently placed on the heads of divinities, especially of Demeter, in
ancient statues, and in this use is called modius
or bushel by archaeologists. It was probably carried on
the heads of women or young girls in processions, whence it gave rise to the
capital supported by a female figure in place of a column. [CARYATIDES
] Figures of
priestesses, from ancient monuments, wearing the calathus, are given by
s. v.) In particular the god Serapis in the
time of the Roman empire is represented with a calathus on his head
capiti ejus infigunt,
Lamp with head of Serapis surmounted by the Calathus.
, § § 13, 15; cf.
1.17, § § 67, 68), and so appears in works of art, as in a
Roman lamp figured by Birch (Ancient Pottery,