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CANCELLI (κιγκλίδες, δρύφακτοι), a screen or lattice of open work, placed before a window, a doorway, the tribunal of a judge, or any other place. At Athens, in the senate-house (βουλευτήριον) and law-courts, δρύφακτοι were the bar or fixed partition, κιγκλίδες the gates opening into it (αἱ μὲν οὖν τῶν δικαστηρίων θύραι κιγκλίδες ἐκαλοῦντο, ἃς Π̓ωμαῖοι καγκελλωτὰς λέγουσιν, Poll. 8.124). Balconies projecting from the fronts of houses were also called δρύφακτοι, Lat. maeniana (Heracl. Pont. fr. 10, with Müller's note, 2.209; τὰ τῶν οἰκοδομημάτων ἐξέχοντα ξύλα, Schol. Aristoph. Kn. 672, Vesp. 385; this sense is not noticed in L. and S., ed. 7). The material was originally wood, as the name δρύφακτος shows (L. and S. s. v.); and such were also the cancelli put up at Rome for temporary purposes, as when funeral games were given in the Forum (cancelli fori, Cic. pro Sest. 58.124; cf. Ov. Am. 3.2, 64). But they might also be in metal, as in the cancelli before the Temple of Vesta, rebuilt by Severus, conjecturally restored by Comm. Lanciani from existing remains, and figured here from Middleton (p. 184); or in marble, as

Cancelli before the Temple of Vesta. (From Middleton.)

those on the Rostra from a relief on the Arch of Constantine, figured under ROSTRA In the Basilica Julia, low marble screens or cancelli shut in the otherwise open arches on the ground-floor; a great number of fragments of these screens are scattered about the Forum (ib. p. 172). For the cancelli of law-courts see further Cic. in Verr. 3.59, § 135, with Long's note; and compare Varr. R. R. 3.5; Dig. 30, 41, s. 10; 33, 7, s. 10.

Hence was derived the word Cancellarius, which originally signified a porter, who stood at the latticed or grated door of the emperor's palace. The Emperor Carinus gave great dissatisfaction by promoting one of his Cancellarii to be Praefectus urbi (Vopisc. Carin. 16). The cancellarius also signified a legal scribe or secretary, who sat within the cancelli or lattice-work, by which the crowd was kept off from the tribunals of the judges (Cassiod. Var. 11.6). The chief scribe or secretary was called Cancellarius κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν, and was eventually invested with judicial power at Constantinople; but an account of his duties and the history of this office do not fall within the scope of the present work. From this word has come the modern Chancellor.

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  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Aristophanes, Knights, 672
    • Cicero, Against Verres, 2.3.135
    • Ovid, Amores, 3.2
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