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CATI´NUS or CATI´NUM, dim. CATILLUS or CATILLUM, a dish or platter on which viands were served up. Other names for similar table utensils will here be noticed; but it must be admitted that the differences of shape, materials, or use are not always clearly indicated. Even the distinction, so essential to our notions, between dishes and plates does not seem to have been observed (Hor. Sat. 1.3, 92); there is in fact no Greek or Latin word for “a plate” in the modern sense. Varro describes the catinus as deep enough to hold the gravy of meat or vegetables: Vasa in mensa escaria, ubi pultem aut jurulenti quid ponebant, a capiendo catinum nominarunt, nisi quod Siculi dicunt κάτινον, ubi assa ponebant (L. L. 5.120). They were mostly of earthenware, and were kept in various sizes: to have the catinus too small for its contents showed a want of style (Hor. Ep. 2.4, 77). The historic turbot of Domitian required a dish made on purpose (Juv. 4.131 ff.); Vitellius had gone a step beyond this, and built a special furnace to bake a gigantic patina in (Plin. Nat. 35.163). The patina, dim. patella (Hor. Ep. 1.5, 2), was also commonly of earthenware; it was bowl-shaped, and occurs frequently in Horace in the sense of a dish (Sat. 1.3, 80; 2.2, 95; 2.8, 43, 55, 72; Ep. 1.15, 34); but it was likewise used for cooking, and then had a cover (Plaut. Pseud. 3.2, 51; Dig. 30, 7, 18, §. 3). The actor Aesopus had a patina worth 100,000 sesterces; the material is not described (Plin. Nat. 10.141). PAROPSIS (παροψὶς) was in Greek applied either to the dish or its contents, as is proved by Athenaeus (ix. p. 367 b, &c.), with abundant quotations from the Comic poets: though Atticists tried to restrict the word to the latter sense (παροψὶς τὸ ὄψον, οὐχὶ δὲ τὸ ἀγγεῖον: τοῦτο δὲ τρύβλιον λεκάριον καλοῦσιν, Phryn. p. 176 Lobeck, p. 265 Rutherford). In Roman writers it is always the former: originally a square or oblong side-dish for delicacies (quadrangulum et quadrilaterum vas, Isid. Orig. 20.4, 10), it came to mean any dish (Juv. 3.142; St. Matt. 23.25, 26). There was also an apsis or absis, either round or semicircular, like modern salad-plates (Dig. 34, 2, 50.19.6, and 50.32.1; ABSIS); and gabatae, said to have been of a deep shape (Isid. Orig. l.100.11 ; Mart. 7.48, 11.31). The LANX varied in form, but seems to have been always of metal; huge silver lances were among the most costly objects of Roman extravagance (Plin. Nat. 33.145). We also find a paropsis in silver (Dig. 34, 2, 50.19.9). The Greek πίναξ, a board and so a wooden trencher, might be of other materials, e. g. silver (Philippid. fr. 9, Meineke); but silver dishes were thought vulgar by the Greeks, at least in those times (Ath. vi. p. 430 a).

The catillus was a saucer for pickles or other condiments (Hor. Sat. 2.4, 75 ; cf. Mart. 11.27, 5, paropside rubra Allecem, where a paropsis of red pottery is small enough to serve the same purpose). (Mommsen-Marquardt, vii. [Privatleben], 705.)

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hide References (6 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (6):
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 11.27
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 11.31
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 11.5
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 7.48
    • Horace, Epistulae, 1.2
    • Horace, Epistulae, 1.5
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