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CUNAE, CUNA´BULA (λίκνου, σκάφη), a cradle. It has been thought that cradles were little used by the Greeks, at least in early times; since Plato in a passage on the putting of infants to sleep mentions only singing the lullaby and rocking in the arms (ἐν ταῖς ἀγκάλαις σείειν, Legg. 7.790 D). But various substitutes are mentioned. Hercules according to tradition was cradled in his father's shield (Theocr. 24.4); Dionysus in a winnowing-fan (λίκνον, vannus), which accordingly was borne in his processions (see the illustration under VANNUS); other deities in the same manner (Hom. Hymn. Merc. 21, &c.; Callim. in Jov. 48, with the Scholia). The ark or cradle in which children were exposed is σκάφη, Aristoph. Lys. 138, with the Scholia; Soph. fr. 574; Aristot. Poet. 16.3; Plut. Rom. 3 [= alveus, Liv. 1.4]: but it is only in quite late authors that we find σκάφην διασείειν, “to rock a cradle,” Ael. NA 11.14. In the Roman period cradles were regularly used (Plaut. Truc. 5.13 and elsewhere; Cic. de Div. 1.3. 6, § 79) and were made to rock. We find a female slave called cunaria, apparently distinct from the nutrix (Grut. Inscr. 311, 7); or a male slave, who perhaps in time became

Cradle. (From the Museum at Beaune.)

the child's paedagogus (cunarum motor, Mart. 11.39, 1; cf. Tac. Dial. 29 init.). The illustration, from a sculptured stone found in Burgundy, and figured by Daremberg and Saglio, shows a boat-shaped cradle with the child curiously strapped in.


hide References (8 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (8):
    • Aristophanes, Lysistrata, 138
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 4
    • Cicero, De Divinatione, 1.3
    • Tacitus, Dialogus, 29
    • Plutarch, Romulus, 3
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 11.1
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 11.39
    • Aelian, De Natura Animalium, 11.14
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