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CUPA a wooden cask, butt or barrel, used like the largest earthen vessel, the dolium, to receive the fresh must from the wine-press (torcular) and to contain it during the process of fermentation. The cupa was always of wood; the dolium, like the amphora, always of earthenware. Hence of the derivatives, Fr. cuve, cuvier, Eng. cooper, follow the original meaning; while in It. coppa, Fr. coupe, Eng. cup, it is modified. The inferior wines were drawn for drinking from the cupa, without being bottled in amphorae; [p. 1.574]whence vinum de cupa (Cic. in Pis. 27, § 67; Varr. ap. Non. 2.113; Dig. 18, 6, 1.4) is equivalent to our expression “from the wood.” [A caution may be necessary against the rendering of the passage in Cicero by some editors, as if cupa were for copa, “a hostess;” though Charisius (p. 47 P. = 63, 11 K.) has quamvis Vergilius librum suum cupam inscripserit.] Cicero says also de dolio haurire for drinking new wine (Brut. 83.288; cf. Guhl and Koner, ed. 5, p. 594). The phrase in Horace (Sat. 2.2, 123) may be dismissed with the remark that all good editions give with the MSS. culpa potare magistra: Bentley's long note is, as often with him, ingenious but not convincing.

The cupae, like our own casks, were made with staves (tabulae, Pallad. 1.38.1) and hoops (circuit, Petron. Sat. 60.3; Plin. Nat. 14.132). The close resemblance is shown in the annexed illustration.

Cupae. (From Trajan's Column.)

The hoops might be of rushes or osiers, perhaps also of iron: Varro objects to rush hoops on cupae vinariae, as not strong enough to stand the fermentation (op. Non. l.c.). For the staves, the pitch-pine was preferred (Plin. Nat. 16.42); it is not stated that wooden casks received a coating of pitch, as the dolia and amphorae undoubtedly did (H. N. 14.134; Guhl and Koner, l.c.). They were used for a variety of purposes, as in modern times: for preserving and transporting fruits and corn (Dig. 33, 7, 8 and 12), forming rafts and pontoons (Lucan 4.420; Capitol. Maximin. 22; cf. Vopisc. Aurelian. 48); containing combustibles in war (Caes. Gal. 8.42; B.C. 2.11); and even for a sarcophagus (Grut. Inscr. p. 845).

II. Part of an olive-press (Cat. Agr. 21) ; in this sense probably derived from κώπη, a handle. [TRAPETUM]

[P.S] [W.W]

hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 8.42
    • Cicero, Against Piso, 27
    • Lucan, Civil War, 4.420
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 16.42
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