previous next


DO´LIUM (πίθος), a large earthenware jar (πίθος κεράμινος, Hdt. 3.96) into which, or into the wooden cupae, new wine was put to let it ferment. [CUPA] Such jars were frequently of great size, shaped like enormous caldrons, with globular bodies and wide gaping mouths. They were formed of the best clay, and, as they could not be turned on the wheel, were difficult of construction (Geopon. 6.3), so that the making of them passed into a proverb for a troublesome undertaking (Zenob. Cent. 3.65, Leutsch). They were lined with a coating of pitch, while they were hot from the furnace, and were usually sunk (demersa, depressa, or defossa) one-half or two-thirds in the cellar. Wine which would not keep long was drunk from the dolium or cupa; that which improved by keeping was transferred from them to the amphorae. [AMPHORA] (Geopon. l.c.; Cat. Agr. 23; Varr. R. R. 1, 13; Col. 12.18; Non. s.v. Dig. 33, 6, 3.1; Senec. Ep. 36, 3.) Besides holding wine, dolia were used for keeping other things, such as oil (Cat. Agr. 10, 4), corn (Dig. 50, 16, 206), &c. Many of these earthenware dolia were large enough to hold a man. Diogenes took up his abode in such a πίθος or dolium (D. L. 6.23; Juv. 14.308 if.; Sen. Ep. 90, 14), and in some ancient works of art he is represented stretching his body out of a πίθος, in his celebrated interview

Pithos or Dolium of Diogenes. (From fragment of lamp in British Museum. Birch.)

with Alexander. In the Peloponnesian war, when the country people took refuge in Athens, they are described, with some comic exaggeration, as living in such earthenware vessels (Aristoph. Kn. 792). The dolium into which the Danaids emptied their vessels was of a similar size (Hor. Carm. 3.11.27; cf. Lucian, Hermot. 61). Palladius (10.11) speaks of dolia containing two hundred congii; and the sesquicullaria dolia of Columella (12.18, extr.) contained 1 1/2 culleus--that is, 30 amphorae. Many of these large cullei have been found in Italy and other countries, having stamped on them the number of amphorae they contained; namely, 20, 30, and 36 amphorae. Some have leaden hoops round them. They were made of white or red clay, or of the two colours combined. On account of their great size these dolia, which were fixed in the cellar, were not allowed to be removed, and were sold along with the house (Dig. 33, 6, 3.1; 33, 7, 8). The seriae were similar vessels, and appear to [p. 1.651]have been a smaller kind of dolia. The two are frequently mentioned together (Col. 12.18, and 50.14 Ter. Heaut. 3.1, 51; Liv. 24.18). The makers of the dolia were called doliarii, but the term opus doliare was applied to all kinds of coarse ware, such as the tiles of houses.

Dolia curta were urinals placed in the narrow streets between the houses for the convenience of those who passed by. (Lucret. 4.1026 ; dum eunt, nulla est in angiporto amphora quam non impleant, Macrob. 3.16.15; cf. urinae vectigal, Suet. Vesp. 23.)

Dolia were also used for holding corpses in graves. In the Crimea, near Sebastopol, sixteen πίθοι were discovered, 4 feet 4 inches high, and 2 feet 2 inches in diameter.

Dolium, containing body. (Birch.)

(Hermann-Blümner, Griech. Privatalt. pp. 162, 232; Becker-Göll, Galius, iii. p. 418; Marquardt, Privatl. d. Röm., p. 626; Blümner, Techn. u. Term., &c., ii. p. 41; Birch, Anc. Pottery, pp. 134, 531.) [FICTILE p. 843 b.]


hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Aristophanes, Knights, 792
    • Herodotus, Histories, 3.96
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 24, 18
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: