DUO´DECIM SCRIPTADUO´DECIM SCRIPTA (κύβοι, διαγραμμισμός [Pollux, 9.99], in late Greek τάβλα), a game of mixed chance and skill, which must have been substantially the same as our backgammon. The following points of identity may be regarded as established. The game was played on a board of 12 double lines, with 15 white and 15 black men; the throws were counted as we count them; “blots” (ἄζυγες) might be captured; the pieces (whether they started from home or not) had to be brought home; and the winner was he who first cleared off his men. On the other hand, there were three dice instead of two [TESSERA]; and it is impossible to say where the men started, or how blots taken up re-entered; In the initial position the pieces may have stood in three rows of five or five rows of three; and either in the player's own table with a view to the double journey, or in the opponent's table with a view to the journey home. With the three dice the pieces would soon be scattered, and thus a less artificial arrangement than our own may be thought probable. The phrase ὀπισθιδίη ὁδὸς in Agathias may seem to favour the notion that they were played out and home. The board was ἄβαξ ABACUS more generally tabula, or from its raised rim alveus, alveolus; the men ψῆφοι, calculi; the situation at any point of the game, θέσις (Agathias); to move, τιθέναι dare; to retract a move, ἀνατιθέναι, reducere. In a fragment of Cicero (ap. Non. p. 170, s. v. Scripta) we find: “Itaque tibi concedo, quod in duodecim scriptis solemus, ut calculum reducas, si te alicuius dati poenitet.” This privilege is more likely to have been of the nature of odds granted by a superior player, than a regular rule of the game. The classical Greek writers mostly use κύβοι, κυβεύειν, of games into which skill entered as well as of mere dicing; though Philemon marks the distinction (μεθύειν, διαγραμμίζειν, κυβεύειν, fr. 216 M.). That κυβεία was a game of skill as well as chance is clear from Plato (Rep. 10.604 C, Phaedr. 274 D, and ap. Plut. de Tranq. An. p. 467 A), and from a story told by Plutarch (Plut. Art. 17); cf. Ter. Adelph. 4.7, 21. Ovid alludes to the Duodecim Scripta (A. Am. 3.363-4) among games which lovers are to play together; others are latrunculi (357-8), “spillikins” (361-2), and “go-bang” (365-6, this last couplet has often been misunderstood as though it referred to the placing of the backgammon-men). The lover is, of course, to lose on purpose to his mistress ( “Tu male iactato, tu male iacta dato,” ib. 2.204), either by unlucky throws (perhaps he is to cheat in her favour, cf. 206) or by making bad moves. Martial includes among his modest wants tabulamque calculosque (2.48). The celebrated jurisconsult P. Mucius Scaevola was famed for his skill at Duodecim Scripta (Cic. de Or. 1.5. 0, § 217; V. Max. 8.8.2; Quintil. Inst. 11.2.38). Quintilian further tells the story that Scaevola, after losing a game, recalled the whole of the throws and the way each had been played; pointing out the move where he had made a mistake, and verifying his own recollections by those of his opponent. This is cited as an example of memory and logical sequence (ordo). None of the above passages shed much light on the details of the game. Our knowledge of them is mostly gained from an epigram of Agathias (Anth. Pal. 9.482; also in Brunck, Anal. 3.60) on a case of special ill-luck which befel the Emperor Zeno (A.D. 474-491). This epigram has been discussed by many scholars (e. g. Salmasius in a long and learned note to the Historia Augusta, ii. pp. 736-761, ed. var. 1671; T. Hyde, the historian of chess; De Pauw, in a special dissertation; Jacobs, in his notes to the Anthology), but until lately was never rendered intelligible. The problem has been solved independently by M. Becq de Fouquières in his Jeux des Anciens, and Dr. H. Jackson in the Journal of Philology: on the few points where they differed, Dr. Jackson has since given in his adherence to M. Becq de Fouquières' conclusions. We reproduce this epigram with a few comments from the sources just named: Εἰς τάβλαν Ζήνωνος τοῦ βασιλέως.
οὐτιδανο, μερόπων, εἰ καὶ μέγα ῥέξομεν ἔργον,
οὔτινος εἰς μνήμην δηρὸν ἐπερχόμεθα:
οἱ δ᾽ἀγαθοί, κἢν μηδέν, ἀναπνεύσωσι δὲ μοῦνον,
ὡς Λίβυς εἶπεν ἀνήρ, τοῦτ̓ ἀδάμαντι μένει.
δήποτε γὰρ Ζήνωνα πολισσοῦχον βασιλῆα,
παίγνιον ἀφράστων ἐκτελέοντα κύβων,
τοίη ποικιλότευκτος ἕλεν θέσις, εὖτ̓ ἀπὸ λευκοῦ,
τοῦ καὶ ὀπισθιδίην εἰς ὁδὸν ἐρχομένου,
ἑπτὰ μὲν ἕκτος ἕχεν, μίαν εἴνατος: αὐτὰρ ὁ σοῦμμος
δισσὰς ἀμφιέπων ἶσος ἔην δεκάτῳ:
ὄς τε πέλει μετὰ σοῦμμον ἔχεν δύο, μουνάδα δ᾽ἄλλην
ψῆφον τὴν πυμάτην ἀμφιέπεσκε δίβος:
ἀλλὰ μέλας δισσὰς μὲν ἐν ὀγδοάτῳ λίπε χώρῳ
καὶ τόσσας ἑτέρας ἐς θέσιν ἑνδεκάτην:
ἀμφὶ δυωδέκατον δὲ διέπρεπον εἴκελοι ἄλλαι,
καὶ τρισκαιδεκάτῳ ψῆφος ἔκειτο μία:
δίζυγες Ἀντίγονον διεκόσμεον: ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτῳ̈
ἶσος ἔμιμνε τύπος πεντεπικαιδεκάτῳ,
ὀκτωκαιδεκάτῳ πανομοίιος: εἰσέτι δ᾽ἄλλας
εἶχεν διχθαδίας τέτρατος ἐκ πυμάτου.
αὐτὰρ ἄναξ λευκοῖο λαχὼν σημήϊα πεσσοῦ
καὶ τὴν ἐσσομένην οὐ νοέων παγίδα,
τριχθαδίας ἀδόκητα βαλὼν ψηφῖδας ἀπ̓ ἠθμοῦ
πύργου δουρατέου κλίμακι κευθομένη
[p. 1.696] δοιὰ καὶ ἓξ καὶ πέντε κατήγαγεν: αὐτίκα δ᾽ὀκτὼ
ἄζυγας εἶχεν ὅλας πρόσθε μεριζομένας.
τάβλην φεύγετε τάντες, ἐπεὶ καὶ κοίρανος ἀτὸς
κείνης τὰς ἀλόγους οὐκ ὑπάλυξε τύχας.
Calculus hic gemino discolor hoste perit
” (14.17). The first line refers to the Duodecim Scripta; the second, modelled on a couplet of Ovid (Ov. Tr. 2.477-8), to the game of draughts (latrunculi), in which the player left with but one man is bound to lose to his opponent who has two. (Becq de Fouquières, Jeux des Anciens, ed. 2, 1873, pp. 357-383; H. Jackson, in Journ. of Philo. 7.236-243; Marquardt, Privatl. 834-838.) [W.W]