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EMBLE´MA

EMBLE´MA (ἔμβλημα,), EMBLE´MATA.

1. Emblemata were metal ornaments, such as masks, busts, medallions, figures of men and animals, wrought in relief and artificially attached (illigare, includere, injicere, infigere, inserere) [p. 1.728]by soldering or rivetting to the interior or exterior of metal bowls, vases, cups, &c. (Cic. in Verr. 4.22, “Pocula cum emblematis;” ib. 4.17, “Scaphia cum emblematis;” Juv. 1.76, “Argentum vetus et stantem extra pocula caprum,” called by the scholiast “emblematicum opus;” Plin. Nat. 33.55, “Ulixes et Diomedes erant in phialae emblemate Palladium subripientes,” &c.) Such ornaments were sometimes made of gold and silver (Dig. 34, 2, 19, § § 4, 6; Dig. 34, 2, 32.1; Senec. Ep. 5.3, “Non habemus argentum in quod solidi auri caelatura descenderit” ), and had an artistic and pecuniary value even when detached from the objects to which they belonged. Thus, the plunderer Verres took especial care to wrench off emblemata from vases and cups. (Cic. in Verr. 4.22, “Apposuit patellam, in qua sigilla erant egregia. Iste . . . sigillis avulsis reliquum argentum sine ulla avaritia reddidit;” ib. 4.24, “Tantam multitudinem collegerat emblematum.” ) Emblemata must be distinguished from metal ornaments in relief (such as those produced in repoussé), which formed an integral part of the vase itself: the essence of the emblema was that it could be detached, if necessary, from the vase which it ornamented. Many of the metal masks, figures, dishes, &c. in our museums are doubtless emblemata which have been broken off from vases (e. g. in Ant. di Ercol., 5.267; Annali, 1839, p. 78; Monum. d. Inst., iii. pl. 4; Arneth, Gold und Silberornamente, pl. 5.5; cp. Saglio, Dict. des Ant., s. v. “Caelatura,” note 235).

Crustae were metal vase-ornaments similar to emblemata (e. g. Dig. 34, 2, 32, 1: “Cymbia argentea crustis aureis illigata,” &c.). In some authors a distinction is made between the two terms (Cic. in Verr. 4.23, “lis crustae aut emblemata detrahebantur;” cf. Saglio, Dict. des Ant., p. 801, note 229). Some modern writers have thought that the distinction lay in emblemata being ornaments in high relief, and crustae ornaments in low relief. So far as the natural signification of the words can help us, emblemata (ἔμβλημα, ἐμβάλλω) would mean ornaments inserted in a vase or bowl (as a gem is in its setting), while crustae (cf. Forcellini, Lexicon, s. v. “Crusta” ) would be thin leaves or plates of metal applied to the surface of a vase. Practically, however, the terms emblemata and crustae seem to have been generally used as synonymous (Saglio, Dict. des Ant., s. v. “Caelatura,” § vii.). The crustae were made by artisans called crustarii. (Plin. Nat. 33.55, “habuit et Teucer crustarius famam;” Festus, s.v. “Crustariae tabernae a vasis potoriis crustatio dictae.” )

2. The word emblema is also used to signify inlaid work (Varro, R. R. 3.2, 4; Lucil. ap. Cic. de Or. 3.4. 3, 44; Cic. Brut. 79). This usage is, however, rare; and as a general rule when the words emblema, emblemata occur in the ancient authors and in modern archaeological treatises, the metal ornaments described in § 1 are intended.

[References to other authorities not cited above may be found in Saglio, Dict. des Ant. art. “Caelatura,” § vii., and in Mommsen-Marquardt, vol. vii. [Privatl.] p. 663. Compare also CAELATURA in this dictionary.]

[W--K W--H.]

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Cicero, On Oratory, 3.4
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 33.55
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